Meme Fixers ‘R’ Us

Please be advised that the following post contains “the f word.”

I’ve had some people ask me how I correct spelling errors in meme images floating around Facebook. My intention is not to debate whether this is a worthy use of time. Suffice to say that it bugs ME enough to fix them. If it doesn’t bug you, then feel free to go somewhere else on the Internet. It’s a big place. If it bugs YOU, and you like to learn new things, stick around for a spell.

It’s a bit hard to generalize the process since it depends what the image looks like and what’s wrong with it, but here’s an example to get y’all started.

First, you need an image editor. I use Pixelmator, which is only available for the Mac (sorry Windows and *nix users), but if you happen to be a Mac user, I do highly recommend it. It’s not free, but it’s really cheap for as awesome as it is, and you can use it to touch up photos, make your own memes, or whatever. You can get it from the App Store. If you’re not a Mac user, or you’re broke, GIMP is free and available for Windows, *nix OSes, and Macs. A lot of people swear by it, and the price is hard to beat. I haven’t used it in about 10 years so I’m not sure I can give a fair comparison between it and Pixelmator. 😉 Go ahead and try it first. You may already have an image editor. Sometimes scanners, tablets, or other accessories come with one. Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements are popular image editors. If you are not using Pixelmator, my screenshots will look different from whatever you’re using, but as long as you’re using a layer-based editor, you should be able to do everything I’m doing.

I’m going to show how I added a letter and removed a letter in the following image.

There are two errors in the text. If you don’t see them, don’t worry. It’ll be obvious when I show you how I’m fixing them. 😉

First, let’s add a letter. I zoom in so I can get picky about pixels and select exactly what I want. In this case, the missing letter is in the middle of a word, so we need to make room for it. All the text on the image is left-justified and I’d like to keep true to that if possible. Although we need to make room in an already-long word, I think we can make it work. I select the part of the word that follows where our inserted letter will go. I used the rectangular selection tool twice. Once around the bulk of it, and then I added to the first selection to get around the cross of the ‘t’. After selecting, I copy and paste. This makes a second layer of just the part that I selected.

The letter that I need to insert, ‘i’, is already somewhere else on the image. Yay! This saves me some work. Sometimes I have to get creative and, for example, flip a ‘b’ around to make a ‘d’ or ‘p’ or ‘q’. If I’m adding a period, I might snag the dot off an ‘i’ or I might just draw one freehand. Every once in a while, I’ll recognize the font as one that I have and then I can type a new letter, but usually I copy an existing one or try to construct it from the existing letters. Since there’s already an ‘i’, I’ll select it, copy, and paste, just as I did before.

I now have three layers: the whole image, one with just ‘ties.’ and one with just ‘i’. When I select a layer in the layers list, I get little dots showing the boundaries of that layer. As I said before, it may look different in another program, but there should still be some way of seeing which layer you’re working with.

I move my ‘i’ layer over to where I need to insert my ‘i’.

I move my ‘ties.’ layer over and now you can see the whole word! Whew, it all fits. The ‘i’ layer is partially obscuring the cross of the ‘t’, so I select part of it and delete.

I like what I see, so I merge my layers.

Next, let’s remove a letter. I select the part of the word that follows the extra letter, copy, and paste. Sounds familiar, right?

I move the ‘nunciate’ layer over to cover up the extra letter. My word looks good now, but there’s an extra ‘e’ at the end! Don’t worry, we’ll fix that.

You can also see how the background is not a completely even color and you can see the righthand corners of my layer because the color is too dark.

Both of these things can be addressed with the rubber stamp tool. You can see it in the screenshot below, slightly larger than the other tools in my toolbox. It should look similar in other programs. The way this tool works is you select a spot on your canvas, and then you start brushing around somewhere else, and it copies from that first spot into your new spot. Confusing? If you play around with it a little bit, you’ll probably figure out what it’s doing. Pixelmator shows a little crosshairs at the spot where it’s copying from at any given moment.

It takes a bit sometimes to find a good spot to copy from. If it doesn’t look good the first try, you can ctrl-click somewhere else on your canvas to pick a new spot to copy from and try again. After I erase the extra ‘e’ this way, I merge the layers and tackle that darker corner issue. You can still tell it’s not perfect, but sometimes you have to say that enough is enough. Plus, I’m still zoomed in, so things are more obvious. It’s good to zoom out periodically and check if what you’re doing is even noticeable anymore.

There you have it! A lovely, spellchecked version of the original meme, and one you can be proud to share.

If you’re having trouble, feel free to ask for help. I’m happy to lend assistance with Pixelmator or general image editing questions, though I cannot help with GIMP- (or other editor-) specific questions. Enjoy your new OCD hobby!