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Pixel Image Editor Gives Graphics Goodness - page 3

Introducing Pixel

  • February 22, 2006
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

The first time you launch Pixel (see Figure 4), a number of dialog boxes are open by default. Those who like a tidy screen might want to click the X's in their upper right corners to close the boxes and get them out of the way.

What you might notice first is that Pixel takes a bit to get used to, just like any other of today's more complicated image editors. Rather than attempting to teach every minute feature, this article focuses on getting you started with some basics. To begin with, there is the issue of creating a new document. Click the New File button in the upper left corner, or choosing File|New. This action opens the New File dialog box (see Figure 5).

Determine if you're making an image destined to be printed, displayed on a monitor, or animated. For printed images, you probably want to click the Template tab (see Figure 6) and change the DPI (Dots Per Inch) to match what your printer is capable of. Then, choose the image size you want to work with. If you can't find an appropriate template, click the Image tab and change the DPI there before feeding in the size of the image you are creating--click Units if you want to use another measurement system. You also may want to change the Model entry if you need a particular type of color system:

  • RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is typically used for monitor displays.
  • CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is often used in professional printing.
  • CIE (Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage) is used in cases where images will need to be produced for a variety of output medium since it is device independent.
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) is for high end digital images.
  • Grayscale is where the entire image consists of shades of gray rather than colors.

Once you're ready to proceed, click OK. This action opens a blank document to your specifications. From here, you create your image. It's as easy as that, right? Well, it depends on what you want to do. One advantage that Pixel has over The GIMP is that it actually contains tools for drawing quick lines, shapes, and other such items. Anyone who's sat there trying to draw a perfectly straight line in the GIMP, freehand, can understand how useful this particular feature is.

Any buttons in the Tools box that have small arrows in the corner are expandable, meaning that if you click and hold down the mouse button you will see a larger range of options associated with that button (see Figure 7). Typically before you begin to work, you will need to select your tool (for example, spraypaint from the Tools dialog box), the shape and size of the tip/nozzle (along the panel below the menu bar, to the right of the Undo button), and the color to use (either toward the bottom of the Tools dialog box or from the palette chooser in the bottom right of the Pixel window).

Once you have finished drawing your masterpiece, you might want to snaz it up with effects. One cool feature of Pixel is the Effect Explorer (refer to Figure 8), which you can open by going to Effects|Effects Explorer. This dialog box allows you to select a category of effects, say Artistic, and then view at a glance what each of the effects in that category would do to your image. Apply enough effects and a simple, child-level piece of art can be elevated to something far more exotic (see Figure 9).

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