Saturday, June 11, 2016

Number Knitting #2: Colorizing Photos in Photoshop

In my efforts to republish the Number Knitting book, I am trying to recruit knitters to help me reknit all the patterns from the book, so that I can take new photographs. In order to breathe a bit of life back into the photographs, I am colorizing them in Photoshop.

Here is the photo as I originally scanned in it. It has low contrast and looks pretty boring.
Checkerboard Design Table Mat
I've been experimenting with a few different ways to colorize my images, and here's what I'm doing now. I'll likely change it up, as I get more sophisticated with colorizing. But I find this method to be pretty flexible for what I need.

1. So in Photoshop, I started by adjusting the curves. I just clicked Auto.

Auto Curves
2. I set the blend mode to multiply.
Set Blend Mode to Multiply
3. Then I created a new layer, moved it below the image, named it,  and went to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. The first and most important thing to understand when working with masking is that black hides and white reveals. So I start by hiding everything, and then I'll paint in with white to reveal just the parts that I want to be blue.

4. Make sure that you have your pixels portion of your layer selected. See the little border around the transparent pixels in the image below?

5. Then go to Edit > Fill > Color > and choose a nice blue.

And the result is nothing so far. But now we'll start painting in the areas that we want to be blue. 

6. Select your paintbrush tool, and choose white for your foreground color. Start painting in around the parts that you want to be blue. Then fill in the area clean up the edges, adjusting your brush size and feather as needed. You can adjust your brush size using the [ and ] keys.

  • ] will increase the size of you brush.
  • [ will decrease the size of your brush.

You can also adjust the feather of your brush using the keyboard.

  • Shift + ] increases the hardness (decreasing the feather).
  • Shift + [ decreases the hardness (increasing the feather).

7. It looks pretty good, right? 

If you go to the Channels panel, and turn on the mask, you can see that there are still some areas that I missed. See the light red poking through the blue near the edges of the table mat?

Now I can more easily see those areas and fill them in.

8. Use this same technique to paint in all the Blue areas.

9. Then repeat this process for the light blue squares.

What I really like about this technique is that now, changing the colors is as easy as adding a different fill color.

You can even add a gradient fill, to mimic variegated yarns.

10. Now that I have the picture colored the way I want, I can choose some yarns to match it; Because the objective of this project is not just to colorize old photos, but to get people to knit these projects. The colors in Photoshop need to be a representation of the actual materials they'll be using the knit the pattern.

The original pattern calls for cotton yarn in an afghan weight. In modern day terms, that means a worsted weight yarn. Just this morning, I discovered some great worsted weight cotton yarn, in a variety of colors, at an affordable price. Conveniently, enough, it's called "Dishie" (because it is super durable and suitable for dishcloths and other kitchen-related tasks).  Cotton yarns are typically rather muted in color.

For my original colorway of blues, I'll choose Dishie in Blue and Azure.

But if you look at the original blue colored photo, the blues I chose are too intense.

By reducing the opacity of the blue layers, I can more closely match the color of the yarn that I'm specifying for the checkerboard table mat pattern. I reduced the Blue layer to 80% and the Light Blue layer to 60%.

Here is the final table mat, knitted in Dishie yarn.
Checkerboard Design Table Mat

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Number Knitting #1: My Quest to Republish "Number Knitting: The New All Way Stretch Method"

For around seven years now, this blog has focused primarily on the software I use for my publishing and design business: InDesign, Acrobat, and occasionally Illustrator and Photoshop. Once in awhile, some knitting related articles have snuck in, but they have always tied into the design software.

As of lately, my loves, publishing and knitting, are beginning to merge on an entirely new level. I have set out to republish an out-of-print knitting book from 1952. And it's quite an endeavor. It's not so simple as scanning the old book, running OCR, and giving the text a facelift. Oh no! If it was that simple, I could have this project done in a matter of weeks. Instead, recreating this book will take a year or more, perhaps several... and that's if I hustle, and get lots of help with the knitting.

The book I'm working to republish is called "Number Knitting" The New All Way Stretch Method." Most knitters (even very experienced ones) have never heard of this book, because it only had one printing, and it the the only knitting book that the author ever wrote. So once it was printed, that was it! It is very hard to come by, and if you can find a used copy for sale online, it will likely fetch around $150. But I have seen one for sale for as high as $900. I have never seen more than one for sale on Amazon at any one time.

But as this blog is still a graphic design blog, I'll keep all the really publishing-specific content regarding the book here on my blog.

Because I aim to document the process of recreating this book, I'll be sharing milestones along the way. Here are a few milestones thus far:

  • December 2015: Scanned in book (a library copy)
  • January 2016: Received my own purchased copy of the book!
  • January 2016: Began knitting the pieces in the book
  • February 2016: Submitted request to US Copyright Office for a copyright renew/transfer search
  • April 2016: Received word back from the Copyright Office that the copyright was never renewed or transferred. (So the original copyright protection expired in 1979.)
  • April 2016: Started knitting "Lambs and Butterflies" form the original patent application
Lambs and Butterflies pattern from original patent application

Are you interested in helping me knit the pieces from the book? Join us on Ravelry.