Thursday, January 20, 2011

Paint Vs Paint

Inspired by Sasha, I am running a quick experiment.  A little explanation first.

Before I ever thought of making caps, I used Photoshop extensively.  I learned Photoshop when it was version 4 while in Photography school.  I used it at several Photographer's studios while trying to make it as a photographer.  I used it in a small business making print and web ads for small businesses.  I used it for web page design.  I used it to design posters and photographic borders.  All the while I was using it for my own personal photography and art.

Basically over the past 15 years I have used Photoshop a LOT! So when I decided to make my first cap, I of course pulled out my tool of choice and made it using Photoshop.  Over the last year or so I have sharpened my Photoshop skills so that I can make caps more creatively and more quickly.  I've been blessed with comments about the design of my caps and I owe almost all of it to the long time spent using Photoshop.

In a previous post ([Question] why can't i stop craving these stories?) Dee mentioned that "I hope this doesn't sound like an insult to anyone, but I am not really a fan anymore of the standard picture (without the watermark/website marker removed) with a white box containing black text in a default font.".  Sasha replied with "I think it is great to see lots of work put into the layout of a caption but I think there is something to said about the quickie caption. You read it, get a quick fix and that's it. Also, not everyone has the time to put the effort to make it like a publishing pamphlet.".

I agree with both of these comments.  I really believe that almost any program can make a cap better than just having a raw image (i.e. with its watermark) on a white background with black text.  I also don't think it will take much time to do so.  But that is where my time in Photoshop really kind of screws me.  I haven't ever used paint, so I don't know if its even possible to make an interstingly desinged cap in paint.

So that is what this post is for.  I am going to try to make a cap in paint.  Now please... no snide remarks on the story.  I wrote it quickly and didn't put a lot of effort into it for what is basically a design experiment.  I opened paint, pasted the image, dragged its corner so that it fit on the canvas, and pasted the text onto the side.

Like the caps I am complaining about, it still has the watermark.  It has a white background.  It has black text in paint's default font, and the text doesn't fill the background area.  From opening paint for the first time, to saving this image I spent 20 minutes on this.  Most of that was learning paint and figuring out how to put text in.  I made this in Paint on Windows 7.  While the UI is different this is the same Paint as in Windows XP and Windows Vista.  If you are using an older OS.... stop reading and upgrade to something made in the last 10 years! I will say that I didn't even bother trying to write the story in paint.  Paint is a graphic program and not a text editor.  I typed the up the story in MS Word.  I do the same when I use Photoshop as the spell checker in Word is much better than Photoshop! But any text editor will be better than paint.

For my next attempt:

I pasted the image from the internet.  As it was larger than my screen size, I used the view tab and zoomed it out.  I next used the select option and made a rough selection of the image that didn't include the 'teen thrills' watermark.  Next I clicked on resize and while leaving Maintain Aspect Ratio on I made the image 900 pixels tall. I then saved the image.

Next I opened paint with a blank canvas.  I clicked on resize (and clicked OFF Maintain Aspect Ratio) and made the canvas 1500x1500.  Then zoomed out again so I could see the entire canvas.  I selected a color and using the paint bucket tool painted the background. I then clicked on Paste From (using the down arrow under the Paste Button) and selected my previous image. While the new image is still selected, I moved it up into the corner, but left some space around the top and left edge. I brought up Word, selected all the text and copied it.

I selected the text button in Paint and clicked on some blanks space (doesn't matter where, I'll move and resize to where I want it). Once the text box was open, I pasted the text into it.  I resized the text box so that I could see all of the text.  I then selected all of the text and changed the font (Tahoma in this case... one of my goto fonts!).  I could have changed the font size, but the default '11' seemed to work.  As I chose a light background, I left the text black.  But I wanted the quote to pop a bit more, so I selected that and made it dark blue.  I next moved the text box and resized it to how you see it here (leaving room for the title).

I clicked on the text button again and typed in Reputation.  As it was already the same color as the quoted text, I left it that color.  I changed the font to a more creative one (Freestyle script in this case), and then made it big enough so that it would be tall enough to fit the space between the top of the photo and the body text.  I then moved the text box to where I wanted it.

The last step is removing the extra space.  I zoomed the image out so I could see the entire canvas.  I selected the selection tool.  I started in the top left corner (making sure it was at the very corner), then pulled it down making sure I left enough room on the bottom of the photo and to the right of the text to match the space I had left to the top and left of the image.  Once the selection looked about right, I clicked on the crop button.

Did this take longer?  Yes.  Did it take a lot longer?  No.  Is that little bit of time worth it?  That is for everyone to consider for themselves, but I really think that it is worth it.  If I saw the first cap, I may very well skip by it.  The second cap, I would probably take a look.  

And for giggles, this is how I would do it in Photoshop:

Now I'm certainly not going to switch to Paint.  The most frustrating thing about the program is its complete lack of changing things once you have comimited it.  For example I had the text completely done, but realized later that I wanted to have the quote stand out more..... but I couldn't edit the text.  I couldn't even remove the text without taking out the title I did first.  So I had to click undo to remove the title, undo to remove the text, and start out with a blank text box.  I also couldn't see a real good way to add a background gradient like I almost always do in Photoshop. Nor was there a way to rotate the picture (at least not easily), add the 'glow' effects behind the title and photo....

But if you don't want to learn anything other than Paint, you still can make a better caption than just a watermarked image, white background and black text.


  1. You pretty much put it exactly the way I meant it. Paint is damn near 15 years old, and the replacement is almost 8 years old, but still better than the original Paint.

    Its amazing how quickly a learning curve is when it comes to doing something you like doing. And just changing the text box and font color takes honestly ... 2 minutes at MOST?

    I do my captions in Photoshop. *Hand on Bible* I can make a quickie caption in less than 5 minutes. Jaime, Jenniger, and others have "seen" it happen.

    My design is about as simple as Paint designs, but looks much better in my opinion. Technique is pretty much this ... Find picture, crop it and/or resize it, create a "canvas" that is usually 850xsomething, pick color from picture to use as the background text color, then paste the picture in. Set up a text box that fits the text background. Choose text color that looks good on the background. Type in text caption. Center and apply shadow to the text. Click on Save and post to the Haven.

    Other than the text shadowing, I don't think I really do anything differently than what you would do in Paint. Rachel's Haven offers "step by step" tutorials for I think 9-10 different programs on how to create a caption, and most of those programs are free, or part of an Office Suite.

    That is why I'm glad you did this. Show that even if you are stuck in your ways with using Paint (MS stopped supporting it back in XP which came out in 99-01) you can still make a decent looking caption by just doing a few quick and easy steps.


  2. Ah! Inspired by me! Paint pretty much sucks bananas. I tried to use it and it takes me longer than photoshop.

    Going back to your prior post though. I said what I said because there are people with several levels of computer literacy so they only use paint or whatever free program comes bundled with Windows. Photoshop costs a bunch of money. I know... you can get it "free" but that would mean that the caption artist is a sophisticated with computers and is willing to spend time learning photoshop.

    My point, if I remember I had one, was that it is nice to see high quality work but a well written story does not need to have fancy graphics around it to make it good.

  3. @ Dee
    I agree that once you know something, it is very easy to get fast and efficient at it. I would say if you take out writing the story (which for me is always a long process... hell the sad story I wrote here still took me 20 minutes to jot down!) I can do most of my designs in a matter of minutes (maybe not 5, but not too much longer!).

    @ Sasha

    I agree that there are people that will never have Photoshop. I think unless you have previous experience in it, you shouldn't even try it. It's expensive and Adobe has made really no attempt to make it 'easy'. But there are plenty of other programs that work just fine. And as I've shown here, even Paint can do a decent job. I agree that a good story doesn't need a good design. And for people just getting into capping I wouldn't expect much else. But it's the people that have dozens if not hundreds of caps that look that way... they frustrate me. Their stories are generally good, and they've shown a desire to cap. Why not put a little effort into making the caps look good?

  4. I haaaaaated some of's limitations, but I never would have started capping without something that limiting. It made having caps that looked like everyone else okay at first so that I could focus more on making sure they didn't read like everyone else's. Toward the end of it I even did some fairly creative paneling with it for my Rosco series. It really helped prepare me to make my comic life caps look or at least read different from everone else.

  5. I use Photoscape, which I downloaded for free. It was a little tricky to learn, but I quickly figured out the basics (I have ZERO photoshop experience) and have begun making decent caps that don't look like MS Paint.

    While I appreciate the quickie cap, sometimes the overly-simplified text and layout draws me out of the fantasy - which is the whole purpose of the cap to begin with.

    Just my 2 cents,