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Image Editor

This document describes how to work with the Visual Studio Image Editor to view and modify texture and image resources.

You can use the Image Editor to work with the kinds of rich texture and image formats that are used in DirectX app development—this includes support for popular image file formats and color encodings, features such as alpha-channels and MIP-mapping, and many of the highly-compressed, hardware-accelerated texture formats that DirectX supports.

The Image Editor supports these image formats:

Format name

File Name Extension

Portable Network Graphics

.png

JPEG

.jpg, .jpeg, .jpe, .jfif

Direct Draw Surface

.dds

Graphics Interchange Format

.gif

Bitmap

.bmp, .dib

Tagged Image File Format

.tif, .tiff

TGA (Targa)

.tga

This section describes how to add an image to your Visual Studio project and configure it for your requirements.

To add an image to your project

  1. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the project that you want to add the image to, and then choose Add, New Item.

  2. In the Add New Item dialog box, under Installed, select Graphics, and then select an appropriate file format for the image. For information about how to choose a file format based on your requirements, see the following section.

  3. Specify the Name of the image file, and the Location where you want it to be created.

  4. Choose the Add button.

Depending on how you plan to use the image, certain file formats might be more appropriate than others. For example, some formats might not support a feature that you need—like transparency or a specific color format—or might not provide suitable compression for the kind of image content you have planned.

The following information can help you choose an image format that meets your needs.

Bitmap Image (.bmp)

The bitmap image format. An uncompressed image format that supports 24-bit color. The bitmap format doesn't support transparency.

GIF Image (.gif)

The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) image format. An LZW-compressed, lossless image format that supports up to 256 colors. Unsuitable for photographs and images that have a significant amount of color detail, but provides good compression ratios for low-color images that have a high degree of color coherence.

JPG Image (.jpg)

The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) image format. A highly-compressed, lossy image format that supports 24-bit color and is suitable for general-purpose compression of images that have a high degree of color coherence.

PNG Image (.png)

The Portable Network Graphics (PNG) image format. A moderately-compressed, lossless image format that supports 24-bit color and alpha transparency. It is suitable for both natural and artificial images, but does not provide compression ratios as good as lossy formats such as JPG or GIF.

TIFF Image (.tif)

The Tagged Image File Format (TIFF or TIF) image format. A flexible image format that supports several compression schemes.

DDS Texture (.dds)

The DirectDraw Surface (DDS) texture format. A highly-compressed, lossy texture format that supports 24-bit color and alpha transparency. Its compression ratios can be as high as 8:1. It's based on S3 Texture compression, which can be decompressed on graphics hardware.

TGA Image (.tga)

The Truevision Graphics Adapter (TGA) image format (also known as Targa). An RLE-compressed, lossless image format that supports both color-mapped (color palette) or direct-color images of up to 24-bit color and alpha transparency. Unsuitable for photographs and images that have a significant amount of color detail, but provides good compression ratios for images that have long spans of identical colors.

Before you begin to work with the image that you just created, you can change its default configuration. For example, you can change its dimensions or the color format that it uses. For information about how to configure these and other properties of the image, see Image Properties.

Note Note

Before you save your work, make sure to set the Color Format property if you want to use a specific color format. If the file format supports compression, you can adjust the compression settings when you save the file for the first time or when you choose Save As.

This section describes how to use the Image Editor to modify textures and images.

The Image Editor toolbars contain commands that help you work with images.

Commands that affect the state of the Image Editor are located on the Image Editor Mode toolbar together with advanced commands. The toolbar is located along the topmost edge of the Image Editor design surface. Drawing tools are located on the Image Editor toolbar along the leftmost edge of the Image Editor design surface.

Here's the Image Editor Mode toolbar:

The Image Editor modal toolbar.

This table describes the items on the Image Editor Mode toolbar, which are listed in the order in which they appear from left to right.

Toolbar Item

Description

Select

Enables selection of a rectangular region of an image. After you select a region, you can cut, copy, move, scale, rotate, flip, or delete it. When there is an active selection, drawing tools only affect the selected region.

Irregular Selection

Enables selection of an irregular region of an image. After you select a region, you can cut, copy, move, scale, rotate, flip, or delete it. When there is an active selection, drawing tools only affect the selected region.

Wand Selection

Enables selection of a similarly-colored region of an image. The tolerance—that is, the maximum difference between adjacent colors within which they are considered similar—can be configured to include a smaller or wider range of similar colors. After you select a region, you can cut, copy, move, scale, rotate, flip, or delete it. When there is an active selection, drawing tools only affect the selected region.

Pan

Enables movement of the image relative to the window frame. In Pan mode, select a point on the image and then move it around.

You can temporarily activate Pan mode by pressing and holding the Ctrl key.

Zoom

Enables the display of more or less image detail relative to the window frame. In Zoom mode, select a point on the image and then move it right or down to zoom in, or left or up to zoom out.

You can zoom in or out by pressing and holding Ctrl while you either use the mouse wheel or press the Plus Sign (+) or Minus Sign (-).

Zoom to Actual Size

Displays the image by using a 1:1 relationship between the pixels of the image and the pixels of the screen.

Zoom To Fit

Displays the full image in the window frame.

Zoom To Width

Displays the full width of the image in the window frame.

Grid

Enables or disables the grid that shows pixel boundaries. The grid might not appear until you zoom into the image.

View Next MIP Level

Activates the next larger MIP level in a MIP map chain. The active MIP level is displayed on the design surface. This item is only available for textures that have MIP levels.

View Previous MIP Level

Activates the next smaller MIP level in a MIP map chain. The active MIP level is displayed on the design surface. This item is only available for textures that have MIP levels.

Red Channel

Green Channel

Blue Channel

Alpha Channel

Enables or disables the specific color channel.

Note Note

By systematically enabling or disabling color channels, you can isolate problems that are related to one or more of them. For example, you could identify incorrect alpha transparency.

Background

Enables or disables display of the background through transparent parts of the image. You can configure how the background is displayed by choosing from these options:

Checkerboard

Uses a green color together with the specified background color to display the background as a checkerboard pattern. You can use this option to help make transparent parts of the image more apparent.

White Background

Uses the color white to display the background.

Black Background

Uses the color black to display the background.

Animate Background

Pans the checkerboard pattern slowly. You can use this option to help make transparent parts of the image more apparent.

Properties

Alternately opens or closes the Properties window.

Advanced

Contains additional commands and options.

Filters

Provides several common image filters: Black and White, Blur, Brighten, Darken, Edge Detection, Emboss, Invert Colors, Ripple, Sepia Tone, and Sharpen.

Graphics Engines

Render with D3D11

Uses Direct3D 11 to render the Image Editor design surface.

Render with D3D11WARP

Uses Direct3D 11 Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform (WARP) to render the Image Editor design surface.

Tools

Flip Horizontal

Transposes the image around its horizontal, or x, axis.

Flip Vertical

Transposes the image around its vertical, or y, axis.

Generate Mips

Generates MIP levels for an image. If MIP levels already exist, they are recreated from the largest MIP level. Any changes that were made to smaller MIP levels are lost. To save the MIP levels that you have generated, you must use the .dds format to save the image.

View

Frame Rate

When enabled, displays the frame rate in the upper-right corner of the design surface. The frame rate is the number of frames that are drawn per second.

Tip Tip

You can choose the Advanced button to run the last command again.

Here's the Image Editor toolbar.

Image Editor toolbar

The following table describes the items on the Image Editor toolbar, which are listed in the order in which they appear from top to bottom.

Toolbar Item

Description

Pencil

Uses the active color selection to draw an aliased stroke. You can set the color and thickness of the stroke in the Properties window.

Brush

Uses the active color selection to draw an anti-aliased stroke. You can set the color and thickness of the stroke in the Properties window.

Airbrush

Uses the active color selection to draw an anti-aliased stroke that blends together with the image and becomes more saturated as a function of time. You can set the color and thickness of the stroke in the Properties window.

Eyedropper

Sets the active color selection to the color of the selected pixel.

Fill

Uses the active color selection to fill a region of the image. The affected region is defined as the pixel where the fill is applied, together with every pixel that is connected to it by pixels of the same color and that is the same color itself. If the fill is applied within an active selection, then the affected region is constrained by the selection.

By default, the active color selection is blended together with the affected region of the image according to its alpha component. To use the active color selection to overwrite the affected region, press and hold the Shift key when you use the fill tool.

Eraser

Sets pixels to the fully transparent color if the image supports an alpha channel. Otherwise, sets the pixels to the active background color.

Line, Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse

Draws a shape on the image. You can set the color and thickness of the outline in the Properties window.

To draw a primitive that has equal width and height, press and hold Shift as you draw.

Text

Uses the foreground color selection to draw text. The background color is determined by the background color selection. For a transparent background, the alpha value of the background color selection must be 0. While the text region is active, you can set whether the text is drawn with an anti-aliased stroke, and you can set the text Value, Font, Size, and style—Bold, Italics, or Underlined—in the Properties window. The content and appearance of the text is finalized when the text region is no longer active.

Rotate

Rotates the image 90 degrees clockwise.

Trim

Trims the image to the active selection.

Some image formats—for example, DirectDraw Surface (.dds)—support MIP levels for texture-space Level-of-Detail (LOD). For information about how to generate and work with MIP levels, see How to: Create and Modify MIP Levels

Some image formats—for example, DirectDraw Surface (.dds)—support transparency. There are several ways that transparency can be used, depending on the tool that you are using. To specify the level of transparency for a color selection, in the Properties window, set the A (alpha) component of the color selection. Here's how different kinds of tools control how transparency is applied:

Tool

Description

Pencil, Brush, Airbrush, Line, Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Text

To blend the active color selection together with the image, in the Properties window, expand the Channels property group and set the Draw checkbox on the Alpha channel, and then draw normally.

To draw by using the active color selection and leave the alpha value of the image in place, clear the Draw checkbox of the Alpha channel, and then draw normally.

Fill

To blend the active color selection together with the image, just choose the area to fill.

To use the active color selection—including the value of the alpha channel—to overwrite the image, press and hold Shift and then choose the area to fill.

You can use the Properties window to specify various properties of the image. For example, you can set the Width and Height properties to resize the image.

The following table describes image properties.

Property

Description

Width

The width of the image.

Height

The height of the image.

Bits Per Pixel

The number of bits that represent each pixel. The value of this property depends on the Color Format of the image.

Transparent Selection

True to blend the selection layer together with the main image, based on the alpha value of the selection layer; otherwise, False. This item is only available for images that support alpha.

Format

The color format of the image. A variety of color formats can be specified, depending on the image format. The color format defines the number and kind of color channels that are included in the image, and also the size and encoding of various channels.

Mip Level

The active MIP level. This item is only available for textures that have MIP levels.

Mip Level Count

The total number of MIP levels in the image. This item is only available for textures that have MIP levels.

Frame Count

The total number of frames in the image. This item is only available for images that support texture arrays.

Frame

The current frame. Only the first frame can be viewed; all other frames are lost when the image is saved.

Depth Slice Count

The total number of depth slices in the image. This item is only available for images that support volume textures.

Depth Slice

The current depth slice. Only the first slice can be viewed; all other slices are lost when the image is saved.

Note Note

Because the Rotate by property applies to all tools and selected regions, it always appears at the bottom of the Properties window together with other tool properties. Rotate by is always displayed because the whole image is implicitly selected when there is no other selection or active tool. For more information about the Rotate by property, see Tool Properties.

Here are two ways to resize an image. In both cases, the Image Editor uses bi-linear interpolation to resample the image.

  • In the Properties window, specify new values for the Width and Height properties.

  • Select the entire image and use the border markers to resize the image.

Selections in the Image Editor define regions of the image that are active—that is, the region will be affected by tools and transformations. When there is an active selection, areas outside the selected region are not affected by most tools and transformations. If there is not an active selection, the entire image is active.

Most tools—Pencil, Brush, Airbrush, Fill, Eraser, and 2-D primitives—and transformations—Rotate, Trim, Invert Colors, Flip Horizontal, and Flip Vertical—are constrained or defined by the active selection. However, some tools—Eyedropper and Text—and transformations—Generate Mips—are not affected by any active selection; these tools always behave as if the entire image is the active selection.

While you are selecting a region, you can press and hold Shift to make a proportional (square) selection; otherwise, the selection is not constrained.

After you select a region, you can resize it or its image contents by changing the size of the selection marker. While you are resizing the selected region, you can use the following modifier keys to change the behavior of the selected region as you resize it (press and hold the key as you resize).

Ctrl

Copies the contents of the selected region before it's resized. This leaves the original image intact while the copy is resized.

Shift

Resizes the selected region in proportion to its original size.

Alt

Changes the size of the selection region. This leaves the image unmodified.

Here are the valid modifier key combinations:

Ctrl

Shift

Alt

Description

Resizes the content of the selected region.

Shift

Proportionally resizes the content of the selected region.

Alt

Resizes the selected region. This defines a new selection region.

Shift

Alt

Proportionally resizes the selected region. This defines a new selection region.

Ctrl

Copies and then resizes the content of the selected region.

Ctrl

Shift

Copies and then proportionally resizes the content of the selected region.

While a tool is selected, you can use the Properties window to specify details about how it affects the image. For example, you can set the thickness of the Pencil tool or the color of the Brush tool.

You can set both a foreground color and a background color. Both support an alpha channel to provide user-defined opacity. The settings apply to all tools. If you use a mouse, the left mouse button corresponds to the foreground color, and the right mouse button corresponds to the background color.

The following table describes tool properties.

Tool

Properties

All tools and selections

Rotate by

Defines the amount, in degrees, that the selection or tool effect is rotated in the clockwise direction.

Pencil, Brush, Airbrush, Eraser

Thickness

Defines the size of the area that is affected by the tool.

Text

Anti-alias

Draws text that has anti-aliased edges. This gives text a smoother appearance.

Value

The text to be drawn.

Font

The font used to draw the text.

Size

The size of the text.

Bold

Makes the font bold.

Italics

Makes the font italic.

Underlined

Makes the font underlined.

2-D Primitive

Anti-alias

Draws primitives that have anti-aliased edges. This gives them a smoother appearance.

Thickness

Defines the thickness of the line that forms the boundary of the primitive.

Radius X

(Rounded rectangle only) Defines the rounding radius for the top and bottom edges of the primitive.

Radius Y

(Rounded rectangle only) Defines the rounding radius for the left and right edges of the primitive.

Pencil, Brush, Airbrush, 2-D Primitive

Channels

Enables or disables specific color channels for viewing and drawing. If View is set for a specific color channel, that channel is visible in the image; otherwise, it is not visible. If Draw is set for a specific color channel, that channel is affected by drawing operations; otherwise, it is not.

Wand Selection, Fill

Tolerance

Defines the maximum difference between adjacent colors within which they are considered similar, so that fewer or more similar colors are made a part of the affected or selected region. By default, the value is 32, which means that adjacent pixels within 32 shades (lighter or darker) of the original color are considered to be part of the region.

Command

Keyboard shortcuts

Switch to Select mode

S

Switch to Zoom mode

Z

Switch to Pan mode

K

Select all

Ctrl+A

Delete the current selection

Delete

Cancel the current selection

Escape

Zoom in

Ctrl+Mouse wheel forward

Ctrl+PageUp

Plus Sign (+)

Zoom out

Ctrl-Mouse wheel backward

Ctrl-PageDown

Minus Sign (-)

Pan the image up

Mouse wheel backward

PageDown

Pan the image down

Mouse wheel forward

PageUp

Pan the image left

Shift+Mouse wheel backward

Mouse wheel left

Shift+PageDown

Pan the image right

Shift+Mouse wheel forward

Mouse wheel right

Shift+PageUp

Zoom to actual size

Ctrl+0 (zero)

Fit image to window

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+F

Fit image to window width

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+I

Toggle grid

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+G

Crop image to current selection

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+C

View next (higher detail) MIP level

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+6

View previous (lower detail) MIP level

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+7

Toggle red color channel

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+1

Toggle green color channel

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+2

Toggle blue color channel

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+3

Toggle alpha (transparency) channel

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+4

Toggle alpha checkerboard pattern

Ctrl+G, Ctrl+B

Switch to irregular selection tool

L

Switch to wand selection tool

M

Switch to pencil tool

P

Switch to brush tool

B

Switch to fill tool

F

Switch to eraser tool

E

Switch to text tool

T

Switch to color-select (eyedropper) tool

I

Move the active selection, and its contents.

Arrow keys.

Resize the active selection, and its contents.

Ctrl+Arrow keys

Move the active selection, but not its contents.

Shift+Arrow keys

Resize the active selection, but not its contents.

Shift+Ctrl+Arrow keys

Commit the current layer

Return

Decrease tool thickness

[

Increase tool thickness

]

Title

Description

Working with 3-D Assets for Games and Apps

Provides an overview of the tools that you can use in Visual Studio to work with graphics assets such as textures and images, 3-D models, and shader effects.

Model Editor

Describes how to use the Visual Studio Model Editor to work with 3-D models.

Shader Designer

Describes how to use the Visual Studio Shader Designer to work with shaders.

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