Because Pop Art is Fun – Photos to Color Charts Part 4

A Very Short Story:

I think that sweaters are art.  I always have, and I probably always will.  I find myself in art museums looking at a painting or sculpture and wondering what the artist would have created had they chosen yarn as the medium to convey their idea rather than oils or clay.

It is easy, then, for me to imagine myself knitting something based on the art I rub shoulders with.

In this particular case, I had recently scored several skeins of very awkwardly colored robin’s egg blue yarn.  I wanted the yarn when I saw it, even though I had no idea what to do with it, because the color was so vivid against all the other autumnal shades on the shelf.  It literally stood up and said “Look at me!  I have nothing to do with dying shrubbery!  I am part of a Spring with blue skies, ginormous clouds, and warmish weather!  Buy me!”  It commanded, I obeyed, and I stashed the yarn with absolutely no intentions of using it.

A few days later I was looking at silk screen prints by Andy Warhol, and when I saw the ‘Marilyn’  prints, I immediately recognized the blue from my impulse yarn buy.

So how to get Marilyn onto a sweater?

Here’s the final tutorial: a brief introduction on how to choose exactly the colors you want to see on the finished chart, and a summary with one more example using the techniques introduced in tutorials part 1, part 2, and part 3:

Because Pop Art is Fun – Photos to Color Charts Part 4

You Will Need the Following:

  • A high quality digital photo copy of the image you want to chart (don’t use the original in case something happens and the original is accidentally erased or permanently altered), preferably one that is very simple with two colors, similar to my example.  For black and white photos click here.  For photos with complicated shading, try here.  For photos with many colors click here.
  • GIMP photo editing software – in theory another photo editor will work as well, but the instructions below are GIMP specific.  For those of you who don’t have GIMP, it is free photo editing software, Mac and Windows compatible, and very, very powerful (read tricky to use).  For those of you who are already thoroughly familiar with Gimp’s capabilities and are confident about what they are doing, I applaud you.  Also, you may find this post a little easy.
  • The ability to take a screen shot of just part of your computer screen (I use the on my Mac)
  • A printer
  • Foreknowledge of the size chart you want and in what gauge you will be knitting.  Note: if you use a small gauge with a large chart size, the resulting knit design will turn out better than if you use a large gauge with a small chart size.  

Introductory Notes

The Marilyn print I have chosen seems fairly simple.  The colors are blue, light blue, pink, yellow, red, white, and black.  There is enough high contrast so that when choosing yarn colors, the colors will stand out against each other.  There is some shading in the hair, along the chin, and beneath the cheek bones which I will need to flatten out by limiting the number of colors.

So the plan is to remove the image from the lighter blue background, limit the colors to remove shading, size the image to fit the grid, and apply the grid.

The Instructions –

Open the Image

1. Read ALL of these instructions first.  Do not attempt to work along with the instructions.  Some prep work is mentioned in the middle because that is where it contextually made sense to put it.

2.  Open the GIMP program on your computer.  To download GIMP, and for help using it visit this site

3. Click File > Open Image and select the image you want to convert to a knitting chart.  The image should pop up in the editing window.

Size the Image

4. At the bottom of the image window next to the zoom display is a tab showing what measurement system the window is using to show the size of the image.  Change the tab to show inches.

5. Change the zoom to read 100%  to check the current measurement.

6.  In the header bar, click Image > Scale Image and a new window should open

7. In the Scale Image window, change the width to the number of inches desired, and hit enter.  The height should change automatically.  Click the Scale button in the lower left corner to alter the image.  Make sure that the resulting size of the chart matches the desired size by looking at the editing window and making sure the edges of the image line up with the desired inch measurement.  Note:  If you are having trouble viewing the whole image now, in the header bar click View > Zoom > Fit Image in Window, and you should be able to see the whole image once again

Remove Image from Background

8.  In the top header bar, click Tools > Selection Tools > Free Select.  This turns your cursor into a ‘pencil’ which you can use to select just the part of the image you want to use in the chart.  For this tutorial, we will use the free select to get rid of the light blue background, leaving the darker blue in the collar.

With the cursor, while holding down the left mouse button, carefully outline the part of the image you would like to use as a chart.  You can do this either by carefully drawing around the edge or by clicking like crazy all the way around the entire shape until you have made a complete circle back to the beginning.  Then click the little yellow dot where you started, completely selecting the shape and turning the line you drew into a closed dotted line.  Make sure you draw or click as accurately around the shape as possible, because anything you include on the inside of the ‘circle’ you just finished making will show up in the finished chart.

9.  In the top header bar, click Select > Invert.  This selects and ‘highlights’ everything we don’t want in the finished chart so we can delete it in the next step.

10.  In the top header bar, click Edit > Cut.  Everything we aren’t interested in knitting should disappear.  If it looks like the image hasn’t changed, try clicking Colors > Invert in the top header bar.

IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE:  It is very easy to accidentally click something and have the whole image disappear, so it is very important to keep only the part of the image you don’t want selected while deleting and inverting.  If the image is incorrectly selected, the part of the image you do want to keep may be deleted or altered.  If this happens, then undo it by repeatedly clicking Edit > Undo in the top header bar until the image looks okay again.  Then repeat steps 8 through 10, making sure that you invert the selection properly in step 9.

Limit Colors to Remove Shading – Includes New Steps

11.  In the top header bar, click Select > Invert to reselect the part of the image you want to keep.

12.  In the top header bar, click Image > Windows > Dockable Dialogues > Palettes and a new window should open.  At the bottom of the window should be a symbol resembling a blank piece of paper, and when your cursor hovers over it, it should be labeled “Create New Palette”.  Click Create New Palette.  A new window should open entitled “Palette Editor.”

13.  At the top of the Palette Editor should be a field with the word “Untitled” in it.  You can leave that there, or you can rename your palette something to do with the image you are editing, e.g. “Marilyn”, “Custom 1”, “Chart Palette”, etc.

14.  In the top header bar, click Windows > Tool Box.  In the Tool Box window, click the colored box representing the foreground color.  A window called “Change Foreground Color” should open.  Slide the sliders around until the color next to the Current Field is one of the colors you want to use in the finished chart.  Click OK.

15.  In the Palette Editor Window, click the blank page symbol at the bottom of the dialogue which says “Create New Entry from Foreground Color” when the cursor hovers over it.  The color you just created should appear in the Palette Editor Window along with a black bar.

Repeat steps 14 and 15 until you have added all the colors you intend to use in your chart to the palette editor.  Press the “Save” button at the bottom of the dialogue window to add your new color palette to the default color palette selection, then close the Palette Editor window.

16.  In the top header bar, click Image > Mode > Indexed.  A new window should open named “Indexed Color Conversion.”  In the window, select “Use Custom Palette”. Then click the field beneath and scroll through the different palettes until you find the one you created in steps 14 and 15.  Select it, and click “Convert.”

Add Grid & Print

For the tutorial on how to do this, please see the last couple of steps in tutorials 1-3.

And that’s it!  Now I have the chart I need to knit my sweater, and hopefully you have a head start on making charts of your own.

Happy Knitting!

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