Drawing with OS X Yosemite PREVIEW – progressing -> chance your arm

Given that Preview in various versions of OS X is often used for previewing and editing documents and images, it is surprising that even the HELP for Preview makes no mention of the drawing facilities, or how to get the best out of them. Be aware – it isn’t going to blow any full-blown draw application off the planet – but it can be useful – and its free.

I spent an evening exploring Preview and report here what I found – although it may not be exhaustive. Everything I write can be   applied to any image file you open – the image is effectively the bottom layer. It may be edited for colour balance etc. – accessed by “option command C” – and used as a base to draw upon, and to extract selections from using the lass options.

However, you will often want a carte blanche and in that respect you have to provide your own. One quick way is to open up the ‘Notes’ application to a blank page- make is large as you can and snap a screen shot “command option 4.”   If you have real papers you want to use then use a camera to shoot the blank sheet, or one with prepared colours. The world is your oyster. There is a way to enhance this background with texture without the apparent tools to do so.

Before you begin make a series of duplicates so you have a blank sketch book ready!

One way to increase the versatility of what you can do is to save the image at times, although doing so will flatten all the objects you may have been editing (circles, squares etc). The picture below involved that process. In Preview the processes you can access are vector based shapes, with single colour fills using the usual Apple colour well options. So it won’t look like van Gogh impressionism. You can lasso items in another image and paste them in as items than can then be resized if required, but cannot be colour filled – and it acts as though it is the base image: i.e background and pasted item will rotate together.


Start with a blank page opened from your “sketchbook” folder. Open the colour adjuster “Command option C”. Now press  the “”auto levels” button.  Surprised??  This is what I obtained – original and modified.

EmptyFrame copy 5

If you enter an object first and use a colour in the rim or centre you can get other colours with this trick. You get other colour changes by moving the sliders on the colour adjuster, with blank paper, or with a coloured object. An initially textured paper would produce other results.

Be sure to press the tool box icon on the main menu Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 8.49.47 PM to access the the main tools. Incidentally, the other icon – the “i” in a black circle, keeps track of all the steps you take. You won’t find any mention of this in the Preview Help menu. Nothing surprising about the rotation tool, through four quadrants. On the left is a magnification tool that you will see I left in place and then took a screen shot.


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