Making smaller images bigger and better?

Tagged under Serial Experiments Lain

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Dear people,

Recently, I got a Serial Experiments Lain work of mine deleted here because of "poor image quality." The original wall is still up here:

Rumors

(Full View please)

One of the things the mod said, was: "Just filtering a blurry image doesn't make it any better. There are ways you can make smaller images bigger and better, it's called vectoring, or tracing with the pen tool."

Here's where I want your opinion. I generally scale small-sized footage using Genuine Fratals 6.0 Professional (Photoshop), a fractal-based scaler, as the name says, which is, far as I know, the best in the industry. I used it to upscale the cpu-board image some (one of the used image that was said to be of too low quality). I also vectored the image (highest settings) with Vector Magic 1.14. I put both results side by side on this example (upscaled to the left left, vectored to the right).

CPU boards

Clearly, as I expected, the vectored image is of decidedly lower quality, as a quick zoom shows it's much blurrier than the fractal-upscaled image on the left.

Another image said too be of too low quality, was Lain's eye-view. Same deal: original eye to the left left, vectored to the right:

EYE views

Here the vectored image clearly loses out to the original as well. It can't keep up -- not even closely -- with the gradient on the iris of the image on the left.

These results do not surprise me, to be honest. Vectoring is not a magic wand that can be wielded to add detail to a low-quality image, or be used to magically clean it up (at least not at the expense of much detail).

Personally, I don't find either start image to be of particular low quality to begin with. But, assuming that they are, and that I'm missing a vital technique in my Photoshop repertoire, I'd like to hear how the quality of those two image could be improved much beyond the way I've done. Maybe I'm using a crappy vectoring tool? (Admittedly, haven't too much experienced with vectoring). Maybe I'm using crappy setting on it? Or maybe I'm not doing it right in another way. Fanart-wise, I tend to work with what we got: if no high-res material is available, I generally just use what's available to me; upscale it nicely, maybe, perhaps do some denoise, etc. But beyond that, I think there's not a whole lot else you can do. So, if there's something I'm missing, I'd like to hear about it, please.

Thanks.

Fran

Retired Moderator, Tagger, Linguistics

Fran

better than your faves tbh

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I wonder if you read Chloe's tutorial. I mean, the link that MapleRose forwarded you the link.
Vectoring is not an automatic tool, you're supposed to re-work with an image. An example of vectoring is Music of the Wings by abul,
you can see that is HIGH quality picture. You can compare it with the original scan
Aa! Megami-Sama

And regarding the screencaps, well, they're low quality for MT standards and if you compare them to the scan gallery of Lain, you'll see that the scans posted are very clear. http://browse.minitokyo.net/gallery?tid=826&index=3


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Quote by FranI wonder if you read Chloe's tutorial. I mean, the link that MapleRose forwarded you.


The one for manual vectoring? Yeah, I read it alright.

Quote: Vectoring is not an automatic tool, you're supposed to re-work with an image. An example of vectoring is Music of the Wings by abul, you can see that is HIGH quality picture.


Well, I guess "high quality" is a multi-facetted term. It's a very skilled work; the patience in making it must have been staggering! It's certainly as "high quality" as it gets in that area. And I doubt I could do it myself. But would I consider it "high quality" in terms of art? Likely not. To me, it has close to zero Artistic Added Value, so to speak, regardless of the patience it took to make it. I mean, a bricklayer has patience -- that doesn't make him an artist. To give you an example, here's one of my fav Lain works:

Does It Hurt When You Die?

It's not vectored; it's blurry, uses screengrabs; and yet, it's among the Lain works I cherish the most! Why? Because it's so artistic. It's a very clever composition: it uses an overbright Lain face to double as a visual impact-zone of a car (potentially) hitting her; notice how her legs are included in said impact zone. In all its bluriness and simplicity it's perfect! It's a work that moves me. "Music of the Wings," while I may be in awe over the level of skill used to vector it manually, in honesty, moves me not at all.

So, where does that leave me? I think MapleRose and you have made sufficiently clear what you consider "high quality" work. If there's anything I aspire, it's primarily to make work like "Does It Hurt When You Die?" That, to me, is what art is all about: meaning. I will, just for the heck of it, try and manually vector some of the images I used. This was, after all, a request for info on how to improve smaller source images; and manually vectoring would certainly do it, it seems. Whether I have the stomach to stay at it for several months, I dunno: part of me just keeps feeling something is lost spending all that time and effort on essentially a minor visual improvement (if at all). We'll see.

Fran

Retired Moderator, Tagger, Linguistics

Fran

better than your faves tbh

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I'm glad you're considering working on a vector. It's certainly the way to work with low quality scans/screencaps. Plus, another good thing about vectoring is that you can make walls in larger resolutions, such as widescreen.

Well, we weren't talking about originality or execution before, that's why I decided to show you that vector, because I think the technique of the vectoring was very good. And of course...it lacks of creativity. We definitely agree on that part. And that's why that piece was submitted in the Vector art gallery.

And I see where are you going with your example, but MT policy does not accept:

From the MT policy
You may not submit any artwork which when viewed is clearly indicative of extremely low quality and effort. The following compositional and technical weaknesses may result in the deletion of your artwork if they are significantly present in the submission:

* poor extraction, including obvious and apparent scan extraction edges,
* doodles, or other items exhibiting obvious poor planning,
* blurriness,
* extreme pixilation,
* enlarging of original scan image,
* no effort in integrating the background and foreground,
* "brush-whore" or "filter-whore," depending on overall quality,
* "ghosting," the use of a character image on low opacity in the background,
* collages of small scan images without visible effort at composition or incorporation, or
* lack of effort in any area.

The wallpaper you're showing is not even acceptable since it's includes the "ghosting".

I understand that originality is important for you, and for most wallers at MT is a very precious thing. And it's up to you as an artist if something is lost in the process, when vectoring is essential to give the extra thing to the whole thing.
I can give an example that I found very good, the artist took several screencaps from the Kobato anime and she made a quality work. I don't know if you're familiar with that anime, but the artist captured perfectly the feeling that Kobato gives.
I'll heal your scarred heart... by Yamionpu
I'll heal your scarred heart... by Yamionpu
She wrote a detailed description saying all the difficulties she encountered while working in that wallpaper. You can see that she vectored and painted the whole background.

Signature ImageLatest submission: Trouble Makers
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Thanks for the extended reply, Fran.

Yeah, I didn't think the image I gave as example would be accepted here. :) It was just to illustrate a point.

It's interesting MT doesn't allow "ghosting," the use of a character image on low opacity in the background, either. You guys seems to work with a very specific set of rules (not necessarily bad rules; just different from what I'm used to). This image has ghosting, too:

Ghostie Lain wall

And, needless to say, I like it very much. Simple, yet effective. I can also readily see how it could be considered low quality.

As for "I'll heal your scarred heart," I have to admit that it's very, very good, artistically as well. That lady certainly knows what she's doing. And then some. Pfew. In fact, the more I look into vectored works like hers, the more down I almost feel, really, LOL. I mean, nothing beats that crisp look; and after watching dozens of these works (also at animepapers), there's no denying that regular 'fanart' using screengrabs and assorted other direct-from-source material, starts looking, dare I say it, of somewhat lesser quality. :)

So, yeah, I'll start working on vectoring my work. I wasn't kidding when I said it may me several months; cuz, I dunno, it looks like an incredibly difficult job. I also do like the idea of adding objects, or removing them, at will. I guess that's really one of the many adventages of manual vectoring.

Fran

Retired Moderator, Tagger, Linguistics

Fran

better than your faves tbh

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I know! lol, vectoring has come a long way since it was first introduced at wallpapers communities. And now, it's certainly more sophisticated than ever.
And it has many ways to work with it, in other words, it gives you freedom to do whatever you want with the picture.

Of course learning will take you time, it took me a while to get the hang of this. But it's not difficult, I can tell you, everyone can make a vector, you'll only need patience. That's the key.

Good luck with your vectoring >3

Signature ImageLatest submission: Trouble Makers
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good job Fran!

  • Nov 22, 2009

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