Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Three must-have FREE image manipulation tools: Smilla Enlarger, Seam Carving GUI, and ShiftN

Three must-have FREE image manipulation tools: Smilla Enlarger, Seam Carving GUI, and ShiftN:
Three image manipulation freeware illustration
If you are an expert Photoshop user then this post may not be  for you; for the rest of us, however, the 3 tools presented here will provide high level functionality that will delight and deliver. Smilla Enlarger uses an algorithmic approach to enlarge images without pixellization, Seam Carving GUI performs ‘content aware’ resizing or cropping, that can crop elements or resize elements within your image while keeping the image visually plausible and cohesive, and ShiftN can fix skewed, converging perspectives in photographs in a single click.
The three tools are as follows:
  1. Smilla Enlarger: enlarge images without pixellization
  2. Seam Carving GUI: selectively resize or crop elements in images
  3. ShiftN: fix converging line perspectives for upright objects

1. Smilla Enlarger: enlarge images without pixellization

We’ve mentioned this program before (here and here). Smilla is a simple free tool that can process and enlarge images using a number of enlargement profiles.
Smilla Example with original
There’s nothing magical about what this program does, of course; it merely applies filters and you could in theory do the same using your favorite image editor; however, over the years I have found it extremely useful, and have been going back to it over and over again.
See examples of Smilla’s processing above and below.


2. Seam Carving GUI: selectively resize or crop elements in images

Seam Carving GUI screenshot1Seam Carving GUI screenshot2Seam Carving GUI screenshot3

Imagine being able to resize an image, yet keep an element or elements within the image from being affected by the resize. Conversely, imagine cropping only an element while maintaining the way all the other elements around it relate to each other (see the screenshot on the top of this post for an example of the latter).
The video below does a good job showing how Seam Carving GUI works.
More on content aware resizing in this Wikipedia article.

3. ShiftN: fix converging line perspectives for upright objects

ShiftN ScreenshotIf you’ve ever tried to take a head-on picture of an object, such as, say, a building, a painting, a bureau of drawers, or any other object, you know how difficult it is to get a perfectly aligned, 90-degree straight shot that showed it as being upright. Not to worry, though; ShiftN can fix converging line perspectives in images at the click of a button.
The cost? Your resulting image will be slightly cropped at the edges compared with the original.
Examples: (all processed using automatic correction)
Before After ShiftN
Example 2 before Example 2 after ShiftN
Example 3 before Example 3 after ShiftN

That’s it. If you know of any similar freeware tools please let us know in the comments section.

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