One of the new filters available in Alien Skin's Splat! is Frames. Like PSP's Picture Frames, Splat! Frames are used to frame or matte your digital photos and art work. Splat! Frames are a bit different from PSP Picture Frames, though, both in their structure and their application.
In this tutorial, we'll delve into the structure of Splat! Frames and see how to create your own rectangular Splat! Frames.
Paint Shop Pro 7 and any version of Splat! Or a later version of PSP and the current Splat! update.
If you have a later version of PSP and need to get the Splat! update, send a request to email@example.com. Be sure to include your name and your 12-digit serial number.
A Splat! Frame is a 3 x 3 PSP Picture Tube file whose extension has been changed to RFR. The figure below shows one of the standard RFR files, which is 960 pixels by 960 pixels, with PSP's Grid turned on (View > Grid) and Grid spacing set at 320 for both Horizontal and Vertical spacing:
This shows you the cell structure of the tube file. The corners of the frame each occupy a cell of their own, as do the two uprights and the two cross pieces. The center cell is completely empty. (The Grid lines, of course, are not part of the image. The checkerboard pattern behind the frame is PSP's way of indicating transparency.)
Here's how to make your own Splat! Frame:
Open a new 16.7 Million Color (24 bit) image with Background set to Transparent and Height and Width set to any dimensions evenly divisible by 3 (for example, 450 x 450 or 300 x 600).
Draw or paint your frame. Here's an example of a 450 x 450 frame, shown with the Grid on and the Grid spacing set to 150 for both Horizontal and Vertical spacing:
You'll probably find that it helps to have PSP's Grid set on, with the spacing of the Grid set so that the 3x3 structure of the tube file is indicated.
Save the file as a tube with File > Export > Picture Tube, setting the Cells across and Cells down each to 3 and naming your file.
In PSP's Browser or in Windows Explorer, rename the tube file, changing its extension from TUB or PspTube to RFR. Then move your new RFR file to the folder where you store your Splat! Frames.
Piece of cake, right? Well, it's often a little more involved than that, but once you understand how Splat! Frames work, you'll be well on your way to creating a collection of your own frames.
Have you ever noticed that PSP Picture Frames get scrunched or stretched out of shape if you apply them to an image whose aspect ratio differs from that of the Picture Frame itself? Well, you won't find that problem with Splat! frames. The reason is that Splat! doesn't simply resize the frame. Instead, it repeatedly tiles the upright and cross pieces of the frame.
Although this feature of Splat! frames enables you to apply great looking frames no matter what the aspect ratio of your image, it can also present a slight obstacle for you when you create a new frame: you have to be sure that those uprights and cross pieces tile seamlessly!
If your frame is a solid color or has a random pattern that tiles seamlessly as-is or has transparency at the seam lines, then you don't have to do anything special. But if your frame has a pattern that doesn't tile seamlessly on its own, then you'll need to adjust the areas along the seam lines -- the areas circled in blue below:
If you don't take this step, the seam between the tiles will be noticeable, like this:
In this case, I simply converted a PSP Picture Frame to a Splat! frame by resizing it, exporting it as a 3x3 Picture Tube, and changing the extension of the tube file. Not very pretty, especially along the cross pieces...
"OK," you say, "I understand the importance of getting the uprights and cross pieces to tile correctly, but what the heck should I do in order to get them to tile correctly?" For one answer, see the second installment in my Splat! frames series.
Lori J. Davis
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