Computer - Other Applications
Learning how to read and write Gurmukhi text . . .
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Other Applications . . .

Once you can access the Gurmukhi characters on your system, you can start working/ playing with them.

Here, we use several programs that:

  • Will run on any of the operating systems listed here (apart from Windows 98SE - we use two different programs);
  • Are well-developed programs that do a good job; and,
  • Except for the examples used in Windows 98SE, are free to download and run so there are no licensing issues.


Here are three examples of the types of work that you can do with Gurmukhi text: - text processing . . . is a suite of text processing programs that will run on pretty much any operating system. The programs are free to download and are often on coverdiscs of magazines so they are freely available. They are also fully featured and, as they cost you nothing, you aren't paying for features that you will never use. is essentially a text editing suite (word processor, spreadsheet, vector graphics, presentation, database and so on) that is a direct replacement for Microsoft Office. However, it can also write directly to PDF files which is particularly useful.

It is easy to input Gurmukhi text directly from the keyboard but it also has a character insert feature which is worthy of note.

First of all, click on 'Insert', 'Special Character...'.

In the following dialogue, select the font you need to use and then the subset of characters - in this case, Gurmukhi.

Next, click on the characters you need, in the order that you would write them down - letter, any paer letter, vowel, tippee/bindi - and they will appear correctly in the characters window at the bottom of the dialogue box.

Once you have finished, click on 'OK' and they are pasted into the document. One point that is worthy of note is that if you want to use change fonts when using the dialogue box, any change you make will affect all of the text when you paste it into your document - you need to use several sessions if you are going to use several fonts.

The GIMP - 2D image processing . . .

The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is another example of nicely crafted programming that will run on pretty much any operating system. The program are free to download and again, is often on coverdiscs of magazines. As with above, it is fully featured and, as it costs you nothing, you aren't paying for features that you will never use.

With image manipulation, the role of text falls broadly into: recording information; and, being decorative. If the purpose is only for recording information, it doesn't really matter what the text looks like as long as it is legible. However, if it needs to be decorative as well, This is the right tool for the job.

First of all, create the image that you want to add text to. Then, select the text tool.

This is the tool options dialogue box for the font we are going to use - you could use Raavi or another font if you want - we are image processing here so the code that you use is not important and you can use one of the ASCII fonts if you really want.

Note that we have chosen 150 pixels as the font size - this gives a decent size of line that we can play around with.

Apart from Anti-aliasing being selected, the other options are not relevant (unless you are producing a multi-line piece of text, in which case, the line spacing becomes important and you can modify that once you have inputted your text).

With the font tool selected, click on the image where you would like the text to appear.

This text editor dialogue box appears and you can input your text either directly, from the keyboard; or, indirectly, using one of the other text input methods that are relevant to your operating system.

Once you have done, click on close.

This is what the text looks like. You can use the mouse to drag the text around on the screen or you can resize it by changing the font size in the tool options dialogue box.

I you have multi-line text, you can change the leading, justification and so on.

If you want to change the text, just click on it and the text editor will appear, allowing you to do it.

If you have edited the image and changed layers, you can select the text layer in the layers dialogue and then, with the text tool selected, click on the text in the same way.

If you are going to add another piece of text that you want to edit with the first piece of text, as though it was one piece of text, add that as well.

Make sure that all of your text is positioned correctly and now, we shall have some fun.

First, create a new, transparent layer. We are going to use this as a reference for the other things we are going to do so call it something like 'reftext'.

Next, in the Layers dialogue box, right-click on one of the text layers and then select 'Alpha to Selection'.

Select the 'reftext' layer and then drag the colour black from the foreground colour in the toolbox and drop it on the 'reftext' layer in the Layers dialogue box (you could also drop it on the image as an alternative).

Next, repeat the alpha to selection and colour dropping process using the other text layer as the starting point.

You should now have both pieces of text in a single layer.

Click on the border of the image so that it has the focus and then press [Ctrl][Shift][A] to deselect the text - alternatively, right-click on the image and click on 'Select', 'None'.

Now, in the Layers dialogue box, select the 'reftext' layer and click on the duplicate layer button - usually the fourth from the left and it depicts two images. Alternatively, right-click on the 'reftext' layer and select 'Duplicate Layer'. This will create a layer with a name like 'reftext copy'.

Now, move your base image up, so that it us under the 'reftext' copy layer.

Now, the only text you will see is the text of the 'reftext' layer.

Just so that we don't get completely confused, rename the 'reftext copy' layer as 'text' - this makes it easier in the long run although to the computer, it doesn't really matter what any of the layers are called.

If you have used 'Saab' as the font and the font size we have used here, the width of the text lines will be roughly 10 pixels. You can measure the length/width of anything on The GIMP using the 'Measure' tool.

Now, we want to add a white border so in the Layers dialogue box, right-click on the 'reftext' layer and select 'Alpha to Selection' - this now gets it all in one go.

Click on your base image layer and then create a new transparent layer - if the last thing you did was to create a transparent layer, you can hold down [Shift] when clicking on the new layer button and it will automatically give you a layer without the hassle of clicking on a dialogue box.

Select the new layer and call it something like 'white border'.

On the image, right-click and then select 'Select', 'Grow...'.

Put '10' in the 'Grow selection by' box (this is the width of the text and it produces a nice border but feel free to use your own width choices). Click on 'OK'.

Next, drag the white colour from the foreground/background tool in the toolbox and drop it on the window or the layer in the 'Layers' dialogue box.

Now, we want to add a thin, black border so in the Layers dialogue box, right-click on the 'reftext' layer (we keep using this layer so that we don't build up any artefacts) and select 'Alpha to Selection'.

Click on your base image layer and then create a new transparent layer and call it something like 'black border'.

On the image, right-click and then select 'Select', 'Grow...'.

Put '12' in the 'Grow selection by' box (this need to be wide enough to be seen when you reduce the image in size, plus the width of the original white layer). Click on 'OK'.

Next, drag the black colour from the foreground/background tool in the toolbox and drop it on the window or the layer in the 'Layers' dialogue box.

You should now be able to see a thin, black border around the white border on your image.

Remove the selection mask ([Ctrl][Shift][A]).

Next, select the 'Black border' layer in the 'Layers' dialogue box and then right-click on the image and select the 'Drop Shadow' tool. You can find this under 'Filters', 'Light and Shadow', 'Drop Shadow...' (GIMP v 2.6.x) or under 'Scrip-Fu', 'Shadow', 'Drop-Shadow...' (GIMP v1.2.3) or in one or two other places depending upon which version you are using.

We use a black border growth of 12 pixels on text that was 10 pixels wide so half of that plus the 12 gives us 17 pixels. If we choose an X and y offset of 17 pixels and a blur radius of roughly 1.5 times that (ie, 26 pixels) then we should be roughly right for this sort of effect. Choose an opacity of 50% (you can change this in the 'Layers' dialogue box later if you want) and then click on 'OK'.

This is what we have got so far.

As you can see, it looks good but it is a bit monochrome.

Now, we can add some colour to this by clicking on the 'text' layer in the 'Layers' dialogue box and then locking the alpha channel.

Next, click on the foreground colour in the toolbox and the 'Change Foreground Colour' dialogue box opens.

Choose a suitable colour for one end of a gradient and then repeat the process using the background colour for the other end of the gradient.

Now select the gradient tool from the toolbox and then click on the gradient button and choose a gradient type - I chose FG to BG (HSV anti-clockwise). Select any other options you might want to experiment with such as shape - I used just the plain linear here but you can use anything you want.

Next, drag the mouse across your image and the gradient will appear only in the lettering of your text - leaving the borders alone.

When you are satisfied, flatten the image and save it. (You might want to save it as a separate native '.xcf.gz' file before you flatten it so that you can play around with it later on if you want.)

Here is the final image. Click on the image to get the full-sized image (.png format) or click here to get the 6x4 print-sized jpeg image.

Blender - 3D image processing . . .

Blender is a fully functional 3D modelling and rendering program (you can select which rendering engine you want).

It has been around for a while and is capable of generating animated films such as 'Elephant's Dream', 'Big Buck Bunny' and 'Murnau the Vampire' down to shorter films such as 'Lighthouse', 'Lumberjacks' and 'Chicken Chair'. Using it to create some 3D letters, therefore, is well within its capabilities.

First of all, start blender and press [Del] and then [Enter] to remove the default shape.

Basics . . .

There is a lot to a 3D modeller like this so here are some basics that will let you get your self out of a situation or change things so that you can make your life easier. Once you get used to this program - and that doesn't take long - you will enjoy messing around with it, changing things to see what happens.

Number pad - You can use the number pad keys (with or without the numberlock key activated) for a number of different things but basically:

  • [4] moves you to the left (rotating everything to the right - this is a bit confusing to start with but you soon get used to it);
  • [6] takes you to the right;
  • [8] moves you up; and,
  • [2] moves you down.
  • [7] (Home) takes you to the home position, looking down with the blue arrow pointing towards you, the green arrow pointing up and the red arrow pointing to the right;
  • [1] (End) takes you to the left position, looking horizontally towards the right with the blue arrow pointing upwards, the green arrow pointing towards you and the red arrow pointing to the right; and,
  • [3] (PgDn) takes you to the front position, looking horizontally from the front with the blue arrow pointing upwards, the green arrow pointing to the right and the red arrow pointing towards you.
Basically, they let you look down the three arrows. Finally:
  • [5] toggles between a perspective and a normal view.
Mouse - The mouse is similar. Scroll the mouse wheel:
  • On its own - to zoom in an out from the centre of the image;
  • with [Shift] pressed - to move the image up or down; or,
  • with [Ctrl] pressed - to move the image left or right.
If you press the mouse wheel, you can move the mouse around and change the view continuously - press[3] (PgDn) to get it back again.

Modes - Finally, there are two main modes that you will be interested in to start with: Edit mode; and Object mode.

Edit mode allows you to change an object's form - in the case of text, you can change font, change the characters you use and so on. In object mode, you can change the position, orientation and size of an object. This should be enough to get you started with Blender so here goes...

Creating an image . . .

Starting with the initial object deleted so that we have an empty model, using the arrow keys on the number pad, press [2] (down) six times to bring the viewpoint level with the horizon.

Next, click on 'Add' and then 'Text'.

The word 'Text' appears on the screen as an object.

The screen as a whole looks like this.

In the top left the rectangular-based pyramid with the solid triangle is your camera.

In the middle is your new object - complete with the text; 'Text' and the cursor on the right. Press [Backspace] to clear the text.

You can see that you are in edit mode (note the set of icons and that the penultimate one is highlighted.);

and, in the bottom-right, you can see your editing tabs (above). In the top-left corner of this block is an arrow that points down.

If you are not using one of these blocks, you can click on that to make it contract - click on it again and it expands.

Here, we are interested in the 'Font' tab. We need to use a Gurmukhi-containing font. We can either use a UTF-8/Unicode font or an ASCII/ANSI font - it makes no odds because we are not using those mappings in any output from this program, we are producing images so encoding doesn't matter.

However, if characters aren't mapped correctly - see the 'drink' ('ਡ੍ਰਿੰਕ') test - then you need to choose an ASCII/ANSI font.

Click on the 'Load' button.

Navigate to either your system's fonts directory or to your own fonts directory (eg '/home/paul/.fonts' - move up a directory level by clicking on '..' and down one by single-clicking on the name.

You can usually tell which fonts are Unicode fonts by their size. To start off with, click on a Unicode font ('AnmolUni.ttf') and then in the top-right, you can see a button with 'SELECT FONT' in it. Click on that.

Now, click on the 'Char' tab. At the top, you can see a large button with 'Unicode Table' written on it. Click on that.

The mouse automatically goes to the top-left of the menu which is 'All'. Down the first column, you will see Gurmukhi (just over half way down). Click on that.

Now, you can select a character just by clicking on it. If you click on the 'U' button, you get the previous full page and if you click on the 'D' button, you get the next (as in 'Up' and 'Down'). Try out the 'drink' ('ਡ੍ਰਿੰਕ') test - the character that allows you to get a paer-rarraa is the one just after the kanaurdaa.

If you get this, you will either be restricted to using characters that don't cause this type of conflict or using the ASCII/ANSI font (the latter being easier).

So, if your version of Blender failed the 'drink test' now, press [Backspace] to remove the text then click on the font tab and load up an ASCII/ANSI font (here, I loaded 'Gurmi___.ttf') and type something along the lines of 'idR;k' (note the inconsistent mapping where the tippee is a ';' instead of an 'x' as it is with a number of other fonts).

Now, we get this (or something like it).

Now that we have a font that works, type in what you need - here, we are going to use ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ so either click on the characters using the Unicode table or type 'gurmuKI' (or similar).

This is still in edit mode but now, we need to edit the properties of the object as a whole so change the mode to 'Object Mode'.

Now, you can see that the text has a pink outline. If you lose this for some reason, right-click the mouse on the object to get it back.

Also, you can see that this is in perspective view - if yours isn't, press [5].

Now press [8][8][4][4][4] and you should be looking over the top of the camera.

If you press [Ctrl][Alt][Right Arrow], you get a screen that has two normal views and the view that the camera has (pressing [Ctrl][Alt][Left Arrow] will take you back).

You can zoom in, pan and so on in the same way just by moving your mouse over that window when you do it.

Now, we need to make the object bigger. Move the mouse close to the point where the bases of the three coloured arrows meet and press [S]. You can now scale the object by moving the mouse away from that point. Once you are happy with the results (you cna always change them later), click the mouse.

Next, click on the head of the arrows and move it into position so that it is framed nicely.

Press [Ctrl][Alt][Left Arrow] to get back to our original screen and now, we will concentrate on the 'Curve and Surface' panel.

In particular, we are interested in the Extrude, Bevel depth and BevResol values.

With these controls, notice that they have an arrow at each end and a value in the middle.

  • If you click on the arrow, it will increment or decrement the value by whatever the interval is;
  • If you click the mouse on the control and then drag it to one side or the other, you will scroll the value; and,
  • If you click on the value itself, you can edit the value by typing a number in, in the same way that you would edit any text.

Changing the 'Extrude' value will change the depth/length of the letters.

Changing the 'Bevel Depth' changes the amount that the thickness of the text is changed although the size of the text face does not alter and; the 'BevResol' is the amount of resolution of the bevel. '0' is a 45 degree chamfer whereas 10 is a smooth curve.

Now click on the 'Shading' button (grey one on the left block) and make sure that the 'Material buttons' button (red one on the right) is selected.

Now you can see the 'Links and Pipeline' panel.

Click on the 'Add New' button and it will all change.

  • The 'Preview' panel shows what the material looks like - in the column of buttons down the right side, click on either the seconds or third;
  • The 'Material' tab on the next panel lets you choose colours for your objects; and,
  • The 'Mirror Transp' tab allows you to choose mirror and transparency properties for the object.

First of all, the colour...

Click on the coloured area to the left of the 'Col' button and a window pops up, allowing you to choose a colour for your object.

If you are choosing a saturated hue, try to avoid one that is just red, green or blue (ie, not 1.0 red, 0.0 green and 0.0 blue) because if you are going to use transparency like we are, you end up with little effect of depth. Like the other controls, you can drag, click or edit the values.

You can use the 'Sample' button to pick a colour from something else on the screen if you want - this can save you time but remember that the rendered image you see on the screen will have some of its attributes changed (such as value and saturation).

Once you have the colour you want, move the mouse off the control and it will close, leaving the colour in the box and updating the preview panel on the left.
Quickly change the world...

Click on the little world button (the one on the right of the right-hand group) and then, click on the coloured rectangle that represents the colour of the object's world (the default colour for this is blue). You already know how to use the colour dialogue box.

If you want to be able to have objects that appear to be on a white background (such as a printed page or a website like this one) then change this to white. Move the mouse off the dialogue box to close it and then click on the red sphere button for materials.

Now, mirror and transparency...

Press [F12] and you will see your image rendered as it currently stands.

This might be exactly what you want, but let us assume that it isn't.

To escape from this view, press the [Escape] key. You can save the image by clicking on 'File', 'Save Image...' if you want it.

Here is the Mirror Transparency tab in all of its detail.

There are two sections that we are interested in - the Mirror and Transparency.

Mirror lets you define how light reflects between objects and, in the case of transparent objects, within them.

Transparency lets you define how light is changed when it passes through an object.

So, click on the 'Ray Mirror' button and lets have a play with that.

First of all, the 'RayMir' control.

Its value goes between 0.00 and 1.00 and it represents the proportion of light that is reflected when it hits a surface. At 1.00, all light is reflected and none either passes through or picks up the surface colour.

If you press [F12] with it set to 1.00, you will see just reflections of the world and come curious marks.

The explanation for these is that the light has been reflected beyond the number of times in the 'Depth' control.

Set the 'Depth' control to 10 and see what happens - you should get just a few places where it still goes beyond 10.

Set the 'RayMir' to 0.50 and leave the Depth at 10.

If you set the 'Fresnel' to 5.0, you will notice in the 'Preview' that where you are looking more 'normal' to an object (that is to say that the angle between the plane of the surface and direction of a ray to it, from where you are observing, is closer to 90 degrees), you see more of the surface colour.

IE, the quantity of surface reflection (or, if you like, a localised 'RayMir' value) depends upon the angle you are looking at it from.

The 'Fac' - the blending factor for the Fresnel - changes how much this happens but the default (1.25) is a good value here.

Now, click on the 'Ray Mirror' button to switch off the mirror effects and lets look at the transparency, so click on the 'Ray transp' button.

Start off by setting the 'Fresnel' to 1.0 and the 'Fac' to 5.00. The shape in the preview should now disappear.

Next, set 'Filt' to 1.000 and leave 'Depth' on 2. Press [F12] and see what happens.

Repeat this with the 'Depth' set on 10. You should get something like the images in the composite on the right.

This is looking better but it looks like a clear, plastic bag filled with coloured smoke - you only get a change in density when it passes through the body of the object.

Try changing the 'Limit' to 0.00.

Now, it looks like a coloured plastic bag full of air - you only get a change of density when it passes through a surface.

This isn't what we want so let's change it back to 100.00.

If you look at the preview when you do this, you can see how it changes.

There is still a major difference between what we want and what the model is providing.

If you look through water, you can see how it bends light. This effect is caused by the medium slowing light down.

If you take the speed of light in a vacuum and divide it by the speed that light travels in a particular medium, you end up with its 'refractive index or, has they call it here, the 'IOR' (don't ask).

Most media have a refractive index in the range 1.3 to 1.6 so if you put a figure like that into the model, and press [F12] you will see what happens - you can see it straight away in the preview.

Finally, there is the 'Falloff' control.

The default for this control is 1.0 which, if you look at the preview, looks all right.

On the right, you can see what happens to the image when you switch it between 0.1 and 10.0 (the 'Filt'er value is 0.400). There is little difference in this case so you can either leave it at 1.0 or 10.0. I've changed it back to 1.0.

So, with 'Ray Mirror' back on and the controls set to these

We get this.

Let's add a horizontal surface so that we can get a shadow.

Press [6][6][6] and then [4][4][4][4] so that we are looking down on the scene from directly above, with the front at the bottom of the screen.

Click on 'Add', 'Mesh', 'Plane' and a square will appear.

Move the mouse towards the centre of it (but not quite there) and press [S] to scale it.

Drag it out so that it is quite large and click the mouse.

On the 'Shading'/ 'Materials'/ 'Links and Pipeline' panel, click on the 'Add New' button.

Then, under the Material tab, change the colour to white.

Change the mode to 'Object Mode', use the arrow keys to change the view so that you are more on it's level and then pull our new plane's blue arrow upwards until it strikes through the bottom of the text.

Move it down so that the text and the plane just clear each other and you have created the impression that the text is resting on the plane.

Press [Ctrl][Alt][Right Arrow] and check that the plane is large enough to cover the field of view (the dashed, square-cornered rectangle).

Press [F12] and see what it looks like.

It looks nice but we haven't got our white background.

Press [Ctrl][Alt][Left Arrow] and, using the mouse wheel (or the [-] key), zoom out so that you can see the light source.

Right-click on it - the light.

In the Preview panel, you can see that we are using a 'Lamp'. Click on the 'Sun' button and in the 'Lamp' tab, change the energy to about 1.600.

Press [F12] and this is what you get.

Notice that the shadow has become smaller - this is because the light source is effectively infinitely far away whereas the lamp was quite close. It is still being cropped when it is rendered so this needs looking at.

You can change the angle of the 'Sun' by selecting the object (you can do this with any object), and pressing [R]. Move the mouse until the object is at the correct angle and then click the mouse.

Finally, change the position of the camera (you can change its proporties such as zoom and so on by right-clicking on it) and the light (or add more light - maybe of different colours), add any more objects and so on and render your final image.

One trick when composing an image - ie, you are not interested in the quality, just the position of various objects and lights and so on - is to go into the rendering panel and change the size and quality of the rendered image.

If you click on the scene button (above-right), you can change the size, file type and so on of the final image you produce.

In the 'render' panel, the second row has a block headed by a button labelled 'OSA' - this is oversampling (the number of points it samples in order to build up a pixel) - you can turn it off.

Also, to the right, you see a block headed by a button labelled '100%'. Click on the '25%' button. These will allow you to render a scene in literally just a couple of seconds.

When you have finished composing the image, turn OSA back on and click on the '100%' button.

In the format panel, you can select the X and Y sizes, along with the image type (top button of bottom-left block). Set these to what you want.

Once you have done, press [F12] and see what you get.

And that is it.

If you want a copy of the above image in 1280x1024 pixel size in jpeg format to use as a desktop wallpaper, just click on the image above.

If you want, you can, without altering the position of the camera, zoom in on some of the internal reflections so see the detail in them.

On the right is such a close-up of the detail at the bottom of the left part of the ਗ.

For more wallpapers, look at the resources page.

This has touched only a tiny part of what Blender is capable of. The best way to learn how to use it is to play around with it and look at the many tutorials on the Internet.




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