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Digital Humanities: Image processing

An introduction to digital humanities

What is image processing?

Image processing involves taking an image and performing operations on it in order to either:

  • Obtain information from the image
  • Enhance the image

Tools and techniques used in image processing


  • CulturalAnalytics
    • R package containing functions for statistical analysis and plotting of image properties for use in digital humanities.
    • Used by creator Rob Myers to explore art data.
  • GIMP
    • The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) has tools for tasks such as photo retouching and image composition.
    • Used when digitising a Spanish 18th century account book: Keating, J., Teehan, A., Gallagher, D., & O'Connor, T. (2010). A digital edition of a Spanish 18th century account book: user driven digitisation. Jahrbuch für Computerphilologie, 10, 169-18.
  • Inkscape
    • Professional quality cross-platform vector graphics software for creating and editing a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps, and web graphics.
    • Used by Oxford Archaeology for processing archaeology data: Hodgkinson, A., Bianconi, L. & Costa, S. (2013.) Open source GIS for archaeological data: two case studies from British and Egyptian Archaeology. In G. Earl, T. Sly, A. Chrysanthi, P. Murrieta-Flores, C. Papadopoulos, I. Romanowska & D. Wheatley (Eds.), Archaeology in the digital era: e-papers from the 40th conference on computer applications and quantitative methods in archaeology (CAA), Southampton, 26-30 March 2012 (Volume II, pp. 742-751). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  • JuxtaposeJS
    • Helps tell stories by comparing two image frames, including photos and gifs. By dragging a pane, you can see the changes and visually analyse the differences between the two images.
    • Used in the Visualizing Venice project.

Relevant guidelines and standards

Examples of image processing

  • Averaging covers in Vogue
    • A "decennial sampling" of Vogue covers — that is, all the covers in one year, every ten years.
  • Redacted
    • Images of redacted text extracted from ASIO files held by the National Archives of Australia.