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New Image and Materials Palette: Creating a Background
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New Image and Materials Palette: Creating a Background
Created by:Zonia

In this lesson we will cover the New Image dialog and the Materials palette, creating a background as we go.
New Image Go to File || New (Ctrl+N) or click on the "New" icon in the Standard toolbar. This will bring up the following dialog:

In most cases if you are doing a tutorial it will give you the settings you should put such as "200x200, Transparent, 16 Million Colors". In fact that is the settings we are going to use for this lesson. When you see something similar to the above you put the first number in the white box beside "Width", put the second number in the white box beside "Height", make sure "Color Depth" is set to "16 Million Colors (24-bit)" and put a check mark in front of "Transparent".

Now before we click on OK let's explore this window a little bit. There are some things that are not said in "200x200, Transparent, 16 Million Colors" like "Units" and "Resolution". First, Units are always Pixels unless otherwise stated. As for Resolution the default is 200 Pixels/inch, however for graphics that are going to be used on the web or in e-mails 72.00 Pixels/inch is the best choice. I leave mine at 72.00 unless I am working with something I am going to print such as photos. Another assumed default is the type of layer. Unless otherwise specified the default is "Raster Background". "Vector Background" is new in PSP 8.

Save Preset Option

Delete Preset Option
Another new feature in this dialog is the ability to save your settings as a preset. Just click on the "Save Preset" button beside the preset box, type in what you want to name it, then click on OK. To delete a preset click on the little down arrow beside the white preset box to open the drop-down list, select the preset you want to delete, and click on the "Delete" button.

New Image
Now let's create something. Make sure the settings in your New Image dialog are:
Width = 200 pixels
Height = 200 pixels
Resolution = 72.00 pixels
Background = Raster
Color Depth = 16 Million Colors (24 Bit)
Color = Transparent checked
Materials Palette - All Tools Option

Materials Palette - Materials BoxMaterials Solid Color Option

Materials Texture OptionMaterials Null Option

Go to your Materials palette and make sure there is a check mark in front of "All tools". This functions like the Lock option in PSP 7. If you like having the materials change when you change tools then uncheck it when you are done.

Also make sure the flyout on both the Foreground and Background Materials box is set to Color and that the Texture and Null buttons beside the Color option are not on (pushed in).

Materials Palette Color Tab

Materials Palette Color Box

Still on your Materials palette, make sure the Color tab is selected. Now move your mouse around in the multi-colored box under the tabs until you see a color in the tool tip box you like, then left-click. The Foreground Material box will change to that color.

Move your pointer around in the multi-color box again but this time when you see a color you like right-click. The color in the Background Material box will change to that color. The same thing works for Swatches: left-click changes the Foreground and right-click changes the Background material.

Flood Fill Tool
Now click on the Flood Fill tool and make sure the Tool Options palette has:
Match Mode = None
Blend Mode = Normal
Opacity = 100
Sample Merged = unchecked

You could use any Match Mode and it will work since we have a transparent image. The Match mode only makes a difference if you have something on the canvas already. As for Blend Modes you can use any of them except Soft Light, Dodge, or Burn as they will change the color. The Flood Fill tool is one of my favorite tools. I spent hours playing with it seeing what the different options do. Like I said you need to have a gradient, pattern, or image on your canvas to really see what the different settings do but for this lesson we just want a solid color.

Now look at the Foreground Color and Background Color you have chosen in your Materials Palette and decide which one you like the best. If you like the Foreground Color best left-click in your canvas (image) to fill it with that color. If you like the Background Color best right-click in your canvas to fill it with the background color. Pretty neat, huh?

Let's add some texture to it. With PSP we have a lot of possibilities but we are going to use Blinds. Go to Effects || Texture Effects || Blinds and enter the following settings:
Width = 10
Opacity = 50
Horizontal = unchecked
Light from left/top = checked

For the Color right-click in the color box and choose the dark gray color, or left-click and choose a color you like. Click on OK.

Go to Effects || Texture Effects || Blinds again, but this time put a check mark in front of "Horizontal" and click on OK. Since 10 (the number we used for width in Blinds) goes evenly into 200 (height and width of our image) there is no need to make this seamless because it already is.

This next step is optional depending on your preference. I offer backgrounds on my resources site and have found it easier and space saving if I make them 100x100 pixels. With that in mind I am going to resize my image.

Go to Image || Resize. There are two ways you can go here, as shown in the images on the left: In the section "Pixel Dimensions", you can choose either "Pixels" or "Percent". The only thing that changes between the two ways is the Pixel Dimension settings. If you choose Pixels from the drop-down list in this area you would put "100" in the boxes beside "Width" and "Height". If you choose "Percent" from the drop-down list then you would put "50" in these boxes because 100 pixels (our goal) is 50% (half) of 200.

The print size is a very handy feature especially if you need something to print a certain size like you want to print a 8x10 of a photo. If you are going to print a photo it is a good idea to change the resolution to at least 300 (standard photo printing dpi) and then change the Width and Height of the print size. Since we are making a background fill and not printing this section doesn't apply.

There are several Resample options. We are using "Smart Size", however I encourage you whenever you are resizing an image to try the different resample options to find the one that works best for that image.

As for Lock Aspect Ratio this is more for an image where the width and height are not the same, for example a 200x100 image. This option ensures that if you resize the width by 20% then the height will automatically be resized by 20% also, so for the above image (if my math is correct the new size would be 160x80). Much easier to let PSP do the math for you.

Resize All Layers is checked even though we only have 1 layer because if we uncheck it then the layer would be resized but the canvas (image) size would still be 200x200 which defeats our whole purpose of resizing. However this is a handy little tool if you only want to resize one layer (just uncheck this option).

Let's sharpen up the image a little bit: Go to Adjust || Sharpness || Sharpen. A lot of people perform a Sharpen or Unsharp Mask after resizing an image. Sometimes I do sometimes I don't, it depends on if I think the image looks better or worse after a Sharpen. If I think it looks worse I go to Edit || Undo Sharpen [Ctrl+Z].

Save Image

Now for the final step saving. Go to File || Save. First browse to the folder you want to save your imgae in. Type in a name for your image beside "File name". Click on the arrow beside "Save as type" and choose "JPEG - JFIF Compliant". An easy way to find this type is while the list is open hit your "J" key, it will automatically jump to it in the list (at the top) just click on it.

Before you click on "Save" click on the "Options" button. The Save Settings dialog will open. Here's a screenshot of my current settings:

I have chosen "Standard" with a Compression Factor of 15. The Compression Factor is required for one of the groups I am on so this is my usual settings. When saving photographs or anything you don't want to lose quality on make sure "Lossless" is chosen instead of "Standard". This disables the Compression Factor so you don't have to worry about changing that setting. JPEG is a lossy format unless you have "Lossless" selected, which means that each time you resave the image with the "Standard" format you lose quality because it "throws away pixels".

Click on OK in the Save Options dialog and then click on "Save" in the Save As dialog. These Save Options are for a JPEG file. When you choose a different file type in the Save dialog you will get different options when you click on the "Options" button. For example if you select the PSP file type and then click on "Options" you can select which version of PSP file you want to save it as (so it will work in previous versions).

That's it. I hope you enjoyed this lesson.