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User Guide

The ElPicsPrint software developed by Elita Group is designed for creating, editing and embossing tactile images on Braille embossers as well as using devices with termal technology for tactile images.
The ElPicsPrint application can open svg, bmp, jpg, and png images, and also an elpe and elpp files special to the software. The elpe file is an editable svg image with additional info processed by the software. The elpp file contains information as tactile dots ready to be embossed, this format does not allow editing.
We provide a basic set of images in elpe and jpeg formats along with the ElPicsPrint software. You’ll find these files in your My Documents\ElPicsPrint user folder.

Installing and Activating the Software

Launch the ElPicsPrint setup file on your PC. In the dialog box that appears select the desired language and click OK.

Select language

The setup wizard will open. Please follow its instructions. To continue the setup, click Next on each step. If you change your mind and don’t want to install the software, click Cancel. When the setup wizard finishes, click the Finish button.
You can launch the ElPicsPrint software just after it is installed, using the Desktop icon or from the Start menu. If the application had been activated before, ElPicsPrint opens immediately. However, if you installed ElPicsPrint for the first time or the software had never been activated, you’ll be prompted to activate the application or to use it in evaluation mode until the trial period ends.

Activation window

Please enter the serial number and the activation key, then click Activate. In order to activate the product, you need to have Internet access. If the activation is successful, you’ll receive a message «Activation successful. Please click OK to launch the software.» If you want to evaluate the application, click «OK».
Now ElPicsPrint is installed and ready to use.

Software Description

The application is designed for creating, editing and embossing tactile graphics on Braille embossers as well as using devices with termal technology for tactile images. This version supports Basic-D, Everest-D, BrailleBox and FanFold-D embossers from Index Braille; VP Delta, VP Columbia, VP Rogue, VP EmBraille, VP Max, VP SpotDot, VP Elite, VP Premier embossers from ViewPlus; Romeo and Juliet from Enabling Technologies.
ElPicsPrint supports the following file types:

The software has three modes of operation: Start mode, Edit mode, and Emboss mode.
When you launch the application from the Start menu or by clicking its Desktop shortcut, it opens in the Start mode. This mode allows you to create a new image or open an existing file.
After creating a new file or opening an existing one the software switches to the Edit mode. It is the main mode allowing to create and edit objects in a document.
You can switch the software mode from Edit to Emboss mode that allows to preview the image that will be embossed, as well as send the image to the embosser.
You can see the help and the info about the software, as well as edit ElPicsPrint options in any mode of operation.

Note: When you start the application from a shortcut on the desktop or from the Start menu, or when you open a file from Windows Explorer, a new instance of the application opens. It is possible to use several instances of the application at the same time and copy elements from one document to another.

User Interface

Let’s look at the ElPicsPrint user interface in each mode of operation.

The main space is occupied by the working area. The application controls are on the right side.

Just after launching the application window looks like this:

ElPicsPrint user interface in Start mode

In all modes of operation the main window contains the following buttons:

In the Start mode the application window also contains the following controls:

The paper size and margins specified here will be recommended for the document being created, but it can easily be modified in the Edit mode.

Edit mode

After opening a file or creating a new project the software switches to the Edit mode:

ElPicsPrint user interface in Edit mode

In addition to the items that are available in all modes, Edit mode window contains the following controls:

Emboss mode

To preview the resulting document and send it to your embosser, click the Emboss Mode button. The application switches to the Emboss mode:

ElPicsPrint user interface in Preview-and-Emboss mode

In addition to the items that are available in all modes, the Emboss mode window contains the following controls:

After opening the elpp file, the software will switch to the restricted Emboss mode. Only page rotation, embosser selection (Index embossers only), the Number of Copies, the Fast Emboss mode checkbox and the Emboss button are available in this mode:

ElPicsPrint user interface in Preview-and-Emboss mode

ElPicsPrint Options

You can adjust the application options by clicking Options in the main window.

Options window

The following options are available:

Creating Images

ElPicsPrint version 2 is a graphics editor containing tools needed to prepare and emboss tactile graphics. This editor is available in Edit mode which is the main mode after opening an existing document or creating a new one.

When creating a new document, the selected margins and paper size are taken into account. The document being created will have the proportions corresponding to the selected paper size and margins. Please bear in mind that if you select another paper size in Edit or Emboss mode, the initial document will be re-scaled according to the new size, and when creating or editing objects afterwards, it is possible that some of them would be out of the document borders, since it might have proportions different from those of the initial paper size. As the result, the information will be partially brought outside the embossing area when returning to the initial paper size or selecting another one. You can bring all objects back into the visibility area by using the Show All item in the context menu of the working area.

A document can contain three types of objects: contours, bitmap images and text labels. The ways to create and edit objects are described below.

Drawing Tools

The drawing toolbar allows you to add to your document objects such as contours, bitmaps, and text labels and modify them.

The drawing toolbar layout is shown below.

Drawing toolbar

You can move the toolbar on the screen by dragging it by the orange rectangle on its upper or left edge. You can position the toolbar vertically or horizontally depending on your preferences. the toolbar orientation changes automatically when it is moved close to window borders. You can also change it by double clicking the orange area.

The following tools are available:

The Arrow tool The Arrow tool. This tool is active if no other tool is selected. It allows you to select and edit objects.
The Pencil tool The Pencil tool. This tool allows to draw lines consisting of straight segments and Bezier curves. To draw straight segments, use single left mouse clicks on the image. To draw a continuous curve, press and hold the left mouse button. To continue drawing straight segments, release the left mouse button and click the image again. To finish drawing an open contour, double click the image; to finish drawing a closed contour, connect the starting and ending points of the contour, thus drawing will be finished automatically. You can draw vertical and horizontal lines by pressing and holding the Shift.
The Shapes tool The Shapes tool. It allows you to draw polygons with angle numbers from 3 up to 12. Moving the slider on the toolbar changes the number corresponding to the number of corners and the shape on the tool icon. To start drawing, use left click of your mouse. To finish drawing, click it again. To keep the shape proportions, press the Shift key before you start drawing and hold it while drawing.
The Rectangle and Ellipse tools The Rectangle and Ellipse tools. The Rectangle and Ellipse tools allow drawing corresponding shapes. To draw a square or a circle, use these tools with simultaneously pressing and holding the Shift.
The Image tool The Image tool allows you to add any bitmap image to your document from a file saved earlier to your PC or to a removable drive. Jpeg, png and bmp files are supported.
The Magic Wand tool The Magic Wand tool allows you to add a line to your document that outlines an area of a specified color. The sensitivity threshold can be changed in the tool options. As a result of Magic Wand work you get a closed polyline consisting of short straight segments.
The Text tool The Text tool allows you to add a text label to your document. Its content can be edited afterwards. To create a text label, move the cursor to the place where you want, left click and enter text. The text you enter will be automatically converted into Braille using the Liblouis library and the selected translation table. The «Braille input» checkbox allows you to turn on and turn off the braille six-key input mode. Switching the input mode is also available by pressing the F2 button. You can freely paste text typed in Braille in other programs while creating and editing a text label.
The Eraser tool The Eraser tool allows you to make parts of bitmap images and contours transparent. You can change the size and form of the tool. It can be applied to one or several selected objects at once. If the Restore Mode checkbox is checked, the object parts being processed are made visible again. You can select this checkbox during processing by pressing the left Shift key on your keyboard. Press the key briefly to turn this mode on or off; you can also press and hold the key, then the restore mode will be active until you release the key. The Reset button allows you to remove all transparency masks and brings selected objects to their original state. Press and hold the left Ctrl key to temporarily turn off the Eraser tool in order to transform an object or select other objects.

Select and Transform

You can select every object in the document by clicking on it with your left mouse button. You can also select several objects by pressing and holding the Shift key, or select all objects at once by using the Ctrl+A keystroke. You can also outline the area to be selected with your left mouse button. All objects fully or partially covered by that area will be selected. Please note that these actions are performed with the active «Arrow» tool.

Selecting an contour

To remove selection, press the Escape key or click an empty area of the document.

You can perform a number of actions with the selected object or group of objects: copy (Ctrl+C), delete (Delete), move (by moving the center point or moving the object with the left mouse button while holding down the Ctrl button on the keyboard), resize, and rotate them by moving central or angular points of the bounding rectangle. To keep object proportions, press the Ctrl key before transformation and hold it while performing the action. Press and hold the Shift key to transform the object relative to its central point. Holding down the Ctrl key while rotating will rotate the object in 15 degrees increments. To reposition the object, move the center point of the bounding rectangle or Ctrl-drag the selection.

When you hover the mouse pointer over the corner and center points of the bounding rectangle, as well as when transforming objects, a tooltip appears with the coordinates of this point relative to the UPPER LEFT corner of the document. If the mouse pointer changes to the index finger, then you can perform the transformation. If the mouse pointer changes to an icon indicating rotation, then you can rotate the shape. If Show Grid and Snap to Grid are turned on in ElPicsPrint options, the coordinates will be rounded to the indicated grid step when moving the points.

Editing contours

To switch an ungrouped contour to the Edit mode, double click on it with the left mouse button. When switching to Edit mode, the anchor points of the contour are marked in green. You can move and delete those points in this mode.

contour edit mode

If the edited point is the anchor point of the Bezier curve, then the auxiliary points of the curve also become visible. By moving these points you can change the inflection of the curve. Double click the anchor point to remove it. To add an anchor point, double click a free segment of the contour. This point can be moved afterwards.

Point edit mode

You can select the segment for editing By clicking a segment of the contour. Then auxiliary anchor points of the segment will appear, and you can change the curvature of the segment by moving these points.

Segment edit mode

You can change properties of contours such as the presence or absence of a stroke, its thickness, color, line type (solid and dotted), fill color, tactile texture type, and texture dot height by selecting «contour settings» from the contour context menu.

Contour settings menu

To change the thickness of the contour, move the corresponding slider. At the same time, in the tooltip you will see the approximate thickness of the contour in Braille dots. The value «1x» means single dot thickness, «2x» double, «2x +» means that the contour will be embossed in a double row of dots, with some distance between the rows.

Example of contours with different thicknesses

You can make a dotted contour by checking the Dotted Line checkbox in the contour Settings menu. This contour will be embossed in a broken row of braille dots. It is recommended to use this option only for contours without color filling.

Dotted contour example

You can change the color of contour in the contour «Settings menu».
When the Embossing type is set to «ElPicsPrint Braille printing», the color of the contour does not affect the embossing result of the tactile image. White and transparent strokes are not embossed.
When the Embossing type is set to «Printing on Microcapsule Paper», all strokes except gray are converted to black.
Transparent or white strokes can be used in combination with textures if you want to create an area filled with texture without delineating the area's borders.

You can change the inner color filling of the contour in the «Contour Settings» menu.

When the Embossing type is set to «ElPicsPrint Braille printing» and «Fill colored objects with dots» is not selected in Emboss mode, the fill color does not affect the embossing result. If you want to use automatic filling of colored objects, choose the color that is most convenient in terms of tactile perception, and not based on the actual color of the objects being drawn. It is quite acceptable to fill the foliage of a tree, for example, with black, if it will be optimal for tactile perception. The image below shows the result of filling the contours with dots depending on the color and the selected embosser.

Original image:

Preview of the result for Index Braille printers with the «Fill colored objects with dots» checkbox checked in emboss mode:

Preview of the result for ViewPlus printers with the «Fill with dots of colored objects» checkbox in emboss mode:

When the Embossing type is set to «Printing on microcapsule paper», the fill color matters, if you plan to print a color image and check the «Print ink graphics» checkbox in the Emboss mode. In this case, the filling of the contour will be printed without changes. Otherwise, all color filling other than black and gray will be converted to white and will not be printed.

Preview of the result with the checkbox «Print ink graphics» checked is identical to the original image:

Preview of the result with the checkbox «Print ink graphics» unchecked:

You can change the filling texture of the contour in the «Contour Settings» menu. The selected texture will be displayed in Edit mode, which allows you to evaluate the embossing result without switching to the Emboss mode. That is the difference from the automatic filling of colored objects with dots which has been described earlier. Appearance of the texture depends on the selected Embossing type and the selected embosser, and will automatically change when you change your selection.
When the Embossing type is set to «ElPicsPrint Braille printing», the contours will be filled with the selected texture, if the texture and fill color are specified for them, regardless of whether the function of automatic filling with dots of colored objects is enabled or not.

Original image set to «ElPicsPrint Braille printing» and the specified textures:

Preview of the result with the «ElPicsPrint Braille printing» and the specified textures:

Original image and preview of the result with the «Print ink graphics» checkbox checked and set to «Printing on microcapsule paper» and the specified textures:

Preview of the result with the «Print ink graphics» checkbox unchecked and set to «Printing on microcapsule paper» and the specified textures:

If the Embossing type is set to «ElPicsPrint Braille printing» and ViewPlus embosser with support of different dot height is selected, you can set the dot height of the texture for the selected contour in the «Contour Settings» menu. The range varies from 1 to 7, where 1 is the minimum dot height. You can see it in the Emboss mode. the dot height is expressed by the intensity of the color of the inner texture filled with dots - from light red to rich red:

You can combine multiple contours into one by addition, subtraction or intersection, which allows you to create contours of complex geometric shapes. To do this, select two or more contours and select the «Combine» option from the context menu and then select the combination option you wish to apply. This function is Available when selecting two or more contours. If the operation returns an empty object, the operation will be canceled. The following merge options are available:

To split the contour into separate shapes, select the Split option from the context menu (Alt + U).

You can also apply the Eraser tool to selected contours. It makes transparent the contour parts in its covering area.

You can group several contours into one single object (group). To do that, select the contours you wish to group and select Group from the context menu or press Ctrl+G. You need to ungroup anchor points of grouped contours Before editing them. To do that, select Ungroup from the context menu, press Ctrl+U or double click the selected contour, and ElPicsPrint will prompt you to ungroup it.

You can change the Z-index of the contour, that is, place it in front or back of other objects in the document. To do this, select the «Change Z-index» option from the context menu and then select the action you wish to apply. The following options are available: Raise selection to top (Ctrl+Home), Lower selection to bottom (Ctrl+End), Raise selection one step (Ctrl+PageUp), Lower selection one step (Ctrl+PageDown).

Filling with color and textures is recommended only for closed contours. When filling open contours with a color or texture, the fill boundary will follow the line connecting the first and last points of the contour. You can convert an open contour to a closed contour by merging it with another contour. To do this, select both contours and select the «Join» item from the context menu and then select the «Union» join option. The result is a closed figure, which includes the internal areas of the combined contours. The image below shows the original open and closed contours before (left) and after (right) merging:

Combining Open and Closed Contours

Editing Text Fields

You can rotate and move selected text fields the same way as you do it for other objects in your document. To start editing the contents of the text field, double click on it. This mode allows you to edit text according to your liking and perform usual actions like copying and pasting. When entering or editing text ElPicsPrint automatically converts it into Braille using selected Braille table. The Braille text width can be slightly different from the source text width. As you type, you can combine print text and braille in the same text field. If you type Braille characters in 6-key entry mode those characters are not converted using the translation table. You should enable the Braille input mode For direct Braille input. It is turned on and off by the «Braille Input» checkbox on the toolbar, or by pressing F2 on the keyboard.

Text edit mode

You can change your Braille translation table by selecting the Liblouis Braille translation Table option from the context menu of the edit text field.

Selecting Braille translation table from the context menu of the text field

If it is impossible to correctly convert text using the selected Braille table, the background of the text field will become pink. When trying to open the document for preview in this case you'll receive a warning message.

Message when an incorrect translation table is selected

Note: ElPicsPrint searches for translation table files in its installation folder, in the subfolder. If a table you’d like to select is missing in the list, please verify that the file contains the required attribute. It must contain the name of the table as displayed in this list. ElPicsPrint supports translation tables only for literary Braille. 8-dot computer Braille tables are not supported.

Editing Bitmap Images

You can rotate and move bitmap images that are part of your document, as well as change proportions of such images. You can also apply the Eraser tool that makes transparent all image parts in its covering area.

Navigation in the Document

By default, the open document is fully positioned in the application window. If necessary, you can change zooming using the mouse wheel or Ctrl+Plus and Ctrl+Minus keyboard shortcuts. When using the mouse, the document is zoomed relative to the point over which the mouse pointer is located; and when using the keyboard - relative to the center of the visible part of the work area. When zoomed in, you can pan the document using the scroll bars or using the mouse while holding down the Space bar or middle mouse button (scroll wheel).

Object Actions and the Context Menu

You can perform the following actions with selected objects. These actions are available in the context menu or using keyboard shortcuts:

General recommendations for preparing images

A tactile image is a source of information about the depicted object for those who explore it with fingertips, just like a usual image in full color is such a source for a sighted user. It should be as clear and easily recognizable as possible.

ElPicsPrint software allows you to create tactile graphics by embossing on a Braille embosser as well as using devices with termal technology for tactile images.

Despite the fact that the app allows you to easily change the embossing type of a document, it is better to know in advance which type you will choose, since each of them has its own distinctive features.

Printing on microcapsule paper allows for more details, but requires careful handling of color filling.
Fill colors displayed on the screen and printed out may vary. Also, depending on the printer settings, a percentage of black toner may be added to the fill during printing.
This means that after the printed paper passes through the heating device, the filling will become raised. This effect may be undesirable, so you should test all fill colors on the printer and tactile graphics machine in advance.

When embossing on a Braille embosser, you need to take into account the low resolution of embossing, rather large thickness of lines, the distance between objects. You'll have to choose textures and colors for objects that are different in style and contrast.

In order to achieve the best result, we recommend to Emboss test tactile images first and evaluate color rendering, line thickness, and texture patterns on your embosser. If you plan to share created images, it is recommended to make them universal, suitable for all embossing types. To do this, you can alternately select different embossing types and embosser options and make sure that the preliminary result meets the requirements. If necessary, you can make adjustments by switching back to the Edit mode.

You need to meet some requirements while preparing a tactile graphics in the ElPicsPrint app in order to create a high-quality image:

Creating a new image

The image can be created from scratch using the drawing tools, or you can use a bitmap image as the basis for your drawing. To create an imagee please do the following:

To simplify the drawing process, you can use a bitmap as a background. To draw an image based on a bitmap, please do the following:

Prepared drawing Drawing processed for braille printing

Preparing images with third-party applications

Working with svg Images

ElPicsPrint version 2 supports svg files, so to prepare your images you can use third-party software, such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, Inkscape etc. or use them together with ElPicsPrint. However, please take into account the following recommendations:

Working with Bitmap Images

ElPicsPrint version 2 and later supports bitmap image files, the same as its earlier versions. When opening a bmp, jpg or png image, the software creates a new document with the selected margins and paper size and adds the bitmap image to the document the same way as if the Image tool was used. You can add an unlimited number of bitmaps to your document with this tool. You can change the image size and position as usual. You can also perform other actions with the image: combine several images in one document, apply the Eraser tool, add text labels, even on top of those already present on the image, etc.

These images will be converted to tactile graphics based on the selected embossing type and the Border detector setting that is available in emboss mode.

However, it is not recommended way of creating and storing tactile images when using ElPicsPrint version 2 and higher. It is highly recommended to use the vector data storage format.

If you still decide to use ready-made bitmap images or use third-party bitmap graphics editors to prepare images and then use them with ElPicsPrint, follow the recommendations below:

When choosing bitmap images to add into your document, select images with clear-cut contour and uniform background. Usual, even clear photo most likely won’t fit for embossing because there’s no way to recognize by touch.

As an example, let’s take an image of a bluebell. If you try to emboss such a photo, the result will be unreadable even with text labels describing the image.

A bluebell photo and the processing result

A drawing like this one would fit better For our goal:

Drawing of a bluebell

A blind user won’t be able to recognize details on a tactile image if they are too small. Separate the image into several pieces if needed, or modify the image so that only important details would be present. Clean the image of all extraneous elements by using a graphics editor. If you have parts that are not so clearly contoured, draw them by hand. For example, like this:

Prepared picture

The image that is prepared this way can then be embossed.

The picture prepared for embossing in Braille

If you use bitmap graphics editor to prepare your images, or save images prepared in vector graphics editor as bitmap images, we recommend to do the following to achieve the best results:

When creating bitmap images, you can add Braille labels to them. The app will recognize those labels and will be able to emboss them even if you change the paper size. For the labels to be well recognized the image should have the recommended dimensions (see above).
Use the «Braille» font that is provided together with ElPicsPrint and is installed to your system automatically. The standard font size is 18 points (7 mm). Text typed using another font may be recognized incorrectly or treated as an image.
To create tactile graphics with conventions or comments inside, beware of the following:

Embossing the Image

In order to emboss a previously opened document, switch to the Emboss mode by clicking on the «Emboss Mode» button. To be able to emboss tactile images using ElPicsPrint, you should have a Braille embosser (or a printer for printing on microcapsule paper) connected to your PC and the corresponding drivers installed.
Make sure the Embossing type you select matches the printer or embosser you plan to sent a print job to. Select the desired printer or embosser from the list of available devices, a paper size you plan to emboss on, set the number of copies to be embossed, the desired embosser settings, and click the Emboss button.
Further, if Embossing type is set to «ElPicsPrint Braille printing», the job will be sent to the embosser. If Embossing type is set to «Printing on microcapsule paper» or «Printing controlled by embosser driver», the print dialog box for the selected printer will open. In this window, configure settings such as paper size and type, input tray, color, or other settings, and continue to follow the instructions in the print window of your device.

In order to emboss tactile images using Index Braille V4 embossers, you should have firmware version 1.5.3 or later. If the firmware version on your V4 embosser is lower, please contact «Elita Group» technical support.

When using embossers from Index Braille, select the appropriate paper size in the embosser settings as it's indicated in the app. Select the landscape orientation of the selected paper size, if specified in the software.

It is recommended to use either synthetic paper or usual 160-200 g/m² paper for embossing.

Note: If you receive an error 213 (Document Max Value - maximum document size), 214 (Document Max Char Per Line - maximum number of characters per line) or 215 (Document Max Lines Per Page - maximum number of lines per page) when using an embosser from Index Braille, please make sure that the same paper size is selected in the embosser settings as in ElPicsPrint. If the error persists, check the paper size settings on the embosser. The number of characters per line and the number of lines per page must be set to the maximum values allowed.