You can improve your step-by-step instructions by enhancing your screen shots with Microsoft Paint. Microsoft Paint is a simple drawing tool that you probably already have on your computer. If you have a Windows operating system, complete the following steps:
- Click the Windows Start button.
- If you are using Windows XP, click the All Programs menu item.
- Click the Accessories menu.
- Click the Paint menu item. As depicted in the following screen shot, Windows will launch Paint with a blank canvas:
Let's say you're creating a project to show your friends all the cool features in Windows Media Player. You'll want to capture images for your project, but don't worry if you don't have screen capture software, such as FullShot or SnagIt. You can easily take your screen shots by completing the following steps:
- While the Windows Media Player is displayed on-screen, press the Print Screen key on your keyboard to take a snapshot of your screen.
- Open Paint.
- Press the Ctrl key and the letter V key (Ctrl + V). The screen capture will be pasted onto your canvas with a dashed line around the edges. Notice that you have captured not only the Windows Media Player, but also your entire desktop. This is no problem - see the next step.
- Simply drag the image toward the upper-left corner until you've isolated the top and left portions of your Windows Media Player image as shown in the following screen shot:
- Click in the white space to the right of your image to set your new image borders. The dashed line around your image will now disappear.
- Click and hold one of the resize handles (the little blue square dots at the bottom, right, and corner edges of your image) as you drag the current border of the picture to the desired bottom and right edges of the Windows Media Player border.
NOTE: If you are having trouble viewing the resize handles, you may increase the view by clicking the View menu > Zoom > Large Size; however, you cannot effectively resize the borders at this view, so you may need to switch back to the normal view.
Now that you have the image you want, you can enhance your image by pointing out some of the features.
- Drag the corner resize handle so that you have white space below and to the right of the image. This will give you room to work and to place arrows, text, or whatever you choose.
- To increase the view so that you can work with small areas, complete the following steps:
a. Click the View menu.
b. Click the Zoom menu item.
c. Click the Large Size menu item to increase your view to 400% or click the Custom menu item to specify the view. If you click the Custom menu item, Paint will display the following window with percentage options:
Click the appropriate option, and then click the OK button.
- Click the Line tool to select the correct size. The Line tool looks like a back slash: . Paint will display a line-width selection tool:
- Click the appropriate width. I generally prefer to start in the middle and, if necessary, make adjustments from there.
- Click the appropriate color in the color palette. The color palette is a collection of color options, as pictured in the following image:
To the left of the color palette, Paint displays two overlapping color boxes. The top box contains the current foreground color and the bottom box contains the current background color.
- Click the Ellipse tool, which looks like a small oval:
- Drag the Ellipse tool from the upper left corner of the area you want to circle to the lower right corner. Getting the hang of this may take some practice. If you make a mistake, simply press the Ctrl + Y keys to undo it and start over.
Notice in the above image that the red circle stands out a bit, but to really enhance the image, I'm going to add an arrow and a text box. To create an arrow, you could draw it free-hand, but I find that I get nicer arrows using the following procedure:
- Open a Microsoft Word document.
- Click the Insert menu.
- Click the Symbol menu. Word will display the Symbol dialog:
- Click the arrow button to the right of the Font field on the Symbols tab. Word will display a drop-down menu of options.
- Click the Wingdings 3 menu option. As you can see in the above screen shot, this option provides a nice assortment of arrows, but feel free to search other options if you’d like.
- Click the arrow that you want to insert so that it appears highlighted.
- Click the Insert button. Word will insert the arrow into your new document.
- Click the Close button to close the Symbol dialog.
- Highlight your arrow.
- Click the arrow button to the right of the Font Size field in Word. Word will display a drop-down menu of options.
- Click a much larger font size to get the appropriate arrow size for your image.
- Once you have gotten the correct size, highlight the arrow and press the Ctrl + C keys. This will copy your arrow to the clipboard.
- Go back to your image in Paint.
- Press the Ctrl + V keys to paste your arrow into Paint.
- Drag your arrow to the white space at the bottom of the image, as shown in the following screen shot:
- Click the red color box in the color palette.
- Click the Fill With Color tool, which looks like a paint bucket:
- Click inside the arrow with the Fill With Color tool. Your arrow will be red.
- Now click the Select tool, with looks like a rectangle made of dashed lines:
- Select the arrow by dragging the Select tool from one corner of the arrow to the opposite corner. You should see a dashed line around the arrow, as pictured in the following screen shot:
- Once the arrow is selected, click the Transparent option, which is the bottom option of the two image selection options. See the following screen shot:
- Drag the arrow to the desired location, and feel free to overlap your main image.
To add text, complete the following steps:
- Click the Text tool, which looks like the letter A:
- Use the Text tool to draw a box in the white space at the bottom of the window. Paint will display a text toolbar:
- Click the appropriate options for the font you want to use in your image.
- Click in your text box at the bottom of the window and type your message. Remember, you can change the color of your font using the color palette.
To add a text box, complete the following steps:
- Click the appropriate color in the color palette.
- Click the Rounded Rectangle tool, which looks like a rectangle with rounded corners:
- Drag the Rounded Rectangle tool around the text.
- Click the Select tool.
Select and drag your new text box under the arrow. See the following screen shot:
Repeat the previous steps to add other arrows and text boxes to your image. Once you have finished enhancing your image, you can use the resize handles to remove some of the extra white space around your image.
Easy, huh? Experiment with different images, colors and tools, and you’ll be a Paint pro in no time!