Preparing Images for Exhibits & Show Opportunities

Preparing Images for Exhibits & Show Opportunities

NMPCA Guidelines

by Jacquita Beddo

Editor note:  The tool used in this article has been replaced.  Please read our newer article on the new tool from

The New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists offers opportunities for exhibitions. Every year we have our annual show Celebration of Clay plus there is also our ongoing Clay Studio Tour. Both of these opportunities brings with it the necessity for preparing images for online submission.  There are lots of online references for how to do this.  Photos of your work should be on a plain background.  Once you have the pictures you will need to submit images online. This tutorial will familiarize you with Pixlr Express in order to prepare your photos.  This is only one of many programs available to manipulate images but by far the easiest and quickest one I’ve ever run across.  For submission, these are the parameters required:

  • jpg image file
  • minimum 800 pixels on longest dimension
  • maximum 1280 pixels wide
  • 1024 pixels high
  • not exceed 1 MB in size

The first thing I suggest is put the above parameters on a post-it note and keeping it handy as you go through the process.  The next tip is to gather the images you want to submit into a folder on your desktop. Then go to a browser like Internet Explorer, E, or Chrome and type in into the address bar.   When the program loads, the screen looks like this:

 Click the “Browse” button on the left lower side of the screen.

The next screen that pops up allows you to find the images wherever they are stored on your computer.  Since the image I’m going to use for demonstration is in a folder on my desktop, I’ve double-clicked on the Desktop on the left side of the screen.  If your images are somewhere else, like your Pictures folder, that’s where you will look for them.  As you can see, the blue highlighting indicates “Desktop” is selected.  I then double-click the folder to open it and select the specific image I want to work on.  The selected image will appear in the “File name” slot at the center of the bottom of the screen.  Once I have the image in that slot, I click the open button below to start the process.

The image I’m working on appears in the program window.

The next step is to click the Adjustment button on the lower left.

As you can see from the screen below, there are a lot of tools to help improve your image.  Brighten, Auto Fix, Color, Contrast, and Sharpen are just a few.  All of these tools can improve the quality of the image but can be taken too far so be careful.

One quick way to make improvements on an image, especially one that is just a quick snapshot of your piece, is to click on the Auto Fix button.   As you can see below, once you click Auto Fix the adjustment is made to the image as soon as you click on it .  If you like the adjustment click “Apply.”  But, if you don’t care for the changes, then click “Cancel.”  It’s simple as that.

There is one other enhancement tool that can make a dramatic improvement you might want to use,  the Contrast Tool.  You can find it here:

Once you have the contrast screen (below) both the adjustments are made using sliding scales.  Start with contrast and then use brightness as needed.  Then click “Apply.”

Now you are ready to adjust size of the image.  Image files are big, so the idea is to get your image to match the specifications for the show you are entering.  For example, if you submit an image so large that it will have to be scrolled through, this will not do your work justice.  On the other hand, if you have a tiny file size, it will not have enough information and will appear blurry or blocky when viewed.  There are two ways to change the size of the image.  First is to “Crop” and the second is to “Resize.”

A good tip is to always crop an image before you resize it.

Cropping the image is appropriate if you have taken a picture of your work but didn’t have the means to zoom in enough to put the emphasis squarely where you want it.  Your work should fill the frame of the photo as much as possible.  Cropping gives you a chance to cut away what is superfluous and end up with an image that is only about your work.  I have to offer words of caution:  If the image doesn’t have sufficient number of pixels to begin with, when you cut away some of them, you might end up with an image that is focused on your work but too poor quality to be acceptable.  Remember that an image is not acceptable if it is less than 800 pixels in the longest direction.  Let me show you an example of cropping.  First click on the Cropping tool.  The image will then be overlaid with a grid that has little blue squares on each corner.

Use the little blue squares to selectively highlight the part of the image you want to keep.

Notice at the bottom of the screen there are 871 pixels in the “Width” and 1101 pixels in “Height,” so this particular image will still have enough resolution to end up with a satisfactory image.  Here is where your post-it note with the parameters (shown below) will come in handy.

  • jpg image file
  • minimum 800 pixels on longest dimension
  • maximum 1280 pixels wide
  • 1024 pixels high
  • not exceed 1 MB in size

Check the parameters you are aiming for before you click  “Apply.”  The next step and probably the most important tool is “Resizing.”  When the Resizing tool is clicked, you get the screen below:

Again notice the numbers at the bottom of the resizing screen.  The width is 871 pixels by 1101 pixels high. The height exceeds 1024 pixels limit we need for the image.

Put your cursor in the “Height” and change it to 1024.  Then click “Apply.”  Now your image is resized and you’re coming into the home stretch.  The next step is to save this. While saving it you will want to rename the file to the specifications required for submitting the image.  Name the image file with last name, first name, underscore, title, underscore, and entry number. It will looks something like this:


For example: BeddoJacquita_Politics_1

Take note there are no spaces or characters such as:  ( ) ‘ “ & % $ # @ / in the name of the file.  To begin this final step, click “Save” in the upper left hand of the screen.

When the screen below comes up, the quality is set to around 85 percent.  Under the Quality slide bar is the number of KB this image will have at this quality.  This where that final requirement not to exceed 1 MB comes in.  The information here is in KB  there are 1000 KB in 1 MB.

Once you have the name typed in, take a look at the number of KB.  If you slide the quality to 100% and it doesn’t exceed 1000 KB or 1 MB, then you are good.  If that number rises to over 1000 KB, move the quality down until you get the image to the specifications required so not to exceed 1000 KB or 1 MB.

Here I set the quality to 100%, and it didn’t raise the KB up beyond the limit so I’m saving this image at 100%.  When you save your file, be sure and save it where you can find it again.  I make sure the image goes back into the folder I made on my desktop for that show in this case Celebration of Clay 2018. Then click “Save” at the bottom of the screen.

Finally click “Close” at the top left of the screen and you will be ready to go through the process again with your next image.

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