All the ins and outs, dos and don't's of making a Signature Tag.
What's a Signature Tag? It's a graphic expression of you. Mostly it's your name and you use it to sign your posts on a board or in email. But it can be so much more than that depending on your taste and ability.
For this tutorial we will make two tags. One solid and one transparent.
What you will need:
PhotoImpact Version 8 or higher
Before we begin, let's take a minute and discuss "sig tags". As I stated above a signature tag can be used on a Bulletin board or in email to sign your posts. But they can also be used to express yourself. Notice in my examples above the words in blue "So Nice!", they could just have easily said "Thank You" or "Sorry".
Because they are graphic in nature, they often take time to load and slow things down on Bulletin Boards. Consequently most boards have rules governing their use. In most cases it works this way. Add Height plus the Width in pixels of your tag. The total should not exceed 250 pixels. Now that doesn't sound like you have a lot of room to work with, but you do. And yes, each of the five in my example above meets that criteria. Below is an example of just four sizes, each adding up to 250 pixels.
Sig Tags offer a lot of room to express yourself and show off your skills using PhotoImpact. They can have a background, or be transparent. They can use fancy fonts and any kind of decoration. You could use a path shape as the background, or your favorite texture, fill or gradient. You might also create a bevelled edge implying a frame.
This tutorial is written for use in the Beginner's Workshop for PhotoImpact and assumes that what you create will be used on our board or one of our "Sister" community Boards. So size will be a factor.
Let's make a Tag...
For this first one we'll make a tag with a solid rectangular background.
Open a new blank RGB canvas 175 wide by 75 high.
Go to Edit/Flood Fill and choose a nice soft multi-color Gradient. Or you could choose one from your Easy Palette's Fill Gallery. I like blue and chose mine from the Easy Palette.
Grab your Text tool so you can put your name on your tag.
♦ Color should show up on your background, but not clash with it.
♦ Size should be at least 32 pixels. (we will adjust this later)
♦ Style can be Bold or Italic if you choose.
♦ No Shadow or Border.
Click in your tag canvas and type your first name, then click again anywhere to end the text entry. Don't worry if your name runs off to the left or right or isn't centered on the tag. We'll fix that next.
As you can see, I used Comic Sans and black. My name is over to the left edge and is partially cut off. To fix this grab your Pick Tool and click on your name if it's not still active. Now click the icon for Align Both . Or right click your name and choose Align/Center Both.
You now have a basic sig tag. It's a bit plain at this point. You can easily decorate it any way you like. You could add a Stamp, you could use Paint On Edges to make it look like it's framed softly. You could fill the background with something from the Easy Palette's Fill Gallery. It's up to you. Then to Save it for use,right click and choose Image Optimizer. Save as .gif and it's ready to use. Why a gif? Because text looks better when optimized in this format and you want your name to look nice.
Let's make another tag...
This time let's make a Text only tag with a transparent background.
Why make it transparent? Well so that the color or image on your Page, board or email background will show through around the edges of the letters instead of a plain white box. Look at the side by side comparison on the right here. Doesn't the one on the left look nicer on our board's green background?
Open a new blank canvas 500x200 pixels in size. Be sure that it's in RGB format and has a white background. Although we could work on a transparent background, we can see what we are doing better on the white one. And yes the size is large. This is just to give you room to work.
Using your Text tool choose your favorite chunky font and set it up as follows:
♦Color - your choice, it could also be a texture or a gradient. Just as long as your name will be readable. You might want to consider what color the board is where you are going to use it. You wouldn't want it to clash!
♦Size about 48 pixels (we might need to adjust this later)
♦No Border or Shadow
Now type your name and click away from it to complete your text entry. If you don't like it you can change it by clicking on it to make it active again. You can change the color, the size of the text, bold or italic...etc. Or you might want to change the font. Fonts are strange. They may say they are the same size, but aren't really. Some are very small others large. If yours is large or your name is long you may have trouble getting it to a size acceptable for use on a board. Now is the time to adjust. See my examples on the right...they are both set up as in step 2. Big difference isn't there?
Now with the Text and the text tool active let's add a small shadow. Shadow can make something flat stand off from the background and implies dimension. But we don't want to use the default settings for text, it's much to heavy and may seem to take on a life of it's own.
Depending on your version of PI you can either click the box to the right of the word Shadow on your attributes toolbar, or you can right click the text and choose Shadow from the menu.
Set up your shadow this way:
♦Tick the Box next to the word Shadow.
♦Leave the shadow location at down and to the right
♦change the X value to 1
♦Change the Y value to 1
♦Change Soft Edge to 2
♦Click OK to finish.
Not a whole lot of shadow there, but it's not flat either.
Now we need to be sure that your name is the correct size. So click to activate it and drag it from the large canvas to the workspace. A new blank canvas will form around it. At the top of it you can easily see what the new size in pixels. Remember to add the Height + the Width to determine it's size. If it's under 250 you are in good shape, if not, you need to change the size of your text to make it a bit smaller.
Time to save and optimize as a .gif. This time we are going to do this a bit differently. Since we want it to come out without that white box behind it.
Click on your text to make it active, now right click it and choose Image Optimizer. You may or may not get a pop-up asking if you want to save as transparent. If you do, click yes. You might get one asking if you want to save as selected object or entire image. You want to choose Selected Object. This only happens if your text is selected. If you don't get it, cancel and select the text and start again. (This varies between versions)
But now we have a problem. We want the text to be transparent, but if you look closely you can see a white border around it in the comparison windows. That will be a mess on a colored background.
Notice that there are three tab choices below the comparison windows. They are Mask Options, Gif Options and Palette. Gif Options is most likely selected. Click on the Tab for Mask Options.
Now stop for a minute and open your Browser and go to the Board you are making your tag for. In this case I will assume you are going to use it on the Beginner's Workshop Board. Click on Profile and then Summary on the top of the left menu of choices. This will show what your profile looks like to anyone who wants to know more about you. It also has our board's nice green color showing.
Drag this window over to the left of your screen and have PI open to the right of it.
Ok, now let's fix that white mess. Right click in the white box to the right of the word Matte. From the color picker pop up choose "Color On Screen" and go click on the nice green color behind your profile in your browser. Note that the first color you click on is the one you will get. So do it over if you don't get it right the first time.
Now just click Save and name your tag. Because this is going to be used on a Board, please make sure you don't include any spaces in your filename. Using your tag on a board isn't as simple as uploading it like you can your Avatar.
It has to be in that text entry box in your profile where it says Signature. To post on Boards you will need to upload it to the web and then "hot-link" to it. Sounds complicated, but it's not that bad.
Using your FTP program upload your sigtag to your BW Webspace and we can set up your Signature on our own Board.
Go to your Profile. On the left Menu choose Forum Profile Information. Now scroll down on the right until you see the Signature area. In that empty gold bordered box we are going to enter a snippet of HTML code, the link to your tag. Do NOT type in what you see in my example. That will put my tag in your profile!
Start by typing a left bracket. This is the unshifted key just to the right of the letter 'P'. Then continue with no spaces to type what you see below. Replacing "yourspacename" with the name you chose when you applied for space earlier in this project. I repeat, no spaces between words or symbols or it won't work.
Now go down to the bottom of the page and click the Change Profile button.
To find out if you were successful click on Summary in the Menu on the Left. You should see your new sigtag at the bottom of the page.
If it didn't work you will see the dreaded "red X" instead...
All this means is that there is an error in the filename. You may have made a typographical error when you typed it in, or it doesn't match the name of the actual file you uploaded. You can check that easily by opening your FTP program and loggin into your webspace. Then you can see what the correct name is of the tag you uploaded. Don't forget the .gif file extension. Also make sure you used the correct brackets. They are the squared off ones next to the Letter P and are typed unshifted. [ ]
Congratulations, you now have a couple ofo nice basic graphic signature tags that can automatically be entered each time you post or reply on the BW Board.
But you just joined two new boards.... Using your tag on them will work similarly to how ours does. But the boards have different color schemes and they often change them for holidays and seasons. You might want to save your tag again following Steps 8 & 9 with each of the other boards open in your browser to make them work there. Or you could use your solid tag created earlier in this tutorial.
The tags you created in this tutorial are very basic. There's a great deal more you can do with them. For the Text only tag, you could use a bend or wrap, you could also make the text 3D and have a whole new look. There are lots of techniques and ideas in other tutorials that can easily be used in Sigtags too. I leave it to you to try them and express yourself.