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How to!
Manipulating Bitmap Images

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Read it! - practice, and master Bitmap Manipulation
 
First a Preamble on learning these awsome programs (smart Barts take note)
Yes, you can do it. Many computer owners, perhaps conversant with Word Processors, Data Base spreadsheets etc. etc. are overwhelmed when it comes to using painting programs. And understandably so without assistance and a little incentive. Painting programs today are awesome things with so many fancy options and strange filters, colour gadgets and pixel thing-a-me-bobs that, with trade and DTP experience, I enjoy teaching the programs as do most students enjoy learning them even when much of it revolves around the basics.

Well now you're here I will assume the incentive is that you have copied a few of my buttons and frames and want to personalise them a bit with the exercises listed below. Instead of just placing text around buttons, you want to put text on them or place a picture of mum, dad and the kids in one of the frames.

The bad news is that you have to have a painting program on your computer. Adobe Photoshop is one of the "Big Daddies" of them all. I do not know of an equivalent on the Mac (inform me please if you do) but an excellent medium level program is Paint Shop Pro for Wintel computers (v5 available now), no MS Paintbrush etc please - for your own sake. There are several medium level painting packages available from shareware sites on the Internet for most platforms, so if you don't have one go get one and return after....

....the other bad news which is, spend at least an hour or so playing with the various basic tools and help files that came with your painting program before attempting set tasks. Trying to perform unfamiliar tasks can be very difficult if you don't know a menu from an option or a Selection Tool from a Painting Tool. (selection tools make those interesting dotted lines on a bitmap - they select an area to work on - and the painting tools paint colour into the pixels)

Forget the "you beaut" squiggly filters etc., they are just toys for the imagination. Learn to manipulate the pixels first, and learn to do so, well.

I know of a Trade Teacher that says he is an expert on Photoshop - he has read a lot!. Playing with images, with limited knowledge, and changing them with easy to use/find options only teaches you what you are comfortable with. Students have commented after a week trying to produce from a complex book and also performing fun tasks, that afterwards they go away from that teachers class feeling very little was really learnt.

You too will not learn much just fiddling unless, armed with all the tedious basics, you set a goal and then work out how to reach it, like receiving instructions from a client. You have to know the basics thoroughly for then you will be inventive and go beyond them in a different way for every different job. And profiting from others demands is when you really have to learn about the consequences of a narrow learning curve.

Whether it be Web pages or quality Desktop Publishing that you work on, most of the basic knowledge required is common to both. Drawing programs, Painting programs, scanning and colour, pixels, colour depth, bezier curves, resolution, layout. If you want to independently create web pages, also study Desktop Publishing. (HTML page production is mostly an extension of DTP, and so too are most of the multimedia disciplines)
 

Exercises
I have chosen to use Photoshop v4 (Mac & Win) and Paint Shop Pro v4+ as example programs for these exercises. The basic tools used should be easily recognised in other medium to major painting programs, and layers will not be used thus making it easier for the learner.

This is the preferred order of learning practice with these lessons

using the supplied buttons & frames
Changing a frame or button size
Adding a picture to a frame
Adding the drop shadows
Changing the colour
Adding your text
Adding your text to animations
additional tasks
• Make your own drop shadows
• When to use Anti-aliasing
• Creating animations - a few ideas
 
The tools you will use:
Shown below are tools you need to be familiar with if using Adobe Photoshop v4 or Paint Shop Pro v4. Other programs will have identical tools. Below each set of tools are the Tool Options boxes that should always be visible on the screen when using painting programs, and you need to teach yourself to glance at the tool information every time a tool is selected. Any professional or good publication will tell you so. Also displayed is the Photoshop Info window.

Photoshop tools
Adobe Photoshop tools
Photoshop Tool options and Photoshop Information Window
Adobe Photosgop Tool Options Photoshop Information window

The Photoshop tools above are displayed in this order:
• Rectangular or Elliptical Selection Tool
• Lasso Tool - freehand selctions
• Magic Wand Tool - auto selects within a colour range
• Zoom Tool - zooms out (control, option) or in, double click for 1:1
• Hand Tool (Panning) - slide image view in window, double click to fit workarea
• Text Tool - paints text shapes onto the canvas
Add to existing selections holding down the Shift key, subtracting use the Alt key. Any combination of Selection Tools work with these key options.

Paint Shop Pro tools
Paint Shop Pro tools
Paint Shop Pro Tool options
Paint Shop Pro Tool Info

The Paint Shop Pro tools above are displayed in this order:
• Zoom Tool - zooms out (right mouse button) or in
• Hand Tool (Panning) - slide image view in window
• Rectangular or Elliptical Selection Tool
• Lasso Tool - freehand selctions
• Magic Wand Tool - auto selects within a colour range
• Text Tool - paints text shapes onto the canvas
Add to existing selections holding down the Shift key, subtracting use the Control key.  Any combination of Selection Tools work with these key options.

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