How to impose small-enough numbers on a photo?

Subject: How to impose small-enough numbers on a photo?
From: "Guy K. Haas" <guy -at- hiskeyboard -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 26 Jul 2009 20:28:35 -0700

This is not directly about tech writing, but it touches on it a related
problem. I have a 5-megapixel black-and-white photo (scanned to .jpg
but saved in .psd format) of a seventh grade dance circa 1955. It shows
probably 40 people, from foreground (head about 1/10 the height of the
image) to background (heads less than half that tall).

For the class newsletter, we'd like to apply numbers to the image --
say, on people's chests -- and see who can identify the most people.

Now, the problem is that with my Photoshop CS2, I can't make the text
digits small enough. The smallest font they offer is 6pt, and that
makes digits that are as tall as the smallest faces in the image.

I've thought of resizing the image LARGER, but that invents pixels,
reducing quality.

I considered doing it with a grid [A,B,C,... across and 1, 2, 3, ...
down the side], but that seemed cluttered.

I've thought of callout leader lines from people to the margin, but that
gets cluttery.

Would the GIMP or some other shareware/free tool be of any help?

It would be REALLY tricky to blow up the image, apply text numbers to an
overlay, then resize it downward and superimpose only that layer to the
original photo.

Any other bright ideas?

Guy K. Haas
Software Exegete in Silicon Valley


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