I like to find fun and unusual new ways to use PI's myriad tools. In this case, I'll show you a very easy way to apply a "mask" to an image -- via the EasyPalette's Painting Gallery. What's more, I'll bet you didn't know you could load your own textures into the Painting Gallery to create custom effects. Finally, just to add one more twist to the mix, you can make this unique "split frame" with (of all things) the Button Designer.
I started off with this digital photo of my son, Geoff, in full 100% boy regalia with his Ball python (so named for the snake's habit of curling up into a ball, just in case you wondered).
Use the Standard selection tool, shape set to Ellipse (or Rectangular if you prefer a different type of selection) to select around the central focus of the photo. In this case, I'm selecting my son and his snake. Try not to get too close to the edges of the photo. You can see the broken line indicating the selection in the reduced-size screen shot below.
Right click on the selection and choose Invert. Now the background is selected instead of the central focus. See the broken line around the edges of the photo?
From the EasyPalette's Painting Gallery, right click on the Fabric thumbnail and choose Modify Properties and Apply. Doing so will open the Painting dialog box.
Leave the Fine control defaults as they are. Notice that in the Preview window the fabric texture looks like it's been applied to the entire image. However, in reality it's only going to show up on the selection area. It's an OK look, but let's add a little something extra.
Click the Load button to access the Open dialog box. From there you can Browse to any texture image you wish to use. If you're using my my texture, save it to your hard drive. Then browse to and select it, and hit Open. It will be loaded into the Painting effect. To see how it looks, click Preview. You should see the swirly texture applied to the softened background selection. If you like it, click OK to accept. If not, click Continue to return to the Painting dialog box, where you can Load a different Texture if you like.
I should note here that you can Load this texture, or another one, with any other Paint template. Any interesting seamless tile with good contrast can work. You don't have to use the Fabric template either, but with the looser looking, more painterly templates, results can be pretty wild and unpredictable. It's worth some experimentation, though.
Now that you have a look you like, notice that the broken line around the swirls is animated. This means it's not a selection anymore, it's an object (make sure you don't move it). So if you wanted to apply a fadeout, a filter, or whatever to this object, you could do so easily. I'm going to leave mine alone and just right click, Merge All.
Just for fun, let's add an unusual frame. Right click on the image and choose All to select the whole thing. Then right click, Expand/Shrink. When the Expand/Shrink dialog box opens, shrink by 20 pixels, Box shape (to keep the sharp corners).
You'll see that by shrinking the selection, it moves from the extreme outer edges of the photo to 20 pixels inward, all the way around.
Now that you have a smaller selection with a little bit of room around the edges, choose Web, Button Designer, Rectangular. When the dialog box opens, select the second button Style (arrow) and the thumbnail that shows white around the edges (arrow). Note that the Width and Colors for the shadow around the button can be edited to suit your own needs. I'm leaving the defaults of 10 pixels and standard shadow colors.
Click OK. Like magic, a little white space with a shadow is placed around the selection, creating a nifty kind of split frame for the photo.
This tutorial uploaded 6/28/01
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