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Transparent GIFs and Drop Shadows

Paint Shop Pro from Jasc Software, Inc. is a wonderful shareware tool for building graphics to use on your Web pages. Two of the more commonly used graphic effects are transparent GIFs and drop shadows. I'll detail here how to use PSP to create each of these techniques.

Making a GIF transparent allows the background to become invisible so the graphic will display as you want it even if your guest has overridden your page background color in their browser. Let's see how it's done.

Figure 1 below is a non-transparent GIF with a green background. Give your image a background that is a bright, solid color (avoid black or white). Select the dropper tool and right-click on the color in the image you would like to make transparent. This defines it as the background color. Select File and Save As. In the Save As Type field, choose GIF - CompuServe; in the Sub Type field, select 89a, either interlaced or noninterlaced. Now select Options and be sure that the Set the Transparency Value to the Background Color box is checked. Figure 2 is the result.

PSP Tip Figure 1
Figure 1

PSP Tip Figure 2
Figure 2

PSP Tip Figure 3
Figure 3

While not as popular today as last year, drop shadows are still an attractive graphics effect. Create a selection area using the Selection or Magic Wand tool. To open the Drop Shadow Parameters dialog box, choose Image, Special Effects, and Add Drop Shadow. If the option is grayed out, it means that your image is not a 24-bit color image or a 256-shaded grayscale image. Choose the settings for your shadow color, opacity level, blur, and offset adjustment. To apply the shadow, click on OK. If you like what you've created, right-click on the selection area to deselect it. If you want to try again, choose Edit, then Undo (or Ctrl-Z). And the result is seen in Figure 3 above.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. Let me know what you think.


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