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The overall guideline is these images should make the viewer say "WOW!" and bring back memories of playing the actual games in the arcades.
For cabinets, I try to find a full view image of the cabinet. Preferably, the cabinet should be angled so that the side art and the game controls are both visible.
For marquees, a straight-on shot is best. Generally, I will enhance the contrast setting on marquee images to simulate the effect of backlighting.
For control panels, I will rotate the image so the edge of the panel is nearly horizontal, to reduce background image area.
For instructions, where there are instruction cards on the right and left sides of the game, I will combine these into one image so that you can view them in a front-end without having to click through multiple images.
I do not reduce either the image or file size in most cases. (Some sites have over 5M, 3300x1600 pixel images and I have reduced these down to 1280 wide for simplicity. In addition, I have set an arbitrary limit on 500K per single image and I will save at a higher compression level, if necessary, to maintain this).
I don't significantly retouch the images. These are, in many cases, photographs of 25-year-old arcade games and a little visible wear and tear adds authenticity. I will try to remove obvious imperfections from the image, but I am not and would never claim to be an artist; therefore I try to keep editing of the actual game image to a minimum.
I will adjust color balance and rotation and will crop the images to remove backgrounds.
Image Names and Formats
Generally, I will use the same game names as http://www.klov.com/ Image names will be saved using the following formats
background) - c_1942.gif; c_1942.jpg
Cabinets (black background) - cm32_1942.jpg
Marquees - m_1942.jpg
Control Panels (white background) - cp_1942.gif; cp_1942.jpg
Control Panels (black background) - cpm32_1942.jpg
Control Panel Instructions - i_1942.jpg
Original (Unedited) images - Same as above, but add o_ to the beginnining (o_c_1942.png)
Helpful Hint: To save me time, add your name to the end as you would like it in the credit as follows: c_1942-KillerClown.jpg. Also, when sending edited images, please also include the original image, if possible.
All JPG's are saved at 95% compression level to preserve image quality.
General Editing Guidelines
Generally these steps are followed in editing the images:
1. Adjust the color
balance or saturation.
2. Rotate the image, if required.
3. Remove the background.
4. Crop the image to remove the excess border.
5. Save the image as a .JPG (white background) and as a .GIF (transparent background).
I use a freeware editing tool called The Gimp (http://www.gimp.org/~tml/gimp/win32// (11M)) to edit the images, but Photoshop or a commercial imaging package will work as well.
You will need the Gimp User's manual (http://manual.gimp.org/ (10M)) to make any sense of the GIMP. Even then, it is complicated, so I am including a step-by-step how-to here:
1. Start the Gimp and select an image. The image will open in a separate window.
2. If the colors need to be adjusted, right-click on the image and select image-colors. The most useful adjustments are hue-saturation and brightness-contrast.
3. If the image needs to be rotated, type Shift-T or right-click on the image and select Tools-Transform Tools-Transform. A square grid will appear on the image and another window will open where you can select the number of degrees (to the hundredth of a degree) to rotate the image. (If the image doesn't have a wide background, the image may rotate outside its borders!) (I think this can be avoided by increasing the canvas size and moving the image before rotating, but I am not sure.)
4. (See page 120-122 of the Gimp Users Manual for an illustrated discussion of the Bezier tool. Use the bezier tool to select only the image and remove the background as follows: Type B or Right-click the image and select Tools-Select Tools-Bezier Select. Click to place a point on any place in the image where the object changes contours. Continue adding points (in sequence) around the border of the image. You won't be able to add points later, so it is better to have too many than too few. Close the image by clicking on the first point, and then click in the center of the selection. The selection border will appear. You can move the points by holding down the control key and dragging to point to a new position and you can adjust the lines between the points to match the curve of the image by holding down the Shift key and dragging the point "handles".
5. Float the selection by typing Shift-Ctrl-L or right-clicking on the image and selecting Select-Float. Open the layers window by typing Shift-L or by right-clicking the image and selecting Layers-Layers, Channels & Paths. You will see a "Floating Selection" in the window.
6. In the Layers window, type Ctrl-N or right click on the "Floating Selection" layer and select "Add New Layer". The text will change to "Floated Layer".
7. In the Layers window, right click the background layer and set opacity to 0.0. The background will disappear.
8. Select the image layer and type Shift-C or right-click and select Tools-Transform Tools-Crop and Resize. The crop rectangle will appear. Adjust the rectangle to be just a little larger than the floated background and click okay to crop the image.
9. Save the image in GIMP format (.xcf).
10. Save the image as a .JPG and specify 0.95 compression. You will see a preview of the image with a white background.
11. Open the .xcf file.
12. On the GIMP main window, click the two arrows on the bottom left corner to change the background to black.
13. Save the image as a .JPG and specify 0.95 compression. You will see a preview of the image with a black background.
14. Open the .xcf file.
15. Type Alt-I or right-click the image and select Image-Mode-Indexed. Select 255 colors and click OK.
16. If the image background reappears, open the Layers window and select the Background. Right click and select "Add Alpha Channel." Slide the opacity up and then back to 0.0.
17. Save the image as a .GIF file.
18. Delete the .XCF file if no further changes are required.
E-mail me if you need more assistance.
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