It's about time, so here goes... the PMGS StampFix app.
Special thanks to my beta testers. There were significant changes between v1.0 and the current version (v1.08), and I couldn't have done it without your help. Please make sure you update to the current version.
What it does:
It takes this (left), and turns it into this (right). It'll do single images or batch processing.
Windows 7+ and Mac OSX 10.10+. I suspect it might work on OSX 10.9, but I don't have confirmation. I'm working on a Linux version.
It's designed to work with stamps scanned on a black background. I'm working in modifying it to do white backgrounds, but it's a bit trickier. This is the issue with which my beta testers had the most difficulty. I never realized how many people scan with a white background. Here's a tip -- Strathmore Chromolux Mirri Sheet, $2.99 for a 19 1//2" x 26" sheet at Hobby Lobby. Cut it to the same size as your scanner lid and attach it with Scotch Scrapbooking Tape.
Where can I get it?
The latest version will always be available here. The page also has some basic instructions on how to use the app.
If you charge people for software, they expect lots of customer support, and we cant have that! I do still have a day job. But seriously, I'll do my best to provide any support needed.
I made the app to save myself a lot of time and effort. You folks get the benefit. Though I'm not charging for use of the app, there was significant cost involved in creating it, so if you feel like donating to the cause, there's a PayPal link on the download page.
What I ask of you:
Despite the best efforts of me and my beta testers, there will, no doubt, still be some bugs. If something isn't working or isn't behaving like you think it should, please note (1) what you were trying to do, (2) what the incorrect/unexpected behavior was, and (3) and error messages it gives you.
I have no doubt there will be some quick updates once everyone starts trying it out. I ask that you please be patient if there are new versions fairly often until I get the last of the bugs worked out.
Also, if you have any suggestions for improvements, please let me know.
I've just published the first update to the app, v1.09. It's available at the app webpage.
The only change of note is a major correction to the cropping algorithm.
With v1.08 if you applied a high manual rotation angle, the padding was off. For example, observe the corners of this stamp -- the padding should be 1px.
Here it is with v1.09.
I discovered this during the course of experimenting with diamond-shaped stamps. Observe...
New Download Options
I took a new approach to the packaging of the app, and I managed to get the download size down from ~178MB to ~48MB.
Also, there's now a lighter option -- if you already have Java Runtime Environment installed, you can download the app without the JRE bundled. It's ~9-13MB. So for those with a bandwidth cap, consider downloading the JRE directly from Java, so every time I update the app, you can just download the light version.
Other App News:
I'm still working on dedicated diamond and triangle options. In the meantime, however, here are some instructions on how to process triangles and diamonds.
The app still tries to treat triangles as squares, but you can overcome this by using only Pre-Processing Rotation Adjustments. If you find the sweet spot, it will make a perfectly cropped triangular stamp. The key is, DO NOT use ANYPost-Processing Rotation Adjustment. I haven't worked through that issue yet.
Also, if you're going to do triangles, you need ample spacing around the stamp in the original image. If the stamp is too close to the edge of the original image, there won't be sufficient background to cover all the space when it's rotated, and you get this (note the darker black fill in the corners) --
It's also possible to do diamonds, though again, not yet on full automatic.
For diamond stamps that are actually square, there's no amount of coding that will make the app treat them as a diamond. The app can't read the face of the stamp to tell which way is up in the text, so it will always rotate the stamp to a square. The solution -- apply a 45° Post-Processing Rotation Adjustment.
For more traditional diamond-shaped stamps, the angle will be a little different -- in this example ~30° Post-Processing Rotation Adjustment produced this result.
Hopefully, I'll be able to automate the triangles and diamonds soon, but until then, these tips will have to do!
PMGS,this is great. Thank you for sharing it. For a long time I have been plodding along, straightening my images one file at a time (and not always precisely) with a tool in IrfanView. Part of the problem may have been my clumsiness and lack of technical skills, but your program is just what the doctor ordered. Oh, and the tutorial video is a big help.
Another big update to the PMGS StampFix app. Now at v1.10.
v1.09 introduced the ability to rotate/crop triangle stamps, but you couldn't use the final rotation adjustment or the image would be wildly off. This was due to the center of rotation being calculated incorrectly. That's been fixed, so you can now manually rotate triangular stamps.
The Big Addition -- White Backgrounds!
This was, by far, the most requested feature that I hadn't been able to conquer. Well, it works now. It's complicated to get setup, but it works. As does black stamps on black backgrounds.
The key is that the app now allows manual adjustment of the thresholds. This is fairly technical, but since I know many of you won't watch the video or read the directions... ;)
In very simplified terms -- when an image is processed, it's converted into grayscale. With grayscale, each pixel receives a value from 0 (black) to 255 (white). The threshold sets a number on that axis, and everything on one side is considered background, everything on the other is stamp.
The difficulty in handling white-on-white or black-on-black is that the margin for that threshold is very small. Sometimes, only 2-3 numbers on a 0-255 scale will allow the app to accurately separate the stamp from the background. And, the number will vary based on the shade of your background (in my example below, a white scanner lid was 240, a white piece of paper was 214). By allowing you to manually adjust these settings, you can find the sweet spot where it will produce accurate results for you.
I'm proud to announce the release of version 1.20 of StampFix.
First, and most obviously, the user interface. The previous format was a small window, designed to avoid issues for those who might run a smaller screen resolution. Unfortunately, this made it impossible to have all the settings in one place, and led to users missing settings or having difficulty tweaking settings without clicking through multiple screens. The new UI is much larger, with all settings co-located, and it's resizable all the way to full-screen size. This does increase the chance that those with lower screen resolutions will have problems — if that's the case, please let me know.
Second, a bug fix for images that were long and thin not processing correctly.
Finally, a half-solution to the problem of DPIs not being included in the metadata of the outputted images. This now works if the input file is a PNG. I haven't managed to get it working with JPG input files yet, though I'm still working on it.
As usual, a quick instructional video. I highly recommend taking 20 minutes to watch this, as it explains a few key changes to the user interface.
If the YouTube video doesn't show up properly, you can view it directly on YouTube here.
Look forward to tinkering. I am not one to complain, however as a power user of this program, my main wish to have fixed, would be the overwrite problem.
I like my images scanned as close to 600dpi as possible, hence I line up rows of 4 to 6 stamps, and scan them at 600dpi. I then end up with say 5-6 rows of stamps to "fix"
If I deskew the first row, fine, but the second onwards, I have to alter the prefix every "fix" otherwise they are overwritten. It would be nice to have all "fixes" in one session enumerated contiguously.
It may sound petty but when doing 300-400 stamps, can be a bit of a pain.
As an aside, I am hesitant to employ the new version, I am so in tune with the old version, I can almost operate blindfolded. That may be the reason I still use ACDSee image program from the 1980's These programs are like my pipe and slippers.