Tips for Working with Computer Images for Display on the Internet

I don't claim to be an expert when it comes to getting images ready for display on the internet, but I have worked with them for this purpose for the past couple of years. In that time, I've learned a few things. This article is meant to pass this information along to any of you who might find it useful. Because this is a Porcelain Organization site, the tips here lean mostly to working with images of your paintings to get them ready for display on the internet. There is also information concerning creating picture layout plans for your painting projects.

I work mainly in CorelDraw Photopaint. I have worked in Versions 5, 6 and 7 and currently use Version 8. It has been so long since I have used Versions 5 and 6 that my memory tends to forget what features they lacked that were added to versions 7 and 8.

Although I had Adobe Photoshop version 4.0 and Version 5.0, when I worked for Los Angeles County (I have since retired), I was never able to become familiar enough with this program to be comfortable describing how to use it to manipulate images.

So you will find that a lot of my information concerning the manipulation of images in an image editor is geared more towards CorelDraw Photopaint. This is not to say that one program is better than the other. Both have very similar features. You just have to take some time to discover what is necessary to acheive the result you are looking for.

Also, since my operating system environment is Windows, (currently Windows XP Pro), most of the information I've relayed here is from that standpoint.

This article is broken into several sections, outlined below.

Image Components and Attributes

Images are generally categorized in two formats: Vector and Bitmap. Drawing programs (Like CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, etc.) and CAD programs (like AutoCad) generally work with Vector images. Painting programs (Like Corel Photopaint, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photo Deluxe, Paintshop Pro, PhotoFinish, Fractal Painter, etc.) work with bitmap images.

Vector images can be resized from very small to very large and still maintain their image quality. They don't get the "jaggies" (jagged edges sometimes seen in resized bitmap images). This is because they are created using a mathamatical algorithm to determine the design. The disadvantage is that they can't usually be changed bit by bit. In order to have a vector image that has different components and colors, you may have to have it consist of several separate objects. You will see this in a lot of the images provided by Corel for use in their CorelDraw program.

Bitmap images are composed of "pixels". A pixel is the smallest part of the image. If you "zoom in" on a bitmap image (to say 1600%) you can see these separate little pixels as little squares of color. The color of each individual pixel in a bitmap image can be changed if desired. These pixels are what cause the "jaggies" in a bitmap image when it is resized to a larger size. Some programs have an option for "anti-aliasing" which attempts to smooth out these jagged edges, creating a better image size transition.

Since my familiarity is with Corel Photopaint, I am more familiar with working in the bitmap environment. Therefore, the editing discussed in this article is related to bitmap images.

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Scanning photos and other subjects

Selecting a Scanner

Scanners are available in different styles: Flatbed, hand-scanner and a "feed-thru" or "single sheet feed" type which accepts a single document which is drawn through a roller-type of apparatus (kind of like the old-fashioned wringer washers). Most of what I discuss here applies to the flatbed scanner, which, in my opinion, is the best type to use. The "feed-thru" type might be useful as a portable or if you are really limited in desktop space. I had one of these, the Logitech PageScan Color Pro, which I took with me on vacation a few times. But, with all the airport hassle nowadays, its easier if I don't take a lot of extra computer equipment, so I no longer take the Logitech scanner. In fact, I'm not even sure where it is anymore. I may have given it to my son.. The results of scanning with it were less than desirable anyway. It produced "drag" lines of color on the scanned image, which were very difficult to get rid of. With flatbed scanners now available at reasonable prices (most in the range of $100, more or less), the hand-scanner is not a good choice either. There are some "guides" you can get so that your hand doesn't "wander" when moving across an image, but by the time you buy the hand-scanner and the apparatus to steady it, you have probably spent nearly as much as you would for a flatbed. And, actually, I'm not even sure that these are sold anymore.

Image resolution is another consideration when purchasing a scanner. Although many scanners advertise a resolution of 600 to more than 1200 dpi, I rarely scan images at a resolution higher than 300 dpi. The scanner I have, at present, an HP Scanjet 4400c scans at a maximum of 1200 dpi). Most of the time, if the image is to be used for the internet, I scan it at anywhere from 96 to 150 dpi. Many computer screens cannot display the images higher than these resolutions and besides, the higher resolution produces huge file sizes. If you plan to print the image, then you might want to go for the higher dpi, but I have found that images scanned at 300 dpi and even 150 dpi produce good printouts under most circumstances.

If you are scanning Black and White images or doing OCR (Optical Text Recognition) scanning, then you should use at least 300 dpi resolution. Although most scanners are capable of performing this type of scan, you need to have the necessary software program to do the OCR scanning. Very often, OCR software is "bundled" with the other scanner software. OCR is very useful if you often need to convert text documents into computer text documents which you can edit in your word processing program. Since this article mainly concerns working with graphic images, I won't be discussing OCR much more than this brief mention.

Sometimes, when a scanner advertises that it scans in a range of 300 to 1200 dpi, the actual scanning range is only 600 dpi. This is because many scanners use an extropolation process to reach the higher dpi ranges. The extropolation process means that, for these higher ranges, the scanner mechanism "guesses" about the pixels in the surrounding area for the increase in dpi size. This approximation generally works pretty well unless you have a very complicated image. Just be aware and know whether the DPI range quoted by the scanner you are considering is an "extropolated" figure or an actual dpi setting.

I am not going to recommend any particular brand of scanner. There are internet sites which do a very good job of evaluating the "best of the bunch" for a particular period of time. I think, like some cars, washing machines and other appliances, some brands and models may be better one year than the next. One very good site to find evaluations for both software and hardware at any particular time is the Ziff-Davis site at Ziff-Davis is the company which publishes many of the computer magazines, such as PC Magazine. To look at their latest reviews of hardware and software, look for a link to "Reviews". The site is constantly updated so I hesitate to give hard and fast instructions for finding reviews. I think, if you can get to the zdnet main page, you can find what you want independently.

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Twain Compatibility

Although you can scan an image using the software which comes with your scanner, if you have one of the more sophisticated image editors (CorelDraw Photopaint, Photoshop, etc.), you may be able to scan your image directly into this program. If you think you will want to scan an image directly into one of these programs, then one thing to look for when purchasing your scanner is a feature called "Twain Compatibility". If a scanner is "Twain Compatible" this means that it is equipped with software which, when installed, will allow you to scan directly into any program which also offers this "Twain Compatibility" (The Corel programs and Photoshop each have this capability. I'm not sure about some of the others.) The advantage of scanning directly into a sophisticated image editor is that you are not limited in the type of file to which you can save the image. Also, scanning directly into the program saves you having to first scan in the limited program that usually comes with the scanner, saving to some file format and then opening the file again in the other software where the editing features are less limiting. (This also means that the format you save to must be a format which the second program can read)

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Scanning the Object

Since the interface screen you see when you scan an image is dependent on your scanner brand and the software which comes with it, I will have to be pretty general in describing steps in the actual scanning of an image.

I generally do all my editing and adjusting of the image I scan in my image editor (Corel Photopaint). I usually just put the photo or clipping or whatever on the scanner bed, do a "preview" so I can outline for the scanner which part of the scanner bed I want scanned. Then, after the preview of the image looks right, I press the "Scan" button on the screen to do the actual scan (the method of doing the final scan may be different on your screen). Sometimes, if the image is showing up really dark, I may adjust the lightness or brightness, but even this can be done later when manipulating the document in the image editor (providing you have another image editor).

Sometimes it is difficult to get a good photo of your artwork. The most common problem is either a photo that is too dark or not clear enough. If the object you are trying to get a picture of is flat, there is a technique you can try which sometimes produces a better quality image than taking a photograph of the object. This is to just lay the object on the bed of the scanner and scan it directly into an image file. I have used this technique with some of my large painted tiles with good results. I should caution you though, if you want to try this, be VERY careful when placing the object on the glass of the scanner. If you should scratch the surface of the scanner screen, then the scratch will show up in all future scans and I would think that replacing the glass in a scanner will be very cost prohibitive. A coupe plate or curved object may not scan as well as it tends to produce a kind of "rainbow" effect in the curved areas from the scanner light being beamed on these areas. Placing a sheet of plastic to protect the scanner glass may a good precaution to guard against scratching the glass, but it may reflect the scanner light back to the image. I have not tried this myself.

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Adjusting and Saving the Image to a File

If you are planning to use the picture for the web, then it needs to be saved in either "gif" or "jpeg" format. Sometimes the software which comes with the scanner will save in one of these formats. Sometimes there is only one format at which it will allow you to save the image file. If that format is not jpeg (.jpg extension) or gif (.gif extension), then you will need an image editor which will be able to open the image in the format it was saved in and save it in a format for the web. Some of the other format types are: bitmap (bmp), tagged Image Format (tif), Windows Metafile (wmf) and picture (pix or pct) format. I explain the differences in the gif and jpeg formats later in this article, but I will just say here that, for photos, you should save them for the web in jpeg format. The gif format has its uses but, since it is limited to a smaller number of colors (256), it does not work that well to display photographs. It is good if you want the background of your picture to be transparent on the internet screen. I will be elaborating on that later. The other image formats are used within the computer programs to display the picture either on the monitor or to produce a printed image.

If your scanner software can do resizing of the image before saving it, you might want to do that within the scanning software. The ideal size, if the image is to be used on the internet, is something less than 600 pixels by 400 pixels. The reason I say this is because you will probably want the picture to be seen in its entirety. Most people do not like viewing a picture which can't be wholly seen on their screen, so that they have to scroll back and forth to bring the offscreen parts onto the screen. Even with all the new computers and higher resolution monitors available, many people still have the small 15" monitors with a screen resolution of 640x480(pixels per screen area). As computers get faster and more people come online, this may change and the 17 inch, 800x600 dpi screen may be more common. I usually create the picture sizes for the site (with a few exceptions) to fit on this 640x480 screen. Some monitors are limited to 256 colors. This limited number of colors makes it hard to display the detail and mulititude of colors seen in a photograph. For this reason, I never limit my jpeg photograph images to the 256 colors. One advantage of resizing the image in the scanning software is that the file size you save it to will be smaller. This may be a consideration if your hard drive space is limited.

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Digital Cameras

These cameras have been out for awhile now. More recently, many have become available at very reasonable prices (in the range of $200-$400). I currently have a Sony Mavica, model F91, which uses floppy disks to store images. I bought this camera around the year 2000, paying a little over $500 for it. The list street price was almost $900..

The ability to view the results of your photo almost immediately is one of the real advantages of these cameras. The resolution of some of these cameras still leaves a little to be desired. Many are 640x480 pixels or less, and a few have telephoto or zoom capability of around 2X to 3X. But there are now also many of the digital cameras which have higher resolution and more storage space. The one I have does a pretty good job in close-up situations, such as photographing your painted objects. But I may be replacing it within the next year, for one with a higher resolution. Sony Mavica now has a digital which stores pictures with a much higher resolution, on mini CDs which will fit into the CD tray of your computer. These CDs, because they have much more space than a floppy disk, can hold more pictures and higher resolution pictures. Marci has one of these cameras.

The majority of digital cameras store the images in either the memory of the camera or on a memory chip, and you have to transfer the files to your desktop computer through a serial interface (serial port) on your computer. This requires that you connect the serial cable (usually supplied with the camera) from the camera to your computer every time you want to upload files for use on the desktop computer. Generally software is included with the camera to preview the images (thumbnail pictures) from the desktop computer prior to selecting images to upload. Most of the software included also has some limited editing capabilities. Many of the cameras have the "Twain compatible" capability I mentioned in the section on scanners. This means that, like the scanner images, you can open the images from the camera directly into your Twain compatible image editor (such as Corel Photopaint or Photoshop).

Of this type, I have only used the Olympus DL500. This was some time ago (prior to the year 2,000 when I used it at my job with Los Angeles County). It did a very good job of photographing close up objects, but since it has no telephoto capabilities, it does not work well for photographing subjects at some distance. When I lived in California, I went to the San Diego Zoo often to take photos of the animals and this camera would be next to useless for that. Before I bought the Sony Mavica FD91, I had a Sony Mavica FD7. This camera had a 10X optical zoom (my FD91 has a 14X optical zoom capability) and instead of storing the images in the memory of the camera, it saves them to a floppy (which inserts into the camera. I find this to be an easier method of storage. It also means that, if I am out with the camera, I need only have a supply of floppy disks to capture many images. But, as I said, the Mavica cameras which now take the mini CDs have surpassed the ones with floppies, in image capacity.

With the Mavicas which use floppy disks, in the Standard mode, about 30-50 image files will fit on a floppy disk. In the Fine mode (which I use almost exclusively) about 20-25 image files will fit on a disk. The FD91 camera has "steady shot", which helps for shooting without a tripod. The FD7 didn't have this feature. The cameras take some practice and a little trial and error to use. Although they are lightweight, they are a little bulky to handle.

As new as this technology is, I think these cameras will keep improving and soon the images will be of a higher resolution, storage methods will be improved and there may possibly even be a changeable lens feature. If you want to buy one now or in the near future, I would advise you to do some research before your purchase. Again, the Ziff-Davis web site mentioned earlier in the Scanner section is a good place to find some reviews on these cameras.

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Editing the Image

Okay, so you've got an image. Either from a scan, a digital camera, an image emailed to you, clipart, whatever. What can you do with it. The answer is, probably a lot, depending on the type of image editing software you have.

As I indicated earlier, since my primary familiarity is with Corel Photopaint, the techniques in this section will be based on the capabilities of that software program.

Adjusting the Brightness or Darkness of the Image

One of the primary problems with a lot of images scanned or acquired as a computer image is that they are too dark. I've found that the best way to deal with this without distorting the image is to adjust the "Tonal Curve". In Corel Photopaint 6 this selection is under "Effects" on the menu. It was moved to the "Image" section on the menu in Corel Photopaint 7 and 8. Just about everything you do in Photopaint can be previewed before you tell the program to make it final. And even then, you can usually undo at least one step back and sometimes many more. I always preview any adjustments I make to the image. And I very often find I have to undo my work even though I may have previewed the results. Viewing the preview is not always an accurate indication of the final results. In Corel Photopaint 8, for most of the editing functions, the preview is done to the actual image, not in a small preview box. And you don't usually have to click on the "Preview" button to see the results of the change - it happens almost immediately. If you experiment with the Tonal Curve you will see how it can lighten and brighten (or darken and dim) an image. In most image editors there is usually a brighten effect, but I find that the Tonal Curve adjustment (or even sometimes adjusting "gamma" - also a feature in many image editors) does a better job than the brighten effect. The brighten effect sometimes seems to have more of a "fading" result on the image.

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Sharpening the Image

Sometimes the image you are working with is not as clearly defined as you would like. In Photopaint, on the menu bar under "Effects" you will find the "Sharpen" effect. This method has several options: Adaptive Unsharp, Directional Sharpen, Find Edges, High Pass, Unsharp Mask and just plain "Sharpen". I am only familiar with the Adaptive Unsharp, Unsharp Mask, Sharpen and Find Edges options.

I generally use the Unsharp Mask as it usually generates the best results. Sometimes though, it is dependent on the subject.

The "Find Edges" option is really more of an "outlining" than a "sharpen" effect. It creates outlines out of your image content. It may be useful for simulating a line drawing or special effects.

When I do sharpening of an image, I generally use the "Preview" feature and just work with it until it looks right. If you sharpen the image too much, it begins to break up or have very hard ridges or lighter "halo" areas. Sometimes it may start to get an undesirable rough textured surface look. Sometimes no amount of sharpening can effectively help the image.

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Property Bars and Rollups

Property Bars and Roll-Ups allow you to access operations at your fingertips.

The Property Bar (located beneath the main menu tools bar) is a context-sensitive command bar that displays different buttons and options depending on the selected tool or object.

Roll-ups are option boxes which can be displayed on the desktop for information and operations on the image in relation to the tool you are working with or the operation you are performing.

In the upper right corner of any roll-up are three symbols: Something that looks like the side-view of a Thumb tack, a triangle arrow pointing either up or down (depending on whether the roll-up is fully displayed or is just displaying the title bar) and an "X". The Thumbtack works like a toggle switch. If it is displayed tacked down, clicking it will pull it up. If it is displayed in the pulled up position, then clicking it will tack it down. When the Thumbtack is down, the roll-up stays on the desktop until you click on the "X" to close it. When the Thumbtack is up, then the roll-up will stay displayed on the desktop as long as it is the active object (blue title bar). But as soon as you click on something else in the program (an image, the menu bar, etc.), the roll-up will disappear. The down/up arrow triangle controls whether the details of the roll-up are displayed or whether just the title bar is displayed. It also works like a toggle switch. When the arrow is in the up position, the detail settings of the roll-up are displayed and clicking it will close up the roll-up so that only the title bar for it is showing. When it is in the down position, only the Title bar of the roll-up is displayed and clicking it will open up the roll-up so that the detail of the settings are displayed. Closing up the detail display allows you more room to work on the desktop while still keeping the roll-up handy for reference. Clicking the "X" symbol on the roll-up will close the whole box (make it disappear). To get it back you will need select it again from the "View", "Roll-ups" on the menu or by using the hot-key combination associated with the particular roll-up.

The Tool Settings Roll-up

The Tool Settings rollup will change appearance depending on which tool from the Toolbox you are working with. It displays and lets you change the settings for the tool you are working with. You can make this rollup display by going to the menu and from "View" choose "Rollups" and then "Tool Settings". Or you can use the Hot-Key combination (Ctrl-F8). Or you can double-click on one of the tools on the Toolbox and this will display the Tool Settings rollup, showing the detail information for the selected tool.

The Color Roll-up

The Color roll-up allows you to change the paint color or the paper color you are working with.

The Hot-Key combination for this roll-up is Ctrl-F2.

In the upper left corner of the roll-up are two small boxes. The upper left box is the paper color. The lower right box is the paint color. There is a large square box on the color roll-up which shows the currently selected color in a graduated display, from white in the upper left corner all the way to black in the lower right corner. In between these extremes are shades of the selected color. When you click on the small box representing the paper color, that color is shown in the large box. When you click on the small box representing the paint color, that color is shown in the large box. You can click in areas of the large box to change the color tone of either the paint or paper color, depending on which is displayed in the large box. These changes will be reflected in the color boxes on the status bar running along the bottom of the application screen.

Changing the paper color only affects any new images you create. The original paper color of any existing or displayed images does not change. But if you should change the paper size on the image from the "Image", "Paper Size" selection on the menu, the newly added paper area will be in the new paper color.

There is also a vertical slider bar at the right edge of the Color roll-up which you can slide up and down to change the color displayed for either the paint color or paper color, depending on which is displayed in the large square box.

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Objects and Masks

I will be discussing masks and working with objects later in this document, but I wanted to be sure and mention something I ran across in working with masks and creating objects. This was in Photopaint 8.

I would often form a mask in an area of my picture, and then make an object of it by selecting, from "Object" on the menu, "Create" and "Object Copy Selection" or "Object Cut Selection". This would make the masked area a separate object.

But, then if I masked another area and tried to do the same thing (making that area an object), I got the error message, "Selection is Empty!".

For a long time, I could not figure out what this meant. Then I realized that I needed to "focus" on the background of the picture, which included the mask, in order to work on it.

So I clicked on "View" (from the menu), "Dockers" and "Objects" (or you can hold down the Ctrl Key and then hit the F7 key). The Objects Docker will "dock" along the right side of your Photopaint screen. It shows a list of all the "objects" you have created, plus the background.

A red line around the square representing any object or the background on this list, means that is the "selected" entity to be worked on with whatever tool or action you wish to work with.

Generally, if you have created an object, that object will be the one with the red outling. If you have created a mask after your creation of an object, and you wish to make an object of the mask, then you need to click on the "background" represented by a square in the objects list, because the mask is part of the background, not part of the object.

When the background square is selected (red line around it) then you can successfully create an object (or do anything else you wish) from that mask.

Also, when you are doing anything to your picture (such as a fill, painting, smoothing, etc.), and you have one or more objects in your picture, whatever entity (object or background) is selected is the only one which will be affected by your action. (Unless you still have a mask defined, in which case only the masked area will be affected).

The Toolbox

The Toolbox is a collection of buttons (normally found on the left side of the application's window) that is used for quick access to an application's set of tools. I will go over most of the tools in the toolbox that I know something about. I will leave you to experiment with the rest.

I will be mentioning "flyouts" in this area. A flyout is an associated group of additional tools that display when the mouse left button is clicked and held down on the main tool. Usually a little "bar" of these additional tools will "flyout" beside the main tool. Tools that have a flyout have a small arrow located in the bottom right corner of the tool button.

If you have trouble figuring out which tools are which on the Toolbox, if you move your mouse cursor over any of the icon buttons on the Toolbox and "hover" there for a second or two, a "tooltip" will display telling you the name of the tool.

For the flyout tools, if you click and hold the mouse down on the main tool to make the flyout tools appear and then, while still holding the mouse button down, drag across the flyout, as your cursor passes over each flyout tool, a description of what that flyout does will appear on the status bar along the bottom left corner of the screen.

Any of the tools which have a size attribute, can be sized from the "Tool Settings" box (discussed earlier in this document).

The Object Picker Tool

In Corel Photopaint Version 7 this tool has the Transparency Tool in the Flyout. In Version 8 the Transparency Tool was moved to the Effect Tools (Paint Brush, Smudge Tool, Image Sprayer and Clone together at the bottom of the Toolbox). The Object Picker Tool is the tool used to move objects (if any have been created) around in the image, stretch (resize) objects, deskew (distort) objects and generally do any transforming of objects in the image. The Transparency Tool (in Corel Photopaint Version 7) has two operations: Apply Transparency to object and Paint Transparency onto object. The degree of transparency is controlled by settings in the Tool Settings Roll-up. There are a lot of other settings for the Transparency Tool. I will leave you to experiment with them.

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The Mask Tool

Another problem with some images is the background. This gets a little trickier. Corel Photopaint has masking tools. A mask is a selected area of the image where the actions you do to the image only affect that masked portion. The Mask tool has several related tools and shapes on the flyout bar: square/rectangle shape mask, circle/oval shape mask, free form mask, paint on mask and a really nice masking tool, the "magic wand".

When working with masks, you have the choice of four modes to work in. The button bar for these modes will display on the Property Bar when you click on the Masking Tool on the Toolbox. The first you generally use is, in Photopaint, represented by the cursor (arrow) symbol. With this mode, each time you use the selected mask tool, a new mask is started. If you had a mask outlined earlier, it is replaced by the new one. The next mode is the "Add" or "Plus" mode, represented by the plus (+) symbol. With this mode, each time you use the selected mask tool, what you select adds to the earlier selection. The "Subtract" or "Minus" mode, represented by the minus (-) symbol, is the opposite of the Add mode, in that each time you use the selected mask tool in this mode what you select is subtracted from the already selected area. The fourth mode "XOR" is a mode I am not very familiar with. The best way I can describe it is that where the tool overlays the existing mask, it subtracts that area from the mask and any new area outlined by the tool in the XOR mode is added to the mask.

The "Magic Wand" is one of the flyouts of the Mask tool. This is a neat tool. When you click this tool on an area, it masks the surrounding area depending on how close in color hue that area is to the clicked area. You can set (In the Tool Settings Roll-up) a tolerance Level which the tool will use in selecting the surrounding area. The tolerance number indicates to the program how close the captured pixels should be in color hue to the pixel clicked. At zero tolerance, clicking the Magic Wand will select no pixels for the mask. As the tolerance number gets higher, more pixels surrounding the clicked area will be included in the mask. If you have an object in your image (say a vase) which has a background area which is not too varied, you can use the Magic Wand to select that area all around the vase. After the initial selection, you can change to "Plus" (+) mode to keep adding to the masked area until all but the vase is selected. This will allow you to "clean up" anything around the vase without affecting the vase itself. You can also use the Fill Tool (paint bucket icon) to fill this area with a completely different color or one of the bitmat fill patterns, if you wish.

If you want to make a separate object of the vase (maybe to move it or use it in another image without its background, you can "Invert" the mask ("Mask" , "Invert" on the menu), causing the vase to be the only area masked. Then, from "Object" on the menu, you can choose "Create Object from Mask". This makes the vase a separate object which you can move around, copy to another document, or maniputate in various other ways.

You can use the "FreeForm" flyout tool (little amoeba shape) to outline areas of your image for masking and possible later conversion to objects, but where the area you are working with is similar, I find the Magic Wand works best. Sometimes I go back and forth between the FreeForm masking tool and the Magic Wand, using each where it has the best effect.

If you have trouble keeping your hand (mouse) steady to draw the mask shape (when using the FreeForm), you can do the shaping in short straight spurts by not holding down the left mouse button but instead clicking once, moving to the next area in the outline, clicking again, moving to the next small incremental area, clicking again and so forth, outlining the area by making very short straight lines, which in the longrun work as a curve. When you are done with this shaping action, double click the mouse to finalize the shape.

If you experiment with using masks, you will probably find a lot of things they are useful for. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into much more detail about masking.

Be aware that you can "undo" the last masking action and, in most cases even undo several steps back in your actions. The "undo" selection is available from "Edit" on the menu. If you need to undo several actions, then click on "undo special" from "Edit" and it will display a screen with a list of the recent actions. Just highlight back to where you wish to undo and you will be back to where you want to be and can start over.

Many of the graphics that are on the Charter Members pages were created by combining several objects (which in some cases were created from masking areas of an image) to make a completely new picture.

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The Node Editing Tool

I am very limited in my understanding of how this tool works. I have never used it in any of the image editing I do, so I won't even attempt to explain its use here.

The Crop Tool

The Crop Tool sections out a square (or rectangle) area of the image and cuts out everything in the image outside of that area. This effectively changes the size of the image too.

To crop the image, select the Crop Tool, click an area where you wish to begin a corner of the crop area, and drag the cursor right, left, down or up to create the rectangular shape of the area you wish to crop. Double-click inside the crop shape to perform the crop action.

If, before you Double-Click, you change your mind about cropping the image, just press the "Esc" key on your keyboard and the crop shape will disappear.

You can resize or move (drag with your mouse) the crop area until you get it just where you want it, prior to Double-Clicking. Once you Double-Click, you can save the newly cropped image to either the same file or a completely different file.

Keep in mind that, if you save this newly cropped image under the same filename as the original, you will lose all of the image area you just "cropped" off. If you do not want this to happen, you can save the newly cropped image under a different filename. This will keep the old image intact, in its original state.

The Zoom Tool

This tool is represented on the Toolbox by an icon which looks like a manifying glass. If you Left Click on the image with this tool, the manification of the image increases. If you Right-Click on the image with this tool, the size of the image decreases. The zoom increments and/or decrements of each click are based on the preset zoom Levels shown in the drop-down box for setting specific zoom Levels which is on the menu bar.

The Hand Tool in the Zoom Tool Flyout allows you to move the viewing area of the zoomed image so that you can view other parts of the zoomed image.

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The Eye Dropper Tool

This tool is represented on the Toolbox by a symbol which looks like an eye dropper. This tool is handy if you want to duplicate a color in your image but it is hard to find it in the color palette. There are three blocks of color on the Status bar (lower bar running across the bottom of the program) which indicate the "paint" (foreground or painting) color, the "paper" color and the "fill" (paint bucket icon) color. If you left-click on the area of the image where the color you want is located, the paint color changes to that color. Now, whenever you use any of the tools which draw or paint on the image, the marks or lines drawn will be in the newly selected color. Any text typed into the image with the Text tool will also be this color. If you select the Eye Dropper tool and right-click on an area of the image, then the color in that area will become the "fill" color. This means that, when you use the Fill Tool (paint bucket icon) to fill an area, this will be the color used for the fill.

Eraser Tool

The Eraser Tool, as its name implies erases parts of the image. The Color Replacer Tool flyout of this tool replaces any painted areas affected by the tool with the paper color. This applies only to areas which have been painted on by one of the modes of the Paintbrush Tool. I've found this flyout tool a little tricky to use. Consequently, I generally only use the Eraser Tool.

Drawing Tools

These are the tools which draw lines or shapes on the image: Squares, Rectangles, Elipses, or a line.

To draw a square, select the Rectangle Flyout and hold down the Ctrl Key while creating the rectangle. This will "constrain" it to a square. Without holding down the Ctrl Key, you can draw a rectangle shape with this tool. To draw a cicle, select the Elipse Flyout Tool; after you select the Elipse Tool, hold down the Ctrl Key to "constrain" the elipse to a circle. If you want an oval, then don't use the Ctrl Key. The Shift Key is used in conjuction with the Rectangle and Elipse Tools to control the manner in which the shape is drawn. It takes a little practice to use these controls.

The Polygon Flyout draws irregular shapes.

The Line Flyout draws lines. When using the Line Flyout, if you just drag the cursor to create the line, it may be irregular depending on your control of the mouse. If you want a straight line, click once at the start of the line, move to the place where you want to end the straight line and click again. You can continue drawing connected straight lines by clicking and moving to the next area, clicking and moving to the next area, etc. When you want to end the line drawing, Double-click the mouse.

You can use the Tool Settings Roll-up to control whether the shapes drawn contain uniform color, fountain fills, bitmap fills, texture fills or no fill at all.

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Text Tool
This tool "types" text into the image. In Corel Photopaint 6 and 7, as long as you are in the middle of using the Text Tool, you can change the color, font and size of the text. After you click on another tool, the Text attributes are set.

In Corel Photopaint 8, you can go back and edit the text, even after you have used another tool. But, if you choose to do this, if you have changed the text in any way, (resizing, skewing, rotating, etc.) or added dropped shadows or other modifications, these will be lost and the text will revert back to the state it was in when it was first created. In my experience, the dropped shadows do not disappear, they just are no longer attached to the text any more and if you change the font type, size or words, this does not affect the dropped shadow.

After you have created the text, it is an object which can be moved, skewed (distorted), stretched (resized), etc. the same as any other object.

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Fill Tool

This tool is represented by the paint bucket icon. If you select this tool, it will fill the image or an area of the image with the current "fill" color or texture.

First, a little about fill colors and textures:

When you select the Fill Tool and the Tool Settings roll-up is displayed, or if you double-click the Fill Tool to display the Tool Settings roll-up, it will show the settings for the Fill Tool. The default setting for this is the "Uniform Fill" (button located on the far left in the row of settings for type of fill), which means the Fill Tool will fill the area with the currently selected fill color. This color is shown in the box in the Tool Settings roll-up for the Fill Tool. (It is also displayed on the status bar along the bottom of the application beside the word "Fill:"). If you click the "Edit" button, the Color roll-up will be displayed so that you can select the fill color. The Color roll-up is explained earlier in this article.

The next fill settings button (to the right of the Uniform Fill) is the "Fountain Fill". This will fill the area in a gradient fill of one shape or another (conical, linear, radial, square or rectangular). These shapes are accessible by clicking on the Edit button. You can play around with these to see the effects they have on the fill area.

The next fill settings button is the "Bitmap Fill". This will fill the area with the currently selected bitmap image. You can change the current bitmap image to be used for the fill by clicking on the Edit button. You can add bitmap image fills of your own to the selection by pressing the "Load" button and adding an image to the selection. As far as I know, the load will accept bitmap (bmp), jpeg (jpg) Corel Photopaint (cpt) and GIF (gif) file types. I have not experimented with other types, but they may work too. The actual pattern that loads into the pattern box from the loaded image will depend on the size of that image. Sometimes, if the loaded image is very large, then only a part of it will be inserted into the pattern box for use as a fill. You will need to experiment here for results you want to acheive.

The next fill settings button is the "Texture Fill". These fill patterns are from a pre-defined "Texture Library" which comes with the Corel Photopaint program. Selecting a different file from the drop-down Texture Library list will display a different list of texture fills in the Texture List. When you select a texture from the list, you can further adjust its appearance by changing the colors that are used (see the drop-down color selections on the right side of the Texture Fill dialog box.) The definitions and number of drop-downs which appear for the selected texture change according to the type of texture selected. You can have fun experimenting with these too.

Now on to the actual use of the Fill Tool:

There are two settings for this tool (in the Tool Settings box), Normal and HSB mode.

In Corel 6 and 7 the difference in the way the fill tool works in these two modes is not noticeably different. Clicking with the fill tool on an area of the image usually fills all parts around the clicked area which are in the same color range. It generally stops at line or different color barriers. The fill area in the Normal mode will usually cover a little more area (tolerance seems to be a little greater).

But in Corel 8, when in Normal mode, clicking the fill tool on the image will fill the WHOLE image with the fill color. When in HSB mode, all parts around the clicked area which are in the same color range will be filled with the fill color.

In Corel 6, 7 and 8 you can set the transparency Level so that the original image shows through the fill, giving the appearance of a "film" of transparent color over the whole image. This transparency setting also works when filling with the bitmap image fill or the texture fill. Changing the transparency setting with the bitmaps or texture fills can create some interesting effects. If you want complete control over what areas are filled, you can mask off the area you want to be filled, thus protecting the other areas of the image from the fill operation.

By experimenting with the different fill selections and Fill Tool settings, you can create some VERY interesting images.

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The Image Sprayer Tool

I don't remember for sure, but I don't think this tool was available in Corel Photopaint 6. It is a fun tool to use, though I'm not sure of its applications.

In Corel Photopaint 7, this is a separate tool on the Toolbox. In Corel Photopaint 8 it is a Flyout Tool along with the Paint Tool, Effect Tool (smudge) and Clone Tool .

When selected, it acts like a "painter of images". The Tool Settings Roll-up allows you to select the images you want to spray. These are "cpt" files supplied with the version of Corel Photopaint you are using.

In Corel Photopaint 7 there are butterflies, arrows, gears, postage stamps, foliage, etc. In Corel Photopaint 8 there are these, plus many more images for spraying.

The image files are stored in a directory named "imagelst", along with the Corel files. I experimented with putting some of my own Photopaint (cpt extension) images into the imagelst directory and also copying some of the Corel Photopaint 8 image files into the Corel Photopaint 7 Imagelst directory, and trying to load these to spray, but the results were a little unpredictable. Still it was fun to play with.

The Paint Tool

The Paint Tool provides the means to paint areas of the image with color.

In Corel Photopaint 7, the Paint Tool is a separate tool on the Toolbox. In Corel Photopaint 8, it is a Flyout Tool along with the Effect Tool (smudge), Clone Tool and Image Sprayer.

You can use the Tool Settings Roll-up to set the size, shape and style of brush, the transparency Level of the painting stroke, softness of the stroke and a miriad of other settings too numerous to mention here. There are a lot of paint "brush" styles: art brush, chalk, airbrush, spray can, pencil, ballpoint pen, calligraphy pen, felt tip pen, crayon just to name a few. There is also a "pointillism brush" which paints dots or blotches of variations of the paint color. All of these "brushes" have numerous individual settings.

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The Clone Tool
Both Corel Photopaint and Adobe Photoshop have a Cloning Tool. In Photoshop it is called the "Rubber Stamp Tool" and is indicated by a little rubber stamp icon.

In Corel Photopaint 7, the Paint Tool is a separate tool on the Toolbox. In Corel Photopaint 8, it is a Flyout Tool along with the Effect Tool (smudge), Clone Tool and Image Sprayer.

This is a really handy tool. Before I discovered it (or actually had it pointed out to me by a fellow Corel user), if I wanted to duplicate and area in the picture, I used the "Eye Dropper" tool to pick up a sample of color in the area of the picture that I wanted to copy.

Here is an example: Say you have a background on the image. There is another area in the image that you want to replace with that background. Maybe there are objects there that you don't want to show up in the image. I used to sample the background area color, which then makes that the color my "Paintbrush Tool" will use. Then I would paint over the undesirable section with the sampled color.

But what if the background is not all one color? What if it is a pattern (like a carpet, marblized surface, patterned fabric, etc.) Then you have a problem using the Eye Dropper tool and just painting on the color.

Here is where the Clone tool will work wonders. The Clone tool "clones" the area you sample from and "paints" that same area to the area you select for the cloning operation. In Corel 6 and 7 the Clone tool is the bottom-most tool on the toolbox and is represented by a little icon which shows two little people who look like they are holding hands.

In Corel Photopaint Version 8 the Clone Tool is not a separate tool on the Toolbox. It is a "Flyout" tool of the Paint (paintbrush icon) tool. (flyouts are discussed earlier in this document) The icon picture for the tool is two paintbrush tips side by side, one larger than the other.

The Clone tool operates in this manner:
Click on the icon for the Clone Tool from the Toolbox. This will turn your mouse cursor into a cross with a circle in the middle.
Next click in the area of the image where you want to pick up the image to copy from. The area you click will now have a "+".
Now move your cursor to the area to which you want to start "cloning" or copying to. (The "+" will stay where it is and your moving mouse cursor will be a tiny circle).
Click and hold the mouse button down to start "cloning". As you move the mouse cursor over the new area, the "+" will follow your cursor circle at the same distance as that established when you first clicked and held down the mouse button in the new area. And, as you move the mouse cursor, the area defined by the moving "+" symbol will be copied or "cloned" to the new area your mouse cursor is moving on.

This is easier to understand if you just try it out.

In Corel Photopaint Versions 6 and 7, if you want to change the area from which the cloning is coming from, move the little circle mouse cursor to the new area you want to start copying from. Then, while holding down the Shift Key, click in the new area. The "+" will move to this new area. Again, move the circle cursor to the new area you want to clone to and when you click and hold down the mouse cursor it will start the cloning from the new area you have chosen. You can change the "from" cloning area any time in this manner as you continue to copy to the new area(s).

In Corel 8 the Shift Key-Mouse Click combination is not used to change the orentation of the clone source. Instead, you right click on the new area from which you want to clone. I find this a little less cumbersome than the Shift-Mouse Click combination of Corel Photopaint Versions 6 and 7.

The Clone Tool can be used across images. If you have two image documents open on your application desktop, you can Click the Clone Tool on the source area from which you want to start the clone operation in one image document and then click in the area where you want the clone operation to effect (where you want the source image area to "paint" to) in the other image document on the desktop.

Working effectively with the Clone Tool takes a little practice. And you will have to go through some trial and error to get the cloning to work the way you want it to. But you will wonder how you ever did without it once you have mastered its operation.

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The Effect Tool

This tool, sometimes known as a "smoothing" or "smudge" tool, softens, smooths or smudges the colors in the area where it is used. The symbol for the tool is the tip of a Q-Tip.

In Corel Photopaint 7, the Effect Tool is a separate tool on the Toolbox. In Corel Photopaint 8, it is a Flyout Tool along with the Paint Tool, Clone Tool and Image Sprayer.

Like the other tools in Corel Photopaint, this tool has many different styles, sizes and settings. These can be set from the Tool Settings Roll-up.

The effects it can produced are best learned by experimentation with the different sizes and settings, so I will not elaborate any further about it here.

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The Color Palette

The Color Palette generally runs vertically along the right edge of the application screen or along the bottom of the application screen. It has little blocks of color for all colors which are available for use in the current image. In Corel Photopaint there is a little triangle with a vertical line in front of it at the bottom of the vertical color palette strip. If you click on this triangle, the palette of colors will expand so you can see all the colors available for selection. Sometimes there is still a triangle (arrow) or a scroller bar at on the palette which allows you to scroll through the colors. If you Left Click on a color on the palette, the Paint color changes to that color. If you Right Click on a color on the palette, the Fill color changes to that color.

Copying objects

When you create an object in an image, it is a separate entity of the image. It can be moved, duplicated, copied, deleted, etc. from the image. When you copy an object ("Edit", "Copy" from the menu), this puts it in the "clipboard", making it available to any other images you may open or have open in your editing program and sometimes it will even be available to another program if that program can use "pastes" from the clipboard. The clipboard can only hold one item at a time. If you copy anything (text, objects, etc.) to the clipboard and then copy something else to the clipboard without pasting the earlier object, text, etc., it is gone and no longer available for your use. In Photopaint, after you copy an object, you can "paste" it. "Paste" (from "Edit" on the menu) has a few options. You can paste the copied object "as New Object", "as New Selection" or "as New Document" or "Into Selection". I am not very familiar with the paste "as New Selection" and the paste "Into Selection". These have to do with pasting the object into a document as a masked area or pasting an object into an already masked area. The paste "As New Object" puts the object into the active document where it can be manipulated as desired. The paste "as New Document" creates a completely new image document the size of the object being copied.

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Saving the Image

In Photopaint (and in most image editors) there is a file type that is application specific. That is, this is the default file type the image editor will save the file in. Usually these file types are the only ones (within the individual program) which allow you to keep the objects as separate objects and any masks you may have created in the image as masks. This is handy if you want to work with the image again. It means you don't lose all the work you may have already done making separate objects and creating masked areas. The default file type for Photopaint is the "cpt" extension. If you save your image in a file format other than this (.bmp, .tif, jpg, .gif, etc.) and you have any objects or masks in your image, you will get a message telling you that the objects will be merged or combined or that masks will not be saved in this format. This is fine if you have already saved the image in the "cpt" format with the objects and/or masks or if you are done manipulating the image and therefore don't care if they are combined or lost.

At some point, you will need to save your image in a format other than the application specific format. This is because most other programs cannot read these special formats.

Common formats which can be read and opened by other image programs are the Bitmap (.bmp), Tag Image Format (.tif) and sometimes the Picture (.pic or .pxt) format. There are several image editing programs which can open the jpeg (.jpg) and .gif format files. There are more lately with this capability due to the use of these files on the internet.

I usually save one version of the images I work with in the Photopaint "cpt" format so that I can come back and work on it if needed. There is one problem I have found in saving text objects in this format. For some reason, when text objects are saved in the "cpt" format and later reopened, sometimes there are little added pixels or vertical lines attached to some of the letters. Or sometimes part of a black letter will turn red or blue. I'm not sure what causes this, but for this reason, I do not usually keep my text objects separate in the document.

The way to "merge" objects back into the background is accessed from "Objects" on the menu. The selection is "Objects" "Combine" and the options are "combine objects together", "combine objects with background" and "combine all objects with background". The "combine objects together combines all selected objects together, making them become one object. You select more than one object by clicking on the first object and then Shift-Clicking on the next object(s). The "combine objects with background" merges the selected object(s) with the background. The "combine all objects with background" merges all objects in the document with the background.

Every image editing program has "filters" which allow it to open files of certain types and to save images or text in certain file type formats. If you are planning to use your images on the internet, your image editing program should be able to open and save files in the ".jpg" and ".gif" formats.

These two formats are discussed next in this document.

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Jpegs and Gifs

The internet, at this time, supports only two types of images: "Joint Photographics Experts Group" or jpeg (.jpg file extension) and "Graphic Image Format" (GIF - .gif file extension). There is another format "Portable Network Graphics" (.png extension - pronounced "ping") which may soon be supported in some browsers. It was developed to become the substitute for the GIF format.

These two file formats save the image in a compressed format. This creates a smaller file size than most of the other file formats. This is why these two formats are more desirable for use on the internet. Each of the two supported file formats has their strengths and weaknesses.

Joint Photographics Experts Group or jpeg (.jpg file extension) Format

The jpeg format is what is termed a "lossy" compression format. This means that each time a jpeg file is saved and compressed, the part that is removed to do the compression cannot be recovered when the file is opened. And each time a jpeg file is resaved (as a jpeg file again) a little more of the file information is lost and cannot be restored.

For that reason, I do not usually re-save a jpeg file as a jpeg. If I think I may need to resize or manipulate a file I have received in jpeg format, I usually first save it in the Photopaint "cpt" format and do any of my manipulation there. When I am ready to save the revised version for the internet, then I save it as a jpeg file. This still means that I have one degradation of the file (because of the save to the photopaint format the first time and the later save to jpeg format again), but sometimes this can't be avoided.

Most of the time, the degradation of the file is so slight that it is not readily observable to the human eye. Unless you have done a succession of saving the file in jpeg format.

When you save an image to the jpeg format, your editing program will usually present you with some type of dialog box for you to select the degree (percentage) of compression. In Photopaint, this percent is represented in numbers - the higher the number, the greater the compression ratio. I have found that a compression ratio of about 20-30 still gives an acceptable picture display on the monitor. Sometimes, I can go as high as 40 or more. The higher the compression ratio, the smaller the filesize will be on your hard drive. And sometimes 5 or 10 percent can make a big difference in the file size. A lot depends on the complexity of the image.

I've found that some marbled designs (sometimes used for backgrounds) do not change that much in size with the various compression ratios. This is probably because of the complex marbling design. You can experiment with these numbers to try to arrive at a happy medium.

Other image editors may present you with a different dialog box for saving to the jpeg format. Adobe Photoshop displays the sliding scale, but the numbers only range from 1 to 10 and it indicates whether the range will create a smaller or a larger file.

Keep in mind that, when you save an image to the jpeg format and it is still displayed in your art program, you may not see the actual quality of the image. You will need to close the image and reopen the saved jpeg file to see the actual display quality of the image. This is an important fact to keep in mind, because otherwise, you may be experimenting with saving in different percentages, thinking that the image quality is still okay because you can see an acceptable image on the screen, when in reality the image has degraded considerably. Photopaint 8 is supposed to show the actual quality of an image which has been saved as a jpeg.

The jpeg image format is a good choice for saving photo images. This is because the jpeg format can save in "high color" format (24-bit color, 16 million colors). This provides for the wide range of color variations seen in photographs.

One disadvantage of the jpeg format is that it must be displayed as a square or rectangle. It cannot be displayed as an irregular shape. It does not have the option, which is available in a gif file, that allows you to make the background transparent.

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Graphic Image Format" (GIF - .gif file extension)

The gif format is what is termed a "lossless" compression format. This means that each time a gif file is saved and compressed, the part that is removed to do the compression is recovered when the file is opened again.

Another advantage of the gif format is that, in the newer GIF89a format (usually now the default GIF format in most programs) you can designate one color in the image to be transparent when displayed in the browser. This is usually the background of the image. This allows irregular shaped images to be displayed without a square frame around them. This is one reason why the GIF file format is often selected over the jpeg format for displaying an image on the web.

The main disadvantage of the GIF format is that it is what is referred to as a "paletted" image or a 256 color image. It is limited to 256 colors. While this may sound like a lot of colors (if you are thinking like a crayon box), it can be limiting when dealing with a photo. This is one of the reasons the jpeg format is the preferred choice for photographic images.

Most programs will require you to convert the image to a "paletted" or "256 Color" image format before giving you the "GIF" option as a file format for saving. Sometimes the conversion is done at the time of saving. Corel Photopaint requires that you convert the image prior to saving it as a gif. One way of maintaining the color quality of an image when converting it to the "paletted" format is to select "optimize" when doing the conversion (if this is presented as an option - it is in Photopaint). This means that the conversion process uses only the colors currently in the image to create the conversion palette for the image. This allows for a more efficient use of the allowable 256 colors in the image and usually creates an image where there is no discernable loss of color quality. Some of the other conversion options, such as "Uniform" create a standard palette for the image which usually contains some colors which are not in the image and thus does not make efficient use of the allowed 256 colors. If your image is very simple as far as number of colors actually in the image, you may want to reduce the number of colors in the palette to a number less than the 256 limit. The less colors you use in the palette created for the image, the smaller the image file size will be.

In Photopaint, while you are working on an image, you can go back and forth between converting the image from "paletted" to "24 bit color" as many times as you need to. Sometimes, when you have a paletted image and you want to add more color to it, you cannot do this while it is a paletted image because of the optimized colors of the palette. Another problem with a paletted image is that, very often most of the "filters" (editing effects) are not available for use when the image is paletted. I often have to convert a paletted image to 24 bit color so I can use the "Effects", "Sharpen" feature. Then, before I save the image as a gif, I convert it back to paletted with the "optimize" option.

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Planning a Paint Project

I think I mentioned that, in addition to using Corel Photopaint for creating and editing images for the web, I often use it for planning what I intend to paint on porcelain. In fact, this was my original use and reason for purchasing Corel Photopaint.

I have a hard time envisioning what a painting idea I have in my head will look like when finished. Sometimes what I think will be a good layout idea turns out to be a dud. This is where using Corel Photopaint (or any other image editor you are familiar with) helps immensely.

I usually start with an idea. Let's use, as an example, the painting I did of the tiger playing in the aquarium, titled "Tiger Fun in an Aquarium", which appears in the Step by Step section on my own web site, "Betty Gerstner's China Painting Information on the Web":

I had an idea to depict wild animals in an unusual situation. (unusual for them, that is)   For this painting, I wanted to depict a tiger playing in a large aquarium.   (Similar to the cat in the fishbowl theme).

To begin with, I scanned a picture of an empty 10 gallon aquarium and "stretched" it to a size approximating a 40 gallon tank.   To do this, I made the tank a separate object. (see under masks for creating separate objects from areas within an image). I had originally tried the picture plan using the original 10 gallon size in the scanned picture, but it looked out of place with the large tiger.   This demonstrates the benefit of being able to "try out" scenarios for your projects.

Next I found some pictures of aquarium water and foliage, scanned them in and "pasted" parts of them into the frame of the aquarium.   Then I found some interesting fish, scanned them in and "pasted" them into the water to swim in the aquarium. I could have experimented with making them partially transparent to appear that they were at a distance from view in the water. There are all kinds of manipulations you can do with objects you paste into a scene.

I originally had a photo of a tiger coming face on, but he did not look appropriate.   Someone, seeing the original aquarium scene I had done, with the 10 gallon aquarium and the tiger coming at you head on, said it looked like he had "stumbled" into the aquarium.   And I agreed.   I found a picture of some tigers drinking from a stream. This meant that their heads were looking down. I scanned one of the tiger heads, masked the area of the head, created an object from that mask and pasted it over the original tiger head, so that it now appeared as though he was peering into the aquarium. This required a little cleaning up around the head area.   I kept the same paws position, but the first version had both paws inside the aquarium. After I thought about it, it seemed that, if he had both paws playing in the aquarium, then he had no way of holding himself up.   So I masked off one of the "arms", including the paw, created an object from that mask, and positioned it so that paw was hanging over the edge of the aquarium, supporting him and the other was "fishing" through the aquarium water.   I wasn't sure how well a 40 gallon tank could hold up a 500-700 pound tiger.   Some friends told me that if you accepted the fantasy of a tiger in an aquarium, then you could probably accept him leaning on a 40 gallon aquarium tank.

When I was satisfied with my picture plan, I printed it on 720 DPI quality paper.   This produces good resolution and color.   Because the tile I planned to paint on was larger than the 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper that my printer uses, I split the original picture into two halves and made a file for each side.   I printed both picture files and taped them together to get the larger complete picture.

I used the same idea of planning and printing out a painting plan for the painting "There's a Giraffe in the Nursery" and the "Mount Up With Wings as Eagles" painting I did for my daughter (who likes eagles). The steps for these paintings are also displayed in the Step by Step section of my own web site.

The clone tool came in handy for the giraffe painting plan. The original nursery room picture I used as a background had numerous toys scattered in the room on the carpet. I did not wish to use all of these and I had a teddy bear which I wanted to add, sitting on the floor by the crib instead. One of the toys sitting on the floor was a stuffed elephant. I liked this one, but decided I would rather have it sitting on the bureau dresser. So I created a mask around it, created an object from the mask, and "whisked" it away to the top of the dresser. I scanned the teddy bear into a separate image, masked it, created an image from the mask, copied the object and then pasted it into the giraffe image as a new object , placing it on the floor by the crib. Of course this played havoc with the carpet area where the toys had been. So, using the clone tool, I painted over the unwanted toys and messed up carpet area with fresh new carpet from another area.

There are a lot of things you can do to change an image to make it conform to the idea you have in mind for your project. Don't be afraid to experiment with different paint plans. The more you do this, you more your abilities working with the program will improve.

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Printing Your Image

If you are going to plan your painting projects by using the facilities of Corel Photopaint or any other image editor you have, you will need to print out your image. Since there are a multitude of printers available, I am not going to go into much detail in this area. Your printer manual can probably tell you more than I can about printing the image.

There is one thing to consider though, no matter what printer you are using. Your image may look very large on your screen. But when you print it (using no adjustments), you may find that it comes out like a postage stamp! This may be due to the "dpi" (dots per inch) the image was created in. The smaller the dots per inch number, the harder it is to increase the size of the image. You run into the "jaggies" problem again.

Before you print the image, it is a good idea to view the information concerning what size (in inches or whatever measurement your printer uses) it is going to print the image. In some instances, I have successfully "stretched" some of my images in the printer option box as much as 200-300%. Increasing the actual size of the image in your program will sometimes produce a better printout and sometimes this may or may not work. The disadvantage of increasing the actual size of the image is that this usually increases the file size (if you save the enlarged image).

If you are scanning an image and you know ahead of time that you will want to print the image, it is helpful to scan it in the range of 150-200 dpi (for color images) or 300 dpi (for black and white images).

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Getting More Information

I have tried to cover what little knowledge I have gained in my time preparing images for use as a source for my paintings and, more recently, preparing images for display on the internet. There are vast areas which I have left uncovered. I have just touched the surface of all the things you can do in an image editor. And, since my knowledge is limited to Corel Photopaint and the Windows environment and probably only the tools that I have needed to use, there is a lot more to learn.

The internet is a good source for information on working with images. Here are just a few web sites which you may find useful in your quest for knowledge in this area:

  • Desktop Publishng (DTP) Tips and Tricks
    This page contains some tips on various desktop publishing and image editing programs. Included are Page Layout Programs: QuarkXpress and Pagemaker, Drawing Programs: Adobe Illustrator, Freehand and CorelDraw, and one Image Editor: Adobe PhotoShop Version 3.0. The page also has general MacIntosh tips "to make life easier".
  • Creating Graphics for Web Pages and Computer-Based Presentations
    This site, sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), is a workshop concerned about working with Adobe PhotoShop and Microsoft Photo Editor.
    It promises that You will:
    -Become familiar with the different types of graphic file formats and the attributes of graphics files
    -Develop a basic understanding of image editing programs (Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Photo Editor)
    -Edit/enhance scanned images
    -Acquire images with scanning equipment
    -Create titles/buttons for Web pages
    -Create animated graphics for Web pages
    The page also has some links to resources for working with PhotoShop
  • Scanners and Digital Imaging Systems
    This page, sponsored by Family Technologies, offers the book, "The Complete Guide to Scanning" for sale. It also has a link, at the bottom of the page which is a link for more information on "Imaging Tools".

If you do a search using the keywords "Image Editors" or "Art Editors", I'm sure you will find many more sites than the few I've listed above. I've found the search engine, Google, at, to be a good search engine for finding almost anything.

Happy Imaging!

Betty Gerstner

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