Using Layers in Paint.net to Create a Classroom Resource for Both Print & Tactile Use
Resource developed by Sarah Hughes and Gareth Peevers, Royal Blind Learning Hub
In this screencast I’m going to show you how you can use layers in paint.net to create one classroom resource that can be used for all pupils, with or without a visual impairment. This will save you the time and effort of having to create separate resources.
So first I'm going to show you two examples that we've already created. In this first example we have three shapes drawn on the Canvas: a square, a circle and a star. And if you look in the Layers Window you can see we're using three layers: the background layer, a print layer and a braille layer. You can see at the moment the print and braille layers are turned off – see the tick boxes are not ticked. Let’s turn on the Print layer. You can see in this layer the shapes have each been filled in with an individual colour and they’ve been labelled. Now let’s have a look at the Braille layer. You can see in this layer the shapes have each been filled with a different fill pattern to give a texture so that we can create a tactile raised line illustration on swell paper. The shapes have also been labelled in Braille.
Let’s look at the second illustration. In this document we have a picture of an Owl. Again we have three layers: Background, Print and Braille.
Okay, so let’s now create our own resource by going to the File menu and selecting New. I’m going to take you through the steps needed to create the first example with the shapes. So if you look in the Layers Window you'll see our new image automatically gets a Background layer. We'll draw our three shapes on the Background layer. I'll draw a square on the canvas by selecting Shapes on the Tools Window. And click Finish on the Toolbar. Next I'll draw an Ellipse, or circle, by changing the shape type on the Tool Bar. Finally I'll draw a star by repeating those steps.
So I've got my three shapes on the Background layer. Then next step is to create my Print Layer in the Layers Window. I’ll do that by creating a duplicate of the Background layer by clicking on Duplicate Layer at the bottom of the Layers Window. Double click on the new copy and rename it Print N24.
I’m now going to give each of the shapes a colour and label them. I’ll use the Paint Bucket tool on the Tools Window to do this. Let’s make the square green. Remember to click Finish on the Tool Bar. The circle blue. And the star Orange.
Now I’ll go to the Tools Window and use the Text Tool to label them. I'll go to the Tools Menus and change the font to Ariel and give it a size of 24. So label them square, circle and star - again remember to click Finish on the Tool Bar after you've labelled each one.Okay, so that’s our Print layer done. We’ll now create the Braille layer in the same way by going to the Layers Window. We’ll make a duplicate of the Background layer and rename it Braille. Let’s move it to the top in the Layers Window.
I’m going use the Paint Bucket tool to fill each shape with a different fill pattern to give a texture so that we can create a tactile raised line illustration on swell paper. I’ll go to the Tool Bar and select Horizontal in the Fill dropdown and give it to the square. I’ll give the circle a Large Grid pattern. And finally I’ll give the star a Diagonal Cross pattern. Okay, so we’re done there.
We now need to label each shape in Braille. So I have my braille already created in a word document and I’ll paste it over into my paint.net document. So I’ll just copy and paste them across to label my shapes.
So there you go. I now have my classroom resource with a braille version and print version in the same document. If I wanted to just print out a braille version I would turn off the print layer and background layer and now if I print I’ll just get the braille version.
Well I hope that is useful for you. Remember you can apply these principles in any photo and image editing software. There is a link to the free paint.net software at the bottom of the page. Thanks again, and please check out the other resources we have on the Royal Blind Learning Hub website.
The Tactile Library website (opens in new window) has a free library of diagrams used in education for pupils with visual impairment.
Watch our video: How to Create Tactile Graphics.
For more practical tips read Making Tactile Diagrams.