Feature Request - Size Measure Tool & Scale Overlay

Here everybody can post his problems with PhotoLine
User avatar
Koyaanis
Mitglied
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon 25 Sep 2006 20:23

Feature Request - Size Measure Tool & Scale Overlay

Post by Koyaanis » Sat 14 Jul 2007 03:51

Sometimes I get involved in extensive macro-photography sessions of a science-research type. Where I will take hundreds, perhaps thousands of photos of insects in a region. Then I have to meticulously measure the size of the insects on my computer screen using a desk-top caliper tool (like MB Ruler (the most versatile), or Screen Caliper (my favorite one for ease of use and GUI), or Desktop Ruler (does area & perimiter calculations too!)) where I can measure a known scale in the image, then using the rotating, re-sizable calipers to measure the subject in the image. (sometimes a rare species will be determined by a difference of only a couple millimeters) Then I have to manually type a note of the scale of the size of that insect because none of these can be put as an overlay on the image, unless I want to do a screen-capture or something and use that as a clunky work-around.

How great it would be if this kind of feature was built into the program. First a caliper that could be set for the size scale, where if you know how far apart something is, you just type in 12.2 cm, or whatever. Then you could put that small scale in the corner of your image for reference on the final print!

Is this possible? The way I do it now takes 3 different programs running at the same time. The graphic editor, the rotating and resizing desktop caliper tool, and then a notepad program to make notes of what was in that photo and the size measurement. Add in a 4th program to insert it all in a web-page or final document when done.

It wouldn't have to be a complex size-scale and measuring tool. Just a little ruler marked off in normal ruler tick marks. Where I could rotate it and drag its size, then tell it how many pixels = how many millimeters/centimeters, and the numbers on the scale would change accordingly. Then allow me to leave it as a layer in that image. (Though I wouldn't be opposed if that little ruler-layer could also do angular measures, area, and perimiter measures too, the best features of all 3 of the ones I mentioned above! :-) )

Or maybe this is already in PL32 and I just haven't stumbled on it? :-)

(just thought of something -- Considering MB-Ruler is freeware, perhaps it could be called-up from within PL32 and used as a layer?? That would be a really fast and simple way, no?)

User avatar
Hoogo
Betatester
Posts: 3865
Joined: Sun 03 Jul 2005 13:35
Location: Mülheim/Ruhr

Post by Hoogo » Sat 14 Jul 2007 07:53

I would do a (maybe too simple) ruler this way:
-There is a vector tool to draw lines. Draw a line along the ruler, for example 1cm.
-Choose the layer tool and rotate, move the vector to the insect.
There are no marks on that ruler, though.

User avatar
Koyaanis
Mitglied
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon 25 Sep 2006 20:23

Post by Koyaanis » Sat 14 Jul 2007 09:21

Yes, I could build a ruler every time I needed one, and then change the numbers on its scale every time after I calibrate it for every image. And then use it to measure the lengths of various insect and plant parts from the image itself. But I was hoping for something simpler, not making things even more difficult. It would be easier to just use the other caliper and ruler programs that I'm already using, and then make a note of what I found, just as I'm doing now. As I said, I wish there was a simpler way, to have those caliper and angle measure tools built-in to the editor I am using where I could change the scale measure as simply as I do on every other PL32 tool, and have it auto-resize as I zoom in on the image, keeping its measure relationship to the photo no matter what zoom ratio I am observing it at. Just as all other layers do in PL32. Then, since it's already been calibrated to a unit of measure in the photo, as an added bonus I could even leave it on my image off to the side to act as a size reference for anyone that might view it on the web or in print. Sometimes I take the photographs of insects on a background of cloth or screen, and by carefully counting the theads of the cloth or screen with an actual loup and machinist's measure, I'll use the mesh-count as the size reference for those caliper programs. Sometimes I only have a dime handy to throw into the photo for a size reference, and I measure that and use it for a base-measure. Etc. etc. I would like to have a ruler I could put in my photos instead of a dime for size reference, or instead of telling everyone the thread-count in the cloth so they can do their own math and count hundreds of threads in a photo.

User avatar
Hoogo
Betatester
Posts: 3865
Joined: Sun 03 Jul 2005 13:35
Location: Mülheim/Ruhr

Post by Hoogo » Sat 14 Jul 2007 13:07

Another idea:
Turn a photo of a ruler, a dime, the cloth and anything else you might use to measure into a picture with lots of transparency, but clearly visible structures. Converting to grayscale, running a highpass-filter and then deleting everything medium grey might work fine. Save that picture.
Load it as a layer into your test-object-picture. Resize and rotate until it fits to the given measurement-object. Then move and rotate it to the insect.

User avatar
Koyaanis
Mitglied
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon 25 Sep 2006 20:23

Post by Koyaanis » Sat 14 Jul 2007 14:44

Ummm... I'll pass on that idea.

If I wanted a dime or other reference object in the photo, I would leave it in when cropping the image to get it out of there. All I wanted is a way to make a nice mm, cm, dm, or inch scale with the appropriate ticks on it so that anyone else can also use that scale to measure whatever they want on the photo directly from the photo. Even if I take a photo of me holding up a fish that I just caught, it would be nice to put a feet & inches ruler on the edge of the photo just to impress the heck out of everyone. A scale just like every map in existence has, metric and english distance-scales printed on the edge. I figured since there's that UPC bar-code maker in PL32, that something like a user-configurable ruler would be a piece-of-cake to add compared to making bar-codes. I have yet to find a use for the UPC bar-code maker but it's extremely nice to know it's there, if and when I ever run into the need for it.

Thanks for the work-around ideas, but doing anything other than a distance ruler is not the answer. A distance-ruler overlay is the answer to a distance-ruler.

Sorry I brought it up.

Ned Mullen
Mitglied
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue 24 Jul 2007 07:13
Location: Los Angeles, California

Post by Ned Mullen » Tue 24 Jul 2007 09:34

Here is an idea that I am certain you will not be able take a pass on.

After much thought and consideration I move that we all raise three cheers for Koyaanis's idea.

A caliper, ruler, and angle measuring tool integrated into an image editor would be a big win. As a practical and useful tool it would be right up there with the layers and file conversion. The measuring tool is not for everyone, every day, but it is invaluable when required.

The tools you mentioned, MB-Ruler, Screen Caliper, and Desktop Ruler, are all nice tools, but they all have one huge problem. They were never installed in the systems that I have had to use. Which means, for all practical purposes. they do not exist.

Over the years I have spent endless hours with tissue paper, pencil, and ruler in a struggle to get accurate measurements from drawings and images displayed on screens that did not provide any kind of ruler. The problems of parallax and misalignment result in poor or in accurate data.

The key words for a successful ruler/caliper tool are;
simple, easy to use, and integration with the image processing system.

I like your idea of using a program like MB-Ruler.

If we had MB-Ruler tied into PL32 then it should be easy to upgrade, if needed, to the more powerful Mb-Ruler Pro.

Ned Mullen

User avatar
Koyaanis
Mitglied
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon 25 Sep 2006 20:23

Post by Koyaanis » Tue 24 Jul 2007 23:42

Ah, but if PL32 only had as many measuring methods as are available in MB Ruler Pro without having to pay even more than PL32 costs! 95 Euros for just a screen measuring tool??? That's a simple program that's based on the principle of "A fool and his money are soon parted." Everything that MB Ruler Pro can do are just simple trig calculations. Hardly worth 95 Euros. 3 Euros maybe, but not 95. It's just a shame that those capabilities aren't built into as nice an editor as PL32. I surely won't be paying 95 Euros to upgrade the freeware version. And yet, PL32 could have and do so much more than that. Besides, the on-screen reference "Scale" in MB Ruler (freeware or pro) is rudimentary at best. Just a few tick-marks for a rough estimate in sloppy over-sized lines and digits. PL32's vector tools alone could create a reference scale 100 times better than that.

Thanks though for letting others know that I am not alone in this need. With PL32's excellent vector drawing capabilities, and layout methods, it seems as if something like this wouldn't just be a nice accessory, but a mandatory requirement in any editor of this caliber.

p.s. I had to smile a bit when reading about your tissue-paper and pencil tick-marks to crudely measure things on the screen. I've played the same silly game so many times! Then wondering if my screen's aspect ratio will interfere in the already rough measure if I have to angle or tilt that measure in any direction. Or trying to make sure that my eye is perpendicular to the point I want to measure so the monitor's glass thickness isn't causing the parallax errors. C'mon, this is the age of computers! And here I am relying on rough measurements that are no better than lining up barley-corns from 2000 years ago! It's laughable, no?

User avatar
Gerhard Huber
Entwickler
Entwickler
Posts: 3839
Joined: Mon 18 Nov 2002 15:30
Location: Bad Gögging

Post by Gerhard Huber » Wed 25 Jul 2007 07:51

Hello,

what's about the measure tool of PL32 (you find it on the top left corner of the tool box - perhaps under the magnifier).
The problem would be to get correct values. To get it, you should photograph a ruler with the animal. Then you can measure the length of the ruler in pixels. This way you can calculate the correct dpi of the image. Then you setup this dpi (Layer/Layer Properties) and you can measure in the picture.

Gerhard

User avatar
Koyaanis
Mitglied
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon 25 Sep 2006 20:23

Post by Koyaanis » Wed 25 Jul 2007 11:45

Okay, let me see if I can figure this out then. If I want to overlay a more precise reference scale made with vector-graphics on my image I should:

1. Create a unit scale with appropriate tick marks on it. (metric 10ths, or english 1/2-4th-8th-16th-32nd ticks).

2. Edit it every time to change the numbers on it whenever I need to measure a distance or object that is less than or greater than its last-used unit of measure.

3. Resize that to a known length in the image using the measuring tool.

4a. Set the scale layer's properties to make it match the DPI as measured in the image.

4b. If the rule that I photograph in my image is metric then I need to grab a calculator to convert the DPC (dots per centimeter) to DPI and apply that to the layer instead.

5. Then I should make sure my image layer that I want the vector-graphic reference scale on should match the same DPI as the scale layer.

6. Then I can safely resize them both together and print them to any size I want.

Umm....

I guess I'll just do what I've been doing. I only miss out on having an easy to use and nice-looking reference scale in my image then.

I'm back to ... Sorry, I shouldn't have bothered asking.

:-)

p.s. Many times when measuring things for documentation of size, I will often have to measure the length of an insect body that is curved, or legs that are bent, or the circumference of an ovoid shape (such as a mushroom cap), so again, the 3rd-party measuring tools which handle these situations need to be used, even without having a reference scale overlay capability. The ruler in PL32 just measures point to point and the measure disappears as soon as I click on something new. I'd still have to keep a notepad open alongside then add up the measurements to get what I need. Thanks for the hint, but I think nobody is seeing how much PL32 lacks in this regard to what is actually needed at times. The PL32 measuring tool is pretty useless for anything more than rudimentary purposes.

User avatar
greenmorpher
Mitglied
Posts: 943
Joined: Tue 29 May 2007 14:42
Location: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Post by greenmorpher » Thu 26 Jul 2007 01:54

Gerhard, I am writing from a position of total ignorance here.

I wonder whether, rather than having very complex rulers, would it be easier/possible to have something like a line which could be curved or whatever, and then could be straightened while retaining its length?

Thus you might have an insect's body, you would go to another layer and draw a line, perhaps with several corner points, which would trace the part that you want to measure.

Then to be able to straighten that line without changing its length, so that the line could be easily measured.

Would that be possible? Would it be any easier than working out a very complex measuring scheme?

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com

User avatar
Koyaanis
Mitglied
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon 25 Sep 2006 20:23

Post by Koyaanis » Wed 08 Aug 2007 01:55

Before they left on vacation they were nice enough to take a look at adding a ruler to their vector-shape tools (where your rectangle, ellipse, stars, etc. tools are). I got a chance to play with it and it works really nice so far. And they are adding in a vector-lines length measure to the ruler-tool.

With those, most of the measurements and scales can now be added to an image. (THANKS!!) But I got to thinking of something. In the past I had a wonderful program called "Graph Paper Printer", that would allow you to design all manner of useful layouts to print for doing charts and graphs, even circular dials for instrument gauges, perspective-drawing grids, music notation papers, statistical charts, and calendars, etc. (But no simple ruler design.) I reinstalled it to see how it does what it does.

I wanted to see how they used their tick-mark adjustments so that I could tell Gerhard about it for the new ruler. Then I realized, this program along with PL32 is a nice compliment. Because "Graph Paper Printer" allows you to copy the graphs and designs it makes to your clipboard AS VECTOR OBJECTS! Create the measuring grid of your choice, copy to clipboard, then paste into PL32 as a selection. The whole shape is instantly added as a vector-layer group in PL32. With these being vector objects they can be resized and manipulated in any way you need.

So I went on a hunt online for this program because it was offered as freeware in the last few versions. I thought I could post the link here for everyone. Sadly, it has disappeared from the net. And the freeware EULA agreement says it can't be posted anywhere else on the net except by the author or I would post it somewhere myself, the whole file being only 688kb.

If you can find "Graph Paper Printer v5.4.0.2" by Philippe Marquis as freeware anywhere (last known filename of "GraphPaperF-Setup.exe". I suspect the F stood for "Free"), do get it. It makes a wonderful addition to your PhotoLine tools. It doesn't have the single "ruler" overlay as has just been added to PL32 in the upcoming version, but for everything else it should cover most anyone's graph, chart, and measuring overlay needs. It even has an option for making "Lego" layout grids for your Lego Utopias that you want to design. :)

(Though I'm still trying to talk the PL32 authors into adding an angular measure between two vector lines. Then maybe I can talk them into adding radius measuring options and more. Then they'll need to go on another vacation! :) )

Ludger
Mitglied
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon 30 Aug 2004 17:34
Location: Osnabrücker Land

Post by Ludger » Wed 08 Aug 2007 15:42

If you can find "Graph Paper Printer v5.4.0.2" by Philippe Marquis as freeware anywhere (last known filename of "GraphPaperF-Setup.exe". I suspect the F stood for "Free"), do get it.
Version 4.21 is available on several websites for free, I downloaded it at http://www.mathematicshelpcentral.com/graph_paper.htm. I found a spanish or south american website where it seemed you can buy GPaper v. 5.4... for 2.00 € via 'Click and Buy' but I didn't try, so I don't know if the link is still correctly working.

The actual website of P. Marquis seems to be http://www.marquis-soft.com. AFAIK is version 4.21 the last freeware version.

Ludger

User avatar
Koyaanis
Mitglied
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon 25 Sep 2006 20:23

Post by Koyaanis » Thu 09 Aug 2007 00:49

Ludger wrote:Version 4.21 is available on several websites for free, I downloaded it at http://www.mathematicshelpcentral.com/graph_paper.htm. I found a spanish or south american website where it seemed you can buy GPaper v. 5.4... for 2.00 € via 'Click and Buy' but I didn't try, so I don't know if the link is still correctly working.

The actual website of P. Marquis seems to be http://www.marquis-soft.com. AFAIK is version 4.21 the last freeware version.

Ludger
Yes, this is the problem that I ran into when trying to find the link for you people. It almost looks like the marquis-soft.com site was hijacked by one of those fly-by-night search-engine spammers.

I guarantee you though that v5.4.0.2 was the last version released, and was indeed released as freeware. Here's a copy right from the EULA of my copy of v5.4.0.2
LICENSE GRANT
The author grants anybody a FREE LICENSE to use this SOFTWARE. Neither help nor support will be provided.

REDISTRIBUTION
Redistributioin of this SOFTWARE by any means is forbidden and will be severely prosecuted. Only links to the author's website are allowed (http://www.multiqc.com).
His EULA file modified date as July 26, 2006 10:16:02 pm

When I go to that website there's nothing there related to it.

I put: gpaper.exe 5.4.0.2 into google and came up with a few links that seems to still host it (against that EULA statement). But when I installed it from one of those it comes up as unlicensed shareware, not a freeware version. Then again, there's always some less reputable sites that can provide a cure. I just found one that has a patched exe file for v5.4.0.2. Since it's disappeared off the net I don't know how else you can get the freeware version. Since v5.4.0.2 was offered by the author as freeware is any harm being done? I have a copy of it to prove it. What if he died or something and the vultures swooped in to take advantage of his death. Anyway, the earlier freeware versions still provide a lot of functionality. They still provide the copy to clipboard feature, I presume.