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Cross Stitch 101: Creating a Pattern from a Photograph

Have you ever wanted to stitch an image?  Maybe something from a TV show you like, or a portrait of a pet or a family member?  It's not as tricky as it might seem to convert that image into a stitchable pattern.  You just need a few tools, all of which can be got for free.

First, you need an image editor.  A lot of expensive stitch software can do this step to a degree, but processing your image before it goes into your stitch software/converter is the best way to make sure you get the results you want.  I like Paint.NET.  This isn't a website.  The website is actually here:

This only works on PC.  If you're on Mac, Pinta is your tool.

Both of these tools will let you crop, adjust, and fiddle with your image to get the framing and light right.  Some images will be harder to process than others.  This step has taken me anywhere from five minutes to days of trial and error to get it right.  If you need something a little more robust, and need to throw some curves or HDR on the image to even out dark shadows and harsh highlights, GIMP is your boy:

GIMP is cross-platform.  It will work on PC and Mac.  Like Paint.NET and Pinta, it's also free.  (Personally, I prefer Photoshop for tricky images, but Photoshop is not free.)

IMPORTANT: Each pixel will be one stitch when you import your image.  Make sure you have re-sized your image accordingly.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Your monitor is a lot brighter than you think it is.  The colours on your screen will be much different to the colours you see in your hand with your floss.  If an image has a lot of dark colours, making it a little lighter and brighter will usually translate to better colour depth on the fabric.

Once that's all done, save your image as a PNG file (important!) and go to your stitch software/converter of choice.  I use PCStitch.  PCStitch also isn't free.  But here are some free options:

Each tool will have its own set of abilities and requirements, but they will all work under the same basic principle of importing your image, and getting a pattern spat back out. 

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