Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to edit images for Magellan buttons

When I started modifying Magellan's toolbar for Icaros Desktop 2.2, I stumbled upon a very puzzling issue: what program should have I used for that? I've never been into artistry making or picture editing back in my Amiga days, so I've never been accustomed to all those mythic applications like Deluxe Paint, Personal Paint or TV Paint (I am still including the latter in Icaros, though), because I started photo editing some years later on my office's Mac, with Photoshop. I've been using this, along with GIMP and other programs, on PC as well, for many many years now, and with very little surprise I found that most of them are totally unable to open Magellan's 256-colors IFF-ILBM icons. So I made the big mistake: doing on my own. Had I asked on Aros-Exec, I would have spared much, much time. Later I will explain why.

I needed some tool to convert IFF images into PNG ones, which are easier to accept in nowadays PC world. So I went for IrfanView's batch conversion and placed all Amikit's icons (which I still use under kind permission) into a cosy Windows 10 folder, and started editing them. They originally were 40x32 rectangles which I needed to make wider and lower, exactly 80x24. No problems for icon contents, since their images were placed in the exact middle of the original canvas, and they are 24 pixel tall, with 4 pixel of upper and lower border. For what I had in mind, I simply didn't need those horizontal borders, so I could easily cut them with Phostoshop's canvas resize option. With the text tool I added captions to the right and exported them back to PNG format.

Now, a new question arose: what should I have done, to bring 'em back to their original IFF nature? No PC program I knew was able to do that. IrfanView could read IFF but not save it. Photoshop and other less expensive editors neither. So I went for the Amiga route, loading PNG images in TV Paint and saving them in IFF. For some reason, however, images that were supposed to be indexed colors were treated as 24 bit ones, so the resulting buttons had very ugly and pointless dithering here and there, forcing me to pixel-edit every button a second time. In the end I got my button almost as like as I wanted them, but the results didn't catch me.

And I fixed the big mistake. I asked on Aros-Exec, where wawa pointed me to the right solution: use GrafX2. Directly under Icaros Desktop.

I opened back again my original PNG images with GrafX2, checked for their palette, saved them into IFF-ILBM files and used them straight into Magellan. So, in the end, if you ever need to edit old IFF images on Icaros, just use GrafX2 to do that. It's the best solution. Really.

Nothing is better than GrafX2 for jobs like this!