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Images 101 - Mastering the Basics: Editing/Resizing with Windows ‘Paint’
12-29-2013, 01:25 PM, (This post was last modified: 12-30-2013, 02:31 PM by Skook.)
#1
Tongue  Images 101 - Mastering the Basics: Editing/Resizing with Windows ‘Paint’
There is lots of photo editing software out there to help prep your pics. Digital cameras all seem to come with one application or another that will handle the basics. You can buy reasonably priced fairly powerful programs like Corel’s PaintShop Pro, or Adobe Photoshop Elements. You can also find a free open source program called The GIMP that has been around for years.

The only drawback with most of these applications is the learning curve especially if you want to take full advantage of what they offer; but, they are all overkill for what you need to do to prep images for your forum posts.

So, as I was preparing an earlier tutorial, I was wondering what application would be available that was free, easy to master and offered basic photo editing. Well, I found it when I right clicked on a photo in ‘My Pictures’ library and noticed the ‘Edit’ in the list. I asked myself, ‘What program does this open?’ I was thinking perhaps my Paint Shop Pro might pop up. It didn’t. When I saw the program that opened I said aloud, “Oh, Paint, it’s you. Long-time no see.”

I remember playing around with it years ago when I purchased my first computer (with Windows XP), but after buying my first Paint Shop Pro application I forgot about it. So, after rediscovering it, I played with it and it’s perfect.

So, if you’re using a Windows operating system, you can access it the way I did through your Pictures Library. Or, you can find it by clicking: Start > All Programs > Accessories > Paint and then you can Right Click > Pin to Taskbar to make it easily accessible.

The image on the right shows Paint’s user interface which I 'Restored Down' (minimized) for this screenshot. I personalized a few things when I was giving it a test run so my UI won't look exactly like yours. I will explain how I made those changes further on.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=686]

Paint 6.1 is installed on my computer and the first thing I noticed about it when it opened was its similarity to my Microsoft Office applications. Like them, it has all the 'tools' on a tabbed 'Ribbon' and comes with a 'backstage' view. So, on the image above, the red arrow at the bottom indicates the ‘Status Bar’ which will offer dimension information depending on what you are working on. It also gives you a sliding ‘Zoom In/Out’ button. At the top and left side of the workspace, are the ‘Rulers’ which you add via the ribbon ‘View’ tab. Just above the ruler is the ‘Quick Access Toolbar’ (QAT). In my Paint, I have moved its position and have added more tools and will explain how below. At the top right corner, you can learn how to use the program and its tools by clicking the blue ‘Help’ button (or by clicking F1 on your keyboard).

Let’s look at some of these features in more depth below. Image #1 shows the ‘Help’ menu pop-up. That’s it - real simple. If you sit down one afternoon and go through those article links, you will have the program figured out in a few short hours. You can’t beat it.

In Paint, the ‘blue’ button on the left above the ribbon is called the ‘Paint Button’ (in Office apps it is called the ‘File’ button) and when your click it (#2) you get Paint’s backstage view (#3). One thing I have to say about Microsoft they don’t scrimp when it comes to the many ways you can access tools (Ribbon, Menus, Toolbars, Backstage, key board shortcuts, etc.). The backstage also offers a quick way to open recent projects via the ‘Recent pictures’ list on the right - just click a listed item to open.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=687]

When you first open Paint, the ‘QAT’ sits above the ribbon and you can make more accessible by moving it closer to the workspace by clicking the black arrow and choosing ‘Show below the Ribbon’ on the drop down menu (#4). You can also customize the ‘QAT’ via this menu by clicking on the various tools listed there. However, you are not limited to this list and can add any Paint tool to the toolbar by right clicking on a tool and choosing ‘Add to Quick Access Toolbar’ (#6). Also, when you do a right click anywhere on the Ribbon, you will get a pop-up allowing you to move the ‘QAT’ or to ‘Minimize the Ribbon’, itself. Clicking the ‘View’ tab on the Ribbon (#7), shows how you can turn on/off the Rulers, Gridlines and Status Bar as well offering a few more tools.

In image #7, you can see what I have added to my QAT. From left to right, they are:

Save/New/Open/PasteFrom/Undo/Redo/Crop/Resize/SaveAs

Once you decide what tools you use most frequently, add them to your own QAT. Now, to put those tools in a particular order, you will have to first clear all tools from the QAT and then add them back one after the other in the order you want them to appear on the toolbar (goes from left to right). There is a very important reason why I have separated ‘Save’ and ‘Save As’ on my toolbar and I will explain why in a moment.

This is a quick overview of Paint and I will leave it up to you to explore the program and its features on your own. Now, with this Overview behind us, let’s begin our photo editing tutorial with…

Part 1: Important Advice

I am going to begin this introduction to using Paint for photo/imaging editing with the most important advice I can offer. I would like you to say the following out loud as you read it:

"Never, never, never work with my original images"

Say it out loud two more times to get it into your short term memory and then write it out on a Post It note and stick it to your monitor and say it out loud every time you sit at the computer until it is completely embedded in your long term memory.

The reason this is so critical is that if you start editing with your original picture and you click the ‘Save’ button, that original picture is gone forever and has been replaced with the now edited version . If you decide you don’t like your editing after all or if you had wanted to use that original in another way - well, too bad, because it is gone, gone, gone.

This is why I have placed the ‘Save’ button on the far left of my QAT and the ‘Save As’ button on the far right separated by all the other tools. I want the ‘Save’ button as far as way from me as possible so that I have to make an effort to get to it.

The best way to completely avoid the possibility of destroying your original pics/images is not to use them in the first place and you do this by working with “copies” of the originals. Put all your original pics/images in a folder, copy that folder, and then rename the new folder and only work with the images in that new folder. If you’ve not done this before, here are the steps using as an example the ‘Sample Pictures’ folder in the ‘My Pictures’ library.

I right click on the ‘Sample Pictures’ folder and click ‘Copy’ (#1). Right click anywhere on the white space in the Pictures library and click ‘Paste’ (#2). You now have two ‘Sample Pictures’ folders and the one you just recreated should be still be highlighted (you can ensure it is the copy version by hovering your cursor over it and checking the date/time). Right click on the copy folder and click on ‘Rename’. I usually add ‘Working’ to the new folder name. I often rename the original folder, too, adding the word ‘Originals’.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=688]

After editing a few thousand images for my internet biz, believe when I say this is the most important step you take before you begin your editing. This is the voice of experience reaching out to you. I’ll stop here and you can go explore the Paint program.

In Part 2, I will introduce you to image editing with Paint by creating an Avatar.


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12-30-2013, 01:02 PM, (This post was last modified: 12-30-2013, 01:08 PM by Skook.)
#2
RE: Images 101 - Mastering the Basics: Editing/Resizing with Windows ‘Paint’
Part 2: Creating an Avatar using 'Paint'

This tutorial will introduce you to all the tools you will need to edit and resize your photo/images using Windows Paint. When you first open the program, you will notice a blank “sheet of paper” on what I think of as the workspace but Microsoft calls the Drawing Table.

What I will have you do now is click on the blue ‘Paint Button’ in the upper left corner of the Ribbon then go to and click on ‘Properties’. In the ‘Image Properties’ Dialog Box, click inside the ‘Pixels’ button and set the both the width and height dimensions to 500 and click ‘OK’. You will notice the white sheet has been resized. Now, go to the top of the Ribbon and click ‘View’ and click in the box beside ‘Rulers’ - they now appear along the top and left side of the workspace and their units are pixels and you can see that the sheet is 500px wide X 500px high.

With our units set to pixels, we are ready to create our avatar. Let’s say you have given yourself a username such as ‘SouthPole’ or ‘Antipodean’ - the latter being appropriate for an Aussie or Kiwi background or for a contrarian disposition. Well, it just so happens there is a picture in the ‘Sample Pictures’ folder in the Pictures library that fits the bill. So before I continue, I will follow my own advice in Part 1 of this tutorial (preceding post) and protect the ‘Sample Pictures’ folder images from irretrievable loss by copying the folder and renaming it “Paint - Working Pics” because I never, never, never work with my original images.

Click on the blue ‘Paint Button’ and click on ‘Open’ (if you do a right click you add the button to the ‘Quick Access Toolbar’ like I have done - #1). Work your way to and open the ‘Paint - Working Pics’ folder in the Pictures library, click on the Penguins photo and click ‘Open’ (#2). The photo will open in the workspace (#3) - that sheet of paper is now behind it. The image has opened at full size which I find too difficult to work with and so I am going to click on the ‘Zoom Out’ button on my QAT. I could also have used the slide tab on lower right corner of the Status Bar below the image to move left to 50%, or I could have clicked on the “Negative” button to the right of 100%, or I could have clicked on the ribbon ‘View’ tab to find the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons - if you right click on the latter you can add it to the QAT.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=689]

In image #3 above, the red arrow lets you know the dimensions of the photo and it is huge at 1024 pixels wide. Resizing the pic now to an acceptable avatar size would work but the penguins would be very small. So, let’s ‘Crop’ the image eliminating as much as possible by concentrating on just two of the penguins from the wings up.

In image #1 below, the red arrow indicates the location of the ‘Crop Tool’ and it is greyed out - meaning it’s inactive. In Paint, you have to make a ‘Selection’ to activate the crop tool. Click on the black arrow under ‘Select’ and click on ‘Rectangular selection’ and move your cursor onto the photo. You will notice that your cursor has changed into cross-hairs with a bull’s eye. Move your cursor around on the image and look down at the status bar. There is quite a bit more information down there since you opened your picture. If you have Paint in ‘Full View’ mode (not minimized), you will see the picture dimensions, its file size and, in the left corner or the status bar, you are given the cursor’s position vis-à-vis the top and left side rulers. As you follow the tutorial, keep an eye on the status bar and notice how that information changes.

To select the area you want to keep for your avatar, you will place the cursor at a starting point in the image, left click and drag. The area I’ve selected can be seen in Image #2 and the status bar now gives me the dimensions of this selected area. Now, if you move the cursor up to any of the nodes (small squares) on the sides of the selection box, you will notice that the cursor changes to a double-pointed arrow and by left clicking and holding a node you can expand or contract that side of the box, but if you play around with this you will discover that in Paint these nodes are not very useful for fine tuning the size of the cropped area unless its only by a few pixels. So, I found myself using the ‘Undo’ button quite a bit to get the crop area I wanted. Once satisfied with the position of the selected area, I click on the crop tool (#3) and I am left now with only my selected area on the workspace (#4).

[Image: attachment.php?aid=690]

I know from the status bar that the cropped image is 423px X 395px which is still too large for an avatar image. In the ‘Change Avatar’ area of your ‘User Control Panel’, Vancouver Peak informs you that an avatar must be a maximum of 100px X 100px with a maximum file size of 50 KB which is about the norm for avatars. So, the next step is to resize the cropped image.

The ‘Resize’ button is found to the right of the ‘Select’ button on the ribbon and as you can see below I have added it to my QAT. Click on Resize (#1) and the ‘Resize and Skew’ dialog box opens. By default, the box always open with the ‘Percentage’ button checked and you will need to change this by clicking inside the ‘Pixels’ button and ensure that ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ is checked. My cropped image is not a perfect square so I will take the largest side, the horizontal (width,) and change that number in the dialog box to 100 - the vertical (height) will change automatically to maintain the aspect ratio of the image (#2). Click ‘OK’. With the image now resized, click the zoom in button once and this will enable you to read the measurement on the ruler. The status bar will also indicate the new image size (#3). Don’t worry about the file size - Paint is still giving the original image file size and will until we finish.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=691]

The final step is to save our image. Click on the blue ‘Paint Button’ on the upper left corner of the ribbon to go to the backstage view. Now, what to do - click ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’?

If we click ‘Save’, our new avatar image will replace the original Penguins photo in the ‘Paint - Working Pics’ folder and the image will saved as the default Paint file type which is a PNG image. Now, because I want more control over my image, I want to do a ‘Save As’.

When we move to ‘Save As’ (#1), we are presented with far more file type options. I would recommend that you experiment with these different types to compare the resulting image and file size each produces. You will discover that the PNG image file size can be quite large depending on the dimensions of the image; however, PNG is acceptable for web images. The GIF image file type works best for graphs and tables because GIF’s limit the colour range of images to a 256 colour palette vs the 16.7 million colour palette of JPEG an PNG file types. If you test saving a photo image as a GIF, you will get a very strange looking image - give it a try and see. JPEG file types are pretty much the standard file type chosen for photo web images so this is the option I am going to choose for my avatar.

So, I will click on ‘JPEG picture’ and the ‘Save As’ dialog box opens up. If it doesn’t present you with your open file folder, you will have to work your way there. You will give your image a file name and as you will discover the file type is already set for JPEG. Now, what I normally do at this point is create a new folder within the folder and name it ‘Webready’ and my edited/resized pics will be placed here. I click on the new folder to open it and click ‘Save’ and the new image goes in. By using ‘Save As’ the original picture remains unscathed, and I can go back and use it again and again.

Now, I added the ‘Save As’ tool to my QAT and when I click on it there I will get no backstage view. Instead, I will go directly to the ‘Save As’ dialog box (#2). Now, the file type will show Paint’s default PNG setting. I know I want a JPEG so I will click on the black arrow at the far right to open the drop down menu and will go to and click on JPEG - the terms within the brackets are called ‘filename extensions.’ I give my avatar its name, create and open my ‘Webready’ folder and click ‘Save’.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=692]

In the image below, I saved my new avatar image twice so that I could show you it placed in its ‘Webready’ folder, but also so that I could show it next to the original image to compare their dimensions and file size.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=693]

Perfect! The new Avatar image is ready to be uploaded into the forum.

With this tutorial, you now know the basic steps needed to take any photo or image and edit/resize it for a forum post using the Windows Paint program. An application that is free, uncomplicated and comes already installed with Windows - doesn’t get any better than that, IMHO.


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