iWeb ’09, whether or not it is your Web builder of choice, has a terrific hidden talent: it can make quick work of graphics that are often cumbersome to create in Photoshop. It’s particularly adept at placing pictures within odd shapes, ranging from squares with rounded corners to speech bubbles with brush-stroked borders. All you have to do is put together a graphic in iWeb, publish the site to your hard drive, and then pluck the polished graphic out of the site folder.
Prepare a site
The first task is to create a new site within iWeb ’09. Open the application and choose File->New Site. You’re now asked to choose a template; to keep it simple, select White and then double-click Blank. In the sidebar at the left, you’ll now see an entry called Site with a single page named Blank.
Click Site to access the site publishing settings. iWeb encourages you to publish to MobileMe, but that’s easy to change; just click the Publish to pop-up menu and change the selection to Local Folder. Now move down to the Folder Location section of the window and click Choose. You’ll want to put the folder in the most accessible place, so navigate to the Desktop and then click New Folder. Name it Quick Graphics (or something similar), click Create, and then click Choose. Once you’ve set the folder, click the blank page in the sidebar to return to the empty page template.
Create a graphic
Putting together a graphic is matter of choosing a shape, a picture, and a border.
1. Click Shapes (at the bottom of the window) and choose a graphic shape.
2. Click and drag the corner handles to adjust the shape to roughly the correct size. Most shapes have blue control points that allow you to further customize their shape; for example, you can change the size of the corners on the rounded square and position the arrow on the speech bubble.
3. Ensure that your graphic is selected and then go to the Inspector (View->Inspector). Under Metrics, you’ll find settings for width and height, where you can set exact dimensions for your shape. (Note that if you intend to add a border via the Graphic inspector, this will expand the size of the final graphic by the line weight you choose; for example, a 6 pt line will expand a 400-by-300 pixel graphic to 406-by-306.)
4. Choose View->Show Media (if necessary) to show the media sidebar. Now click Photos and then find a picture in one of your photo libraries. Drag the picture into your new shape; once you do this, a slider control will appear. Use it to adjust the crop of the picture within the shape; if you need to reposition the picture, click Edit Mask. You can also rotate the image by clicking Edit Mask and then using the rotation control in the Metrics inspector.
5. After the image is positioned, you can add a decorative border. Click the shape to highlight it, return to the Inspector, and click Graphic. Under Stroke, you’ll see a number of options. Choose Line from the first pop-up menu, and then select a line style from the second pop-up menu. You can then go on to choose the line color and set the line width.
Publish and collect
Once you’re happy with your graphic, simply click Publish Site. Now go to the Finder and find the Quick Graphics folder on your Desktop. Inside, you’ll find a folder named “Site” (assuming you did not rename the site in iWeb), and within that, you should see a folder named “Blank_files.” It’s here that you’ll find the images you created, named “shapeimage_x.png.” Double-click the graphics to see them in Preview; otherwise, relocate and rename them as you see fit.
[Chris McVeigh is an author, illustrator and toy photographer who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.]