With more and more folks wanting to upload their own images to Polyvore, I get LOADs of questions on how best to do it. The first thing you need to be aware of is that Polyvore has restrictions on which images it will allow you to clip. While most of us are aware of the web sites we can’t clip from, many are not aware of the image file size restrictions. For example, an image that is out of proportion (as in too skinny) cannot be clipped (note the paint brush below).

Polyvore also will not clip an image that is larger than 2 MB (too large) nor will it clip one that is too small. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out what too small is yet, but if it is less than 2 MB or isn’t too skinny, it’s probably too small. Alicja was having problems clipping an image and asked me what the problem might be. When I looked at it, I realized it was too small (see below) and needed to be resized. How to fix an image that is too small is what this tutorial is all about and if you learn anything from it, be sure to thank Alicja.

There are two ways you can resize an image. You can either enlarge the image itself or you can increase the size of the “canvas” or background. I typically increase the canvas size for images that are too skinny and enlarge the image for ones that are too small. We’re going to fix Alicja’s image both ways, starting with increasing the size of the image. I’m using Photoshop Elements for this tutorial, but the terminology should be the same in just about any graphics program you use.

In Photoshop, go to Image > Resize > Image Size to start the process (click on any of the the pictures if you need to see a larger version).

This will open the Image Size dialog window which shows you the current size of your image. Make sure that the check boxes for “Constrain Proportions” and “Resample Image” (located at the bottom of the dialog window) are both checked.

This next step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s the way I do it since I’m used to working in “pixels” or, in the case of this window, “points” since I’m not given the option of choosing pixels (go figure … must be an Elements thing). So, click on the dropdown menu to the side of the Width box (or Height box) and select points. It will change both Height and Width to whatever you choose, so you doesn’t matter which dropdown you do this in.

Since you are enlarging your image, you need to change the Resampling method (this is geek stuff but helps to insure you get a halfway decent image). Click on the “Resample Image” dropdown and select “Bicubic Smoother (best for enlargement).” As a note: it’s typically not a good idea to enlarge images, but if you must, Photoshop is pretty good at it. However, there are Photoshop add-ins that do a MUCH better job.

In the Width box (or the box with the smallest number), change the number to something over 200 (points). This is an arbitrary number, but typically makes the image large enough for Polyvore to clip it. We won’t have to change the Height since we check the box for “Constrain Proportions” which insures that the image retains the same proportions.

Click the “OK” button and you will now have an enlarged image. Just save it and replace the (bad) small image with the new (improved) larger one.

Now to the second method. You start off basically the same by going to Image > Resize, but this time select “Canvas Size …”

Change the dimensions from inches to pixels (or points) like we did above (and again not necessary).

Increase the smallest dimension (in our case the Width) to 200 (pixels)

Now increase the Height to 300 (pixels) or whatever height you want as long as number is larger than 200 (the magic number) AND your original size (in this case 197 pixels).

Like we did above, click the “OK” button and you will now have an enlarged image. The difference with this method of enlarging should be apparent. Instead of a larger picture, you have a bigger background with larger margins around the picture. Just save it and replace the (bad) small image with the new (improved) larger one.

As always, comments and questions are welcomed