Gathering digital images
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1997. First
published in Computer Player, July 1997
Some of you, I'm sure, are real or aspiring artists,
happy to start
with a blank screen, and via the miracle of combining software
talent, able to end up creating something wonderful.
But for the rest of us, that blank screen can be
It's a far, far better thing to be able to start with
some sort of image
on the screen, and maybe use the software to stretch it, bend it,
it, shrink, or otherwise make it fit our needs. So where might that
image come from?
* Clipart and stock photos.
Applications often include libraries of clipart, in
from a mere handful of images, to the CD or more included with most of
Corel's products. In addition, a number of companies sell dedicated
of images, licensed for reuse. Check the license carefully, however...
in some cases, you can only use the images for personal use; in others,
purchasing the CD allows you to reuse the images in public or even
settings. Calgary company, Image Club (www.imageclub.com) has a wide
of clipart and photos for sale.
* On the Web.
Yes, you can capture graphics from the Web. But the
File menu's Save
option will only give you the text on the page. To get the graphics,
users should right-click on the desired picture, and choose the Save
from the popup menu. (Mac users, with their single mouse button will
to experiment). Note that graphics on the Web are usually in 256-colour
GIF format or in 24-bit JPG format, but in both cases, will typically
more or less 72 dots per inch-ideal for on-screen display, but less
for high-resolution printing.
* Scan your own
Scanners are becoming a more popular accessory, as
prices drop. For
graphics use, pass up on hand-held or sheet-fed scanners. Instead,
for a flatbed scanner, which looks (and works) much like a small
Models start at about $300, for 24-bit colour, with popular models from
U-Max and Microtek even bundling a SCSI card so they can be used with
or Macs. If you don't like cracking open your PC's case, the Plustek
gives decent output for under $300 while plugging into the printer
* Catch that video
You can get still photos from a video camera, VCR, or
even your TV cable...
with a TV input device. Snappy (about $300) plugs into a PC's printer
while ATI's ATI-TV (about $200) is an add-on to recent ATI video cards.
ATI also offers an All-in-Wonder video card, with TV input and output
on the video card (about $350).
* Smile, click, it's a digital camera
No more film-digital cameras let you save your
snapshots directly in
computer-usable form. At the low end, Connectix offers its QuickCam
and white ($150) and colour models ($300), which lower the price by
connected to your computer at all times. Ranging from $500-$1000, you
get the digital version of a camera that you can take anywhere.
(Note that your use of images captured, scanned, or
the Net, may violate copyright if used for publication).