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Simple graphics manipulation is another common task. In this age of Web cameras, digital cameras, and even cameras on cell phones, many people find they need to alter digital images. You probably used Windows’ built-in graphics program, Microsoft Paint. Simply choosing Start, selecting Programs, going to Accessories, and clicking on Paint takes you to the Paint program, shown in Figure 5.14.
Figure 5.14: Microsoft Paint.
The toolbars on the left and at the bottom enable you to select colors, paint styles, and more. You can then paint simple graphics. You also can open up and alter most basic graphics files, including JPEG, GIF, bitmap, and others. Once open, you can alter them as you see fit. If you routinely use a Web camera or digital camera, you have probably at least used Paint to crop an image before sending it to someone else. Not only do you have access to similar graphics programs in Linux with the KDE graphical interface, you have more than one graphics application to choose from. We will examine a few of the more popular graphics applications available to you with the KDE graphical user interface for Linux.
Simply going to the Start menu and choosing Graphics you can find a plethora of graphics applications. There is a subheading under Graphics labeled More Graphics Applications. In this group you will find many additional interesting graphics programs.
With previous versions of KDE, not all graphics applications were found here. While you will find some graphics-related utilities here, you will not find tools similar to Microsoft Paint. What you will find are very specialized tools. There is a digital camera tool for interfacing with a digital camera that is connected to your PC. There is also a scanning tool for use with scanners, and a screen capture tool, which we will examine later. For the basic graphics manipulation tools included with KDE, those that are similar in function to Microsoft Paint, you will need to look under Extras and Graphics. Here you will see several graphics programs. Let’s take a moment to review the features and functionality of a few of these applications.
This is KDE’s basic all-purpose graphics program. It is also the KDE application that is most similar to Microsoft Paint. When you launch the Paint program, you will see an image much like what is displayed in Figure 5.15. This looks remarkably similar in many ways to Microsoft Paint.
Figure 5.15: The KDE Paint program.
With KDE Paint, you still have the same basic functionality you had in Microsoft Paint. From the toolbar at the top right you can select to draw ellipses, rectangles, straight lines, curved lines, text, or to simply highlight a portion of the image to crop. For demonstration purposes we will draw a simple picture using the tools on the upper-right side of the toolbar, along with the color selections at the right side. The color on the left is the foreground color. Using the Ellipse tool, we can drag and draw a basic red ellipse. If you then click on the red box, you are shown a dialog screen much like the one shown in Figure 5.16, where you can select whatever color you prefer. We are going to select black.
Figure 5.16: Selecting colors.
Use the buttons on the right side of the toolbar or the drop-down menu items found under Tool to select the Pen tool or the Spray Paint tool and begin painting. For our purposes, we will select the Spray Paint tool and being painting in the ellipse. This is shown in Figure 5.17.
Figure 5.17: Using the spray paint tool.
Clearly, this is not a high-end graphics package, like Corel Draw or Adobe Photoshop, but it is comparable to Microsoft’s Paint program. It is also adequate for most basic image manipulation activities. You can do some simple image manipulation and drawings with this program. If you select File and Save As, the Paint program will save as a PNG (Portable Network Graphics) image by default. However, you can change that to save it as a TIFF, JPEG, bitmap, or other image type.
The Paint program is not the only graphics manipulation program available to you with the KDE interface. In fact, it is not even the one with the most functionality. There is a more robust graphics application called Image Magick. In some earlier versions of KDE it is found under Extras and Graphics. In newer versions it may be found under Graphics and the subcategory Additional Graphics Programs. In other versions of KDE, Image Magick is not included. If your distribution or your installation did not include Image Magick, you can get it from www.imagemagick.org/. This application is a very useful and robust graphics program. If it does not come with your version of KDE, it is highly recommended that you obtain a copy. When you launch this application you will see the Image Magick screen. If you then click on the screen, the toolbar will appear on the left side. This is shown in Figure 5.18.
Figure 5.18: Image Magick. Image Magick logo © Pineapple USA, Inc.
Image Magick is a pretty robust graphics program with a lot of basic functionality for creating or altering images. While it may not be up to the demands of a professional graphic artist, it is more than adequate for typical PC users. Let’s try a little test run with Image Magick and see what it can do. For the purposes of this book, we will open one of the figures you saw earlier in the book, and you can follow along by opening any image you like on your PC. Simply choose File and Open, and you can use the dialog box to locate and open any image on your PC.
The toolbar with Image Magick is a floating toolbar. This means you can move it around independently of the image you are working with.
Just to see what a few of these tasks do, you should select the button in the toolbar labeled F/X (this option is for special effects) and then select Oil Paint. You will be asked to give a number; for this example, give 15. Your image is altered to look like an oil painting, and this process can take quite a few seconds. We will be converting the image used for Figure 5.5 to an oil painting. You can see the results in Figure 5.19.
Figure 5.19: The Oil Paint effect.
This effect is even more startling when used with a digital photograph of a person. It essentially converts the photo so that it looks like an oil painting. This is a really interesting way to add some spice to old family photos! You probably also noticed several other special effect options, such as Charcoal. Each of these different special effects alters the image’s appearance in some significant manner. Using these special effect tools, you can do some very exciting things with digital photos. More importantly, none of these options are available with Microsoft’s Paint program.
In addition to these special effects, you have several other options available to alter your image’s appearance. Before we look at them, let’s direct your attention to the Edit button, which is second from the top in the toolbar. You should notice that it has options to undo and redo. This will be particularly useful if you try some special effect and decide you do not like it. You can then use the undo option to correct your mistake.
Next you should look at the View button. By selecting this button you have the option of viewing the image at half size, original size, double size, or some specific size you may prefer.
After the View button is the Transform button. This button is very useful. It enables you to crop an image to just a portion of the original image. You also can rotate the image or flip it. The author used that tool to edit most of the images you see in this book.
The Effects button brings you to a series of effects that can be used to alter your image in some way. None of these effects are quite as dramatic as the options you find under the F/X button, but they can be very useful nonetheless. For demonstration purposes we will take the image from Figure 5.5 again, only this time we will use the Effects button and choose the Emboss effect. This renders an image like what you see in Figure 5.20.
Figure 5.20: The Emboss effect.
As you can see, you have a number of very exciting effects you can choose from. These tools enable you to alter basic digital photographs in diverse and artistic fashions. You can then use the options under Image Edit to add borders, frames, draw on the picture, annotate the picture, and more.
This is not an exhaustive treatment of Image Magick. It is likely that an entire book, or at least several chapters of a book, could be devoted to that topic alone. However, you should now be comfortable with the basics of Image Magick. Perhaps you could take some digital image and just experiment with it for a while. Try each of the effects and become comfortable with them. Learn what the various transformations do. An hour or so of experimentation should be enough to make you a competent user of Image Magick.
As you can see again, you can do everything you previously did in Microsoft Windows, and you can even do exciting new things that you where unable to do with Windows. To do in Windows the kind of special effects you have seen with Image Magick, you would need to purchase expensive graphics software. Image Magick is free with many Linux distributions, including Red Hat. To be perfectly frank, Image Magick is in a completely different class than Microsoft Paint, in that it offers a much richer set of functionality. It is more comparable to professional graphics programs than it is to Microsoft Paint.
Frequently, you may need to capture the contents of the current screen as an image. If you are doing a report or tutorial, this may be especially useful. The images in this book were done by capturing the appropriate Linux screen. In Windows, you press the Print Scrn key, and the contents of the current screen are saved to the system’s Clipboard. You then open Paint or some other graphics program and choose Edit and Paste from the drop-down menu. The image will be placed in Paint, where you can alter it or simply save it as is. Using the KDE interface for Linux, you can still do screen captures, but the process is a little more complicated.
If you are using the GNOME interface rather than KDE, you should be able to press the Print Screen button on your key board and a small window will appear asking if you want to save the screen shot. We will discuss GNOME in Chapter 7, “The GNOME Interface.”
If you select Graphics and choose Screen Capture, you will launch the KSnapshot program. This is a basic screen capture utility and is shown in Figure 5.21.
Figure 5.21: KSnapshot.
There are only a few settings to notice with this program. The first is the check box labeled Only Grab the Window Containing the Pointer. If this is checked, then only the window that has focus will be grabbed. If this option is not checked, the entire screen displayed on the desktop will be grabbed. The other option you should take notice of is the Delay option. This specifies how many seconds after you press Grab to capture the current screen. In some versions of KDE, the button is labeled New Snapshot, rather than Grab. Whatever the label on the button, the functionality is the same.
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