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Modifying Documents

When you create a new Fireworks document, you set up the file's physical dimensions, resolution, background color, and so on. As you work, you often discover that you need to change these settings. You can resize documents by changing the image size, which enlarges or shrinks the whole canvas and every object on it equally, in a process known as changing image size. You can also resize documents by cropping or adding pixels, which changes the canvas dimensions but does not affect the work on the canvas (unless it is cropped off). Cropping or adding pixels from/to the edges of the canvas is referred to as changing the canvas size.

Changing Image Size

One common document modification task is to change the image size. The image is too large, for instance, and you need to shrink it down. Or you created a logo at 72dpi and need to bump it up to 300dpi for eventual print output.

Modifying image size should not be confused with modifying canvas size, which is discussed in the "Changing Canvas Size" section later in this chapter. Again, modifying image size enlarges or shrinks an image, such that all pixels are (usually) redrawn. Modifying canvas size adds or crops rows or columns of pixels to/from the existing canvas (without affecting the existing pixels, unless it is to remove them).

Figure 3.5 shows the distinction between modifying image size and canvas size by showing, before and after, a photograph modified with each operation. Where the initial photo was 257 pixels in width, the output versions are both 200 in width—but what a difference!

Figure 3.5 The Image Size command shrinks or expands the entire canvas, whereas the Canvas Size command cuts off (or adds) image area.

To modify image size, choose Modify, Canvas, Image Size. The Image Size dialog box opens as shown in Figure 3.6. Enter new horizontal and vertical dimensions in the Pixel Dimensions and Print Size text boxes. Alternatively, you can change the units of measurements or resolution.

Figure 3.6 Use the Image Size dialog box to shrink, expand, or change resolution of an image.

Select the Constrain Proportions check box if you want to maintain the same ratio between the document's horizontal and vertical dimensions. If you do not use this option, your image is stretched. Notice that when you check Constrain Proportions, locks appear connecting width and height attributes that show this constrained relationship.

Select the Resample Image check box to allow Fireworks to resample the image. Resampling means that Fireworks applies a different resolution grid to the image. When you resample, the total image pixel count changes. If you do not check this option, Fireworks is forced to maintain the same number of pixels during the change. The only way it can do this is to raise or lower the resolution, depending on whether you lower or raise the image dimensions.

There is an inverse relationship between size and resolution when you do not resample. If you increase the physical dimensions (make the image larger), Fireworks has to drop the resolution to accommodate that. Likewise, if you shrink the image, Fireworks pumps up the resolution. Thus, when Resample is unchecked and therefore disabled, another lock appears connecting width, height, and resolution, indicating their mutual relationship.

With bitmap images, there is no point in resampling to a higher resolution because you are asking the file to use more data to record the image. Resampling to lower resolution (also known as "downsampling") actually removes pixels, which is a permanent and destructive process. The image still looks the same overall, but fewer pixels are used to describe it. If you zoom in on a downsampled image, it appears pixilated sooner than before. In some cases, downsampling is a good idea. For example, if a print designer gives you an illustration created for a brochure that is to be reused for the Web, the illustration is likely to have been saved at around 300dpi—way too high for the Web. In this case, you would downsample a copy of the original file—but be sure that you do not overwrite it!

The bottom line is that if your image contains only vector graphics and text, you can resample up or down in Fireworks without fear. However, if your image contains any bitmaps, consider your decision with care.

Changing Canvas Size

Changing the canvas size is another way of resizing documents. This method, however, doesn't resample anything. If you resize to a smaller size, pixels get cut off, as in the right side of the cat photo in Figure 3.5. If you resize to a larger size, new pixels are added, but any existing art is otherwise unaffected. Had I increased the canvas size in the cat figure, the whole cat photograph would still be visible and you would see a column of white pixels (the size of the increased area) on the right.

To resize a canvas, choose Modify, Canvas, Canvas Size. The Canvas Size dialog box opens as shown in Figure 3.7.

Figure 3.7 Use the Canvas Size dialog box to crop or add extra space to your canvas.

Enter new horizontal and vertical dimensions in the New Size text boxes. You can also change the units of measurement; choose from pixels, inches, and centimeters.

Use the Anchor button to specify which sides of the canvas to anchor, meaning that the opposite side is affected. For example, if you are shrinking the canvas and you set the anchor to the top-left corner, that corner remains intact while the lower right corner is cropped by the amount you specify. Use the center setting to crop or expand equally on opposite sides.

You can also resize a canvas by using the Crop tool in the Tools panel to drag out a region on the canvas. When you press Return/Enter, everything outside this region is cropped. This method enables you to resize the canvas visually. When should you use the Crop tool versus Canvas Size? Use Canvas Size to mathematically resize your canvas. Use the Crop tool to eyeball it or to crop an area not possible with the Canvas Size anchor settings.

Using Trim and Fit Canvas

Fireworks comes with two tools that automatically resize your canvas to fit exactly what you have: Trim Canvas and Fit Canvas.

Choosing Modify, Canvas, Trim Canvas (Option-Command-T/ Ctrl+Alt+T), removes extra space around an image on a Fireworks document. Say, for example, you create a large


Oddly enough, you can also expand your canvas size with the Crop tool. Simply drag an area larger than the canvas and then press Return/Enter. Fireworks expands the canvas to the new size.canvas to have plenty of room in which to work. When you finish your design, choosing Trim Canvas crops off all the extra pixels, so that your art is snug against the image's borders.

In contrast, use the Fit Canvas command to expand the size of the canvas to accommodate an image that is too large to fit into the existing canvas. To do so, choose Modify, Canvas, Fit Canvas (or Option-Command-F/Ctrl+Alt+F).


If the document has more than one frame, the Trim Canvas command examines all the frames and trims the canvas so that no art in any frame is cropped.

Changing Canvas Color

To change the color of the canvas, choose Modify, Canvas, Canvas Color. The Canvas Color dialog box opens. It probably looks familiar: It is identical to the Canvas Color section of the New Document dialog box. In this dialog box, you can change the canvas color to White, Transparent, or select a custom color from the color box pop-up.

Most of the time, you should use the default white as the background color. For some documents, especially those that will eventually be exported as GIFs with transparency, you might want to choose Transparent. The problem with Transparent is that it is hard to build graphics with transparent backgrounds, because Fireworks represents this background with a gray and white checkerboard pattern. One trick that many designers use is to build these images with a white background, and then change the background color to transparent just before export.

Rotating the Canvas

To change the rotation of the canvas, choose Modify, Canvas, Rotate Canvas; then select a rotation option. You can rotate the canvas 180°, 90° CW, or 90° CCW. CW stands for clockwise, and CCW stands for counter-clockwise.

This option is distinguished from Modify, Transform, Rotate options, in that Rotate Canvas rotates the entire canvas—and along with it, every piece of art in every frame. The rotate options in the Transform menu rotate only selected objects.

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