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Cropping and basic image enhancements using Gimp

In a perfect world, every photo we take would be lit well, rich in colour and the subject would be in exactly the right place.

As we all know, this is far from reality.

As long as you have a camera that can take a good photo, you can use software to turn an average photo, (for example) into a product image on your merchant website. Maybe this needs to be square, particular dimensions,.. whatever the requirement, software can help achieve the result.

Which software? In this article, I'll be using Gimp, which not only has a great range of features, it's also free!

Download it from

Installation is straightforward – just follow the instructions and you'll be ready to go in a couple of minutes.

I'm going to go through the steps needed to crop a photo for our good friend Rachael over at This site often features products shot on a plain background in isolation.

Step 1. – Get snapping!
Product shots are normally shot against a plain background with good lighting. As you can see from the image below, here is our photo, straight from the camera. No tweaks, other than resizing to fit on the page below.

Next, open up Gimp, then choose File>Open, then navigate to and open an image. (You can also drag and drop the file, from your browser into Gimp.)

Step 2. – Crop – removing the excess parts of the photo, focussing more directly on the subject.
The product shots on littlestitch need to be square…

Region Select Tool (Keyboard shortcut – R)
Click the left mouse button, in the upper area of the photoshop, then hold the 'Shift Key'. As you drag you see it will create a square marquee. Let go of the left mouse button to confirm your selection.
If the marquee is the right size, but a little off to one side, simply click in the middle and drag it to a new location.
Once you are happy, choose Image>Crop to selection from the menu at the top.

Cropped Image

Step 3. – Levels – How vivid the black and whites are.
The best way to learn what this means, is to try it!

Choose Colours>Levels

Input Levels

From left to right, the graph shows how much black and white populates the image.
If the peak were over to the left, the image would be predominantly dark, and over to the right, light!

By dragging the black (left hand) slider to the right, we're making the darker areas of the image, even darker.
By dragging the white (right hand) slider to the left, we're making the lighter areas of the image, even lighter.
As a good starting point, these should be set either side of where the peak starts to build upwards.
Once you have set these sliders, move the grey (central) slider left and right to adjust the overall tone of the image.

After Levels tweaked

Step 4. – Sharpen – Add a little more definition.

Choose Filters>Enhance>Sharpen

Moving the slider to the right will make the image more defined. It's a subtle enhancement but worth it!

Before and After Sharpening

Step 5. – Scale – Changing the images dimensions

We don't need our product image to be any larger than 300px by 300px.
Enter 300 in the width box, (height box will match this by default) and click 'Scale'

As you can see, we went from a good, but dark photo and turned it into our final product shot.
It looks great!

Below is the final product image at 3 different sizes:
300 x 300px, 180 x 180px, and 75 x 75px.


Daniel Bage

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