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I'm working with a .png (a logo with text) found here. When I import to gimp and try to scale it down, to fit my canvas, the text above "DON DAVIS LECTURESHIP... etc" becomes illegible from pixellation.

How should I go about solving the problem, if I can.

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The best solution would be to get (or make) a vector version of the image.

If you can't do that, you'll probably get the best results by:

  1. using a high-quality scaling method (e.g. "Sinc (Lanczos3)" in GIMP), and

  2. adding some white margins around the image before scaling it, to avoid problems with edge effects.

That said, depending on just how small you want to scale the image, it might not be possible to keep the smallest text legible. For example, here's what I get if I scale your image down to 40% of its original size:

Sample image, 40% size

Yeah, the small text at the top is not very easy to read... but then, at approximately 5 pixels tall, you shouldn't really expect it to be. Actually, given its size, it's quite remarkable that it can be read at all.

One thing you could do, for very small sizes, would be to rearrange the image, scaling the different parts of it by different amounts to keep them all legible. You might even consider leaving some parts out: in the image above, for example, the line of text at the top could be removed entirely (and its information content conveyed in some other way, if necessary).

Ps. If you're designing for print, you really shouldn't be working in a raster graphics editor like GIMP at all. It's much more convenient to use a vector image editor like Inkscape, which allows you to scale images losslessly and to have them printed out at the native resolution of the printer. Alternatively, if you do want to use GIMP, make sure you're working at a resolution that at least gets close to what a good printer is capable of: I'd recommend a minimum of 300 pixels per inch.

  • :0 I would never have guessed that that upper text was just 5 pixels. What size was the original? Also, was that the Sinc algorithm? – JamesTheAwesomeDude May 2 '13 at 18:22
  • The original text appears to be about 11 px tall. (I say "about" because even the original text is strongly anti-aliased, and the top and bottom of the line don't fall exactly on pixel boundaries. It's definitely between 10 and 12 pixels, though.) The scaling factor was 40%, so that actually makes the scaled text nominally about 4.5 pixels tall. And yes, this was scaled with the Lanczos3 algorithm. – Ilmari Karonen May 2 '13 at 22:34
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Yes, you can, in five steps. There is a feature to make selections by an image path or colour. This method should work for any vector image or single-colour line graphics.

  1. Create your text. Write your text using the font tool.

  2. Select the font path. In the top menu navigate to "Select" > "From Path". Once you have engaged the "Select from path" feature, click onto your text. You should see a selection line around the text.

  3. Create a path. Again, under the "Select" menu (you may "Right-click"), engage "To Path". This will create a path from the selection of your text.

  4. Scale the selection. The "Transform" tool has a few modes. Select the "Scale" tool then open the "Tool Options" menu tab. See "Mode:" then click on "Selection". Once you have selected which mode suits your intention best you may click onto the canvas. The "Scale" option dialog should appear. You may scale the selection as you would scale an image.

  5. Fill the selection. Once your selection is scaled to your intended size, access the "Edit" menu then engage "Fill with FG colour" or "Fill with BG colour". The selection should now be perfectly filled within the font selection.

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