Graphs from Photos

There are many ways to make tapestry crochet graphs from photos. The ideal subject is lit from the side and includes several values. A variety of graph papers and information about how to use them are included in my Tapestry Crochet and More Tapestry Crochet books. In summary, the image may be projected onto paper or placed under tapestry crochet graph paper on a light table. After tracing the major lines, the cells are then colored in with light, medium and dark colored pencils.

Another approach utilizes computer graphics. The below images were done in a just few minutes with Photoshop, but several other programs could have produced similar results. Reducing the colors of the photo helps visualize the crocheted version and often makes it easier to trace onto tapestry crochet graph paper.

The “posterize” feature of Photoshop produced the image on the right from the photo on the left.

The number of colors and the posterized colors themselves are easily changed in Photoshop.

The colors on the left were altered with Photoshop’s “color balance”, then the image was transformed into black and white with “grayscale”.
Photoshop’s “mosaic” feature further simplified the image into squares of various values.

The online site, KnitPro, quickly (and for free) transformed my photo into a square-ruled graph.

Square-ruled graph done on KnitPro from a 3 color photo prepared in Photoshop.

KnitPro just as easily produced the rectangle-ruled graph below.

Rectangular-ruled graph done on KnitPro from the same 3 color photo.

To my knowledge, though, there is no computer program available that will fill in tapestry crochet graph paper automatically. Digital versions of the most popular tapestry crochet graph papers are posted in the files section of the Yahoo Tapestry Crochet group. The graph paper may be printed out, then placed over an image on a light table and filled in by hand or the graph may be digitally placed over a photo, then filled in (cell by cell) with the paint bucket tool.

Some the flesh tone was filled in on the right with Photoshop’s “paint bucket” tool.

For creating graphs of animals, flowers, etc., there are millions of free online images available for inspiration. For instance, Google “horse”, then click on “images” to find a profile view, then trace it onto the appropriate graph paper. This method helps achieve more accurate proportions and had I used one of those images, perhaps my horses would NOT have turned out like donkeys!

16 Responses to “Graphs from Photos”

  1. I would first convert the color photograph to grayscale then do the posterization or adjust levels. There are also some crosstitch programs that can adapt photographs (preferably with reduced levels first) to a colored grid.

  2. […] and blog, including this post about the design of the bag featured in Crochet Master Class, and this recent post about creating tapestry crochet graphs from […]

  3. I just added one of the programs – KnitPro – to the post. There are several others, too.

  4. […] Carol Ventura, a pioneer in crochet portraits, uses tapestry crochet and tells you how to do it yourself. […]

  5. Char55 says:

    PC Stitch is a cross-stitch graphing software program that allows for many options:

    1) You can “underlay a photo” – it will put an image of your photo under the grid so you can fill it in with the colors you wish
    2) You can “import” an image – it will fill in the colors for you (you can also limit the number of colors you want to show up by pre-selecting a pallette of colors)
    3) You can design from a blank graph

    I have made many Tunisian afghans with this program.

  6. Judi F. says:

    This looks amazing, I may give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Peace, Judi

  7. […] software or different processes of getting an image into a format useful for tapestry? I found this brief article on […]

  8. hooker leo says:

    I more interested in scaling. If I have a 3×5 inch photo, how do I scale it to a 4×6 foot blanket? Any suggestions or info on where I can look. You are the first site I am visiting tonight in search of my answer. Thanks.

    • I suggest you crochet a 4″ x 4″ swatch with the yarn and hook that will be used for the project to determine the number of stitches per inch and rows per inch. Multiply the dimensions of the final piece by the stitches and rows per inch results to figure out how many stitches wide and rows high your piece will be. Then make a graph that corresponds to the number of stitches and rows needed. If you are tracing it by hand, then adjust the image to fit the graph. If doing it on the computer, put the graph over the photo as another layer and adjust the graph until the correct number of stitches and rows covers the image. Good luck!

  9. Tamara says:

    Thank you so much! I can’t wait to give it a try!

  10. Kathy Cox says:

    Have you used Excel to chart your pictures? You can set the picture as the background and then do screen prints. The cell sizes can be adjusted for gauge and you can even enter row and stitch numbers.

  11. Kathy Cox says:

    Carol, I just started tapestry crochet and thank you very much for you videos. My first piece is misshapen as I am carrying up to three strands. The width shrinks as much as two inches on the piece that started out as 15. My tension must be too tight. How many stands can you carry? What do you suggest? Thanks.

    • Practice, practice, practice!!! I can carry many colors at once, but prefer to only carry a few. A smaller hook might help make the tension more consistent. Save your first pieces so that you can see your progress. Each piece you do will probably be better than the last.

  12. […] Carol Ventura, a pioneer in crochet portraits, uses tapestry crochet and tells you how to do it yourself. […]

  13. Dena Freeborn says:

    I use PC Stitch 10. Works great. You can enlarge to “huge” for us older people with aging eyes and adjust your colors to as many or few as you want. You can import pics, images, cartoons…anything. I love it.

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