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Lesson 1. Preparing Graphics > Composing with Digital Photos

Composing with Digital Photos

The second image you need to create is an ad with a photo. Because the ad mixes text and a photograph, you'll have to design both elements carefully to ensure that they don't compete with one another.

Open banana.jpg, located in the Lesson01/Start folder on the CD.

This stock photograph was purchased from Photodisc. Attractive graphics are usually created out of high-quality source elements, such as this photograph of a banana.

The ad eventually will have text over it. But if you add text now, it will be hard to read: There would be too much competition with the banana photo. In the next several steps, you will force the banana into the background of the image; it is still visible, but is not overwhelming.

The first technique you'll use is a mask. A mask is when one image or shape is used to reveal another. For example, in the screenshot below, the letter B is used to mask the banana photograph.

You'll use a rectangle with feathered edges to reveal the center of the banana—and make it fade out around its edges.

Select the Rectangle tool. Use the Fill Color box in the Colors section of the Tools panel to set the Fill Color to white (hexadecimal #FFFFFF). Make sure the Stroke is set to Transparent.

Masks use up to 256 shades of gray to show/hide the masked object. A black mask fully hides the masked object; a white mask fully reveals the masked object; and a gray mask partially reveals the underlying object. By specifying that the rectangle should be white, you are ensuring that everything beneath it (once it is designated as a mask) will be fully visible.

Draw a rectangle over the banana, as shown in the screenshot.

Of course, the rectangle is still a just a rectangle—it is not yet a mask.

With the rectangle still selected, in the Edge drop-down in the Fill section of the Property inspector, change the Edge to Feathered and the amount to 25.

The rectangle now has fuzzy edges, which will result in a nice gradual effect when it's converted to a mask.

Hold down the Shift key, and click the banana photo.

At this point, both the rectangle and the photo should be selected.

Choose Modify > Mask > Group as Mask.

The rectangle now reveals the banana photo wherever it overlaps the photo.


Fireworks lets you create both vector or bitmap masks. This is a vector mask, because the masking object is a vector rectangle. However, you can create dramatic mask effects by using one bitmap to mask another. Since Fireworks has 256 shades of masking, a bitmap used as a mask can create interesting compositional effects.

The background now has a checkerboard pattern. Fireworks indicates a transparent background using a checkerboard pattern. You actually want a white background.

Choose Select > Deselect. In the Property inspector, use the Canvas Color box to change the canvas color from transparent (red slash) to white.

The checkerboard pattern disappears, and the background is now simply white.

Click to select the mask, and use the Property inspector to lower its opacity to 75 percent.

By lowering the opacity, you further fade the banana photo into the background.

Press and hold the Blur tool, until a submenu appears. From this submenu, select the Dodge tool. In the Property inspector, change the Size setting to 26.

The Dodge tool is a bitmap editing tool that lets you “paint” pixels lighter. You'll use the Dodge tool to fade the banana a little more, without further degrading the quality of the photograph.

The default size, 13, is a little too small. By increasing the brush size to 26, you'll be able to apply the effect more quickly and evenly.

Press and drag across the image, until it has all lightened a small amount.

When you are done, the banana photograph will be faded a little more—enough that you can put text in front of it. And yet, much of the banana's original appeal is still visible.



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