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    Birthday Balloons Background Tiles

Printable copy, 5 pages, fewer pictures

Ready-made background tiles you can save and use


Draw one balloon   Copy the first balloon   Assemble the balloons into a bunch   Make a background square   Spacing motifs   Make each black mark into a white shine   To save the simplest tile   Make the tile smaller in Paint   Turn the tile inside out   Add text between the balloons   Skew the text and rearrange it
Saving the tile with text   How to make a staggered pattern of the balloon motif   Testing the tile   Selecting the finished tile   Save workspace and close Paint
Using sTile   Shrinking the tile with sTile   Softening colours in the tile
Rotating colours   Other modifications and effects   Making the stationery

You can produce these bright background tiles using only Windows Paint. It's very easy!

You make one motif which, when you use it as a background in a piece of stationery, will be repeated as many times as necessary to fill the page, like this or like this.

For a quick look at tiles as a complete background, or to make a series of variations, sTile is excellent. Irfanview will also make colour changes or let you apply all sorts of interesting effects.

Once you've made the initial motif you'll have a complete and immediately usable tile.

If you then decide to go a little further—add text, say, or stagger the pattern—it becomes a bit "choose your own adventure" and you may need to hit "top" and bounce up here to the topic list to find the next thing you want to do.smileyOK. Let's get started.

close patternstaggered patternwide pattern

with text between balloons

with colours mutedswapped colours

Begin by opening Paint

Either re-open "workspace.bmp" or start a new picture at least 400 by 400 and save it as a 16 colour bmp. If you’re re-using the previously saved "workspace.bmp", select the rectangle tool, the "filled shape with no-border" icon and draw a white rectangle over any old and unwanted work.

After hitting the Save button you’ll receive a warning about loss of colour information. Since your painting is at this stage a plain white background, I wouldn't be over-perturbed. Just click Yes.

I've used strong colours because they're easier to work with.


Draw one balloon

borderless filled shape iconClick on the ellipse tool Paint ellipse tool in Paint's toolbox. Choose the lowest of the three options below the toolbox—the one meaning "filled shape without a border". The dark blue border is the highlight that shows it's been selected.

first circleClick on the pink colour in the palette and hold the Shift key while you draw a circle of colour. Watch the numbers at the right hand end of the status bar—which is right at the bottom of your Paint window—and stop when the circle is about 75x75.
Paint status bar showing75x75.
Hold down the Ctrl key while you tap s. This will save your work.

balloon with shine markzoom toolClick the little magnifying glass and zoom in. Using the pencil tool and black, draw a mark similar to that in the picture. That represents the shine on the balloon, but we can't use white at this stage or other colours would show through. You'll change it to white later.   top

Copy the first balloon

The next step is to make a bunch of balloons, identical in all but colour.

transparency selectedOK. Click on the transparent option below the toolbox. It's the lower of the two and in this picture shows a dark blue "selected" highlight.

Click also on the rectangular selection tool. rectangular selection tool Make sure, too, that your right button colour is set to white.

selectdrag a copySelect the pink balloon and hold the Ctrl key while you drag a copy away from the original.

Save your work.

I've shown the copy very close to the original so that I could make a small picture. In practice, the copy could be dropped further away.


flood toolchoose redchange the colour of the first balloon

You now have a red balloonNow click on the flood fill tool and click on red in the palette. Click the flood tool on your original balloon. Your original becomes a red balloon.

Now select and copy those two ballons twice. Using the flood tool and choosing a different colour each time, recolour each balloon until you have a set. a set of differntly coloured balloons


Assemble the balloons into a bunch

Drag a copy—remember to hold the Ctrl key—of the red balloon and place it so that it's overlapping the pink balloon. Save your work.

two balloonsputting balloons on top of each otherand more balloonsCtrl drag a dark blue balloon onto the other two. Ctrl drag a green balloon onto those you've already assembled. Continue until you have six balloons. Please don't use yellow; we need that for the background. Save your work.


a finished bunch of balloonsThe group would look better if the central balloon were on top. Make a second copy of a red balloon and position it approximately over the first one.

If you want to make any other changes to the stacking order, temporarily colour the replacement balloon grey until you have it in position. Trying to position a replacement exactly on top of something the same colour is just too hard. With the red it didn't matter; you weren't trying to match edges.   top

Make a yellow background square

borderless filled shape iconClick the rectangle tool. rectangle tool Click yellow in the palette. Choose the bottom icon under the toolbox—the one that means "filled shape without a border". Hold the Shift key to force a square and drag until the square is at least 200x200 pixels according to the numbers at the right-hand end of the status bar.

drag balloons onto the squareClick the rectangular selection tool. Now, after checking that you have white on your right button and that the transparency option is highlighted, draw a selection rectangle around the bunch of balloons.

Hold the Ctrl key so that you are making a copy and drag the copy of the balloons into the middle of the yellow square.

If it turns out that your bunch of balloons overlaps the yellow square, don't worry. You have a copy of the balloons, so you can afford to lose the ones you just pasted. Just drag another square over the top of the old one, making it big enough to cover everything and leave some space around the edges, as in the picture. Since you're probably going to reduce the size of the tile when it's finished, its working size isn't important. When you feel that you have a square of a suitable size, Ctrl drag another copy of the balloons into its centre.   top

Spacing motifs

The bigger the yellow square that you paste them onto, the more widely spaced will be the balloons in the repeating pattern. If you plan to stagger the pattern, or if you're going to add text—such as "happy birthday"—a bigger yellow square will be better.

small yellow background bigger yellow background

Make each black mark into a white shine

remove black from balloonsAt last the black splodges can come off the balloons! With white on your right mouse button and black on your left, click on the eraser tooleraser tool. With your right button pressed, drag over the black marks until they all change to white.


Your tile is now ready for you to cut out, save and use as it is, but if you'd like to add text between the balloons, or if you'd like to stagger the pattern, you'll first need to turn the tile inside out to make space.

If you'd just like to make it smaller, that's the next topic.   top


To save the tile just as it is now

With the rectangular selection tool, draw a selection square slightly inside the yellow square—say one or two pixels from the edge.

Click Edit > Copy To on the menu bar. Save the cutout as balloons01.gif.

Make the tile smaller in Paint

shrink the tileIf you'd like a smaller version of the tile, make a selection a little outside it and go to the menu bar. Click Image > Stretch and Skew.

In the dialogue, type whatever percentage you like, hit tab and write the same number again.

Ignore the lower (Skew) part of the dialogue.

Click OK.

Back in the Paint window, carefully select just the tile, making your selection slightly inside the edges of the yellow square, go Edit > Copy To and save the tile under a slightly different name, such as balloons01_small.gif.

The smaller version of the tile is now ready to be used as a background in stationery.

If you're going to add text to the tile, or if you'd like to stagger the pattern, go on to the next step.   top

Turn the tile inside out

Before you start doing this, be certain that you have white on your right mouse button and the transparent selection icon highlighted.

Also, Ctrl drag a copy of the tile to the far right of your drawing area. You may need it later.

right half of tile selectedmove right half of tile to left Make sure that there's plenty of white space to the left of your square. If there isn't, select the whole square and drag it towards the right.

Then select the right half of your square. Don't worry about being precise. Approximately half is fine.

Drag the selected piece across the left half to the white space on the other side. Make it join the left edge. Watch to see that the tops of the two pieces are lined up properly. Be careful not to overlap the edges, but also be sure that no white is showing between the two pieces.

bottom part of tile selectedbottom of tile moved to topMake sure that there's plenty of white space above your square. If there isn't, select the whole square and drag it down to make room.

Then select the bottom half of the square. Again, precision isn't necessary. Drag the bottom piece up above the top piece, line it up carefully and join it to the top piece.   top

If you feel confused, here's a helpful diagram.

You'll need some space now, so, after saving your work, drag a selection rectangle around the inside-out tile that you've just made and drag it to the left, just under your spare bunch of balloons.

Ctrl drag a copy to the top right corner of your drawing area as well. It's good to have a backup!

Go back to making a staggered pattern.

Add text between the balloons

balloon tiles with textI've used "Happy Birthday" in this example. Your text could be something different, as could your choice of colours.

You might also have your balloons more widely spaced and so be able to use larger text.


Click on the text tool text tool and drag an area in which to put your text. The picture will give you an idea of the size. If the text toolbar doesn't appear, click on the View menu and click Text Toolbar.text toolbar


tile and text

Choose a chunky font. Click on dark blue in the palette. Drag an area in which to type. Type "Happy Birthday".

Click away from the text's marquee, so that it is no longer selected, then click red in the palette.

Click the text tool again and drag an area in which to type. Type "Happy Birthday" a second time. Click the selection rectangle. Save your work.

red text on top of blue textCheck that you still have white on your right mouse button. Drag a selection rectangle around the red text and move it onto the blue text. Let just a tiny bit of the blue text show. Click anywhere away from the text, then drag a selection rectangle around the doubled text. (If you kept the selection rectangle with which you selected and moved the red text, only the red text would be affected by the next operation.)

Skew the text and rearrange it

stretch/skew dialogueClick the Image menu and click on Stretch/Skew. Ignore the top part of the box. In the Skew part, type "10" into both the Horizontal and Vertical boxes. Click OK.

skewed text


select and drag the second wordtext divided and moved Draw a selection rectangle around the word "Birthday" and drag it into a position just under the word "Happy", like this.

balloon tile with greeting added Click away to cancel your selection of "Birthday". Draw a new selection rectangle around "Happy Birthday" and Ctrl drag it into position on the yellow centre of the tile. Keeping a copy means that you can easily repeat the operation if you're unhappy with the result. Save your work.   top


Saving the tile with text

When used as a background, the edges of this tile have to line up precisely. Therefore, selecting the tile has to be done very carefully indeed.

cursor on top left pixelselection line on topmost and leftmost pixelsYou may find this easier if you've zoomed in a little.

Having clicked on the rectangular selection tool, position your cursor exactly on the top left corner of the tile.

As you drag downwards and to the right, a dashed line will follow the cursor.

Click when you have the cursor exactly on the very bottom right pixel.The dashed line should be on the very edge of the tile on every side.

The marquee that appears when you release the mouse button will be just outside the square.

Immediately go to the menu bar and click Edit > Copy To.

Save your tile as balloons_birthday.gif.

N.B. When you need a space in the file name of any image, use an underscore instead.

The tile is now ready to be used as a background in your stationery.

If you have sTile on your computer, you can paste a copy into sTile and view the tile as a completed background.   top

How to make a staggered pattern of the balloon motif

staggered patternFor this sample I made my original tile with a fairly large yellow area.The larger the yellow area, the more widely spaced will be the balloon motifs.

I'm presuming that you have a spare copy of the tile somewhere on your drawing area. If you haven't, make a copy now.


To begin, turn the tile inside out, as explained here.


inside-out tileselect balloon motif from copydrag a copy of the balloonsthe completed staggered tile

Go to your copy of the original tile. Select the motif in the centre, with just a little yellow around it. Hold the Ctrl key and drag a copy of the motif to your inside-out tile. Let go of the Ctrl key and position the motif at what you judge to be the centre of the inside-out tile. Release the mouse button and you're done.

Make a precise cut-out of the completed tile. Follow the directions for saving the tile with text, and save it as balloons_staggered.gif. (N.B. When you need a space in the file name of a gif, use an underscore instead.) Then, if you like, you can proceed to test and modify it in sTile.   top

Testing the tile

With sTile you can have a look at your tile as a seamless background.

Select the tile in Paint

Still in Paint, and using the rectangular selection tool, outline the tile. zoom toolYou'll find it easier if you click the little magnifying glass in the toolbox and click it over the tile. Make sure that all of the tile is showing in the window; Paint does not scroll while you're selecting.

crosshair cursorPut the crosshair cursor exactly on the top left hand corner of the tile. One line of the cross should be in the top line of colour, one should be in the leftmost line. Colour should show through the little eye of the crosshair. Drag to the bottom right corner.

dotted outline in zoom viewAs you drag, a heavy dotted outline will appear and you can see whether or not this is exactly on the outside edge of the tile. If it's further out, the dashes will all be black. When the dotted outline is exactly on the outside of the tile all the way around, click on Edit on the Paint menu bar. Click Copy on the menu that appears.

pasting the tile into sTileMinimise the Paint window by clicking the minimise button in the top right corner. Double click the icon for sTile. When the program opens, click on the Edit menu, then on Paste and choose Replace Image. The main window will fill with your tile image.

show tiles icon At the right hand end of the sTile toolbar you'll see this icon. Click it once and you'll be given a preview of your tile as a background. You're looking to see whether the tiles join correctly and whether you like the overall effect. If there are any white lines showing, the tile needs to be copied again.

click to restore Paint windowclick to restore Paint windowIf there are white lines showing, restore the Paint window by clicking its button on the taskbar and try again.

When sTile shows you a perfectly matched background, click OK to come out of the tile display window, click File > Save As on the sTile menu bar and save your tile as, say, balloons01.gif. The gif format is important because at this stage you don't want any blending or smoothing to happen between areas of different colours.   top

Save workspace and close Paint

Click on the Paint button at the bottom of your window to restore Paint. Click the File menu and click Save As, type "balloons" into the save box and click OK. This means that you'll have preserved a copy in case you want to work on it later, while "workspace.bmp" can be cleared next time you want to use it. You can close Paint.

Using sTile

Shrinking the tile with sTile

Working in sTile, you can reduce the size and make other changes as well. A really nice thing is that, after you've saved something you like, you can click undo as many times as you like.

tree menu showing sizeresize box With the tile open in the sTile window, click on Size/Aspect in the Effects Tree at the left. (If you prefer, click Effects > Size/Aspect on the menu bar.) Choose ReSize Smooth from the next branch or menu. With a check mark in Pixels, change the number in both the width box and the height box to 100. Click OK, then click File > Save As and save this smaller tile as balloons02.gif.


Click on Size/Aspect > ReSize Smooth and choose Percent. Type whatever percentage you fancy into both the Width and Height.   top


Softening colours in the tile

With a tile open in the window, go to the Tree or to the Effects menu, click on Color and choose either Lightness or Brightness. If you can't see the sliders, click the three coloured crayons button and they'll appear. Drag the Lightness slider towards the right. The image in the window will change.

brighten toolboxsliders for adjusting colour

When you think you like the degree of lightness, click the big green tick to agree to the change and click the Show Tiles icon. Don't miss this step, because it's hard to judge how a background will look by looking at a single tile. Go to the File menu and click Save As. This version can be balloons03.gif. Once you've saved, you can, if you wish, click the Undo button until balloons02.gif is once again in the window, then go back to the lightness slider and make a different adjustment—either lighter or darker than the previous one. Save each changed tile with the next consecutive name (balloons04.gif balloons05.gif balloons06.gif etc.).

For the very last save of a particular tile, you may wish to save as jpg, thus smoothing edges just a little.   top

Rotating colours

On the sTile Color menu you'll find an item Color Rotate. Double click it once and you'll see colours rearranged. The next double click gives a third variation.

original first colour rotation second colour rotation

Irfanview offers a similar effect, under Image > Swap Colors and more than two colour changes are available.

Other modifications and effects

While you have your tile open in sTile, try other effects. Some are great, and some you probably won't like one bit. Everything can be undone, so experiment a bit! Save the ones you like.

That's it. All that remains is to use one of these tiles in a piece of stationery, write an email and send it to the birthday person.

Making the stationery

Here are suggestions about how to make up the stationery, together with templates for you to copy, save and change.

Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you. My email address is here.

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