How to Include Images in Your Messages

Including a picture with your message or classified ad requires 2 things:

(1) a computer file, in either GIF or JPEG format, saved on your hard disk, and

(2) the addition of a formatting tag in your message. (All formatting tags are explained under the Documentation menu, under the Formatting topic.)

The formatting tag you need to add to your message is the following:

\image{Text description}

You need to use a separate "image" tag for each picture you want to include. So, if you want to upload three images, your message might look something like this:


Place the "image" tags in the body of your message, wherever you want the picture to appear.

NOTE: you can put any text you like between the curly braces to remind you of the image intended for this spot (because you can put multiple images in a message, you need someway to keep track of them). However, do NOT use "special" characters. such as $,*, @ or other html-like codes.

When you are done with our message, press the Preview/Post Message button, as usual. In the next screen, you'll get a chance to proofread your message. However, you'll only see a placeholder graphic like this:

where your picture is supposed to be. Don't worry, everything is working just fine.

After you proofread and make any changes to your message, press the Post this Message button and you'll get another screen entitled the Image/Attachment Upload Form. This will contain a textbox for each image you included in your message, for you to enter the location of the image on your computer. To accomplish this, press the Browse button and then use the Upload File dialog box to navigate to the drive and folder where you image is, select the image file and press OK.

You should be back at the Image/Attachment Upload Form and the textbox will contain the path to the image file. Press the Upload button, your message will be processed and the image uploaded.

Your web browser must support form-based file uploading, most modern web broswers do. (Note: Netscape Navigator 2.0+ and Internet Explorer 4.0+ support this; IE 3.02 will also work provided that you have installed the file upload patch).

That's all there is to it.

How to Prepare Pictures for Viewing on the Internet

Size is a very important factor when it comes to uploading pictures to be viewed on the WWW. In order to control the size of your image files you'll need the assistance of a bitmap editing program. There are some very good one's available as commercial software such as Adobe's PhotoShop, or Corel's PhotoPaint (there are other commercial and shareware bitmap editors). You can also find shareware and free bitmap editors such as Faststone Image Viewer and IrfanView (these are Windows only).

Whether the images are traditional pictures that were scanned into a computer or taken with a digital camera, you're probably going to have to change the physical size and possibly the DPI setting of the images. This is sometimes referred to as resampling.

As a goal, try to keep your images under 50k. Here are some guidelines for settings.

1. Usually, change the DPI setting to 72 (more than 96 is a waste).
2. Resize using Pixels as your measurement system.
3. Use the cropping tools to remove all extra image area.
4. Try resizing images to a height of 500 to 600 pixels.
5. Save as JPEG file format (RGB mode, not CMYK mode), using a low or medium compression setting. 6. Save images in GIF file format only as a last resort.

Step-by-step Tutorial Using Faststone Image Viewer

This detailed tutorial walks you through processing digital images to make them suitable for uploading to the ICW Discussion Board.

The first thing you need to do is download the latest version of FastStone Image Viewer. Here's the link to their website:

Save the Setup.exe file to your hard drive and then double-click it to lauch the Setup application. Setup asks for a location to install itself. The first time you run Image Viewer it will display the Settings box with a bunch of tabs. The defaults are pretty good, but you can look at all the settings that are available. As you use the program the options will make more sense.

When you dismiss the Settings box, you be shown the Mouse & Keyboard Use Help file. I suggest reading this, as the interface is not "Windows Standard". The most important thing to remember is that in Full-screen mode, menus and palettes will pop up when your mouse cursor is moved to each edge of the screen. Close the Help screen when you're ready to proceed.

The Image Viewer application has a Directory Tree structure on the left side, similar to Microsoft's Explorer. Use it to move around your computer to find image files. The right side of the screen is a Thumbnail area which shows any image files that are in the folder you have seleted in the Directory Tree. A Preview window underneath the Directory Tree previews whichever image files is selected in the Thumbnail area. Click and hold the mouse button in the Preview area and the size of the preview will be magnified by a setting you can change in the Settings dialog. Hold the mouse button down and move around to see other portions of the image, magnified.

The most common processes to perform on images destined for the ICW forum are: cropping, resizing/resampling, and Saving as a compressed JPEG. Other useful, but less often used, processes include: tweaking contrast, brightness, or gamma levels and sharpening. Let's start with the common processes, first.

Full-screen Mode
Use the directory tree to find a photo you want process. Double-click it's thumbnail to enter Full-screen mode, it's easier to work on images this way. The screen turns black, except for your image. Slide the mouse to the left edge of the screen. If you get a dialog, read it and close it. A palette of features should appear.

Select Crop Board and a dialog, containing a smaller version of your image, will appear (in the future you can press the X key rather than accessing the left side menu.) Using the mouse, drag a selection rectangle in the Crop Board window. Don't worry too much about the shape and size; release the mouse. Now use the square boxes on the corners and sides of the selection rectangle to fine-tune the cropping box. Crop out as much extraneous image content, as possible. When you are satisfied, press the Crop button. Presto, your image is cropped! If you don't like what you've done, press Crtl+Z and start again.

Go to the left side menu and select Resize/Resample (Ctrl+R). When the dialog appears, you'll be able to see the Original Size of the image in pixels, at the top. Anything you do in the lower sections of the dialog will be reflected, at the top, in the New Size area. Start out by making a picture no wider than 600 pixels wide by 500 pixels high. Once you get use to resizing, you'll be able to better tell how images will look when posted on the forum. Most of the time, I use the Percent area and enter 50, 33 or 25% in, check the New Size to see the results and adjust, if necessary. NOTE: Make sure the Preserve Aspect Ratio, at the bottom of the dialog is turned ON. Otherwise, you'll create distorted images. When you're ready, press OK button. If you don't like what you've done, press Crtl+Z and start again.

Save As Compressed JPEG
This is a very important step in creating files that are small and compact (remember that 50k is the size limit for image uploads on the forum). Go to the left side palette and select Save As (Ctrl+S). Use the Save As dialog box to navigate to a place where you will save your processed images. Enter a name for your new file in the Object name text box and make sure that JPEG Bitmap (JPG) is selected in the Save as type text box. Press the Advanced button and the Parameters Preview dalog will appear; this is where you set the compression quality level to "squeeze" the file down to size. If you don't like what you've done, press Crtl+Z and start again.

First notice the Original files size, New file size and Lock Preview settings in the lower left of the dialog. You MUST turn on the Lock Preview setting! Now any changes you make in the Quality slider control will be reflected in the New file size readout. Your task is to move the Quality slider to the left until the New file size reads 50k (or less).  When you are ready, press the OK button and then press the Save button in the Save As dialog.

Press the ESC key to exit Full-screen mode. If you want to process more images while in Full-screen mode, move the cursor to the top edge of the screen and a palette with thumnails contained in the current directory will appear. You can scroll through and pick whatever image to work on next. Move the cursor to the right edge of the screen for another pop up palette of settings. Move te mouse to the bottom-right edge displays the Windows task bar to jump to other program; to the lower-left displays a menu bar of useful features.

How to Link Other Pages or Images on the Internet
You can also include a link to any web page or image that is on the WWW. This also requires a special formatting tag. There are 3 variations of this tag. The main one is:

\link{URL, text description}

Make sure that you add a comma after the URL portion of the tag and then add any words you want to describe what's on the linked page. Then press the Post/Preview Message button.

Here's a sample URL that would get you to the home page of Ibanez Collectors World:

this one gets you to a specific image on the home page of Ibanez Collectors World"

Refer to the Documentation/Formatting section entitled: Hyperlink for a description of the other variations of the linking tags.