digital dutch - est. 1999 amsterdam

arles image web page creator

Crop for better thumbnails

Good thumbnails are hard to make, because of conflicting requirements. Thumbnails should be large enough to provide the visitor with a good idea what the full size image looks like. On the other hand they should be small enough to display a dozen or more thumbnails on the screen. And they should have a small file size to make sure the index page loads fast. Cropping is a good way to create better thumbnails by putting more information in a smaller area.

Crop and resize

The traditional way to create thumbnails is by simply sizing down the full sized images. The problem with scaling too much down is that the details of the image get lost. To prevent this graphic designers use a combination of crop and resize. First, the most interesting part of the image is cropped. Then the remaining crop area is resized, resulting in a much better thumbnail.

Original image

Original image

Resized thumbnail
Default thumbnail

Resized and cropped thumbnail
Cropped and resized thumbnail

Cropping the hard way

I hear you say, that doesn't sound too difficult. Cropping and resizing an image is easy in any image editor. Where it becomes tedious though, is when you have to repeat this process for dozens or hundreds of images. Think: open the image in Photoshop, crop it, create a thumbnail, save it and repeat for each of your images. And if the result is not good, you have to do it all over again. One could define a macro to do it quickly, but unfortunately every image has to cropped in another area, which is why this process can only be done by hand. Arles takes a totally different approach, allowing you to set a cropping area in seconds and to redefine it if you don't like it.

Defining a thumbnail crop area in Arles

Arles lets you define crop areas for thumbnails without modifying the image. The crop area information is stored in the Arles Images Database. The good thing about this is that you can work much quicker.

To define a crop area for a thumbnail:

  • In the main window click the Browse button to open the Arles Image Explorer.
  • In the Arles Image Explorer select the image for which you want to set the crop area.
  • Select the Image menu > Define Crop.

Select Define Thumbnail in the Arles Image Explorer

  • In the Define Crop Area window use your mouse to select the area you want to be cropped.

Define thumbnail area window in Arles

  • Select the next image by clicking the right arrow at the top of the window and select the crop area again.
  • To see the results in your gallery, click the Thumbnails or All button in the Web Page Creator window.

Another advantage of the crop area being stored in the database, is that you can always go back and change the crop area. Or you can remove the crop area by clicking the Reset button.

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