Altium Designer Documentation

Image

Modified by Susan Riege on Oct 9, 2018
All Contents

Parent page: Schematic Objects

A placed Image

Summary

An image object is a non-electrical drawing primitive. It is essentially a container for an image file that can be imported and placed onto a schematic sheet. The image associated with an image object can either be linked or embedded.

Availability

Image objects are available for placement in both Schematic and Schematic Library Editors:

  • Schematic Editor - the following commands are available:
    • Choose Place » Drawing Tools » Graphic from the main menus.
    • Click the Graphic button () in the graphic objects drop-down on the Active Bar located at the top of the workspace. (Click and hold an Active Bar button to access other related commands. Once a command has been used, it will become the top-most item on that section of the Active Bar.)
    • Right-click in the workspace then choose Place » Drawing Tools » Graphic from the context menu.
    • Click the  button on the Utility Tools drop-down () of the Utilities toolbar.
  • Schematic Library Editor - the following commands are available:
    • Choose Place » Graphic from the main menus.
    • Click the Graphic button () in the graphic objects drop-down on the Active Bar located at the top of the workspace. (Click and hold an Active Bar button to access other related commands. Once a command has been used, it will become the top-most item on that section of the Active Bar.)
    • Right-click in the workspace then choose Place » Graphic from the context menu.
    • Click the  button on the Utility Tools drop-down () of the Utilities toolbar.

Placement

After launching the command, the cursor will change to a cross-hair and you will enter graphic placement mode. Placement is made by performing the following sequence of actions:

  1. Position the cursor then click or press Enter to anchor the first corner of the graphic's frame in which the graphic itself will reside.
  2. Move the cursor to adjust the size of the frame then click or press Enter to complete frame placement.
  3. A dialog will open in which you can browse to and select the required graphic. Select the file you want to insert then press Open to complete graphic placement.
  4. Continue placing further graphic objects or right-click or press Esc to exit placement mode.

Additional actions that can be performed during placement while the graphic's frame is still floating on the cursor and before its first corner is anchored – are:

  • Press the Tab key to pause the placement and access the Image mode of the Properties panel from where its properties can be changed on-the-fly. Click the workspace pause button overlay () to resume placement.
  • Press the Alt key to constrain the direction of movement to the horizontal or vertical axis depending on the initial direction of movement.
  • Press the Spacebar to rotate the image frame counterclockwise or Shift+Spacebar for clockwise rotation. Rotation is in increments of 90°.
  • Press the X or Y keys to mirror the image frame along the X-axis or Y-axis.

While attributes can be modified during placement (Tab to open the Properties panel), keep in mind that these will become the default settings for further placement unless the Permanent option on the Schematic – Defaults page of the Preferences dialog is enabled. When this option is enabled, changes made will affect only the object being placed and subsequent objects placed during the same placement session.

Graphical Editing

This method of editing allows you to select a placed image object directly in the workspace and change its size, shape or location graphically.

When an image object is selected, the following editing handles are available:

A selected Image

  • Click and drag A to resize the image frame in the vertical and horizontal directions simultaneously.
  • Click and drag B to resize the image frame in the vertical and horizontal directions separately (provided the X:Y Ratio 1:1 option in the Properties panel is disabled).
  • Click anywhere on the image away from editing handles then drag to reposition it. While dragging, the image can be rotated (Spacebar/Shift+Spacebar) or mirrored (X or Y keys to mirror along the X-axis or Y-axis).
If attempting to graphically modify an object that has its Locked property enabled, a dialog will appear asking for confirmation to proceed with the edit. If the Protect Locked Objects option is enabled on the Schematic – Graphical Editing page of the Preferences dialog, and the Locked option for that design object is enabled as well, then that object cannot be selected or graphically edited. Click the locked object to select it then disable the Locked property in the List panel or disable the Protect Locked Objects option to graphically edit the object.

Non-Graphical Editing

The following methods of non-graphical editing are available:

Via the Properties Panel

Panel page: Image Properties

This method of editing uses the associated Properties panel mode to modify the properties of an image object.


The Image mode of the Properties panel

During placement, the Image mode of the Properties panel can be accessed by pressing the Tab key.

After placement, the Image mode of the Properties panel can be accessed in one of the following ways:

  • Double-click on the placed image object.
  • Place the cursor over the image object then right-click then choose Properties from the context menu.
  • If the Properties panel is already active, select the image object.
The image properties can be accessed prior to entering placement mode from the Schematic – Defaults page of the Preferences dialog. This allows the default properties for the image object to be changed, which will be applied when placing subsequent images.

Editing Multiple Objects

The Properties panel supports multiple object editing, where the property settings that are identical in all currently selected objects may be modified. When multiples of the same object type are selected manually via the Find Similar Objects dialog or through a Filter or List panel, a Properties panel field entry that is not shown as an asterisk (*) may be edited for all selected objects.

Via a List Panel

Panel pages: SCH List, SCHLIB List, SCH Filter, SCHLIB Filter

List panel allows you to display design objects from one or more documents in tabular format, enabling quick inspection and modification of object attributes. Used in conjunction with appropriate filtering - by using the applicable Filter panel or the Find Similar Objects dialog - it enables the display of just those objects falling under the scope of the active filter – allowing you to target and edit multiple design objects with greater accuracy and efficiency.

Using Vector Graphics

The majority of supported image formats - including bmp, png, jpg, and tiff - are Raster-based. Simply put, they are created (or composed) graphically of a fixed series of dots. While all of these image formats render adequately, their attraction diminishes when the image is scaled. Zoom into an image in one of these formats and the 'blocky' or 'pixelated' nature of the image's dot composition soon becomes apparent. The solution to this is to use a Vector-based image format. Vector images are composed of graphical shapes rather than dots, which are preserved upon scaling.

The Schematic Editor supports vector-based graphics in the form of WMF (Windows Meta File) and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) formats.

An example image on a schematic. A PNG version above with its SVG incarnation below. When zoomed-in, the quality of the latter becomes appreciatively noticeable.

Tips

  1. The following image formats are supported: .bmp, .dcx, .dib, .emf, .jpg, .pcx, .png, .rle, .tif, .svg, .tga, and .wmf.
  2. To retain the image's original aspect ratio, ensure that the X:Y Ratio 1:1 option is enabled in the Properties panel. When this option is enabled, the image will be scaled to fit optimally into the frame size specified while maintaining the original aspect ratio of the image. If the option is disabled, the image is stretched to fit exactly into the drawn frame size.
  3. A copy of a placed image will only be stored inside the schematic sheet if the corresponding Embedded option is enabled in the Properties panel. If this option is disabled, only a link to the image file will be stored. Care should be taken when using linked images – if the location of the image changes, you will need to update the link accordingly using the File Name field in the Properties panel.

 

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