To fit template or social media image dimension requirements, cropping or scaling images to size is often a necessity. If you’re lucky, a few clicks on your favorite photo editing app will do the trick, but if it’s not as easy as that, read on to learn about seam carving, or liquid rescaling.
Cropping changes the dimensions of an image by cutting out its outer parts. This works well if the subject of the image can be contained within the desired parameters while retaining good composition and size. But what if your content, or subject matter, doesn’t fit within the specified boundaries?
Imagine we want to use a picture of a smiling woman on a sponsored LinkedIn ad. We want the picture on the left to replace LinkedIn’s standard 180 X 110px link thumbnail.
The best crop we can produce cuts off important parts of our picture—the model’s hand and the clipboard.
Resizing is limited because you have to maintain aspect ratio to avoid distortion. In other words, you can’t resize the x-axis withour making a proportional change to the y. Because of this, cropping must often be done in tandem with resizing, but, as we have seen before, this is not always a perfect solution.
Seam carving is a method of image resizing that finds seams of pixels that are not likely to be missed. It removes seams of pixels with little visual detail, narrowing or shortening your image with no visible distortion. You can even insert seams of pixels to increase the width or height of your image, or remove entire objects from your image!
Using seam carving, we inserted vertical seams along the left side of the image below and removed horizontal seams along the area with the microphone. This allowed us to get more of the young woman’s hand and her clipboard into the desired frame, giving our image more context than if it had simply been cropped.
Don’t write off seam carving as just a cool tool for graphic designers either—think about its use in website design, more specifically in responsive web. Seam carving can be used to scale down images in a responsive website. It can make the images themselves responsive.
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