Digital Focus: Special Effects With Text and PhotosPaint with text, add borders, connect a camera and telescope.
Feature: Painting With Text
If you're reading this newsletter, you know that you are smarter, better looking, and more discriminating than your neighbor. You possess secret knowledge: You know that you can use digital photos to create designs for all sorts of interesting projects, like T-shirts, posters, greeting cards, and even coffee mugs. Check out "Digital Focus: Photo Printer Secrets for the Holidays" if you need to refresh your memory.
What you may not know is that you can use text to make all of those projects even better. I'm not talking about stamping a boring message in 24-point Arial on top of your picture. I'm talking about using the advanced tools in an image editor to decorate your creation as if the text were a sophisticated paintbrush all by itself.
Fill Text With an Image
There are all sorts of clever tricks you can do with text, but my personal favorite is filling chunky characters with a picture. The result looks like you laid a stencil over a photograph--the picture shows through the hollow letters. Imagine, for instance, a large white poster with the word "Colorado" inscribed on it with snow-capped mountains peeking through the letters. Or click here for something I came up with.
Getting this effect is a snap in Paint Shop Pro. Fire up Paint Shop Pro, then open the picture that you want to show through the text. Click on the Text icon (it looks like a capital "A") and click in the spot where you want to grab the photo. This opens the Text Entry dialog box. Type in your text and choose a font and size. You'll want to pick a fairly thick, chunky font for this to really have the desired effect. A fat stencil-style font is ideal. If your font is too small or too thin, you won't see much of the picture.
Finally, make sure that the text mode is set to "selection" at the bottom of the Text Entry dialog box. Click OK, and you should see your text appear as a selection of the background image, not as solid characters. If it doesn't appear exactly where you want it in the image, just click on the image to move the text and open the Text Entry dialog box again (which lets you adjust the text size as well). Tip: When you click, you're positioning the lower left corner of the text.
You can now copy the selection into another image: Choose File, Open and locate the image file that you want to paste this text into. Then click Edit, Paste, As Transparent Selection. The on-screen pointer will turn into the text you want to paste. Move it to the desired location and click to drop it. Of course, you can also paste the text into another part of the original image.
Add a Drop Shadow
If you liked that effect, I think you'll like this one even better. By adding a bit of drop shadow to some "picture text," you can add a cleverly stylized headline or caption to a photograph.
Begin by setting the background color to pure black. In Paint Shop Pro, you can do this by right-clicking in the black region of the rainbow-hued color palette that lives on the right side of the screen. Then create some new text in exactly the same way we did in the previous section.
When you click OK and see the text selection appear on your image, position the mouse pointer inside the text (the pointer will change into a four-way arrow) and then click and drag it a bit to the upper left. The background color will appear in the space you left behind. By positioning the text carefully, you can create a cool drop-shadow to draw attention to the text, which is actually made of the background image.
As the Rolling Stone editor in the movie Almost Famous would say, "Crazy!"
Dave's Favorites: LE-Adapter
Have you ever wanted to connect your digital camera or digital video camcorder to a high-powered optical system like a telescope or microscope? You may remember that if you've got the appropriate T-adapter, you can attach a 35mm SLR camera to a telescope. So why not a digital camera?
LensPlus sells a little $155 gadget called the LE-Adapter that acts as a docking port between your digital camera or camcorder and other optical gadgets like telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, and microscopes. It works with a wide variety of cameras--all you need is a set of threads on the front of the lens to screw on the adapter.
The LE-Adapter comes ready to screw onto cameras with either 37mm- or 52mm-diameter threads. If your camera has a different-size lens, you can buy a step ring that goes from your camera's threads (the size is usually inscribed right on the front of the lens) to either 37mm or 52mm. If you go shopping for a step ring, make sure you get the right type. If your camera's lens is larger than 52mm--say, 62mm--you'll want a 62mm-to-52mm step-down ring. A step-up ring has threads that go the wrong way, so the distinction is important.
Once you screw the LE-Adapter onto your camera, you attach the other end of the adapter onto your telescope, binoculars, or other optical system, and start taking pictures. In most cases, your digital camera should be able to auto-focus right through the new optics.
I love the idea of the LE-Adapter, and you should be happy with the results as long as you understand that the optics won't be as bright and sharp as you're used to with your ordinary lens. A set of binoculars, for instance, may give you a lot of magnification, but the optics aren't designed to take professional-caliber photos. I've had a blast photographing the moon through my 6-inch reflector telescope, though, and it's a way to capture photos that would be otherwise absolutely impossible to take with a digital camera alone.
Your results will vary depending your camera. I found that my Nikon CoolPix 990 works fine, for instance, while my Sony PC110 DV camcorder suffers from terrible optical degradation. If in doubt, talk to the folks at LensPlus. I found them knowledgeable about how a number of different cameras work with their product. The LE-Adapter is available for $155 from LensPlus.
Q&A: Another Way to Add Borders and Captions
A few weeks ago you described a way to make room for a caption under a photo in Paint Shop Pro. I know an easier way to do it.
- Load the photo file in Paint Shop Pro.
- You'll see two solid-colored boxes (separated by a double-ended arrow) above the rainbow-hued color palette. Hover your mouse pointer over the right box; it should say "Background Solid Color." Left-click the box, select white from the Basic colors grid, and click OK.
- Ensure the background is white.
- Select Add Borders from the Image drop-down menu.
- In the Add Borders dialog box, uncheck Symmetric. Then set Top, Left, and Right to zero, and change Bottom to 100.
Paint Shop Pro then adds a 100-pixels-tall white strip below the photo.
--Ralph Grabowski, www.upfrontezine.com
Thanks, Ralph. Your tip is great, and it is indeed much simpler than the method I recommended. I played with your technique, and I found that if you set the top and sides at 10 pixels and the bottom at 100 pixels, the final image ends up looking a lot like a Polaroid print.
Hot Pic of the Week
Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $10 and $100.
A gentle reminder, folks: We disqualify some really wonderful pictures every week because the submissions don't follow the rules. Be sure to include everything we ask for in your e-mail message, including a description of your picture and your complete contact information, or your entry is wasted!
Here's how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don't forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering please read the full description of the contest rules and regs.
This week's Hot Pic: Winter Quiet, by Paul Crawn, LeRaysville, Pennsylvania
Of this quaint winter scene, Paul writes: "I took this photo using a Kodak DC210 on the morning of December 10th. Only a few inches, it was our first snow of the season. The Christmas season seemed more like a reality with the new snow. The local scenery of our rural farm is rich with color and subject matter for photography."
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