Perhaps you've wondered how to translate an image into a cross stitch pattern. There are many services that will do this for you for money, as well as software.
The problem is that, one, these services charge money for something you can do for free, and, two, that this software doesn't work very well. When you put in an image, it will give you a chart, yes. That chart will also probably include fifteen to thirty colors; this is fine for an image with subtle gradations, but if you're like me, you prefer to work with bold, simple images.
This is a tutorial on how to do just that. This tutorial works best for images like silhouettes, logos, and other bold images that are only a few colors. It's also great for doing stuff for kids and people who are just learning to stitch. Best of all, it's totally free, and it only takes ten or fifteen minutes per chart!
You will need:
-An image file, preferably at least 600x600px
-KG-Chart, a free program which you can download here: http://www.iktsoft.net/kgchart-en/kgchart/
KG-Chart is a really great program for creating cross stitch patterns. There's a learning curve, mostly because there's no documentation, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy and powerful. Unfortunately, it's only available for Windows Vista/7/8, but I suspect these instructions could transfer to programs with similar commands.
Step 1: Importing and Viewing the Image
To import an image you should, somewhat unsurprisingly, find the import dialog by going to the file menu. In the import dialog, pay attention to what size you make your chart. The one I'll be showing you is about 70x70 stitches, which is about 5in square on 14ct aida cloth. If you let it do automatically or go by centimeters, your image will be completely the wrong size.
When you import your image, you should see an image that is a complete mess. Now, we know what this image is supposed to look like. It's supposed to be two colors. How do we make it two colors without painstakingly going through and changing every stitch?
Step 2: Delete Colors
There are two techniques for changing all those gray and off-black/off-white stitches to what we want. The first is to delete unwanted colors. Go to Selected on the righthand sidebar to view the colors that have already been used in your chart. We know just by looking that the DMC colors we want to use are 310 and BLANC. To take a color out, right click and use Delete to remove it. You should see empty squares appear where you previously had stitches. For a better view, here's an image of what happens when we remove B5200 (though it will be back in the chart in a second, don't panic).
So we can use delete colors to get rid of a lot of extraneous colors around the edges. But what about when we have a bigger mixture of colors or want to change a color entirely?
Step 3: Change Colors
So we wanted to use BLANC for a crisp white, but we can see that most of our white is in B5200. We can also see that the BLANC and 3865 stitches are also right where we want BLANC to be. Instead of deleting and refilling these as we did with the others, let's just change all the colors into BLANC.
Once again, right click on the unwanted color. This time click Change Color. This will pull up a dialog where you can select the color you'd like to change the stitches to. To use this more quickly, type in the color number/letters you want the stitches to have in the search box and hit enter. Do this for all the colors you want to be the same, and pretty soon, you'll be left with just two colors.
Step 4: Clean, Fill, and Finish
The step is pretty self explanatory. You'll left with extra stitches empty, and you'll need to clean them up. In this step, the Floodfill tool (the paint bucket in the lefthand sidebar) is your friend. Fill in the errant squares, leaving the areas that are just lines of one or two stitches. Then, instead of filling them one by one, right click to remove the larger sections, then left click. This will fill the whole area in.
While we're here, there are two more tricks that you can do with Floodfill and Change Color. Our image here is presently designed to be a solid square of stitches. Well, maybe we don't want to sit there and stitch all that. Right click with the Floodfill tool to remove the black patches, then change the white ones to a gray of your choice, and presto! An image you can use on dark cloth (and cheat).
Those are just some basic steps in making charts from images. I've shown a simple two-color image here, but with a little practice and attentiveness, you can do more. Love to see what you come up with!