PI8 Basics #9 : Transparent Backgrounds


In PI8, transparency is created while saving in the Image Optimizer. There's two ways to create a transparent background: Automatically and Manually.

It couldn't be easier to save Automatically -- just create your button or other object (Path, Image or Text objects all work) and don't merge the object with the base image.

active object

Hit F4 or choose Web, Image Optimizer. You'll see the Image to Optimize box. "Selected objects" is chosen by default. If you have more than one object active in the image, "Selected objects individually" will not be grayed out.

image to optimize

Click OK to open the Image Optimizer. Make sure GIF is selected, then select Transparency. Note that as soon as you select Transparency, the white background in the preview window is replaced by the checkerboard pattern indicating transparency. Notice also that all excess space around the object has been trimmed, automatically.

select Transparency

Now all you have to do is click the Save As button to save the transparent object. This is the easiest and best way to save an object with a transparent background.

To create a transparent background manually, hit F4 or choose Web, Image Optimizer to open the dialog box. Select GIF and select Transparency. Click the Mask Options tab. Leave the Matte settings at their default, unless you want to optimize the transparent area for a certain color or image background. Be aware that if you choose a Matte option, the transparent object will not be transparent against any other color or image.

From the Mask dropdown list, choose Pick Color. Under the Mask options, select the Eyedropper. Choosing a Similarity value will depend upon the background. In this example, the background is all one color, so a Similarity value of 1 is sufficient. Select "Search connected pixels" to keep similarly colored pixels in the object itself from being made transparent. In the left preview window, click in the background to replace it with a checkerboard pattern signifying transparency.

mask options tab

Now click the Save As button to save.

PI8 also allows you to mimic transparency for JPG's, but you should understand that there is no such thing as a transparent JPG. What PI8 does is fill in the "transparent" area with a color or image background which you select. To create a transparent JPG, choose JPG and select Transparency. Click the Mask Options tab. From the Matte dropdown, select a color or background against which the object will be optimized. Choose Pick Color, the Eyedropper and a Similarity value. Click in the Left preview window to select the background. You'll see the selected Matte image replace the background in the right preview window.

select image or color matte

You can preview how a selected Matte color or image will look behind the transparent object by clicking on the Browser Preview button. A browser screen will open with information about image size.

preview in browser

Uploaded 9/24/02

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