Facebook Image Sizing From Scratch! - Digital Photography School

Facebook Image Sizing From Scratch!

Living in today’s age, we all have used social media to share our minute-by-minute updates with family and friends. Not to mention, pictures by the ton. There’s not a single professional photographer out there who doesn’t have a client who wants to share their little prince / princess’ picture with the rest of the world via Facebook. To remedy that, there are,  I’m sure, a bunch of actions around that allow you to “create a 960px wide image for facebook” – For free.

Have you wondered what goes into those actions? How you would actually do it without the use of actions? When you read the jargon 960 px, sure it sounds very geeky. You think eh why bother with doing those calculations and what not. On the contrary, its easy and very simple to understand. I for one, don’t use actions unless I know exactly what that action does and know how to create the look without the  action. Once I have that mastered, I don’t mind (infact I love) using an action to do it. It quickens up my workflow t-r-e-m-e-n-d-o-u-s-l-y !

Here’s how I do it.

1. I open up the picture i need in my favorite software (photoshop, PSE, GIMP doesn’t matter which one as long as it has a capability to resize)

Picture 8.png

2. I then select the menu option Image/Image Size. For this example I am using Photoshop. Make sure you select the Image Size option under the Image menu and not the Canvas Size because they have very different effects.

3. This is the box that will popup.

Picture 9.png

Change the  width to “960″ making sure pixels is selected. Also ensure “Constrain Proportions” is selected. Now, since the smart guys at Facebook allow anyone who’s your “friend”, or in the case of your business page, your “fan” to download the images you post, you do not want, in most cases, to upload a high resolution picture. So go ahead and change the resolution to 72.  If photoshop changes your width again, make sure you reset it to 960. Then click ok.

Picture 10.png

You now have an image that is 960 px wide.  I like to take it a step further and sometimes give it rounded corners. If you want to do the same, go ahead to the next step. If not you can stop here and your image is ready for upload after saving it.

4. I add a blank layer and change the name of the background layer to “my picture”. Then I drag Layer 1 below My Picture.

Picture 11.png

5. Then, I select the Rounded Rectangle tool and create a rounded rectangle covering the entire image area.

Picture 12.png

Picture 13.png

6. Now change the My Picture layer into a clipping mask and tah-dah ! The image now has rounded corners. You can now flatten this image. The background will be white.

Picture 14.png

If you want it to have a black background, you will need to perform an additional step below

7. Create a layer filled with black as the last layer. Then flatten your image. You now have an image with a black background.

Picture 15.png

Here’s what they finally look like -

Sample_white.jpg

Sample_black.jpg

Since Facebook uses a white background, thats what I’d stick to if I was uploading to Facebook. If I was using Flickr, I’d use black since Flickr allows for it. On a side note, I personally think pictures look nicer on black contrary to what Facebook might say and think.

Now that you know how to do it, go ahead and download one of the free actions to do it. Or just make one of your own !

About Me: I am a newborn and Children’s Photographer based out of Woodstock GA, USA. In my spare time, I like blogging tips and tricks related to Photoshop, PSE and GIMP. Find me on Facebook or drop me an email using the contact form on my website.

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  • Jan

    You did not just recommend to “change the resolution” to 72 dots per inch, did you? Oh my. Start from scratch. Boon.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kcoppock kcoppock

    Just for clarity, changing the dpi is unnecessary. As long as you’re resampling to 960px wide, the dpi setting is absolutely irrelevant.

  • http://Becmatheson.com Bec

    Sizing for me is quicker by plugging the size values and resolution into the crop tool and using that.

  • http://blog.zog.org Michel Vuijlsteke

    There is no difference between a 960 pixel wide image with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch and a 960 pixel wide image with a resolution of 7200 pixels per inch. They’re both still 960 pixels wide: changing the resolution doesn’t magically add or remove pixels, it only affects the size the image will be printed.

    (And sorry, but call this a tutorial? “Resize your image to 960 pixels wide, boom, you’re done”?)

  • http://www.joebrenden.com Jo E. Brenden

    Resolution on web pages, includuing Facebook, are increasing every second year. Before LCD-screens the advice was to upload pictures not larger than 480 pix. I followed that advice and found that all my pictures uploaded before a sertain date is practically worthless. They are too small on modern high resolution screens to be enjoyable.
    The screen manufacturers are heading in direction of a 4K-monitor as the next move. So in a few years 980px pictures will be like icons.
    Upload the best resolution you get out of the camera and pray that Facebook keeps the file somewhere in it’s original style. So that your kids can enjoy your work with the new ultracool 8K SuperDuperUltraLED in 2021.

  • Cathode

    Just when I thought I’d seen the worst, a new standard is set for annoying watermarks! Kudos! Bravo!

    P.S. It’s 2011 and you don’t need the http://www in front of your web address. Just sayin’.

  • Lou

    Excuse my ignorance by why does a photo need to be sized for FB?

  • Jim

    The comment about not wanting to upload a high resolution photo makes sense, but the instruction to change the resolution to 72 iis totally off-base.

    For an image destined to be viewed on the web, it is sufficient to change the pixel dimensions.

    Enjoy!

    Jim

  • Dzhonny

    so the whole article was about the thing, that facebook has 960px size limit…..at the very least I expected some pro-tips for web sharpening etc. …sorry bro….
    ps. @cathode: totally agree on both points

  • brett

    I was wondering the same Lou. Makes no sense. Facebook, automatically re-sizes images.

  • http://www.kerstenbeck.com Erik Kerstenbeck

    Hi

    Great article!

    I always just keep images the same size as on our blog – 850 wide.

    Like this shot of our amazingly gorgeous Barista, Danika!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/our-barista/

  • Nadya
  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Photography-by-John-Ayo/55715953941 John Ayo

    I was going to point out the uselessness of setting DPI (which really only needs to be set for a very few circumstances, and often not even then really) but just about everyone commenting beat me to it.

    I have to agree with Jo that “web-scale” will keep changing to mean more and more pixels (assuming images are displayed at 1:1 pixel size), but I also agree (I’m guessing) with Erik that there is a need for limiting the freely & easily accessible resolution of your images if you mean to sell or license them. So the thing to do is figure out what’s the best resolution you’re willing to put out for anyone to grab and upload that. If you want to let people see certain details at higher resolution, also post a crop.

    Those are my thoughts on it, anyway.

  • http://myporttownsend.com/ michael mckee

    Next time you try this there are some points you might want to consider.

    One more reminder that resolution is irrelevant for web photos.

    You show resampling with Bicubic. Generally when downsizing Bicubic Sharper is the better choice. Photoshop even says so if you pull down the menu. Also, since the preferred web image file size should be saved at a quality of less than 100%, which wasn’t covered, some final output sharpening would help.

    Your before photo has no watermark. Your final image does, yet you didn’t show how that’s done. If you show it you should tell how it’s done.

  • http://www.vivikasphotography.com Vivika Brasil

    If you read the privacy agreement that you agree to when you sign up for Facebook, you will then understand why you want to re-size your images along with watermark your images.
    Facebook can take your images and then resell them, if they wanted to because of how there privacy agreement is written.
    That is why anything that is published to the internet should be downsized and have a water mark on it.

  • omar

    Not that I’d fire up PS to resize an image for fb, but if I had to, I’d use either

    – Automate > Fit Image

    OR

    - Scripts > Image Processor

  • me

    I know that the aim is to explain resizing… But I cannot be silent about picture itself…
    Around the boy’t s eyes there are shadows shadow. And that’s why he looks like a vampire :)
    Also smile is really fake. It would be better to take photo when he’s doing something he enjoys.

    About resizing. IrfanView can do that automatically for many pictures at once. No manual work needed. Of course without the nice rounded edges. Just install (free), open Thumbnail viewer, and open Batch process from menu. Here is a more detailed tutorial http://www.ofzenandcomputing.com/zanswers/1028/

  • http://www.photosensibility.com Andy

    Do people really do this in Photoshop? Sounds like the caveman days before Lightroom to me. A simple Lightroom preset can do everything here much more efficiently. Multiple presets can prepare images for multiple purposes (Facebook, blog, printing, etc.) with just 2 clicks each.

  • http://jasonminton.com jason

    Facebook will still resize the image in the example again… they will resize it to 960px tall because they allow only 960px on the longest side, not just width. So, portraits need to be shrunk to 960px tall and landscapes only are shrunk to 960px wide. And I agree that the changing of the resolution to 72px had absolutely no effect on the image at all.

  • http://bit.ly/oufr4c Gnslngr45

    FB does a bad job of resizing photos. I’ve had several not look near as good (to me) when I let FB resize it versus when I upload the FB display size myself. So there is something to say for doing it yourself (along with preventing any “borrowing” of your high quality pic).
    Fortunately though, I am not in the business of making any profit off my hobby whatsoever (for now), so I’m not worried about theft. (though all rights are still reserved).

    Flickr:
    http://bit.ly/oufr4c

  • http://www.bycostello.com/Mordon_Park_House_Registry_Office.html bycostello

    nice tutorial thnaks

  • Benjamin Hegan

    It won’t let me do this in Photoshop Elements 8. The width and height are locked and can’t be changed. Any suggestions? :)

  • http://www.bclaytonphoto.com bclayton

    Try this..upload an image on facebook…then download it from there..Now compare it to your original upload. It’s not the same is it? I always upload a much higher quality image because I have found facebook resizes it..AND compresses it a LOT…

  • raj singh arora

    i agree with you….facebook should have the option for a black background….

  • Robert Simmons

    Thanks for the discussion, especially where bclayton writes about Facebook resizing images. I’m going to reset my Lightroom to your recommended dimensions.

  • Chuck

    What is wrong with the facebook converter in photoshop elements? This is just another example of finding a solution to a non existing problem.

  • http://www.robertpopephotography.com Robert

    If you want a black background just add a black canvas around the image. You will need to make the image a bit smaller but you can make it work.

  • http://www.danfoy.com danfoy

    A missed out but pretty important step for this very basic tutorial – why isn’t there a sharpening step?

    A basic rule of post-processing is that you always sharpen for output… outputting to facebook is no different. Whilst Photoshop does a good all-round job of resampling an image, you *will* lose detail by resizing an image.

    I also resize image for Facebook, because Facebook generally does a fairly bad job of resizing images (when the compression they apply is also taken into account). Just using the basic ‘sharpen’ filter will do a good-enough job, but if you have the time then it would be better to fine-tune your sharpening using the unsharp mask tool.

    Obviously if you’re using Lightroom then the process is 100x faster, just create an export preset to resize to 960px longest side (I personally have it to resize to fit w960 and h850 as I don’t believe that the majority of people looking at my photos will have a screen resolution of more than 1440×900), and set output sharpening to ‘normal’.

  • http://heapsofsmiles.com Michelle

    Goodness, people — why so quick to judge?

    The whole point, that most of you missed, was to take the image down to 72dpi so that if someone downloaded it (which you can’t prevent in Facebook) the image would look like crap if blown up or printed.

  • Jim

    Michelle, I’m sure you’re well intended – but misguided. If someone downloads an image from the web, the quality of the image if “blown up or printed” is based on the number of pixels that were downloaded, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the resolution that was specified if the image was resized in Photoshop.

    Maybe an example will help.

    Suppose you have a 22 megapixel image from a 5D Mark II camera. The image is 5616 x 3744 pixels, and would make a print of 78 x 52 inches at 72dpi. Most people would not recommend making a print at such a low resolution. Suppose you change the resolution in Photoshop to 300 dpi (a common resolution for making high quality prints) WITHOUT resampling the image. This would make a print of 18.7 x 12.5 inches with the same 5616 x 3744 pixels.

    Now, suppose you use Photoshop to resize the same image with resampling enabled. If you resize the image to 960 x 640 pixels at 72 dpi, it would create a print of 13.3 x 8.9 inches. Most would agree the print would look blocky and bad.

    But resample the original image to 960 x 640 pixels at 300 dpi, and you would get a very nice print of 3.2 x 2.1 inches.

    But here’s the thing. If I download an image from the web, I can then set the resolution to whatever I want! The quality of the resulting print has nothing to do with the resolution that was set in Photoshop, but everything to do with the number of pixels in the image.

Some older comments

  • Jim

    October 29, 2011 04:43 pm

    Michelle, I'm sure you're well intended - but misguided. If someone downloads an image from the web, the quality of the image if "blown up or printed" is based on the number of pixels that were downloaded, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the resolution that was specified if the image was resized in Photoshop.

    Maybe an example will help.

    Suppose you have a 22 megapixel image from a 5D Mark II camera. The image is 5616 x 3744 pixels, and would make a print of 78 x 52 inches at 72dpi. Most people would not recommend making a print at such a low resolution. Suppose you change the resolution in Photoshop to 300 dpi (a common resolution for making high quality prints) WITHOUT resampling the image. This would make a print of 18.7 x 12.5 inches with the same 5616 x 3744 pixels.

    Now, suppose you use Photoshop to resize the same image with resampling enabled. If you resize the image to 960 x 640 pixels at 72 dpi, it would create a print of 13.3 x 8.9 inches. Most would agree the print would look blocky and bad.

    But resample the original image to 960 x 640 pixels at 300 dpi, and you would get a very nice print of 3.2 x 2.1 inches.

    But here's the thing. If I download an image from the web, I can then set the resolution to whatever I want! The quality of the resulting print has nothing to do with the resolution that was set in Photoshop, but everything to do with the number of pixels in the image.

  • Michelle

    October 28, 2011 06:04 pm

    Goodness, people -- why so quick to judge?

    The whole point, that most of you missed, was to take the image down to 72dpi so that if someone downloaded it (which you can't prevent in Facebook) the image would look like crap if blown up or printed.

  • danfoy

    October 27, 2011 12:17 am

    A missed out but pretty important step for this very basic tutorial - why isn't there a sharpening step?

    A basic rule of post-processing is that you always sharpen for output... outputting to facebook is no different. Whilst Photoshop does a good all-round job of resampling an image, you *will* lose detail by resizing an image.

    I also resize image for Facebook, because Facebook generally does a fairly bad job of resizing images (when the compression they apply is also taken into account). Just using the basic 'sharpen' filter will do a good-enough job, but if you have the time then it would be better to fine-tune your sharpening using the unsharp mask tool.

    Obviously if you're using Lightroom then the process is 100x faster, just create an export preset to resize to 960px longest side (I personally have it to resize to fit w960 and h850 as I don't believe that the majority of people looking at my photos will have a screen resolution of more than 1440x900), and set output sharpening to 'normal'.

  • Robert

    October 26, 2011 03:33 pm

    If you want a black background just add a black canvas around the image. You will need to make the image a bit smaller but you can make it work.

  • Chuck

    October 26, 2011 11:34 am

    What is wrong with the facebook converter in photoshop elements? This is just another example of finding a solution to a non existing problem.

  • Robert Simmons

    October 26, 2011 09:23 am

    Thanks for the discussion, especially where bclayton writes about Facebook resizing images. I'm going to reset my Lightroom to your recommended dimensions.

  • raj singh arora

    October 25, 2011 10:28 am

    i agree with you....facebook should have the option for a black background....

  • bclayton

    October 25, 2011 07:22 am

    Try this..upload an image on facebook...then download it from there..Now compare it to your original upload. It's not the same is it? I always upload a much higher quality image because I have found facebook resizes it..AND compresses it a LOT...

  • Benjamin Hegan

    October 25, 2011 05:39 am

    It won't let me do this in Photoshop Elements 8. The width and height are locked and can't be changed. Any suggestions? :)

  • bycostello

    October 25, 2011 01:14 am

    nice tutorial thnaks

  • Gnslngr45

    October 25, 2011 12:40 am

    FB does a bad job of resizing photos. I've had several not look near as good (to me) when I let FB resize it versus when I upload the FB display size myself. So there is something to say for doing it yourself (along with preventing any "borrowing" of your high quality pic).
    Fortunately though, I am not in the business of making any profit off my hobby whatsoever (for now), so I'm not worried about theft. (though all rights are still reserved).

    Flickr:
    http://bit.ly/oufr4c

  • jason

    October 25, 2011 12:19 am

    Facebook will still resize the image in the example again... they will resize it to 960px tall because they allow only 960px on the longest side, not just width. So, portraits need to be shrunk to 960px tall and landscapes only are shrunk to 960px wide. And I agree that the changing of the resolution to 72px had absolutely no effect on the image at all.

  • Andy

    October 24, 2011 11:36 pm

    Do people really do this in Photoshop? Sounds like the caveman days before Lightroom to me. A simple Lightroom preset can do everything here much more efficiently. Multiple presets can prepare images for multiple purposes (Facebook, blog, printing, etc.) with just 2 clicks each.

  • me

    October 24, 2011 11:35 pm

    I know that the aim is to explain resizing... But I cannot be silent about picture itself...
    Around the boy't s eyes there are shadows shadow. And that's why he looks like a vampire :)
    Also smile is really fake. It would be better to take photo when he's doing something he enjoys.

    About resizing. IrfanView can do that automatically for many pictures at once. No manual work needed. Of course without the nice rounded edges. Just install (free), open Thumbnail viewer, and open Batch process from menu. Here is a more detailed tutorial http://www.ofzenandcomputing.com/zanswers/1028/

  • omar

    October 24, 2011 06:37 pm

    Not that I'd fire up PS to resize an image for fb, but if I had to, I'd use either

    - Automate > Fit Image

    OR

    - Scripts > Image Processor

  • Vivika Brasil

    October 24, 2011 01:50 pm

    If you read the privacy agreement that you agree to when you sign up for Facebook, you will then understand why you want to re-size your images along with watermark your images.
    Facebook can take your images and then resell them, if they wanted to because of how there privacy agreement is written.
    That is why anything that is published to the internet should be downsized and have a water mark on it.

  • michael mckee

    October 24, 2011 12:35 pm

    Next time you try this there are some points you might want to consider.

    One more reminder that resolution is irrelevant for web photos.

    You show resampling with Bicubic. Generally when downsizing Bicubic Sharper is the better choice. Photoshop even says so if you pull down the menu. Also, since the preferred web image file size should be saved at a quality of less than 100%, which wasn't covered, some final output sharpening would help.

    Your before photo has no watermark. Your final image does, yet you didn't show how that's done. If you show it you should tell how it's done.

  • John Ayo

    October 24, 2011 12:30 pm

    I was going to point out the uselessness of setting DPI (which really only needs to be set for a very few circumstances, and often not even then really) but just about everyone commenting beat me to it.

    I have to agree with Jo that "web-scale" will keep changing to mean more and more pixels (assuming images are displayed at 1:1 pixel size), but I also agree (I'm guessing) with Erik that there is a need for limiting the freely & easily accessible resolution of your images if you mean to sell or license them. So the thing to do is figure out what's the best resolution you're willing to put out for anyone to grab and upload that. If you want to let people see certain details at higher resolution, also post a crop.

    Those are my thoughts on it, anyway.

  • Nadya

    October 24, 2011 12:12 pm

    http://albertyap.com/blogs/2011/02/10/tutorial_sharp_fb_pic/

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    October 24, 2011 11:35 am

    Hi

    Great article!

    I always just keep images the same size as on our blog - 850 wide.

    Like this shot of our amazingly gorgeous Barista, Danika!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/our-barista/

  • brett

    October 24, 2011 10:47 am

    I was wondering the same Lou. Makes no sense. Facebook, automatically re-sizes images.

  • Dzhonny

    October 24, 2011 10:17 am

    so the whole article was about the thing, that facebook has 960px size limit.....at the very least I expected some pro-tips for web sharpening etc. ...sorry bro....
    ps. @cathode: totally agree on both points

  • Jim

    October 24, 2011 10:09 am

    The comment about not wanting to upload a high resolution photo makes sense, but the instruction to change the resolution to 72 iis totally off-base.

    For an image destined to be viewed on the web, it is sufficient to change the pixel dimensions.

    Enjoy!

    Jim

  • Lou

    October 24, 2011 09:31 am

    Excuse my ignorance by why does a photo need to be sized for FB?

  • Cathode

    October 24, 2011 08:44 am

    Just when I thought I'd seen the worst, a new standard is set for annoying watermarks! Kudos! Bravo!

    P.S. It's 2011 and you don't need the http://www in front of your web address. Just sayin'.

  • Jo E. Brenden

    October 24, 2011 07:56 am

    Resolution on web pages, includuing Facebook, are increasing every second year. Before LCD-screens the advice was to upload pictures not larger than 480 pix. I followed that advice and found that all my pictures uploaded before a sertain date is practically worthless. They are too small on modern high resolution screens to be enjoyable.
    The screen manufacturers are heading in direction of a 4K-monitor as the next move. So in a few years 980px pictures will be like icons.
    Upload the best resolution you get out of the camera and pray that Facebook keeps the file somewhere in it's original style. So that your kids can enjoy your work with the new ultracool 8K SuperDuperUltraLED in 2021.

  • Michel Vuijlsteke

    October 24, 2011 07:22 am

    There is no difference between a 960 pixel wide image with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch and a 960 pixel wide image with a resolution of 7200 pixels per inch. They're both still 960 pixels wide: changing the resolution doesn't magically add or remove pixels, it only affects the size the image will be printed.

    (And sorry, but call this a tutorial? "Resize your image to 960 pixels wide, boom, you're done"?)

  • Bec

    October 24, 2011 07:13 am

    Sizing for me is quicker by plugging the size values and resolution into the crop tool and using that.

  • kcoppock

    October 24, 2011 06:23 am

    Just for clarity, changing the dpi is unnecessary. As long as you're resampling to 960px wide, the dpi setting is absolutely irrelevant.

  • Jan

    October 24, 2011 06:15 am

    You did not just recommend to "change the resolution" to 72 dots per inch, did you? Oh my. Start from scratch. Boon.

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