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Qimage: Copyrights and Signatures

by Wren McMains
(9/11/2008)

You can add a copyright and/or signature to any image you print with Qimage, or Qimage can automatically add one to all images printed.

Instead of text, the signature Qimage superimposes on the is a graphic. This has the advantage of allowing signatures which are only limited by your imagination.

The signature graphic must be a TIFF placed in a folder named "Signatures" under the folder where you installed Qimage. Each signature graphic must be accompanied by a second TIFF with the same name plus the suffix "-mask" which we'll talk about in a minute.

Unlike images being printed by Qimage, DPI is important in a signature file. Let's say you want your signature to be two inches wide; you might create a graphic that is 600 pixels wide at 300 DPI. Then you control how far the signature prints from the edge of the image by increasing the size of the signature's canvas. Here's a signature file I use when I want to print my signature in gold:

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The text itself is slightly more than 520x80 pixels, but size of the graphic is 640x200, leaving 60 pixels (or at 300 DPI two-tenths of an inch) on each side. Therefore, Qimage will place this signature 0.2 inches from the side/corner I specify ... it will be about 1.75 inches wide when printed.

Boarderless Printing:  I'm sure you know than when you print borderless, your computer actually prints your image larger than the size you specify. You loose a little bit on all edges; this is called the over-spray and guarantees that your image actually prints to the edge of the paper. Because you loose pixels on the edges, you'll need a borderless version of you signature with a larger canvas ... at 300 DPI I've added 120 pixels to the height and width of mine (or 60 additional pixels on each edge). (Some print drivers allow you to control the overspray expansion, depending on you printer and settings you may find a different amount works better for you.)

The mask allows you to control the opacity of the signature. The mask must also be a TIFF and have the same name as the signature, but with a "-mask" suffix. For example, if my signature file is named sig01.tif, the mask would be named sig01-mask.tif and might look like this:

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Anywhere the mask is black the original image will print. Anywhere the mask is white the signature graphic will print. Anywhere the mask is gray, the signature will print, but will not be opaque, some of the image will show through. The darker the gray, the more of the image shows through, the lighter the gray the less shows through.

Although the mask seems to make things complicated, it really gives you great control. As I said you're only limited by your creativity ... since I'm not that creative, I'll show you some of the techniques I use when making a text based signature. For the signature graphics shown above I used Photoshop and created them both as part of the same graphic; I just hid certain layers as I stored each as a TIFF (discard the layers when saving the TIFF). My PSD file had three layers:

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The bottom layer was filled with black, but I hid that layer until I was ready to store the mask. I then created the text I wanted as my signature on a layer of it's own. I renamed that layer "Signature" just so I knew which it was if I need to edit it later. I like drop shadows on text, so I added the shadow as a layer effect. Once I was happy with the signature, I copied that layer and renamed it "Mask". The text on this layer is perfectly aligned with that on the signature layer. I selected the text and changed it's color to white (in fact for most of my images I just use white on the signature layer too). What I DID need to do was to change the color of the drop shadow from black to white. As you can see above, the drop shadow on the mask is then gray and it allows black drop shadow from the signature to appear over the image with some transparency. Save all the layers in a PSD file so you can edit them later (you're going to at least need to change the year at some point). When I saved the signature graphic I hid the mask and black background layers (as shown above). When I saved the mask I hid the signature layer, leaving the mask and black background visible:

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Remember to save them as TIFF files and discard the layers when saving them as TIFFs:

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It's really not hard at all!

See the section on Using Automatic Copyright/Signature in the longer version of "Getting Starting" for an example of placing and pre-viewing the signature.

Here's another trick I use: This signature (less than 2 inches wide) is about right for an 8x10 or slightly larger print, but is a bit big for smaller prints. To make versions for smaller prints I just re-open the TIFF files (both the signature and mask) in Photoshop and use Edit / Image Size to change the DPI, being sure to UN-CHECK the "Resample Image" box. Here are the Image Size dialogs before and after changing the DPI:

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Be sure to save them under another name (I include the printed size of the signature in the name). For example, at 300 DPI this signature was just over 1.75 inches when printed. By doing nothing other than changing the DPI to 450 it changes to exactly two-thirds that size, or under 1.2 inches when printed. (The before and after widths shown above include the space on both sides of the signature to the edge of the print.) If I need a signature file for wallet size images I'll make it even smaller; by changing the DPI to 600 it would be exactly one-half the size ... by adjusting the ratio between the original and new DPI you can change the printed size to anything you want. Since you are not re-sampling the image you haven't changed the image at all and have lost no quality.

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