Picture Creation and Manipulation Service


Here at Aardstorm we can produce the pictures that you require from scratch, from basic lines, shapes and text, or by manipulating and combining other pictures from a variety of sources. We can also produce a wide variety of graphs and charts from numerical data that either you supply or we find for you. These pictures could be used to illustrate your website or another document, or used in their own right as graphically-oriented documents such as advertisements or posters.

While this service is intended to complement our other website and document services, to help provide illustrations for the website or document we produce, you are welcome to use this service on its own to produce pictures or complete graphic documents for other purposes.

The rest of this page describes our picture creation service in more detail, including details of the information we will need from you to successfully create the pictures you require, and a description of how we will produce those pictures and supply them to you. See our fees summary page for details of our standard charges for this service.

Picture Types

Our picture creation and manipulation service can be used to produce a wide range of different picture types, such as photographs, drawings, diagrams, graphs and charts. It can also be used to produce text oriented graphics, such as logos or special headings and titles, and special backgrounds. As well as simply illustrating your document, we can also produce a wide range of graphically-intensive documents for you, such as glossy brochures and leaflets, CD, DVD or booklet covers, advertisement panels or even complete posters.

Please note, however, that we are not offering a complete graphic design service, but if you have a reasonably clear idea of what you want, and how it is to look, then we can help you to produce it. We have extensive experience of using graphic production tools such as Adobe Photoshop, and can liase with commercial printing services to get your documents produced in the quantities you need.

Common Operations

We can use a wide range of operations to produce the picture(s) that you require. This section describes some of the more common techniques that we can use, either individually or in combination; if you have a requirement for a type of operation that is not described here, we can probably also produce it for you, please contact us for a quotation. When requesting a quotation for this service, please describe as fully as possible the picture you require, in terms of its overall look, the elements it is to contain, and the source pictures and/or data it is to be created from. Some sort of sketch, however rough, can also help specify your requirements. We will then select the appropriate techniques needed to implement your requirements. This section is intended to give an indication of what we can do, rather than provide a menu from which you need to select specific operations.

Format and Size Conversion

This is the simplest type of operation we can perform, and if it is required as part of other services, it will often be performed free of charge. However, we can perform it as a stand-alone operation, to convert a picture that you supply to us in one format into another while optionally also increasing or reducing its size (number of pixels). In the latter case, size reduction is no problem, but there are practical limits to the degree of enlargement we can apply, before the resulting picture quality becomes unacceptable. This shows itself as a loss of sharpness as the size is increases, that cannot always be recovered by subsequent artificial sharpening.

Image Correction

This operation is typically required when the source is a technically inadequate photograph. The sorts of corrections we can do include contrast / brightness adjustment, colour cast removal, sharpening, and cropping to improve composition.

Colour Manipulation

The basic colour adjustments used for image correction can be extended to produce special effects such as conversion to black and white, optionally with subsequent colour toning. Other techniques can change the subtlety of colour and tone variations in the source image, to produce a picture that looks more like a coloured-in line drawing, a painting, or other traditional artistic techniques.

Background Removal / Object Extraction

This operation involves extracting one or more elements or objects in the source image from the background, then replacing the rest of the picture with a plain background. This could be used, for example, to improve pictures of your products that were not taken on a plain background. The extracted object could also be used as the basis for a silhouette shape, or even a repeating pattern.

Instead of complete removal or extraction, selected areas of the source picture could be blurred, for example to reduce the impact of a complicated background, or to add special effects such as a motion blur. Selective blurring could also be used to prevent certain features of the picture (such as trademarks or peoples' faces) from being identified. This can reduce or even eliminate the need for a model or property release where the picture is to be used for commercial purposes.

Image Combination

This is a development of the object extraction technique in which elements or objects from several source images are extracted, then combined to produce the new picture, possibly including a background from a further source picture.

Geometric Transformation

This operation is typically applied to the whole image, and involves transformations such as rotation, reflection, and stretching or squashing. These transformations can be applied individually, or in combination. Some of them, such as stretching/squashing can also either be applied uniformly , or the amount can vary across the image, for example to simulate or reduce perspective. More advance transformations also allow us to warp images so the they appear to be 'wrapped around' a three-dimensional shape.

Graphs and Charts

With this operation, we use numerical data to produce complete graphs and charts in a wide variety of styles. These range from simple line graphs, bar and pie charts, to elaborate versions with simulated 3-d bars and surfaces, complete with lighting effects. We can of course also include text annotations such as titles and axis and key labels, as appropriate for the size of chart and its intended viewing format.


We can produce a wide variety of diagram types, such as flow charts and labelled drawings. For flow charts, which usually consist of text within boxes linked together by lines or arrows, we can use a wide variety of box and arrow styles, from simple shapes to elaborate 3-d effects. For labelled drawings, we can start with a photograph, which we then manipulate to produce a line drawing, or we can tidy up a hand drawn and scanned version. In either case, the resulting drawing can either be monochrome or colour, with any desired degree of shading. We then add appropriate text labels and arrows or lines to link the labels with the appropriate areas of the drawing.

Text Effects

These effects are used to make short but significant pieces of text, such as titles, headings, or logos, stand out more effectively from their background (and the rest of the page) than can be achieved with simple colour and size differences. We start with a simple piece of text, for which we have access to a wide range of fonts as standard. If we don't already have access to a font that you require, or cannot provide a near equivalent, the we can obtain it for you, although this may involve additional charges. After this we can apply a variety of special effects to this basic text: we can warp it in various ways, such as to lean it over, follow a curved line, appear to recede into the distance, or even appear to be dripping or melting; we can add 3-d lighting effects such as highlights, glows, and drop shadows; or we can add textures to make it appear to be made from specific materials such as fabric, stone, metal, or liquid. In fact, if you can think of a look, we can almost certainly acheive it.

Shapes and Patterns

Here, rather than starting with some sort of photograph or scanned drawing, we can start from scratch to arrange lines and geometric shapes (including pseudo 3-d shapes such as spheres, boxes, etc) to produce the picture you require. The basic shapes can also be warped in various ways to produce more complex shapes. The shapes can be simple outlines, and/or filled with solid colours, patterns or textures, such as continuous gradation of colour or tone, or simulations of materials such as fabric, stone, wood, metal, or liquid. The patterns and textures can also be applied to the overall background. We can also add a variety of lighting effects such as light beams, highlights, glows, and shadows, to give a 3-d look to your picture.

Picture Sources

We can produce pictures from pictures or other information either that we have produced or found for you through our other services, or that you supply us with. We can accept this source information in a wide variety of elecronic formats – if the file can be read by one of the components of the Microsoft Office (2003) or Adobe Creative Suite (CS3) program suites, then we can accept it. We can also accept your source information on paper or film (35mm negatives or transparencies only), but if these are to be included directly in the pictures or other documents we produce for you, then additional scanning and transcription charges will also apply. Small amounts of information in electronic form can be supplied to us as e-mail attachments, otherwise it is better to send the information to us on CD or DVD ROM.

Picture Production

During our production process, if your picture is particularly complex, or if you leave some aspects of it to our judgement, we will supply you with preliminary or 'mocked up' versions for your approval, before we continue with the final detailed processing. If appropriate (or requested) we may supply you with several different versions of a single picture, for you to make the final selection. These preliminary pictures will typically be supplied at less than the final resolution and optimised for on screen viewing, and may be supplied as e-mail attachments or on CD or DVD ROM.

Once we have the produced the picture to your specification, and you have requested us to supply it for either your own internal use or to be passed on to a third party, we can supply it to you in a variety of electronic formats appropriate to its intended use. This could be instead of or as well as our using the picture to illustrate a website or document that we are also producing for you. As with your input information, if the file format can be produced by any of the component programs of the Microsoft Office (2003) or Adobe Creative Suite (CS3) packages, then we can supply your picture in that format. Small files can be shipped to you as e-mail attachments, otherwise (or at your request) we will ship the files on CD or DVD ROM.

We can also supply your picture on paper, or other hard copy medium such as canvas. We can supply a limited number of paper copies from our own colour laser or inkjet printers, for example for proofing or approval purposes, or for your own internal use or distribution. Note that our laser printer is only suitable for rough drafts or simple diagrams without subtle variations in colour; our inkjet printer, however, is capable of very high 'photographic' quality output. We can also supply our inkjet prints framed and mounted; please enquire for details. If you require a larger number of copies, or require your prints to be produced on other media, then we can liase with a commercial printing service to produce them for you, or we can supply the necessary files for you to supply to your own printing service.

Copyright and Licensing

We will take great care not to infringe anybody else's copyright when producing your picture. We normally also retain the copyright in all our work, and our standard license only covers pictures that are either to be published (free of charge) on the internet, used or distributed internally within your organisation, or incorporated by ourselves into other documents that are to be distributed free of charge to your customers or clients; you will be able to make as many copies of our work as you like for these purposes, or we can supply additional copies for additional fees.

If you intend to sell the pictures we produce for you, either directly or as part a larger document, or distribute them to others other than as described above, then you will also require some form of production license from us. Please contact us with details of your requirements to negotiate the additional fees for this.

Production Process

The process used by Aardstorm to create and produce pictures to your requirements will normally consist of the following steps:

1. Request Quotation

You request us to supply a quotation for the creation of your pictures. At this point you need to supply us with sufficient information about your requirements for us to accurately estimate the work involved in producing your pictures. This will include such information as:

  • The type of pictures required, and their intended final production format.
  • Who is to produce the text, data and other pictures or graphics to be used as the basis for your new pictures, and if you are supplying them to us, an indication of their quantity, format, and extent of modification required.
  • Any requirements you have for how the pictures are to look, such as colour schemes and text font specifications. A sketch, however tough, can be very useful for this.
  • How many copies of the pictures we are to produce for you.

If you are also commissioning any of our other services to assist in the production of your pictures, then you should also state your requirements for these too.

2. Supply Quotation

On receipt of your request, we will use the information you supply about your requirements to estimate the amount of work and other costs involved for us to produce your pictures. If anything about your requirements is unclear, we will request clarification from you. We will then produce a firm quotation and send it to you. This will include a firm price and schedule for the work to be done (subject to no significant changes to your requirements), together with a summary of your requirements so that you can check that we have understood your request.

3. Place Order

If you accept our quotation, and decide to commission us to produce your new pictures, you then place a firm order, and pay a deposit of 50% (less if stage payments have been agreed) of the total document and picture service fees, plus 100% of any third party fees. At this point you need to also supply us with the full text, data, pictures, and other graphics to be incorporated into your pictures, or used as a basis for their production.

4. Produce Source Pictures

If you have commissioned us to produce any of the text, data, or other pictures to be incorporated into your document through our other services, then this is when we will produce them. Depending on the length and complexity of your pictures, completion of some or all of these services may trigger an intermediate approval and/or stage payment phase, when we will supply you with preliminary results of our work for your approval, along with our invoice for a stage payment. We will not then proceed with further work on your pictures until we receive your approval and payment.

5. Produce Pictures

Once we have received, or produced to your satisfaction, all necessary source text, data and pictures, etc., for your pictures, we will create them using the appropriate combination of techniques described above. We will then supply you with preliminary copies of your pictures, usually in electronic form (even if your pictures are to be produced on paper), for your approval. We will also at this point send you our invoice for the remainder of the fees due.

6. Approval

You should then carefully check the pictures that we have produced to ensure that they meet your requirements. We will correct any errors against your original requirements free of charge. However, if you now require something different, we will be happy to accommodate your changes, but will charge you extra for the additional work involved – we will provide you with a quotation, and will only proceed with your changes once you have accepted the revised fees. Once you are satisfied with our work, you then pay the remainder of our fees.

7. Final Production

Once we have received your payment, we will produce the necessary final copies, or master files, of your pictures, and, if necessary supply them to you. If after this you require any further copies of your pictures, beyond those we were originally commissioned to supply, you are welcome to place a repeat production order with us. If the pictures we have produced are to be used as inputs to our other document or website services, then we will now continue executing those services.


All communication between us and you, throughout any picture creation project, from request for quotation onwards, will normally be via e-mail or regular post. However, at your request, then we are happy to visit you for a face to face meeting, perhaps to dicuss your requirements in detail, or to present the results of our work, but an additional fee will apply to each meeting to cover our travelling costs.