Working with images and transparency

First an update on the speech synthesis. I was able to create an HTTP plugin module that contained a speech COM object and make calls against it. All that worked. I tried to create a wrapper object, so that I could manage the enumeration of available voices and so on, but for some reason it kept throwing an odd error. For now it is workable with the default MS voice (SAM).

The new area I have been playing with is images and transparency. I found a great package for Delphi called Graphics32. It was an old library from 2000. It creates a couple of components for the tool bar, the primary of which is the TImage32 component. This is the main tool for displaying images. A image file can be loaded and various settings are possible including a global level of transparancy for the image. One can also add Layer objects which can be blended or directly layered on top of the the main image. The layer images can also be created with an Alpha map that defines transparent areas. For some reason the tool was not recognizing the existing alpha channel in image files. A bit of searching found an updated version on Source Forge (March 2007), which fixed the alpha channel issue. Following is an image that is a composite of a number of pictures: (The image is reduced to fit on the page.)

TVC-15 Status Display

The main image is the grid. The next layer is the green glow around the outline of the ship. This is to indicated that the sheilds are in good shape. (The colors will transition over to red as they degrade). There are three other layers, sensors, guns, and communications. These take advantage of the transparencies to let the grid and ship parts show through. The layer objects will allow me to dynamically change the images so I can control how the status looks based on state information in the ship.

Here are the various sensor overlay images:

Sensor Status Images

Thanks go to Bill. S. for the beautiful graphics work.