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Work With Pictures In Microsoft Paint

22 November 2006 (updated)

A beginners guide to using the Microsoft Paint software to work with image files. How to edit existing pictures, and print and save new image creations.

Introduction

Microsoft Paint is a free graphics tool installed on Windows PCs.

Paint is a simple introduction to image editing and allows you to resize and edit pictures. It gives you the ability to zoom in, create text, draw simple shapes and fill them with colours.

You can also convert and save images into different picture file formats.

To start Paint, click on the Start menu then All Programs > Accessories > Paint.

Create A Picture

There are toolbars running along the side and base of the Paint window with which you can draw or alter your picture. If you can't see these icons, go to View and make sure Tool Box, Color Box and Status Bar all have ticks by them. If you hold your mouse pointer over one of the icons for a moment, a small description will appear.

To start a new picture, click File > New. To change the size of the canvas area, go to Image > Attributes where you can adjust the height and width. As you move your mouse pointer around the canvas you will see the co-ordinates change on the Status Bar below.

Double-click a colour on the Color Box below the canvas or click Colors > Edit Colors to select from the basic colour palette, or define custom colours if you don't see the colour you want to use.

Tool Box

The Tool Box down the left of the screen gives you various options for creating and selecting parts of your picture.

For example, to draw a box click the Rectangle tool and then on the canvas, click and drag the cursor to create a box which will be outlined in your chosen colour.

Pick a different colour and then click the Fill With Colour button on the left menu. Now click anywhere inside your box to automatically fill it with that colour.

Experiment with the other drawing tools on the menu which include lines, curves, and ellipses. Notice that when you click on certain tools you will see other options appear below the menu. For example, the brush tool will display a range of brush types.

Use the pencil or brush tool along with the Magnifier zoom tool for detailed drawing.

The select tools allow you to edit or apply effects to particular areas of your drawing. Use them like the drawing tools by drawing an outline around the area you want to select.


After selecting a particular area, you can use the Edit menu to Cut, Copy and Paste.

Use Edit > Select All to make the entire canvas the current selection. To wipe or clear the canvas, use Image > Clear Image.

Work With An Existing Image

To open an existing picture file, click File > Open. Browse to where the file is located on your hard drive, click to select it then click Open.

To insert a picture onto an existing canvas, use Edit > Paste From and browse to where the picture is located on your hard drive. Click to select the picture you want then click Open.

The picture will now appear on your canvas. The image will have a dotted outline meaning you can move it by clicking on it and dragging it, or you can resize it by clicking on the corner handles.

To change the appearance and size of a picture, use Image > Stretch/Skew to stretch in percent and skew in degrees. For example, if you have a picture you would like to double in size, enter 200% in the horizontal and vertical boxes.

From the Image menu you can also choose to Flip/Rotate an image, or Invert Colors which gives you a kind of 'negative' effect.

Printing Your Work

You can change the orientation, margins, paper size and centering of your image in File > Page Setup.

Use File > Print Preview to see how your image will look when printed. Click Close to return to the main view again, and click File > Print when you are ready to start printing.

Saving Your Work

To save your work, click File > Save As.

You will be able to choose where to save the picture on your computer, what name to call it, and what filetype it will be saved as (such as .BMP, .JPEG, or .GIF).

Bitmap (.BMP) is the standard image filetype but it can be very large, while JPEG and GIF are 'compressed' versions and use less disk space, though the quality is reduced.

You will find that most people nowadays tend to use the JPEG format, which gives a good balance between quality and file size.

Many of the more advanced image editing programs also allow you to set the precise amount of compression applied to a file when converting it to JPEG.

Compressed picture files like JPEGs are especially useful on the Web and when you want to send pictures with e-mails, as they are smaller and therefore reduce the time that it takes to send and receive them.

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