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Images are an important part of this wiki. Articles should be illustrated when possible. But we don't want just any picture on our articles. We want the best possible images. Here, then, is an illustrated guide to what makes a good picture. The recommendations that this guide makes are based on key point found in T:ICC and T:IUP. If you've not read these policies, we encourage you to do so before proceeding further.

Widths

This section illustrates the dramatic impact of width on your images, especially as used in infoboxes.

Your pictures must be a minimum of 420px wide, but it would be better if they were at least 500px.[1]

Look at what happens when we try to use a <250px width picture in an infobox. We'll use two images of the Spanish flag, since that flag has lots of intricate detail. The image at far right has a maximum width of 50px. But our infobox code will try to stretch the image to fill the space. Result: massive pixellation.

The picture on the left is an obvious improvement. Because its maximum width is 450px, it easily scales down to 250px and completely fills the frame. The infobox therefore "looks right".

Heights

Especially as used in infoboxes, heights must be limited or else the infobox as a whole will grow to undesirable heights. With covers, as we saw in the previous section, you have no choice but to use something with a portrait orientation. Covers are almost always longer than they are wide.

But with screenshots, you want to get as close to widescreen as possible. The better image here is the one on the left. Note how it significantly reduces the overall height of the infobox. Now, it's not the greatest image in the world, and there are very definitely reasons why it's not the infobox picture on the live Fifth Doctor page. But of these two choices, it's superior.

Some may have their doubts about this. After all, the picture on right seems to be closer and to have greater detail. And, in itself, that's true. But the infobox is not the only graphical element on the page.

Also, on this wiki, as opposed to Wikipedia, the longer the infobox is, the further down it pushes the first image in the body of the article. So we do want to try as much as possible to use widescreen pictures for infoboxes. And, again, because any image could theoretically be used as an infobox pic, we need to make all pics widescreen — with certain exceptions — just in case.

Real infobox heights on live pages

LongInfobox

This infobox pic is just too damn long

Look what happens on smaller articles. At right are screenshots of a couple of our pages.

Ria

Ria was a very minor character in COMIC: Party Animals. There will probably never be much more that could be added to this article. But look at that infobox pic! In the first place, we can immediately see that it's less than 250px, because there's plenty of white space on the sides. But the real concern is the height!

Sure, it may not be possible to get a widescreen image of this character. Comic infobox pictures, as we'll learn below are simply constrained by the panel size. There's not much you can do if the character in question only appears in panels that are taller than they are wide.

On the other hand, you certainly don't have to accept the whole panel. This picture of Ria could obviouly be cropped better. It may never be widescreen, but it certainly could be cropped on her face and neck. You could easily take something that's only a fourth as tall as this image.

Remember, with small articles, you don't want the infobox to be the cause of masses of white space. A good rule of thumb is to make the infobox no taller than the height of the article text. With minor character's that's not always possible, but it is usually possible to make it so that the infobox is no more than 1.25 times as tall as the body text. If you can't get the infobox to be that height, drop the infobox and just put the picture alone on the page. Truly tiny articles don't actually need infoboxes.

Even after you properly cropped this pic, Ria here would almost certainly be better without the infobox.

Peladon

AcceptablyLongerInfobox

This infobox is longer than the text, but not by that much. The pic is acceptable, even if it could be improved.

Turning our attention to the infobox at right, we see that Peladon of Peladon has a bit more text on it. Thus, it can — just barely — support the infobox with this particular picture. There's thus no great rush to replace this infobox pic — at least, not for reasons of height.

However, things clearly could be improved. As it stands, it's basically a 4:3 shot. It's almost certain that a frame just on either side of this one could be found that would allow for a widescreen shot, reducing the overall height of the infobox by about a hundred pixels, thus shortening the entire infobox.

Also, closer inspection of the photo reveals a number of technical defects, especially at the top and bottom of the frame, as well as the fact that it appears to be drawn from the VHS copy of The Curse of Peladon. But we talk about all that later.

Tight focus

In the previous section, we mentioned that although the Fifth Doctor image on the left was better, it still wasn't of good enough quality to be the infobox picture. This is because it doesn't actually have a tight enough focus for an infobox. Where possible, you should go with the an extremely tight cropping of a person's face.

Notice in this example how we have two pictures of almost the same dimensions, so the main difference between them is the tightness of the cropping. It's an easy choice, though. The one on the left is the one to go with, because we want the frames filled with the faces of our subjects. In an infobox, the key is to have a closeup on the topic of the article. Since the topic of this article is the Fourth Doctor, we much prefer a picture that's a closeup on his face. If the article were, say, Hat, then the image on right might be in the running for the infobox.

Of course it's not always possible to have a tight closeup on a character. Some characters are very minor and are only glimpsed in a long shot. Others were unlucky enough to have been a part of Doctor Who when close-ups, by and large, were technically difficult and therefore rarely occurred. For these people, you'll simply have to get the tightest shot you can muster.

Eyes

It is a long-held design convention that it's a good idea, where possible, to have pictures on the right of a page looking left, and pictures on the left side of a page looking right. The concept is that your illustrations should subtly draw attention to a page.

For this reason it's best that an infobox pic look left. So if we were writing an article about the Doctor, and we had to choose from only the two examples above, the Fourth Doctor image would be preferable.

That's not to say that every image of a character uploaded to this wiki must be looking right. That would be silly. There are many instances in the body of an article where you want to place the pic on the left meaning you need the character looking right. And there are times, when the best picture is one where the character is looking right or vaguely to the centre.

That's why it's not a requirement that infobox pics be looking left — but it is a good idea. Here are some examples of non-left-looking pics that nevertheless are good enough to be infobox pics.

Prefer better media

Where possible you should use the Blu-ray, DVD or LD version of an image, in that order of preference. VHS doesn't offer anything close the same level of clarity of optical disc formats.

Sometimes — typically with BBV Productions material, there is nothing better than an old VHS tape. Extreme care should be taken with such material, as it is frequently better just to not have an illustration than a really bad one.

Cropping

Cropping is something required of almost every screenshot you take. Almost no screenshots are at their best if you take the full frame. As a general rule, 'the tighter the crop, the better the thumbnail will look. And the thumbnail is what's most important. Most people don't click on the thumbnail to look at the full size version of your image. So the thumb has to work on its own, except in extraordinary cases.

Most home video releases of products have black bands either on the sides or on the top and bottom of the frame. These must be cropped out before uploading.

Images must work as thumbnails

One thing that's really hard to remember is that our audience, our readers, will almost certainly never click on a thumbnail. This means that they'll never see the picture at full resolution, like we do when we upload it. Remember that a lot of our readers are using mobile devices, and therefore they can't see our pics at full resolution, even if they wanted to.

You must avoid uploading pictures that require enlargement from the thumbnail level.

Here's a selection of pictures that just don't work at the thumbnail level. And remember when looking at these that they're 200px wide, which is actually a little bigger than standard thumbnail size.

Comics

One panel only

As a general rule, you should only use one panel at a time to illustrate a concept from a comic book. All three of the following images are trying to illustrate the notion of the "old" Jamie found in The World Shapers.

No colourisation allowed

Another thing to watch out for are colourised images of stories that were originally monochromatic. So the image on the left, above, is immediately disqualified simply because it's in colour. With only one or two exceptions, all DWM strips until Ophidius were originally in black-and-white, and only these monochromatic images are eligible to be used.

Just to be super-clear about this:

Nothing from the interior of:

and very little of the interior of:

can be posted to this site, except in behind-the-scenes sections, and only when you're trying to demonstrate something about the colourisation process.

Speech balloons

Speech balloons are everywhere in comics. Obviously, they're necessary for the story to progress. But they often get in the way of simply capturing an image. They shouldn't be included at all if it's possible to avoid them.

Let's first look at a rather simple image. Here, we're just trying to illustrate what an ape look like:

When capturing comic images, you must either completely eliminate the speech balloon, or you must include the whole thing. Basically, no letters can be amputated from the frame, and it must not appear as if the balloon is leading to another balloon that is not fully illustrated.

That said, some very minimal cropping of the balloon is allowed, so long as it doesn't obviously look "incomplete" at the thumbnail level.

To illustrate all this, let's take a look at a few negative and positive examples.

Bad balloons

Here are a few examples of bad balloon cropping:

Good balloons

Correcting for age

While overt photo manipulation is frowned upon here, minor digital cleanup is almost required in the case of older comics. Often, these have been scanned from originals where the paper has begun to yellow and age. Therefore, it is preferred that you attempt some minor color correction, by bringing the parts of the illustration that were originally uncolored paper back to a perfect, hexadecimal #FFFFFF white.

If you're using Adobe Photoshop this is easily achieved. Most of the time simply applying an "Auto Levels" will clean up the image nicely. In extreme cases — or if you're not using Photoshop  — you may have to manually adjust contrast, brightness and/or gamma until proper white balance is achieved, and the paper is once again white.

Don't go crazy, though. We're just trying to get the paper back to white. This will usually sort the colours (if there are any) back to their original hues. Never try to correct for any other colour but white.

Footnotes

  1. Why 500px? It'll help "future proof" us, as mobile devices get wider. With a 500px width item, the image will be full width on most everything that could be classed as a "phone". As demonstrated at T:IBOX PICS, this will mean the pic will be a better "hero image".
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