Troubleshooting KK3: Why can’t I see the shape of my kaleidoscope?

Every so often we get questions sent to Technical Support that take a while to figure out. We had a good one today that I thought I’d share here on the blog because there are a couple of good tips in the answer.

A customer wanted to start with this photo:

Original photo

and end up with a kaleidoscope printed like this (specifically so that she could see where to cut along the scalloped edge):

Desired result (simulated in Photoshop)

Unfortunately, when selecting “Show cutlines” in the print dialog, only the bounding square is delineated – not the actual kaleidoscope shape!

Print Kaleidoscope window with Show Cutlines checked. Notice that the cutlines show the bounding square of the kaleidoscope, not the kaleidoscope shape itself.

I suggested changing the background color to something other than white. Since the background of the Santa image is white, changing the background color of the kaleidoscope would help delineate the shape of the kaleidoscope.  But in this case, it didn’t work.  Stumped as to why this wouldn’t work, I asked the customer to send me the workspace for the kaleidoscope she was working on.  As soon as I opened the workspace, I knew immediately what the problem was:

A screenshot of the customer's workspace

Changing the background color to gray resulted in the following:

The kaleidoscope with a gray background color

Obviously, changing the background color does not help define the kaleidoscope shape in this case.  That’s because the photo is not filling the entire template shape – and the background color fills in wherever the photo doesn’t.

So how to fix this problem?  If you were to enlarge the Santa image so that it completely fills the template shape, then the resulting kaleidoscope may not be very appealing:

Filling the template shape with the Santa image

The only other option (other than finding another image to work with) is to enlarge the area around the original image.  That is quite simple to do in this case because the area around the Santa is a solid color (white), but you do need a separate image editing program to accomplish it.  I’ll show how to do this first in Photoshop Elements, since that is a popular image editing program. Then I’ll show how to do the same thing using Paint.NET (a free program that you can download* from the internet) for those of you who do not have Photoshop Elements.

Using Photoshop Elements to Enlarge the Canvas Size

Open the image in Photoshop Elements, then press the “D” key on your keyboard to set the foreground/background colors to their defaults (black foreground and white background – you can see the color swatches at the bottom of the toolbar on the left):

In Photoshop Elements: Color swatches set to their default

Now increase the Canvas Size (not the Image Size). Go to Image>Resize>Canvas Size in the menu. Set the units (to the right of the width & height numbers) to “Percent”.  Then change both the Width and Height to “300”. Double-check that the Canvas Extension Color is set to “Background” (at the bottom of the Canvas Size window.)  Click OK.

In Photoshop Elements: Canvas Size window

You may need to go to View>Fit On Screen to see the entire image after you’ve enlarged the canvas.  As you can hopefully see, there is a lot more “room” around the Santa now.  Save the image to a new file (File>Save As) with either a JPEG or PNG file type.

Santa image with enlarged canvas size.

Using Paint.NET to Enlarge the Canvas Size

Open the image in Paint.NET, then set the foreground/background colors to their defaults (black foreground and white background) by clicking on the little black & white squares below the current color selection:

Paint.NET color selection

Now increase the Canvas Size (not the Image Size). Go to Image>Canvas Size in the menu. Choose “By percentage” at the top of the Canvas Size window and then type in “300” percent.  At the bottom of the window, set the Anchor to “Middle”. Click OK.

Paint.NET Canvas Size window

As you can hopefully see, there is a lot more “room” around the Santa now.  Save the image to a new file (File>Save As) with either a JPEG or PNG file type.

In Paint.NET: Santa image with enlarged canvas size

Back in Kaleidoscope Kreator

Open the newly saved image with the larger canvas size (File>Open Image):

Santa image with enlarged canvas in Kaleidoscope Kreator

The Santa image now fills the entire template shape.  In fact, it fills it so well, you can’t even tell where the template shape is! I.e., if you wanted to adjust the size of the Santa in the wedge, it would be difficult because you can’t tell where the boundaries of the wedge are.  Not to worry – there is a little-known feature in KK3 that allows you to change the overlay color for cases such as this.  Go to Tools>Options to bring up the Options window:

The KK3 Options window

Click on the Select button to bring up the Color Selector, then click on any color in the color wheel.  In this case, I’ve chosen blue:

The KK3 Color Selector

Click OK to exit the color selector, then click OK again to exit the Options window.  The Kaleidoscope Kreator window now looks like this:

Kaleidoscope Kreator with a different overlay color

It’s easy to see where the boundary of the template shape is!  Note that the template overlay color does not affect saved or printed kaleidoscopes.  It’s purpose is solely to help you “see” the edges of the template shape in the work area so that you can resize/rotate/move the photo in the work area and know exactly where the subject of the photo is in relation to the template.  (If you want to revert the overlay color back to the default, then go to Tools>Options, click on the Select button, then click on the Default button at the bottom of the color selector.)

Now if we print this kaleidoscope, the background color prints as well. This is how you can define the shape so that you know where to cut:

Print Preview of resulting kaleidoscope

Note that it doesn’t matter what color you use for the background of the kaleidoscope as long as it’s different than the background of the photo.  Be aware that the darker the color you choose, the more ink the printer will use!

To recap

1. In general, changing the background color of the kaleidoscope will help define the shape of the kaleidoscope if the background of the photo is the same color as the background of the kaleidoscope – unless the photo doesn’t fill the template shape.

2. If the photo doesn’t fill the template shape, you can either (a) enlarge the photo until it does (often not an option due to unappealing designs); (b) choose a different photo; or (c) enlarge the canvas of the photo in a separate image editing program.

3. If you can’t see the template shape in the KK3 work area (often the case when a photo has a white or very light background), you can change the overlay color by going to Tools>Options and click on the Select button next to Template Overlay Color.


*Click here to download Paint.NET.  Make sure to click on the link at the top right side of that page under “Free Download Now” to download the correct product. (The current version as of this writing is Paint.NET v3.5.5.)

  • Von

    Can’t wait to try this. THANKS for your excellent instructions with illustrations ~ I love the visual assistance!

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