So You Want A Transparent Image, Huh?

By Joe Burns

     I get letters all the time asking how to make parts of an image "invisible" or transparent. So many times someone puts an image on the his or her page and it looks great until the background comes in. Then the little icon reveals itself to actually be square rather than round. Oh, the humanity!
     Yet on some pages, you can see right through the image to the background. I used to think the person went in with an image program and simply cut holes with the crop command. Don't laugh... it seems plausible.

What Is Actually Happening

     There is no cropping going on at all. The person who provides a transparent image has simply run the gif (yes, it has to be a gif) through a transparency program, highlighted what he/she wanted transparent, and saved the image again in a special format called "GIF89a".

Here's Neil Murphy's
     It's named GIF89a because the GIF format was standardized in 1989. The Transparency was the second part of the list of standards, thus the "a".

Where Do I Get a Transparency Program?

     There are a ton of them on the Net. You can search Yahoo for "transparent". There you'll be able to surf for a program or two.
     I'm sure all the programs that come up are good, and I couldn't possibly attempt to explain how they all work right here, so I'll only go over two: Paint Shop Pro and LView Pro. I use them both.

Paint Shop Pro LView Pro
Grab the Program Here Grab the Program Here
Transparency Tutorial
...by Jason Aultz
Transparency Tutorial

So go and make your own transparent GIFs... you have the power.



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