Last Update: 6/11/2008


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How to Open an 'Unexpected End of File' Image

If you open an incomplete or damaged image with the File-Open command, QFX will issue the 'Unexpected End of File' error message and close the edit window. This is because QFX does not want you to inadvertently edit an incomplete or damaged image. However, in some cases you may want to open the image anyway and salvage what your can from what is there. To do this, use the Image-Resize/Rotate command:
  1. Select Resize/Rotate from the Image menu.
  2. Click the File button in the Source section.
  3. Select the name of the file from the Select Image File dialog and click OK (or Open).
  4. Click the Reset button in the lower, right corner of the Resize/Rotate Options dialog. This ensures that you do not actually resize or rotate the image when opening it.
  5. Click OK to begin opening the image. When the error message is printed, click OK to dismiss the message box and the edit window will remain open. Salvage what you can and good luck!

Saving without creating backup (.BAK) files

If you save an image and QFX sees that one by the same name already exists, it renames that image with the .BAK extension. This way the saved image does not overwrite the previously saved copy. This can cause your disk to fill up with lots of images with the .BAK extension. To turn this feature off, go to Preferences-System and check the box labeled Save to Original (no backup).

How to get Alpha channels for objects created in CorelDRAW

CorelDRAW (and most other draw programs) do not create an Alpha channel if you export the drawing as a Targa image file. However, you can use the following procedure to trick CorelDRAW into creating an Alpha channel for you:
  1. Create your objects as usual in CorelDRAW and export the drawing as a Targa Bitmap (TGA). Select 16 Million Colors from the Color drop down list box of the Bitmap Export dialog. Optionally, check Anti-aliasing at the bottom of the dialog. Click OK to do the export.
  2. Select all the objects in your drawing.
  3. Click on the Fill Tool (the paint bucket icon in the toolbox) and click black fill patch at the far right of the flyout. This will fill all your objects with solid black.
  4. If any objects have outlines, do the same using the Outline Tool (the pen tip icon in the toolbox) after selecting only those objects.
  5. Export your objects again as in step 1, but using a different file name. Select 256 Shades of Gray from the Color drop down list box in the Bitmap Export dialog.
  6. Start or switch to QFX and open the image exported in step 1.
  7. Select Alpha Mask from the QFX File menu and select Load... from the flyout menu.
  8. Select the name of the file you saved in step 5 from the Load Alpha Mask dialog and click Open. This will place the grayscale image you exported in step 5 into the Alpha Channel of the image you opened in step 6.
  9. To make the Alpha Channel to have the correct "sense", you need to invert it. Just select Alpha Mask... from the Image menu and click the Invert button in the Alpha Mask Options dialog. Click OK to close the dialog.

Tip: This procedure assumes that you are working over a white background in CorelDRAW. If your background is black, make your objects white in steps 3 and 4 and skip step 9.

Self Masking an Image

When you have an image where the object you want to mask contrasts with the background, you can use a technique called self masking to generate an Alpha channel or mask for the object. For example, a black logo on a white background or a objects shot against very bright white or jet black backgrounds can be self masked.
  1. Open the image in QFX.
  2. Turn on Mask Build by clicking the Build Mask icon at the lower-right of the Toolbox.
  3. Select Monochrome... from the Efx menu.
  4. While observing the Preview window, select the Monochrome Method that generates the most contrast between the objects and the background in the pink overlay. Max usually works best for scans of logos and other black and white art. Luminance will work better for color images against white or black.
  5. Click OK to close the Monochrome Options dialog and select Apply Full from the Edit menu to create an Alpha channel from the image.
  6. Select Image Control... from the Efx menu.
  7. Click on the Curve icon button (3rd from left) below the Preview window.
  8. Click and drag the control points on the curve up or down in the curve edit window at the right. Try to create as much contrast between the objects and the background in the pink overlay image as possible. The idea is to make the background Alpha channel (pink overlay) either completely opaque (if it was originally white) or completely clear (if it was black) and make the objects just the opposite.
  9. Click OK to close the Image Control dialog and select Apply Full from the Edit menu to modify the contrast of the Alpha channel.
  10. Optional: Use the Brush or Lasso tools to add or remove Alpha channel (pink areas) from the image to eliminate any holes or gaps.

Tip: You can invert the mask if you want to invert its "sense" (i.e. make clear areas covered with Alpha channel and vice versa). Just select Alpha Mask... from the Image menu and click the Invert button in the Alpha Mask Options dialog. Click OK to close the dialog.

Tip: The Densitometer tool can be helpful in determining if you have made the correct adjustments in step 8 above.

  1. Just prior to step 6, select Show Densitometer from the Window menu if the Densitometer toolbox is not already showing.
  2. Proceed with steps 6 and 7 and make sure that Thru Lut box is checked in the Densitometer section of the Image Control dialog.
  3. Click on the Densitometer icon button in the lower-left corner of the dialog and when the densitometer cursor appears, move it into the image edit window (not the Preview window in the dialog) and click over an area in the background or in the foreground objects. Click the right mouse button or hit the Esc key to cancel the densitometer cursor.
  4. Click and drag in the curve edit window of the Image Control dialog and observe the changes in the Alpha value displayed in the Densitometer toolbox. A value of 0 indicates clear (no) Alpha channel and value of 255 indicates and opaque (solid) Alpha channel.

Converting CMYK images to RGB 

QFX does not have a "convert to RGB" command but you can achieve the same result using this tip. To get an accurate conversion you should perform the following preliminary steps:
  1. Calibrate your monitor. See Help-Contents-Preferences-Calibration.
  2. Open a CMYK image and do a CMYK calibration. See Help-Contents-Preferences-CMYK Calibration. Make adjustments so that the Preview image looks exactly the way you want RGB images to look when converted.
Once you have performed the preliminary steps above, you are ready to convert your images.
  1. Open the CMYK image you want to convert.
  2. Select Copy from the Edit menu or press the accelerator key combination Ctrl+C to copy the image to the QFX clipboard.
  3. Select New... from the File menu. When the New Image dialog opens, select Copy QFX Clipbd from the Presets drop down list box.
  4. Click the RGB Model radio button. This tells QFX to convert the CMYK image to RGB.
  5. Click OK to dismiss the New Image dialog and create the new edit window.
Here is a QFX Queue script that will do the steps above for you. Be sure to keep each command on a separate line when entering this script in QFX.
The last two commands are optional. They switch to and close the original CMYK image.

Creating Fat Edges on Text

It is easy to give an edge to any object, including text, in QFX Draw mode. However, if you make the edge too "fat" on text, you make get results like this:
 
 
Notice that the edges of the next character overlap the previous character. Why? In QFX each character of the text is a separate object. All the characters are grouped together to form a single group object. The edge thickness is an attribute of the object itself, not the group. How can we fix this? Easy, just follow these steps:
  1. Select the text.
  2. Select Break Apart from the Arrange menu.
  3. Select Join from the Arrange menu.
The text will look this this after the above procedure.
 
 
What happened? By breaking the text apart, we made each letter a separate, ungrouped object. Then by joining the objects, we created a single object made up of all the characters. Now the edge thickness becomes an attribute of the entire block of text and not each individual character object. Want a soft edge to simulate a glow? Try setting the edge Softness to about 1/2 the value set for the Size in the Edge Options dialog. Here is an example:
 

Creating Highlighted Edges on Images

Photographers often use an edge light or "hair light" to highlight the edges of their subjects and make them stand out from the background. Here is a tip that lets you use QFX to simulate this effect. Here is how our Santa's hat looked before and after we added the edge light:
No highlight
Highlighted

Note: You must create a mask (alpha channel) to cover the area you want highlighted. Here is the mask we used (shown as a pink overlay):

 
 
Here are the steps for creating the edge highlight:
  1. Select Alpha Mask from the File menu, then select Save... from the flyout. Save the mask to a file named "TEMP.MSK" (actually any name will do).
  2. Turn on Mask Build (click the mask icon at the bottom right of the main Toolbox).
  3. Select Filter from the Efx menu, then select Blur... from the flyout. Set the blur radius to the number of pixels you want for the edge highlight (we used 20 in this example). Click OK to dismiss the dialog.
  4. Select Apply Full from the Edit menu to apply the blur to the mask.
  5. Select Image Control... from the Efx menu. Set the CON slider to 75. Click OK to dismiss the dialog.
  6. Select Apply Full from the Edit menu to apply Image Control to the mask.
  7. Select Alpha Mask... from the Image menu. Click the Invert button in the Alpha Mask Options dialog and click OK to dismiss the dialog.
  8. Select Alpha Mask from the File menu, then select Intersect... from the flyout. Select "TEMP.MSK" from the list (or the name used in step 1) and click Open.
  9. Turn on Mask Use (click the mask icon at the bottom left of the main Toolbox).
  10. Select Image Control... from the Efx menu. Set the BRI slider to 90 (make sure the CON slider is set to 75). Click OK to dismiss the dialog.
  11. Select Apply Full from the Edit menu to apply Image Control to the image in the masked area.

Tip: Step 10 controls the lightness of the edge. Step 3 controls the thickness of the edge.

We have created a Queue script that performs all the operations in the above procedure. To download it, right click here Download Lighten Edge Script and select the following item from the popup menu: Firefox: Save Link As... or Explorer: Save Target As....

Creating 3-D "lozenge" Panels

You may have noticed the oval 3-D panels on our Web pages like this one:
These objects are easy to create and here is how:
  1. Open a new edit window with the same background color as that of your Web page.
  2. Switch to Draw mode.
  3. Select the Oval tool from the main Toolbox and drag open an oval.
  4. Double click on the Ramps button to open the Ramps Palette dialog.
  5. Make sure the 4-Pt Type button is selected just to the left of the Ramps preview window.
  6. Drag a light color (we used 255, 224, 100) into the two patches on the left side of the Ramps preview window.
  7. Drag a dark color (we used 208, 142, 0) into the two patches on the right side of the Ramps preview window. Click OK to dismiss the dialog. This fills the oval with a gradient from left to right.
  8. With the oval object still selected, select Dupe from the Edit menu (or press Ctrl+D). This creates and selects a duplicate of the oval.
  9. Double click on the Ramps button to open the Ramps Palette dialog again. This time place the darker color in the two patches on the left side of the Ramps preview window and the lighter color in the patches at the right. Click OK to dismiss the dialog.

Tip: Change from a 4-Pt to a 5-Pt ramp and make the center patch color slightly lighter than the color in the two patches at the right. Move the center patch to the right of center and down a little. This will give the illusion of a highlighted indentation (see the example at the end of this procedure).

  1. Select the Pick tool from the main Toolbox. This surrounds the oval with the Frame tool. Click on one corner of the frame and while holding down the Ctrl key, drag the oval so that it is smaller than the original. The two ovals should look like this:
  1. Click inside of the selected (smaller) oval, drag it and center it over the original, larger oval.
  2. Select both objects (select Select All from the Edit menu) and then select Group from the Arrange menu. Now you can drag or resize the object as a whole.
  3. Select Final Render from the Edit menu to render the object. After rendering you will be back in Paint mode where you can save the image as a GIF or JPEG image for use in your Web page or other project.
Here is a "lozenge" panel created using the tip from step 9:

Creating Toolbar buttons for plug-ins

We use the Ulead PhotoImpact Gif SmartSaver plug-in a lot for creating GIF images for our Web pages, so much so that we placed a button in our Toolbar for activating it. Here's how:
  1. Select Queue from the Edit menu and then select Edit... from the flyout menu to open the Queue Edit dialog.
  2. Scroll the Commands window down to EXEC:PLUGIN and double click on it to place that command in the Current Queue edit window.
  3. Place the name of the plug-in after the NAME= parameter, exactly as it appears on the File menu Export flyout menu, surrounded by double quote marks ("). The line in the edit window should look like this:
    EXEC:PLUGIN NAME="PhotoImpact Gif SmartSaver..."
  4. Select Save from the Edit menu in the Queue Edit dialog to open the Save Queue File dialog.
  5. Make sure you are in the /QUEUES folder in the QFX program folder (usually C:\QFX\QUEUES).
  6. Type MACRO_X.QUE into the File name: box and click Save to save the Queue script. This attaches the Queue script you just created to the X Toolbar button. If you want to attach to a different Toolbar button, change the X in the file name to any letter of the alphabet (A-Z) or any number from 0 through 9.
  7. Click Close to close the Queue Edit dialog.
  8. Double click on the Toolbar over any part where there are no buttons. This will open the Toolbar Preferences dialog.
  9. Scroll the Available Items: list at the left until the X script button item labeled MACRO_X.QUE appears.
  10. Click on the item and drag it into the Current Toolbar Items: list at the right and release. This will place the X button in the Toolbar.
  11. Click OK to close the Toolbar Preferences dialog.
  12. Open an image that you want to save using the plug-in and click the X button in the Toolbar. This will launch the plug-in.

Inserting Symbols and Non-keyboard Characters into QFX

You probably know that when typing text into QFX, you can enter special characters by holding down the Alt key and typing their secret code on the numeric keypad. For example, to place the copyright symbol in a text string you can hold down the Alt key and press 0 1 6 9 on the numeric keypad. But how did we know what the secret code was? We used a little utility that comes free with Windows called Character Map. It is in your Accessories menu under the name "Character Map". It will show you all the characters for a particular font and if you click on a character, will show you the key code for that character in a little window at the lower right of the dialog. Furthermore, you can get Character Map to copy one or more characters into the Windows clipboard and then insert them into QFX without any typing. Here is how:

  1. Open an edit window in QFX and select the Text tool. If you have not selected a font yet, the Text Options dialog will open. Select a font and click OK to dismiss the dialog.
  2. From the Start menu, select Programs and then select Accessories. From that menu select Character Map. This will launch the Character Map application.
  3. In the Font drop down list box, select the same font name as you selected in QFX. This will display all the characters available for this font.
  4. Click on the character you want to place in QFX and then click the Select button near the top of the dialog. The character will appear in the Characters to Copy: window at the top right of the dialog.
  5. Repeat step 4 if you want additional characters.
  6. Click the Copy button just to the right of the Select button. This copies all the characters in the Characters to Copy: window into the Windows clipboard.
  7. Switch back to QFX.
  8. Click the I-beam cursor in the edit window at the point where you want to insert the text.
  9. Select Paste System from the Edit menu. This will paste the characters from the Windows clipboard into QFX.

Copying From the Screen into an Edit Window

To generate all the "screen shots" of the dialogs, menus and other interface elements for the QFX Help file, we had to capture these items directly from the screen while running QFX. How did we do that? We developed a simple screen capture utility that lets us select a section of the screen and capture it into the Windows clipboard. In QFX we opened a new edit window with a copy of the Windows clipboard and saved the image. You can download a copy of our capture utility by clicking here: Download CAPTURE.EXE

Note: In Windows Vista you will need to disable the Aero interface to use the capture utility.

Here is how to capture portions of your screen into QFX:

  1. Download the CAPTURE.EXE utility if you have not done so. Place it in the QFX program folder (usually C:\QFX).
  2. Start CAPTURE by double clicking on CAPTURE.EXE in Explorer or File Manager.
  3. To make CAPTURE stay on top of all other windows, click at the left of the title bar to open the system menu and select "Always on Top".
  4. Open the application from which you wish to capture a screen shot.
  5. Position the CAPTURE utility window so it does not obscure what you want to capture.

Tip: You can resize the CAPTURE utility window to make it smaller.

  1. Click inside the CAPTURE utility window and release without moving the mouse. The screen will flash briefly.
  2. Move the mouse and a large crosshair will appear. Move this to one corner of what you want to capture, click drag and release at the opposite corner. The screen will flash again. The area of the screen you selected is now copied into the Windows clipboard. It also appears in the window of the CAPTURE utility. You can drag the window larger to ensure you captured what you want. Repeat steps 6 and 7 if you want to capture again.
  3. Switch to or launch QFX.
  4. Select New... from the File menu. The New Image dialog will open.
  5. From the Presets drop down list box select Copy System Clipbd. Click OK to dismiss the dialog. A new edit window will appear displaying the screen image you captured in step 7.
  6. Select Save from the File menu to save the image in the edit window to a file.

How to Set the Color of the Application and MDI Windows in QFX

You can change the color of the main application window that fills the screen when you first start QFX using the Control Panel Display Properties dialog:
  1. Select Settings-Control Panel from the Start menu.
  2. Double click on the Display icon to open the Display Properties dialog.
    or
    Right click on the desktop and select Properties from the context menu to open the Display Properties dialog.
  3. Select the Appearance tab.
  4. Choose Application Background from the Item drop down list box.
  5. Click the down arrow icon in the Color drop down list box.
  6. Select a color or click on Other... to open the Color dialog to select a custom color and click OK.
  7. Click OK to close the Display Properties dialog.

Tip: Select a custom background color for Application Background that is darker than the default of 128, 128, 128 to make it easier to see the outlines of windows and toolboxes when they are dragged around the QFX workspace. We use a custom color of 112, 112, 112, for a dark gray workspace.

You also can control the background color of each edit (MDI) window. MDI is an acronym for Multiple Document Interface. The background color shows only when the edit window is larger than the image it displays. To set this color, edit the QFXWIN.INI file:

  1. Exit QFX before making any of the edits below.
  2. Using Notepad or some other plain text editor (do not use Write or WordPad), open the QFXWIN.INI file. It is located in your QFX program folder (usually C:\QFX). Make sure Word Wrap is off in the Edit menu.
  3. Scroll down until you see the line that begins with MDIWindowColorBlu.
  4. Change the values to the right of this item and the MDIWindowColorGrn and MDIWindowColorRed items in the two lines below. For example, if you set all three to 192, you will set the window color to light gray. Set all three to 0 for solid black or 255 for solid white.
  5. Select Save from the File menu to save your edits.
  6. Restart QFX, open an image and zoom out (press F7 once or twice). You should see the new color surrounding the image in the edit window.

Tip: This procedure sets the background of the edit window that surrounds the image, not the Canvas color (background color) of the image itself. That color is set in the New Image dialog when you create a new edit window.

How to convert scanned logos and fonts for use in QFX

This procedure shows how to scan black and white art such as logotypes or fonts and use them in QFX. These procedures assume you are scanning black logos or type printed on white paper. The first step is to scan the art and correct the contrast, without causing aliasing (stair-step effect).
  1. Scan your art in grayscale (256 gray levels) or full color (16.7 million colors). Do not scan in bi-level (1-bit) mode or with fewer than 16.7 million colors. This will cause aliasing.
  2. If you scan in color, convert the scanned image into black and white (monochrome). See "To apply the Monochrome effect" in the Monochrome Effect topic in QFX Help.

    Your scan may look like the image on the left below where the whites are not completely white nor the blacks completely blacks. The following steps will correct this and make the scan look like the image on the right.
 
  1. Select Image Control from the Efx menu.
  2. Click the Curve edit button (3rd from left under preview window).
  3. Drag the curve handles in the right window: drag the handles near the bottom, left of the curve down and the handles near the top, right up. The idea is to make the dark interior of the logo or type completely black (0,0,0) and the white paper completely white (255,255,255) but leave the middle tones intact. This will preserve the natural anti-aliasing. Your curve edit window should look something like this:

  1. Apply the effect to the full image. Use the Densitometer tool (Ctlr+4) to check the black and white areas to make sure you applied Image Control correctly. See "To use the Densitometer with Image Control" in the Image Control topic in QFX Help.

The following procedures show how to add color to the logo or font and paste it into any image.

  1. With the edit window open that contains your contrast-corrected scan, apply the following Queue script:

MASK:ERASE
IMAGE:ALPHA-MASK STATE=BUILD MODE=IN/ADD VALUE=255
APPLY:EFX
EFX:MONOCHROME MODE=MAX
EDIT:APPLY-FULL
MASK:INVERT
MASK:OFF
IMAGE:COLOR-PLANE ALF=OFF
COLOR:CANVAS RGB=0,0,0
EDIT:CLEAR
IMAGE:COLOR-PLANE ALF=ON
MASK:USE
APPLY:COLOR
[DIALOG] COLOR:PRIMARY
EDIT:APPLY-FULL

To download this script, right click here Download Color Masked Area Script and select the following item from the popup menu: Firefox: Save Link As... or Explorer: Save Target As....

  1. When the Color Palette dialog opens, select the color for the logo or font and click OK.
  2. Save the edit window as a 32-bit Targa or Tiff file. You must save in one of these formats to preserve the Alpha channel (mask). Here is an example where we selected a dark teal color:

To place the colored logo or font in another image:

  1. Open the image into which you want to paste the logo or font.
  2. Select Paste from the Edit menu and when the flyout appears, select From File....
  3. Select the name of the image saved in step 3 above and click Open.
  4. When the Paste Options dialog appears, select Alpha Masking and click OK.
  5. When the Frame tool appears in the edit window, position it where you want the image pasted and select Apply Tool from the Edit menu.

Tip: If you see dark edges around your logo or font, undo and repeat the procedure, making sure you select the Alpha Masking button in step 4.

How to apply edits to video "fields"

This procedure shows how to create a mask so that edits can be applied only to the odd or even fields of a video image.

  1. Create an image that is 1 pixel wide and 2 pixels tall and paint the bottom pixel pure black (0,0,0) and the top pixel pure white (255,255,255)
    or
    Download this TGA image onebytwo.tga and open it in QFX.
  2. Select New... from the File menu and create a new image that is the same size as your video image (e.g. 756 x 486).
  3. Select Link... from the Window menu to open the Link Options dialog. Click the Tile radio button and click OK to close the dialog.
  4. Make sure the Apply Color button is selected in the Toolbox and then select Apply Full from the edit menu or press Ctrl+F.
  5. Select Save from the File menu to open the Save Image File dialog. Select Mask (*.MSK) from the Save as type: list and enter a name for saving the mask in the Save in: box. Click Save to save the image you created in steps 2 - 4 as a mask.

You now have a mask that can be loaded into any image and used to restrict edits to either the odd or even lines (i.e. fields). Here is an example:

  1. Open the image you want to edit.
  2. Select Alpha Mask from the File menu and then select Load... from the flyout menu to open the Load Alpha Mask dialog. Select Mask (*.MSK) from the Files of type: list and select from the list the file you saved in step 5 above. Click Open to load the mask into your image.
  3. Select Alpha Mask... from the Image menu to open the Alpha Mask Options dialog and click the Use and Inside radio buttons. Click OK to close the dialog.
    or
    Click the Mask Use and Inside (+) buttons at the bottom of the Toolbox.
  4. Paint, apply effects, composite or render Draw mode objects and all edits will be restricted to just the odd lines (field) of the image.

Tip: To apply edits to only the even lines (field), click the Outside (-) button at the bottom of the Toolbox and then apply your edits.

How to create a tiled array of images

The Queue script below will create an image tile array that looks like the one below. You can edit the script to create any number of columns and rows as well as add space for borders around and between the images.

Tip: If you have QFX 8 or later, download the second script listed below. This script displays a dialog form for selecting all the options.

Download the Queue script for QFX 7 or earlier TiledImageArray.que.
Download the Queue script for QFX 8 or later ExTiledArray.que

Digital Camera Tips

Today's new digital cameras are great and QFX can help you get the most out of them. The first thing we do after shooting a "roll" of digital film is to create a "proof sheet" from all the images. For those of you unfamiliar with a proof sheet, this is a page of small images or thumbnails. The QFX Thumbnails Browser is the perfect tool for this job. Here are the simple steps for creating a proof sheet:

  1. Download the images from your camera to a folder on the hard disk on your computer.

Note: It is important to download your images to your computer before creating thumbnails in QFX. See Downloading Digital Camera Images below for more information.

  1. Start QFX and select Thumbnails... from the File menu.
  2. Using the Folders window at the left of the Thumbnails Browser dialog, navigate to the folder from step 1.
  3. Look at each thumbnail image and see if its orientation is correct (it appears upright). If necessary, click the rotation button in the lower, right corner of each thumbnail image one or more times to rotate the image to the correct orientation.
  4. Click the Print Thumbnails button.

Note: There may be a delay before the next dialog appears while QFX generates all the thumbnails images.

  1. When the Thumbnails Print Options dialog appears, use the controls in that dialog to select the layout for your proof sheet of images.

Tip: We usually use a layout of 4 columns and 6 rows to place 24 images on a page.

  1. Make sure Printer is selected in the Print to drop down list and then click Print... to print your thumbnails.

Tip: For the best quality thumbnail images, make sure that the Print from Originals box is checked in the Thumbnails Print Options dialog.

That's it! For more information and tips on using the Thumbnails Browser and the Thumbnails Print Options dialogs, click the Help button in either dialog.

Downloading Digital Camera Images

It is important to download (copy) the images from the camera or digital film card (CompactFlash, SmartMedia, PCMCIA, etc.) to your computer's hard disk before creating thumbnails or doing other processing in QFX. The fastest and easiest way to do this is using a card reader attached to your computer. Although most digital cameras let you hook the camera to your computer and download the images from the camera, this has two disadvantages. First, this method is usually slower, especially with cameras that connect only via your serial port. Second, this ties up your camera and wastes its battery power. USB card readers can be purchased for less than $40 and are a fast, easy and reliable way to get your images from your camera to your computer. For computers without USB support, parallel port readers are almost as fast and are also easy to hook up.

Important: Although using a card reader (or with the camera hooked to the computer), it is possible to "see" the images on the digital film card itself, we do not recommend you try to generate thumbnails in QFX directly from the card itself. This is because QFX writes a catalog file to the same folder as the images and this can cause two types of problems. If the card is full of images, there is no space for the catalog file and QFX will generate an error message. Also, many cards will malfunction if any other application other than the camera itself writes to the card. So, always copy the images from the digital film card to a folder on your hard drive and then point QFX to the images in that folder for generating thumbnails or doing other image processing.

If you have QFX 8.01 or better, you can download one of the following scripts to simplify copying your digital camera files:

Download the Copy Files Queue script (Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista version).
Download the Copy Files Queue script (Windows 95/98/Me version).

These scripts display a form dialog in QFX for selecting the source and target folders for copying your digital camera image files and automatically copy all the files from the source folder to the target folder. The script even creates the target folder if it does not exist. If you have QFX 8.0, you can get a free update to the latest version of QFX by clicking here.

If you do not have QFX 8.01 yet, the following proceedure shows how to accomplish the same thing manually using Windows Explorer.

How to download your images using a card reader with Windows Explorer:

  1. Remove the image card from the camera.
    Important: Be sure that the camera is not reading or writing to the card when you do this. To be safe, turn off the camera before doing this step.
  2. Put the image card into the reader. If you are using an adapter to match your image card to the reader, put the card in the adapter first and then put the adapter into the reader.
  3. Open Windows Explorer. Your card reader is assigned one or more drive letters just like your hard drive or CD-ROM drive. With some readers the drive letter is assigned only after a card is inserted into the reader. For other readers, the letters were permanently assigned when you installed the reader. The letter assigned will usually be the next available drive letter after your floppy, hard and CD-ROM drives. For example, if you normally have drive letters A through E assigned to drives in your computer, the card reader will be assigned drive F. If you are not sure which drive letter is assigned to your reader, look at the name assigned to each drive.
  4. Double-click on the drive letter assigned to your reader. Depending on how your camera stores its images, you may see a folder or a list of images in the right hand pane. Keep double-clicking until you see a list of images appear in the right hand pane.
  5. Decide where on you computer you want to place your images. We recommend that you create a new folder each time to hold the images from each new card. To do this, click on the drive letter assigned to your hard disk (usually C:) in the left pane. Select New from the File menu and when the flyout menu appears, click on Folder. This will create a folder named New Folder. You can rename this folder while it is highlighted by just typing a new name. Press the Enter key to save the new name.
  6. Make sure that you can see your new folder in the left pane. Double-click on the drive letter from step 5 if necessary to show the folder.
  7. Select the image card folder from step 4 so that you see all the image files displayed in the right pane.
  8. Click on one of the files in the right pane and press Ctrl+A on the keyboard or choose Select All from the Edit menu. All the files in the right pane will be highlighted (selected).
  9. Using the scroll bar in the left pane, scroll the new folder from step 5 into view in the left pane. Be careful not to click inside the left pane as this will disturb your selection from step 8.
  10. Click on any one of the selected files in the right pane and without releasing the left mouse button, drag the files from the right pane into the left pane over the new folder's name. The new folder will become highlighted when you have the mouse in the right place. Release the left mouse button. This will copy the files from the card reader to your new folder on the hard disk.
  11. After all the files are copied, you can remove the image card from the card reader and replace it in your camera.

To create thumbnails in QFX, just navigate to the new folder you created in step 5 above. See Digital Camera Tips above for a step-by-step procedure.

Getting More Saturated Color When Lightening Images

Often we need to lighten images from our digital camera or scans. One of the easiest ways is to use the Gamma mode in Image Control. This both lightens the image and maintains good shadow contrast. In some cases this causes the colors to get somewhat washed out. The trick we have discovered is to switch from RGB model to HLS model and edit the Lightness (Lit) plane only. Here is how:

  1. Open the image you want to lighten (File-Open).
  2. Select Image Control... from the Efx menu.
  3. Click the Gamma mode button .
  4. Select the HLS radio button and then select the Lit radio button.
  5. Adjust the Contrast slider to achieve the desired lightening. Your dialog should look similar to this:


  6. Click OK to dismiss the dialog.
  7. Select Apply Full from the Edit menu or press Ctrl+F to apply the Image Control effect to the image.

The three images below show the difference between using RGB model and HLS model to lighten the same image:

Original Image

RGB Model
HLS Model

Note that the image lightened in HLS model (with only the Lightness plane selected) shows more saturated colors.

Adding Noise to Images

Sometimes it is desirable to add a small amount of noise to an image to help cover minor defects, make objects look less computer generated or to help eliminate banding on low resolution output devices. Here is how:

  1. Open the image to which you want to add some noise.
  2. Select Color Plane... from the Image menu to activate the Color Plane Options dialog.
  3. Select the HLS Model button.
  4. Uncheck the Hue and Sat buttons. Leave the Lit button checked. This enables only the lightness plane or channel.
  5. Set a value of 7 in the Lit Randomize spin button. Click OK to close the dialog.

Tip: Set lower values for less noise, higher values for more noise.

  1. Select Filter from the Efx menu and when the flyout menu appears, select Blur....
  2. In the Filter Options dialog set the Horz spin button to 0. This will also set the Vert spin button to 0. Click OK to close the dialog*.
  3. Select Apply Full from the Edit menu to apply noise to the entire image or select an area with one of the Lasso tools and select Apply Tool from the Edit menu to apply noise to a selected area.

Tip: You can use the Brush tool to apply noise in step 8 as well.

*By applying the blur filter with a zero size, this disables the filter, but still allows the selected pixels to be processed by the randomizing function.

Sending Images using "Anonymous" Web Pages

When you want to send large image files to clients or friends, you may find that there is a limit on the size of files you can attach to e-mails. Many e-mail hosts set a limit on the size of e-mail attachments, typically a megabyte or two. This poses a problem if you have one or more large images you want to transmit via the web. If you have your own web site and have FTP access to it, this can solve the problem because there is typically no limit on FTP transfers. However, having to assign a password (or reveal your own) to each person to whom you want to allow FTP access is problematic. We came up with a handy solution to all this using what is called an "anonymous" web page.

An anonymous web page is a page on your site that has no links on your site (or any other) pointing to it. Thus it cannot be found by search engine spiders, so it will never be indexed and its existence will be unknown to the outside world. Only those persons you explicitly tell about it will be able to display it in their browser. By creating a web page with thumbnails and links to your high resolution images, you create an easy and relatively secure way of allowing people to download images from you. The name of the page essentially becomes the password for the download. All you have to do is create the HTML document (web page) and upload it and the thumbnail and high resolution images to your site. You do need to know is how to gain FTP access to your site. Usually all that is required is a user name and password. Contact your ISP if you are not sure how to do this.

Of course we would not be telling you about all this here if we did not have a way that QFX can automate this entire process for you! It is all done with our Upload Wizard Queue script which does everything for you. There is a Help file included with the Upload Wizard script as well. Just click the Help button in the Upload Wizard dialog to access it. The script lets you select the images, creates the thumbnails and the HTML document (web page) and will even upload all the required files to your web site. After the Upload Wizard completes, just e-mail your client or friend with the URL of the HTML document and he or she will have access to download all the images via their Internet browser.

Download the Upload Wizard Queue script (requires QFX 8 or later).

Note: This is a self-extracting archive that contains the Queue script and its Help file. Extract the files into the \queues sub-folder in your QFX program folder (usually c:\qfx\queues).

Creating Photo Packages for Printing

If you have ever had your picture taken for your school yearbook, you know that portrait photographers often offer several different packages of prints from the image you select, such as two 5 x 7 prints or eight wallet size prints. These packages are designed to be economical for the photographer to produce and attractive in price to the customer. This is because several copies of the same image are printed on a single sheet of standard size paper.

We have created a Queue script that automates all the steps required to produce these print package layouts from your digital images. This script lets you select from several popular package layouts, set the border size and other options as well as select the cropping of the original. The script automatically creates a single composite image ready to print to your printer. Also included is complete documentation on using the script available by clicking the Help button in the script dialog.

Download the Package and Print Queue script (requires QFX 8 or later).

Note: This is a self-extracting archive that contains the Queue script and its Help file. Extract the files into the \queues sub-folder in your QFX program folder (usually c:\qfx\queues).

Adding Watermark Text to Images

Adding a watermark to an image lets you protect your rights in the image yet not obscure the image so much that it cannot be viewed and evaluated by potential clients. We have created a Queue script to automate adding watermark text to any image in QFX. The script automatically selects the appropriate font size and location for the text, although you can specify these yourself in the Form dialog displayed by the script. Furthermore you can select the color and transparency of the text or select to create a blind emboss watermark.

Watermarked Image

Download the Watermark Queue script. This script requires QFX 8 or later and works best with QFX 8.06 or better. If you have a lesser version of QFX 8, you can get a free update to the latest version of QFX by clicking here.

Note: This file is the Queue script itself. Just copy it into the \queues sub-folder in your QFX program folder (usually c:\qfx\queues).

Straightening Images

Did you ever scan an image and get it crooked? Or did you shoot something with your camera and not hold it quite level? In either case you need to straighten the image so it looks right. Since we run into this problem all the time, we decided that maybe QFX should have a feature to do this in one simple step. As we began the think out the steps required to do this it dawned on us that we could do all this using a Queue script. So we did just that!

The script is simple to use. Just open or scan an image, run the Queue script, align the cropping rectangle in the image and click the Resume button in the message box and you are done. QFX crops and rotates the image automatically. The steps are illustrated below:




Open or scan an image.
Oops, its crooked!
Run the script and align the cropping rectangle. Click Resume in the message box and QFX does the rest!

Download the Crop and Rotate Queue script. This script requires QFX 8 or later.

Note: This file is the Queue script itself. Just copy it into the \queues sub-folder in your QFX program folder (usually c:\qfx\queues).

 


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