This app is shaping up to be a
great step up from Paint, and still free. It's still in beta and
developing quickly. Your download will be a slightly newer version
than the one I used for this newsletter...
The license says we're free to do anything we want with the software as
long as we include this copyright and permission statement. It's one of the
shortest and most interesting license statements I"ve read.
I ran into more of a challenge
when I started to present a tutorial about Paint.NET than I did when I
jumped into it to do some work.
The screen snapshots that are
usually so easy to do with IrfanView will capture the main working
window, but not the 4 smaller windows with the tools, Colors, Layers,
and History states.
I fished around and found
that the screen capture feature of Microsoft Producer gets them all. These
are my first screen shots using Producer.
the Working Window
The working window includes
the main one with the menu and options at the top, the canvas for the
pictures, and 4 little ones to help you work.
You can move the little
ones anywhere on your desktop, even off of the main window so as
to not be covering the canvas.
Let's look at the
features that are more than Paint and of particular help to us when prepping the
images for custom overlays.
has options to go down in size in addition to upwards. Paint can only go up,
with a maximum of 800%. Paint.NET can go to 3200%, and can also
go down to as low as 2%... handy for the larger pixel images from
wand lets you select an area of a picture and quickly delete all
the pixels that have the same color or ones close to it... the sensitivity
level is adjustable to get more or less of them with a single stroke.
The look is different but the
functionality similar, with the addition of the ability to input a hex
value and assign a transparency setting.
History states are new...
giving you the ability to go back in time... kind of like the
multiple undo's of Movie Maker, and similar to Photoshop's history states.
History states let you take big jumps rather than sequential undo's and redo's.
Layers are key to developing
overlay images like the pointer to Bernadette in the Golden Gate movie. By
placing an image on one layer and marking up the overlying layer, you can leave
the underlying layer behind when going to Movie Maker with the image you want to
use. We'll see it in action in a minute.
Example 1 - the bridge
Let's walk through the
creation of the overlay used at the opening of the video... starting with a 5
megapixel picture from a still camera, the one at the right.
I selected this picture
because it has a big frame that I could cut-out and use the rest of the
image as an overlay image to a video playing in the background.
The fairly even lighter color of the sign meant I
could easily pick and discard the pixels... easy with the
I used IrfanView to crop
and resize a segment of the picture, saving it as a BMP.
If I tried to remove the
background in Paint, I'd have been able to change the inside of the sign to
a single color needed for the PNG file... but I'd probably have opted to
delete the words with the background, as they would take too much effort to
With the magic
wand of Paint.NET, it was easy enough to erase
the background. It opened up new possibilities, having the text of a sign
included in the overlay.
The steps are:
1 - set a working
2 - select the magic
3 - set the wand's tolerance
using the little slider on the Tools palette
4 - touch
the part you want to remove and see how well it does at that
5 - change the tolerance
until it's pretty much as you want it (the 31% setting looked pretty good
6 - press the delete key and
all the pixels in the selected area are deleted
Work your way around the
picture, touching another spot with the wand and pressing the delete key....
until you're done.
Removing these pixels gets the
area to be all the same color (even the absence of a color is all the same). You
need that to set the color as transparent when making the PNG file.
From Paint.NET save it as a
BMP. Open the BMP in IrfanView and save it as a PNG. That'll let
you pick the color for transparency. Paint.NET has the option to
save to a PNG, but it doesn't let you select the transparent color.
You may have noticed
when viewing the video that the sign at first had only the larger title, not the
facts in smaller text under it. I used two title overlays, carving out the
smaller text for the first one and leaving it in for the second.
Example 2 - the
pointer to Bernadette
This one is easier than
cleaning out lots of pixels for a see-thru effect. If there's something of
interest in a scene, and it doesn't move around a lot, you can use a simple
annotated overlay. It's an easy 2 step process in Paint.NET.
take a snapshot of a typical frame using Movie Maker's snapshot
feature. Open it in Paint.NET. Draw/annotate on it, but not on the picture
Create a new blank layer by
pressing the little lower left icon and annotate on it... it'll look like you're
marking up the picture, but it'll be like writing on tracing paper over an
image. These are the layers.
uncheck the background image and save the file to
a new BMP. It'll save whatever is visible... ready
to take into IrfanView for a PNG overlay image with
Maybe Paint.NET has a
transparency setting when saving as a PNG, but I didn't notice it. That was
the only reason I had to take the image through IrfanView.