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Making Diagrams in Paint Shop Pro 5

Dateline: 06/07/98

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People have been asking me how I make my diagrams since I put up my first set of instructions over two years ago. It's no big secret, and I've tried to help everyone who asked, but I thought that many of you might benefit from a step by step tutorial. The program I use is called Photoshop, but since it is a very expensive program, this tutorial will focus on Paint Shop Pro 5 instead. You can download a 30 day (actually continues to function for 60 days) free trial version (fully functional) of Paint Shop Pro from the Jasc Software download page. This program incorporates many of the features of Photoshop at a much lower cost.

How to Download & Install the Program (Win95)

Go to http://jasc.com/pspdl.html and click on one of the download links on the bottom half of the page. A prompt will come up asking what you want to do with the file. Click "save this program to disk" and click OK. Then when it asks you where you want to save it navigate to C:\windows\desktop and click OK. That way you won't lose track of where you put it. When the download is completed, double click on the file named psp50ev.exe on your desktop. Accept the defaults and click Next until the program installs. When the install is complete, delete psp50ev.exe from your desktop. You may want to run the program once first to check and see if it installed correctly.

Creating Diagrams

Now start the program and make sure all your tool bars, pallets and controls are available by going to the View menu and choosing Toolbars. All the options in the resulting dialog box should have check marks next to them except Histogram Window. Click OK. Now choose New from the File menu at the top left corner of the screen. You will see a dialog box that looks like this:

Fill it in to match the picture, meaning, choose a width of 300 pixels, a height of 200 pixels, resolution 72* pixels per inch, background color white and image type 16.7 million colors. Click OK. You can fiddle with these settings later when you feel more comfortable with the program.

Now go to the Layers menu (6th choice from the left along the top edge of the screen)and choose New. A dialog box will pop up. Accept all the defaults and click ok. Go to the Layers menu once more and choose New again, click OK. Now your Layers pallet should look like this:

It may not be open all the way, but that's ok. Make sure that Layer 2 (the top one) is the active layer (the button is depressed). Now go to the Tools pallet and choose the Selection tool, it looks like this .

On the Controls pallet, choose Ellipse under Selection Type, 1 under Feather and make sure the Antialias box is checked. Along with feathering, antialising gives your selection a smooth edge.

Click and drag the cursor across your blank image to form a bead shaped selection. Your image should look similar to this:

Now click on the topmost of the two colored squares on the right-hand side of the screen. This will bring up yet another dialog box. You can ignore most of it. :-) Choose a foreground color from the second to last row of colored boxes. Click ok. Then click on the bottom of the two colored boxes on the right hand side of the screen to choose your background color. Choose the color in the second column that is in the same row as your foreground color. Note that it is a very dark version of the same color.

Now choose the Fill tool from the Tools pallet. It looks like this

In the Controls pallet (you'll note that as you change tools, the options displayed here change to match the tool) choose Sunburst Gradient in the Fill Style drop down box, and click the Options button in the lower left corner. In the Options box, set the vertical percentage to 0 and the horizontal percentage to 20. Leave the Blend Mode on Normal.

Now click inside the selection you made earlier. Choose Select None from the Selections Menu. Your image should now look something like this:

You'll notice that though the bead does look 3D, it's not quite as snazzy looking as mine. That's because I use an expensive filter to make my beads look 3D called Glass Lens which is part of the Kai's Power Tools filter set. Personally, I don't really think that the difference is major enough to justify buying the whole filter set unless you plan to do lots of serious graphics and even then, you don't really need it. Anyway, back to the lesson!

On the Layers pallet, click on the button next to the Background layer that has the red, green, and blue stripes on it to turn the layer off. Instead of a white background, your image will now have a checkered background. You can use this grid to help you align your beads evenly. Click on the Move tool to select it. It looks like this .

Now click on the bead and drag it to where you want it to be. Then go to the Layers menu (not the pallet) and choose Duplicate. This adds a new layer with the same content as the layer you duplicated, in this case, another bead. Click on it with the Move tool active and drag it over next to the first bead, or wherever you want to place it. You can duplicate the layer as many times as you want to make as many beads as you need. The easiest way to change the color of the bead is to make sure the layer that the bead you want to change is on is selected then go to the Colors menu and choose Adjust > Hue, Saturation, Lightness. Then play with the sliders to get different colors and shades. You can also use Colorize for this, but it is much less flexible.

Use the Rotate command on the Image menu to make the beads go different directions. Set it to 45° to make the bead lie diagonally, and 90° to make it vertical.

Now, not only does using layers allow you to move the beads around independently of each other, it also lets you control the order of the elements in the image. For instance, when I start drawing my thread, I want it to go behind the beads, not on top. That's why we added an extra blank layer on top of the background layer. Select that layer now by clicking on Layer 1 on the Layers pallet. Now choose the Line tool from the Tools Pallet. It looks like this .

On the Controls Pallet, choose Normal for your Line Type, 2 for your line Width and make sure the Antialias box is checked.

Now click on the foreground color box again to choose your thread color. Choose a color that contrasts sharply with the background and the bead color. Usually black works fine. Now start drawing in your thread by clicking and holding where you want the line to begin, and dragging the cursor to where you want the line to end. If you mess up, you can either go to the Edit Menu and choose Undo, or use the Eraser tool to remove some or all of what you drew. Another cool thing about using layers is that you can erase on the layer with the thread on it without affecting the other layers so only the thread will be erased, not the beads. To add a needle, I leave the line tool settings the same and change the foreground color to grey.

When you are satisfied with your diagram, save it with the default extension of .psp, this will keep your image intact with layers and all. To make the image web ready, first go to the Colors menu and choose Decrease Color Depth > X Colors. In the dialog box choose how many colors you want the image to retain. First try 32 colors, if your image looks bad, go to Edit, Undo and try again with 64 colors. If it still looks bad, increase the number of colors again. When you have got a pallet you can live with, choose File, Save As and save the image as a CompuServe Graphics Interchange file (gif).

What I usually do to create successive diagrams in the same set is open the original of the first file and immediately save it with a new name. That way you will start with the basis for your new diagram while making sure not to overwrite the old one. Then I edit it, adding or removing beads, erasing and redrawing thread as needed.

I hope this is enough information to get you started drawing your own diagrams! I can't wait to see what you all come up with. :-)

*this resolution (72ppi) is best for images that will be displayed on-screen (ie on the web). If you are diagramming for print, you will want a higher resolution, 300 pixels per inch is a good bet. Also, keep in mind that your monitor displays at 72 pixels per inch, so the printed image at 300ppi will be much smaller than what you see on-screen when you look at the image full size. A good rule of thumb is to make your images 4 times larger than the size you want them to be when they are printed out. Go to the View menu and choose Zoom Out 1:4 to see an approximation of what the printed image will look like.

Netscape Users: Having trouble printing this page? Updated!

As always, you are invited to write to me at beadwork.guide@about.com with any questions or comments you may have. I'd love to hear from you!

All text and graphics © Emily Hackbarth 1998

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