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Creating an Inlay from a Photograph
Article © MAIL User: ManowarDave

This article is intended as a walk-through of some basic image editing functions that will allow you to produce an inlay from a photograph.

I'll attempt to guide you through the process from preparing an image to weaving your inlay. The scope of this article will cover inlays in European 4 in 1 only.

Things you'll need.

The obvious:
A computer
A photograph

Required Software:
Image editing software capable of creating 1 bit (black and white) images.
Spreadsheet Software
Zlosk's IGP software (PC/Windows only)

Optional Software:
Zlosk's IGP2POV (PC/Windows only)

Image editing software:
You can use any software package you like for this as long as it is capable for reducing an image down to dithered 1 bit colour, i.e. black and white. I personally use Paint Shop Pro. If you've got Adobe Photoshop and have wrapped your head around it then you probably won't need this part of the article. However, for the purposes of this article I am going to use free software, in particular GIMP - the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Don't worry if you've never used it before (I hadn't before I decided to write this article), as I'll walk you through with screen shots.
GIMP Can be found at

Spreadsheet software:
Again you can use any spreadsheet package you like for this as long as it is capable of importing a text file. I personally use Microsoft Excel but have used Calc as well. As it is free, we'll be using Calc in this article. The Open Office suite can be found at

Maille pattern software:
For this you will use the ever-useful IGP tool created by Zlosk. Again this program is free, and works on PCs only, not on Macs. It may be possible to run with an PC emulator. IGP can apply images to maille graph papers but also has a very useful text output tool that you will be using to create your inlay. IGP can be found at You may also need the .NET Framework if not already installed on your machine in order to run IGP. This is also linked to from Zlosk's download page.

Part 1

A bit of prep work:

First of all you need to make sure your image is in digital format. If it's not then you will either need to scan your image or take a photo of it with a digital camera.

Secondly, you need to note that inlays work better with a tight Aspect Ratio (AR). For European 4in1 this is about 3.3 to 3.5. If the weave is any looser than this the image can seem to fade as there are more "holes" in the fabric. This is however, a recommendation only. If the inlay is intended as part of a piece of clothing or armour then you will want an AR the same as the rest of the project or risk not being able to move.

Next comes a bit of maths.

You need to do one of the following:
a) decide how big the final inlay needs to be and how many rings you want to weave. This will determine the size of ring you will need to make/purchase.
b) decide how big the final inlay needs to be and what size rings you will be using. This will determine how many rings you will use and ultimately the resolution of your inlay.
c) decide what ring size you will use and the number of rings you will weave. This will determine the final size of your inlay.

TRL has some useful information in its ring listings as to rings used per square foot of European 4in1 for any particular size. This can come in handy when working out the above.

Part 2

Let's get started:

Open GIMP. Go to the file menu and select open. Select your image from the file explorer menu and click open.

Image: dhr_inly_step_01.jpg

Next you need to decide if you are going to use the whole image or if you just want part, like a face. You're probably only going to want a part of the image you will need the select tool.

Image: dhr_inly_step_02.jpg

Highlight the area of the image you want to use by left clicking at the top left of the part of the image you want to select. Hold the left mouse button down and drag the pointer to the lower left corner of the area you want to select. The selected area of the image should now be bounded by a dashed box like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_03.jpg

Now you need to copy and paste this selection to a new image. Go to the edit menu and select "copy" to copy this part of the image to the clipboard.

Next, to use this selection as an image on its own, go to the edit menu again and select "paste as" and then "new image".

Your new smaller image should now fill a new workspace like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_04.jpg

Close your original image at this point (without saving any changes) and save your new image as something new. Give it a name like "masterimage" so you don't save any changes over it.

Next you need to reduce the size of the image to match the bit of maths you did earlier.

For arguments sake my inlay will have a fixed width of 150 rings. For a normal portrait style photo this will give somewhere between a 25,000 and 30,000 ring inlay depending on the height.

Go to the image menu and select the "scale" tool. You will now see the scale tool appear like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_05.jpg

Input the new width and the height should automatically snap to the correct corresponding size when you move the cursor to the height box. If it doesn't snap to maintain aspect ratio then you will need to click the little picture of a chain at the side to link the two values.

Click "scale" and your image will be resized like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_06.jpg

Next you need to reduce the image to a dithered black and white dot matrix image.

Open the image menu, select "mode" and choose "indexed".

From the indexed colour conversion menu shown below, select "use black and white (1-bit) palette" from colour map and "Floyd-Steinberg (normal)" from dithering.

Image: dhr_inly_step_07.jpg

Hit convert and your image will be rendered down to a black and white dithered image.

Image: dhr_inly_step_08.jpg

Now save your image with a new name using the "save as" feature in the file menu.

OK, now you have successfully transformed your photo into a 1-bit image, but it is still black and white. I guess this is OK if you're doing your inlay in black and white metals, but what if you are making it from say, aluminium and copper.

You can use the colour exchange tool to change one colour in the image to another which will give us a better idea of what the finished piece will look like.

First the image needs to be converted back to a full colour image while retaining its 1 bit appearance. This is a simple operation done by using the mode tool again.

From the image menu, select "mode" and "RGB". This keeps the image as a black and white 1 bit image but increases the palette size to allow us to change some colours around.

Now to change the colour. From the colour menu, use the "map" tool and select "colour exchange".

You will now see the following menu.

Image: dhr_inly_step_09.jpg

At the top you can select the colour you want to change and at the bottom you can select the colour you want to change it to.

If you click on the relevant colour block by the "From Colour" and "To Colour" titles you will see the following colour selection tool. Play around with the colour settings until you get something close to the desired colour.

When selecting the "From Colour" you can use the eye dropper tool towards the bottom right of the colour select window to pick the colour from your image.

Image: dhr_inly_step_10.jpg

For this example I've changed the black to an orangey colour to represent the copper and changed the white to a light grey for the aluminium.

It is important to change the white away from white even if only very slightly, as IGP can encounter problems when dealing with the RGB value 255 255 255 for white. This is a known quirk in the program but is a compromise between functionality and speed.

Image: dhr_inly_step_11.jpg

Hurrah! That's the image editing done with.

Now you just need to save your file. It is best to save the final image as a bmp or gif. DON'T save as a jpg as IGP doesn't support loading jpeg files.

Previewing your inlay:

You can skip this step and go straight to loading the image into IGP but it's definitely worth previewing your image to make sure it'll look OK when finished. The best way to do this is to load the image you've just created into IGP2POV.

In order to do this you will need Zlosk's IGP2POV software which can be found at POV-Ray can be found at

Don't panic. You don't need to know how to use POV-Ray. IGP2POV handles all of that for you. POV-Ray just needs to be installed so that IGP2POV can use it to render the image.

OK, so you've got these bits of software installed so open up IGP2POV and it should look like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_12.jpg

For "File in" browse for the image you created earlier. Leave the info for "File out" alone. Input whatever ring data you have for the rings you'll be making the inlay from for ring parameters. Select "Right Way" for stretch.

Now click "Render". IGP2POV will now create a script and then call POV-Ray to render it. This can take a few minutes depending on the speed of your computer.

You should end up with an image something like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_13.jpg

If at this stage you're not happy with how the inlay looks then you may want to go back and play with the colour settings of the original small image you created before reducing to black and white. Try exploring the functions in the colour menu to see if you can get the results you want. A good place to start is with the brightness and contrast settings.

Part 3

Creating our "knitting" pattern:

Assuming you are happy with the result then you now need to process the image with IGP.

Open IGP and you should be presented with a screen that looks like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_14.jpg

Go to the File menu and select "open". Open the small image you created earlier NOT the large one you just rendered in IGP2POV.

Don't worry about what the image looks like when it's loaded or what graph paper it's in. At this point you are only interested in the text file you can output from IGP.

To output the text file click the "Count colours" button on the right hand side of the IGP screen. This will bring up the following window.

Image: dhr_inly_step_15a.jpg

At this point we can change the RGB values of the colours to something more meaningful.

You can do this by single clicking the RGB value in the colour column on the left. IGP will display the corresponding colour in the box on the right.
Now double click the RGB value and you will be presented with the following text box into which you can type your more meaningful text. Be careful on versions of IGP prior to as double clicking on the white space or total line can crash the program.

Image: dhr_inly_step_16a.jpg

Here I have used Cu to represent copper and Al to represent Aluminium

Image: dhr_inly_step_17a.jpg

Now you're going to save this info as a CSV file. To do this, click on the "Save as text..." button. Then, when you are presented with the save window you will need to change "Save as type" at the bottom to "All (*.*)" and make sure the file name you enter has the extension csv.

Image: dhr_inly_step_18a.jpg

Click "Save"

Now you need to open the CSV file in Calc.

Before the file loads you will be presented with a screen that asks how to handle the file.

Image: dhr_inly_step_19a.jpg

You will need to make sure that the "Merge Delimiters", "Space" and "Other" boxes are ticked and put a colon into the "Other" text field.

Click OK and the csv file will now load and be presented like this.

Image: dhr_inly_step_20a.jpg

The info from the original text file has now been split into rows and columns which make it easier for us to work with. Each row in the spreadsheet is a row of links in the inlay and each column contains counts of contiguous rings in any one colour/material.

This is essentially our "knitting" pattern. The numbers at the very top tell us how many of each ring you will need in total for the project. Looking at the first line of info you can see that the first row of links starts with 26 copper rings followed by 1 aluminium ring then 19 copper rings and so on.

You can now play around with column widths and font sizes to print this spreadsheet on as few pages as you can manage.

Any questions or corrections then please PM me.

And don't forget to post all you marvelous new inlay creations in the Gallery.
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