Tuesday, October 4, 2011

QR code Photoshop tutorial

As a quick follow-up to my QR code post, I will go over the basics for manipulating QR code in Photoshop.

1. Generate the code.
Go to a QR code generator such as Kaywa. There, you will be able to select text, URL, telephone number, or SMS and then select the size (choose XL) of the code. Click "Generate" and you'll have a code embedded with whatever you entered.
2. Save your image.
Right-click your image and give it a name. You will now have a .png file that is not quite ready to work with. Open it in Photoshop and we'll fix that.


3. With your image opened in Photoshop, the first thing you will need to do is change the color mode. It will be set to "Indexed Color," but you need to change it to "RGB color" or you won't be able to do fun things with it.

4. Resize as needed. If you already know the approximate size you want, then you can go to Image—Image Size and adjust. If not, you can always transform it later. Here, I resized to 5x5 inches at 300 dpi. If you haven't already unlocked your background layer (double click it and hit return), then do so now.
5. Now, assuming you want to alter the image, I would suggest selecting the black and copying it. To do this, just use the Select--Color Range from the menu, and click on the black. If something strange happens (like, say, suddenly you are getting shades of gray, then just click the eyedropper with the + and click around until you have selected everything. You can also play with the fuzziness slider.
Once you have it selected (dancing ants around all the black parts)...
then you are ready to copy and paste the code onto the photo of your choice.

6. Here's where you have to decide why in the world you want to stick QR code in a photo in the first place. Well, a few suggestions might be:
  • just to customize the QR code that will use somewhere else, like on a business card or a mailer.
  • you could make a bunch of QR code boxes into a frame around a black and white portrait and have each one give information, like cute quotes from your kid.
  • you could make a more artistic card to send to a friend with your phone number embedded in the code to say "call me"
  • you could do some sort of complex photo mosaic with links to info on the web
  • you design a product (like the pillows in my previous post, or a quilt or cross stitch or whatever)
  • you could do some artsy installation piece about the loss of privacy and add QR codes to Google map photos embedded with all the information. Since we're generating things, why not generate a bogus "artist's statement." Try it. It's pretty funny. Anyway, whatever...
So, I am not feeling particularly inspired. Since my code looks like a hedge maze, I'm going to put it on top of a French garden. (I have copied and am now pasting onto my photo):
At this point, I have a background photo and a layer of black QR with no background. I'm going to do a clipping mask (which I taught you to do way back in 2008, so look at this post if you need help).

7. If you want to do something with a clipping mask, duplicate your background photo, sandwich your QR code layer between the background and the duplicate background layer by dragging the QR layer between the other two. With the top (photo layer) active, simply place you cursor in between the top layer and the QR layer while holding down the option (or alt) key until you see two intersecting circles. Click when those little circles appear you've got a clipping mask (see the arrow pointing down).
 Now turn off the background layer to see the clipped effect:
Strange, eh?

8. Hmm. Now what? Well, maybe add a background color by creating a new layer below the QR one and using the paint bucket tool to fill it? I'll just use white, because you want fairly high contrast if possible:
 Or maybe stick my logo in the middle of this pointless creation? I'm doing that to show you that there can sometimes be as much as 30% tolerance for error and your phone can still read it.


You can experiment with blending modes, with different colors, anything.
Could this actually be useful? Maybe. I still think that QR can make a good modern pillow, but I'd have to find something I really like before slapping it on my business card. If I come up with something cool, I'll post it. And if you do, send me a link.  Until then, my fling with QR code is over.

2 comments:

Sebastian Latina said...

Great tutorial! I love the idea of putting a logo smack in the middle of the code.

Patrik Horváth said...

nice, i made photoshop actions to customize codes, you can download them here: http://bit.ly/QRactions