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Getting & Using Images

Joe Old

Importance and uses of images:
The three basic things that make the WWW so valuable are text, links, and images. This unit will deal with images in two ways, making your own and capturing those on the web. At the basic level, images make your pages more interesting, but they can also convey important information.

Taking photos with a digital camera is easy, and the images can be added to web pages. Here is a picture of me in the Northwest Campus Library at El Paso Community College, where I teach. Photos can be easily modified and placed where you need them. Here, to the right, is the same photo cropped.
You can also easily make charts and tables to illustrate points. Below are two graphics I made with a simple program that comes installed on most new computers. Both are for a course I teach in World History. The first is to illustrate the various forces that an emperor in China might have to deal with. The second is intended to illustrate one of Plato's concepts of government.
Such graphics can be made in just a few minutes in Paint, one of the simplest programs to use -- and one of the most powerful. Almost all of the images in this module were made originally in Paint. Below is the graphic to illustrate Plato's concept of government.

To see the handout as a web document


Be sure to use the "Back" button on your browser to return.

The handout was originally made in Word and converted to a web page in Word.

I made the image to the left to add to a handout after seeing something like it in Bertrand Russell's book, Wisdom of the West. The graphic was put into a web page that is suitable for uploading. Students can either view it online or print it out should they want a hard copy of it.

Getting images by making them:
Whenever I can, I like to make my own images instead of using images that are prepackaged. You can make your own images with a camera or with a simple art program such as the one I mentioned above. An important thing to remember is that in order to be able to use images on web pages, they should be saved in a web-friendly format. The two most popular at JPEG and GIF. These terms needn't alarm you. They are "SAVE AS" options in program that process images.

If a digital camera does not allow you to save images in these formats, simply open them in Paint and convert them to the JPEG or GIF formats. They are then ready to use. JPEG and GIF are formats for storing images. The JPEG format provides a sharper image, but GIF images are smaller. Neither takes up much room, which is a big consideration when having to transport images or store them on the web. To illustrate the difference, here is the file size of the "Forces in Politics" graphic above. I created it in the default format (called "bitmap") of the Paint program. It's wonderfully sharp, but the files are enormous. See for yourself:


Original (bitmap):



1,353,000 bytes

68,000 bytes

19,000 bytes


In the bitmap format, you could store only one of these images on a 3.5-inch diskette (which holds about 1.5 million bytes, which is to say 1.5 megabytes). In the other formats, you can store many more images. And because they are smaller files, they open faster on your web pages.

You can also use Paint to make images. The program is usually installed under "Accessories" on the "All Programs" list accessed with the Windows "Start" button. The various tools for creating images are icons for drawing lines, making squares, circles, and irregular shapes, for adding color, and for manipulating the image. It's a very easy program to become familiar with, and you can learn it by opening it and just beginning to "tinker." The exercise associated with this chapter will help make you familiar with it.

I have created two sets of graphic images as examples. One is on the page titled "Image Table," which is mostly pictorial images. Some, as you can see are more successful than others. All were done with the Paint program and drawing with the mouse. On the "Instructional Graphics" page, I have placed some graphics I designed with the same program to convey conceptual material.

The directions in the exercise will walk you through how to make such images.

Scanning materials:
There is yet another way to get images, if you have a scanner available, and that it is to scan them. I am currently teaching a history course, and almost every day bring new images to class. In the first ten weeks of the semester, I probably scanned 300 images. I am able to supplement my lectures and illustrate them with concrete images. These include maps, photographs, pictures of art objects, illustrations, drawings, images from periodicals etc. The possibilities are endless!

New scanners are so simple that almost anyone can quickly create images that can adorn web pages or PowerPoint productions. Many computer labs have scanners for use by clients. If you don't know how to scan images now, ask someone to show you how. It's easy. Just remember to save them in the .JPEG or .GIF format.

"Harvesting" graphics from the web for use in classes:
The WWW is chock full of graphics. And while you must have permission to use such graphics for pages that are posted for public consumption or for instructional materials that you plan to sell, there is a "fair use" provision in copyright laws that allow you to use such materials in a classroom setting.
I use such materials in my classes all the time.

The nice thing about the web is that such materials are easy to access. I sometimes build web pages that I store on my desktop and use only in the classroom (with a LCD projector or monitor large enough for the class to see. When I harvest such materials off the web, I always create a "Source" link right next to the image. If I have Internet access when I display the page, I can go to the original site. It also has the added benefit of giving credit to those who created the site.

Such images are easily harvested from the web. All you have to do is put the cursor on the image, right click on the mouse, and follow the directions for saving the item in an appropriate folder. You will get practice in doing this in the exercise for this chapter.

Because of recent concern over intellectual property restrictions, especially the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act," it's a good idea to become familiar with the restrictions. Stanford University has a superb discussion of current US law with respect to these matters on its web site called "Copyright and Fair Use." Of interest in this short course is the section titled "Proposed Educational Guidelines for Fair Use." Section 2 is particularly relevant, as it deals with "Proposed Guidelines for Using Digitized Images in Lectures, Scholarly Presentations, or Publications."

Using the images:
You can see in the various pages of this module that I have used images from time to time. Any program that allows you to build a web page will also allow you to insert images. Some programs give you more control over image placement and manipulation than others. However, it's reasonably easy. Most of the time, all that is involved is placing the cursor on the page and clicking on the con (on a toolbar) for "Image" or "Images," navigating to the images and inserting them into the page. Some programs allow you more control over image placement than others. And while you may not have total control over placement, you can still create an attractive page within the limits of the program. You will practice this in the exercise for this class..

There are many ways of acquiring images to add to web pages: using the digital camera, creating your own in a simple program such as Paint, and harvesting them from the WWW. As long as you observe "fair use" standards and use web images only for classroom purposes, you should have no problems with copyrighted material. (You should, however, review the guidelines and observe the restrictions.)

(If you can get permission from those who created it, that's even better. Often a web page has a source to contact about the page. I would start there in my quest for permission. You can avoid all that hassle by creating your own images. As for the images in this module, you may use any of them that you think might be helpful. I will tell you from personal experience, however, that it's a lot more fun to create your own.)