7 Replies Latest reply on May 6, 2009 8:31 AM by TCarp

    Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques

    TCarp Level 1

      Using CS2.

       

      I have two basic questions.  One has to do with getting the best vector images (with text) that I can for placement in InDesign documents.  The other has to do with the specifics of working with text boxes in FW.

       

      The easiest way for me to produce vector images has been by using PowerPoint.  I do all the graphics work and then save it as a gif.  I do cropping in a graphics tool (Irfanview, PS) and then insert or place the image.  As long as there is no resizing, things work well.  I'm not sure how things like DPI are controlled using this technique but I'm assuming that also would be done with the graphics tool.  I know Irfanview allows for the dpi to be specified during resizing.

       

      The problem starts to show up when the gif object is resized.  Things get distorted and I lose the crispness of the image contents.  I'm certainly not an expert on graphics however I've been thinking I either need to 1) make the actual size of graphics in PP the size of the final placed image so there is no resizing (just some cropping) or 2) to work in a tool like FW where (I'm assuming) there are better capabilities to resize vector graphics.  My sense (again, not an expert) is that the process I'm using converts to vector graphics in PP to a bitmap image in the gif and that resizing doesn't work as well for bitmaps as for vector objects.  Do I have that right?

       

      Moving on to question 2:

       

      Can text boxes be resized in FW without distorting the text?  Can their size be seen when originally drasing them?  Perhaps spoiled by PowerPoint, I like to set the width of vector objects (e.g. rectangle) and the width of the text that will fill it to the same size.  (I know PP has the ability to put borders on text boxes but when working in FW I need to work with 2 objects, the rectangle and the text box).  Say I have a rectangle that is 81px wide.  Can I set a text box to 81px wide without distorting the text?

       

      I tend to want to control actual object sizes so I can get good spacial alignment.  For example, I tend to set the width of a text object to an odd number of px so that any line coming out of the text object aligns well with the text.  I must admit that it may be time for me to use a different technique in FW (e.g. more alignment of multiple objects vs. knowing dimensions and seting locations).  Does my approach need improvement?

       

      Thanks for any advice

       

      Tom

        • 1. Re: Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques
          pixlor Level 4

          For Question 1:

           

          When you output to the .gif format, you make a bitmap image, where the color of each pixel is specified. You can think of it as a piece of graph paper with the squares colored in. If you want to enlarge that image, you're basically making the squares bigger. If you want to shrink it, you have to remove some of the squares and somehow figure out what colors to put in the ones that are left. That's why you lose crispness.

           

          A vector object is made up of points and the relationships between them. When the a vector drawing program displays it on screen, it figures out which pixels to color, and what color to make them. When you enlarge or reduce a vector object, the coloring is recalculated. This is why you don't lose crispness.

           

          So yes, one solution for you would be to make your images in PP to the exact size you want.

           

          Image dimensions are in pixels. When you create an image, the dpi setting is not particularly relevant. Where dpi becomes relevant is when you go to output the image. If you have a 1200x1200 dpi printer, then an image that is 1200 pixels square would print very nicely if you make it 1 inch square in your document. (It might also look satisfactory if you make it fill a 2-inch square.) If the output device is only 300 dpi, then that same 1200-pixel image would look very nice if it is 4 inches square. If you look at that image on a monitor with 100 dpi resolution, however, that image is going to be 12 inches square. Image sizes are in pixels, output devices have dpi.

           

          The question you need to ask yourself, then, is "How big does my image have to be - in pixels - to look nice on the intended output device?" For that, you just need to experiment and use your best judgement.

           

           

          For Question 2:

           

          Yes. Fireworks does show an outline for the text object and you can scale the object with the scale tool (the scale tool will show an additional outline). If you click on a corner to drag the scaling rectangle, then the aspect ratio is maintained. (If you like, you can scale only the horizontal or vertical dimension. It distorts the text, but sometimes it's what you want.) The text boxes are larger than the enclosed colored pixels, but you can see everything, so you should be able to align to what you want. In Fireworks, you start with your text and then adjust the font size, rather than starting with a box and asking the program to fill it.

           

           

          As a final comment, PowerPoint is a presentation program, not a graphics program. If you're going to make graphics, then you are much better off learning to use a graphics program (Fireworks or Photoshop) than depending on PowerPoint.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques
            TCarp Level 1

            I am never disappointed with the quality of the posts on the Adobe forums.  I'm really grateful you and others take the time to help.

             

            First, your comment on PP's use as a graphics tool.  I also have a thread in InDesign working on a similar topic.  There too the advice is not to use PP for graphics.  The good news is that I bought the full CS2 suite along with the Macromedia suite at a local charity auction some years ago.  As I realize that PP is not the best idea, I'm working my way toward FW for vector graphics.  Thus the questions here on some of the things I've been frustrated about with FW.  Many I suspect are learning issues.

             

            Let's go to question 2: text box resizing.  For some reason my experience with resizing text boxes has always included the text distorting.  In this case I'm not intending to do that so resizing the box has become a limiting factor (for me).  I did a quick look at the scale tool and will do some additional reading and experimenting.  One thing I did notice was that a text box in the FW graphic I'm working on resized without distorting the text when the box was selected and a resizing box pulled.  Obviously there's something I don't understand yet and I'd like to dive into it a little.

             

            My past experience has been that after creating a text box (in FW) and then resizing it, either by specifying new dimensions or using a resizing box, distorted the text.  Now, for some reason, I'm not seeing that happen.  Is there an option, preference, or object specific setting that controls whether content distortion occurs?

             

            Now, beyond that, I'm intending to resize objects for a reason which might be bad technique left over from PP.  In PP I've come to aligning objects via their size not via the Align tool.  The habit I've gotten in to is to use the grid and size the objects to the grid.  To make sure any connecting lines touch exactly at a center point on a side I sometimes have to make sure there are an odd number of grid points in that dimension.  Once sized I just replicate as needed.

             

            In FW, should I abandon that approach and just use alignment?  If so, how does FW select which object of those being aligned to NOT move (i.e. rectangle and text are selected to align.  Which aligns to which?

             

            It looks like the path I'm on is to move to a graphics program and away from PP.  The ease of use of PP compared to FW will be a brief barrier.  Any advice on technique in FW (for my current project to have a vector graphics high-level process flow) would be appreciated.

             

            In the mean time, I'm also beginning to set some rules about working with graphics in general.  One is to build the original graphics at close to the size of the output to avoid most of the resizing.

             

            Thanks also for the reminder on pixels and dpi.  I've been taken down that path before and generally get it, but every so often I fall back into sloppy terminology.

             

            Tom

            • 3. Re: Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques
              pixlor Level 4

              Text resizing. Hmm. If you changed the dimensions in the Info palette, you'd have to know you were maintaining the proper aspect ratio. At that, I am not sure what is measured. When you change the dimensions, the font size doesn't change, so you no longer know what you have. When you use the scale tool and drag on a corner (to keep the aspect ratio constant), the font size is changed, so the font's properties are maintained correctly. That's clearly the best way to go.

               

              Alignment. In CS3, it works like this:

              • Top alignment: tops of all objects aligned to the top of the highest object (visually, not in the layer stack)
              • Bottom alignment: bottoms of all objects aligned to the bottom of the lowest object
              • Left alignment: left edges of all objects aligned to the left edge of the left-most object
              • Right alignment: right edges of all objects aligned to the right edge of the right-most object
              • Center Vertical: x position of all objects moved to the average of all x-centers
              • Center Horizontal: y position of all objects moved to the average of all y-centers

               

              Another feature of FW are the guidelines. If you don't see the rulers at top and left, turn them on under the View menu. You simply drag guidelines onto your canvas by clicking on the ruler and dragging in. You can double-click on a guideline to place it exactly. If you don't want a guideline, click on it and pull it off the canvas. You can align objects to your guidelines using the View > Guides > Snap to Guides.

               

              I think that yes, you should move to using a graphics program from PP. You will need to adjust to thinking in graphics terms, instead of in presentation terms. You've been using PP for something that it was never intended to do and you've invented a workflow for that. I think you'll manage to get into a FW workflow. You just have to quit comparing it to PP.

               

              The next question for you is whether FW is the best option for you. Fireworks is intended to produce graphics for the Web. It is optimized for producing screen graphics. It is not a general-purpose vector illustration program; it does not have export to the main vector formats (.ai and .eps); and it does not support color profiles or ink definitions, often important for print use. If you need graphics for InDesign, then you might be better off using Illustrator or Inkscape (a free, open source vector drawing program) .

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques
                TCarp Level 1

                Very thorough and very helpful.

                 

                As I wean off of PP I've started looking at FW and Illustrator (I have both).  I've done a logo or two in FW and have used it to build some simple web graphics (e.g. buttons, menus).  It can, as I recall, be a little more complex than what I need in this case.

                 

                I did a little experimenting with Illustrator and my first impression is that it will work better for me for this work.  It seems a little more intuitive.

                 

                Is a general guideline to use FW for web-destined graphics and Illustrator for what I used to do in PP?

                 

                I'm not sure I can unravel the mystery with the text box resizing.  I suspect theres an option selected.  Knowing it can be done is enough for me to do some homework.

                 

                Tom

                • 5. Re: Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques
                  Panos Zygopoulos Level 3

                  About text resizing in Fireworks you can do these:

                   

                  - Use  pointer tool  to resize your text box only horizontally (if you think this helps you), with no changes at the text.

                   

                  - Use  scale tool to resize your text box and at the same time distort your text.

                   

                  Also use the properties panel to make changes to your text. You can even move your text box pixel by pixel and place it wherever you like. You've got more freedom here than in powerpoint.

                  • 6. Re: Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques
                    pixlor Level 4

                    As I wean off of PP I've started looking at FW and Illustrator (I have both).  I've done a logo or two in FW and have used it to build some simple web graphics (e.g. buttons, menus).  It can, as I recall, be a little more complex than what I need in this case.

                     

                    Since PP is not a graphics program, its drawing capabilities are very limited. As a consequence, any graphics application will have many more features than you're used to seeing and more than you need for any one project.

                    I did a little experimenting with Illustrator and my first impression is that it will work better for me for this work.  It seems a little more intuitive.

                     

                    Is a general guideline to use FW for web-destined graphics and Illustrator for what I used to do in PP?

                     

                    Your suggested guideline is good. Also, note that if you make a logo or vector graphic in Illustrator (saving as .ai format), you can import that into Fireworks and work with it as a vector object there. FW can import and use, just not create, .ai objectes and files.

                     

                    FW has some vector tools, they are tucked away under Window > Others > Path. Since FW is intended for producing Web graphics, it is a hybrid application, capable of both vector and photo/image editing. Given that it has some of both, it necessarily doesn't have everything that Illustrator has nor everything that Photoshop has. It has most the features of both of those programs, as long as the feature is useful for a Web graphics designer. For pure photo editing Photoshop has the edge; for pure illustration, Illustrator has the edge. Both Photoshop and Illustrator support color profiles and other features important for print that Fireworks does not. All are good programs, but there are reasons to prefer one over the other depending on what kind of graphics you need to create or work with and what your intended use of the work is. (But any of them will be superior to PowerPoint! )

                     

                    I'm not sure I can unravel the mystery with the text box resizing.  I suspect theres an option selected.  Knowing it can be done is enough for me to do some homework.

                     

                    Maybe...don't think of text boxes at all. You have text objects. The object has a bounding box that is determined by the underlying definition of the font, but it isn't in a text box. (Sometimes swooshs will extend beyond the defining box of a character in the font, but that is another issue). The bounding box for the text object is similar to the bounding box of a circle or a star or an irregular shape. There's a reference box for the dimensions, but the text is not inside some other independent container.

                     

                    To resize, select the text object and change the font size either using the Properties palette or using the scale tool to drag on a corner of the scaling outline (different from the bounding box, and I don't know why, sorry).

                     

                    I think that,with Illustrator, you can define text boxes (or other shapes) and fill them with text. *searches* Ah.. Like these: http://school.tatoland.com/illustrator/aitype.html

                     

                    cheers!

                     

                    Lorraine

                    • 7. Re: Help on resizing text boxes and general image techniques
                      TCarp Level 1

                      Lorraine (et. al.)

                       

                      I'm going to close out this thread since it's gives me enough to move past where I was when first posted.  You and others have helped me not just with the specific issue I was having with text frame resizing but also took me to the general question of PP, FW, Illustrator, and PS.

                       

                      For the project that brought up the question in the first place, I'm going to move to Illustrator and learn it enough to use it in place of PP (in this case).  I think I understand the general intended uses of the tools which has been a great help.

                       

                      I'll undoubtedly be posting in the Illustrator forum as I start my learning curve.

                       

                      Thanks

                       

                      Tom