Methods of Making Images

As a natural follow-up to (oral) teaching, give students the task of preparing directions using their own writing and diagrams. Preparing directions at the level found in books is a challenge. However, it is possible to make acceptable diagrams using a variety of methods. Computer based systems can be used and this can serve as an opportunity to encourage students to refine and polish their work. Many people use specialized tools to produce drawings, but even the basic draw tools work well. Other options are to scan in hand drawn diagrams, scan actual models in development, or use a digital camera to produce images. These so-called acquired images can also be marked up using a computer drawing program. Finally, students can produce hypermedia: text, images, animation, and sound linked together, with the navigation under the partial control of the user. Several different techniques for producing diagrams are included in this paper.

Digital Camera

Digital cameras do not use film, but produce data that is uploaded into programs. One brand name is QuickTake manufactured by Apple. The QuickTake software allows you to save the images in any one of several image file types, including .jpg or .gif (suitable for inclusion on Web sites) or .bmp or .tiff for use with other applications. Images can be modified by any of the drawing programs.(This was used in Wiggler, Water Bomb, and Ornament.)


OrigamiMaker is a HyperCard application (by the first author) that supports the production of origami instructions. It features the use of hyperlinks for notes and a structured presentation of bases. OrigamiMaker includes its own set of drawing tools. (This was used in Business Card Frog.)

Visual Basic

Visual Basic, a general purpose programming system that provides features for constructing a user interface, has features for drawing lines and shapes. Drawing can be done using the mouse AND by adjusting endpoints and sizes numerically. It is this combination that is especially beneficial for origami. (This was used in Magazine Box.)

Paint Shop Pro

Paint Shop Pro is a relatively moderately priced paint tool. Features include zooming (used to produce the scissors in the illustration of making a square), producing gradients of color (see the buttons in the table-of-contents frame), varying types of drawing implements (for example, crayon, pen, marker), capturing sections of screen images, and facilities for taking in images of one image type and saving as another type. PSP has a facility for captures portions of the computer screen. This means you can create an image when using a computer application that does not produce images. This was used in Making a Square, Broken/Mended Heart, and for converting images into .gif for the web.

Animation Shop

Animation Shop is a facility for creating animated GIF files. The user creates or acquires images for the individual frames and then uses Animation Shop to put them together. There are special facilities for introducing transitions and for manipulating text. The digital camera can be used to get still images which Animation Shop can make into a single .gif file. This was used in the Broken/Mended Heart.


Paint is a drawing package available on Wintel machines. Mac equivalents exist. These drawing programs produce what are called bit-mapped images. Drawing a line or a circle or a rectangle causes certain pixels (picture elements) to change color. The line or shape does not keep its identity. (This was used in Water Bomb Base, Water Bomb, and Dividing into Thirds.)


Scanners resemble copying machines and can be used to copy hand-drawings, photographs, or folded paper such as model in the stages of folding. Scanners are intended for flat objects, but it is possible to prop up the scanner and insert a complete model. You need to remember that scanning is from underneath. As with images produced by the digital camera, you can modify the scanned images in any of the drawing programs. (This was used in Traditional Frog and Dollar Bill Rosette.)


Hand drawing allows great flexibility. Such drawings can then be scanned, if the final goal is to get the images in a digitized form. (This was used in Dollar Bill Rosette.)


Flash is a software tool for creating multimedia, interactive applications. It contains tools for drawing. The drawings are kept as vector graphics and so can be easily manipulated, scale well on different sized screens, and take up less room. The technique used here is to create frame-by-frame animations. There are buttons to advance to the next step and to return to the start. The resulting application (called a Flash movie) can be distributed on the Web. This technique was used in Talking frog head.

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