Put Images Inside QR Codes

About: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.
Qr codes are like bar codes only new and cool, they're slowly making their way in to life as a way of sharing information, but they're also indistinguishable from each other unless you're really bored.�

This instructable shows you how to put an image inside a QR code and make it still readable.�

This instructable works with both Gimp and Photoshop, the instructions for Gimp are exactly the same, though the menus are different everything needed is in roughly the same place. 

Or watch this video:

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Step 1: Things You'll Need

You'll need:

 - A computer with photoshop installed
 - A smartphone or QR reader of some sort
 - A QR code generator (here's a web based one)  
 - Images you want to embed

Step 2: Generate a QR Code

This site generates them 

Or you can make them on your phone. 

The shorter the code the better this technique works, mine's quite long. 

Use the biggest size setting you have for easy editing. 

Step 3: Open It Up in Photoshop

Open up your QR code in photoshop...

Go to image>mode>RGB

This is for the editing process. 

Step 4: Add Your Image As a New Layer

This first example is just text. 

Your image should be colour, but we'll deal with text first. 

I chose orange and just put KJ, as in killerjackalope up. 

Step 5: Making the Code Work.

The big secret to this is a blend mode. 

Hard light. 

Basically colours over 50% brightness as an RGB value lighten the image, under 50% darken, black makes black, white makes white. The reason this works is that a QR code is black and white only, so we only change the colour with hard light, not the brightness. 

So it scans perfect. 

Step 6: Images With No Black

The image is one from my headphone contest, I removed the black outlines and put it in on hard light blending mode.

Immediately it scanned. 

Step 7: Photos From a Camera

This is the only tricky one, it's not even hard. 

This photo from of my coffee maker's gauge is on hard light mode at 60% opacity.

To get the opacity just right, hold the phone up to the screen and you'll see it trying to recognize points, slowly, very slowly lower the opacity until the image scans properly. 

Step 8: Wrapping Up.

So far as I know nobody has done this yet, hopefully QR codes will now be awesome things. 

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    17 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The one with an acutal picture refuses to scan, just thought ou should know


    8 years ago on Introduction

    On the back of a book I am reading, the author used one of these. He has his company's logo in one too. Very cool.


    Interesting. Naturally, I had to grab my phone and test this immediately - all work like charms, so kudos there. This is a pretty neat setup - I've already seen these QR codes on e-tickets and business cards, so this could be a good addition to personalize cards from companies.

    3 replies

    Very true, especially for companies with very simple logos - think most shoe brands (Nike, anyone?), food companies, and even cars. On the info page stuck inside a new car window could be a logo-ed QR code with ties to the dealer's website, reviews, car safety, and if in depth enough, the Car Fax or history reports for used cars.

    All that depends on how well these get taken in to the market I guess, if you know anyone or any sites interested in stuff like this do send them my way, I need a good excuse to work with this more...


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice KJ! I can see this being popular on stumbleupon and lifehacker... I assume you've submitted?

    1 reply