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Many pages on the wiki are greatly improved by the addition of a few images. If you have an image you would like to add to a page, feel welcome to add one. This page provides details on how to create good-quality and consistent images, what the required file formats are, and how to upload the images.

Sources of images

The most common source of LifeWiki images is a simple screenshot of a pattern; see the section on screenshots for details on how to create them. Images that you have created yourself are also acceptable (provided they are LifeWiki-relevant and are high-quality).

Images on web sites other than LifeWiki can not in general be copied here. Adding images that have been copied from elsewhere is often a violation of copyright law and such images will be deleted on sight. Contact an administrator if you have questions about the legality of an image.

Capturing screenshots

Screenshots are the most common source of images on the wiki. The following instructions provide some tips on how to create screenshots (including GIFs) of patterns.

Scorbie's Giffer Python script for Golly allows you to create a GIF of a selected pattern. Place the three .py files into your Scripts/Python folder in Golly.

Next, open Golly and select the desired pattern. Per wiki standard, the area selected should be the pattern's maximum bounding box, plus exactly one cell of margin in each direction. Click on and it should open a dialog box containing the first of many parameters for the GIF. The following options are available:

  • Number of generations to run (default is 4; set to 1 for static images and for still lifes)
  • Number of frames per generation (leave as 1)
  • Time in centiseconds between frames (default is 50; recommended for wiki is 40 for most low-period patterns)
  • Size of each cell in pixels, excluding gridlines (default is 14)
  • Width of gridlines in pixels (default is 2)
    • Note: Although the defaults for these are 14 and 2, most images on the wiki use 15 and 1; you might find it convenient to replace these default values in lines 92-94 of
  • Offset of the total period (over the course of the GIF period, move this many cells in the X and Y directions; right is positive X and down is positive Y)
    • Note: This is only necessary for spaceships and other non-stationary objects
  • File name (default is out.gif)
    • Note: File will be placed in the same folder as the script; you might find it convenient to move the three scripts into their own folder within Scripts/Python

This will always return a GIF file assuming it works, but you can turn a static image into a PNG by opening it up in an image editing program and saving it as a PNG.

Do not save images as BMP files. That format is not supported by web browsers, and the files are very large in size. All animated images should be saved as GIFs and all static pattern images should be saved as PNGs. Other images may be any of GIF, JPG, or PNG, depending on which is best-suited to the particular image.


These are some tips on how to get the best looking images possible and how to make your images conform to the style of the images that already exist on LifeWiki.

  • Make the image an appropriate size. If the image is the main image that will be displayed at the top-right of a pattern page, then go to a zoom level that makes the pattern image roughly 200 pixels wide (for certain extremely small patterns such as block it is okay to stay under this guideline). Do not blow up or shrink images in photo editing software, as they tend to blur and/or distort the grid. Animated pattern images can be much larger, and the upper size limit for them is about 800 pixels (and 600 pixels high). There are no strict guidelines for sizes of other images, so just use your best judgment.
  • Include one row and column of dead cells around the pattern. Pattern images tend to look nicer when there's some "buffer" space around them. Don't include more than one row and column of dead cells unless the image was taken with a very far-away zoom level (meaning the cells are quite small) or there is some other good reason to do so (e.g., if images are provided to be compared to each other, it might be preferable that both images have the same size canvas even if one doesn't fill the entire canvas).
  • Animated images should run at approximately 2.5 generations per second, though some particularly long animations might be better-suited to faster animations. In order to make spaceship animations smooth, there should be multiple frames per generation (see the animated image at glider for an example). In general the grid should be two pixels wide (rather than one pixel wide, as in the default grid at for animated images to reduce "grid flicker".

Naming images

There are no official rules about how to name your image, but here are some general guidelines.

  • Avoid cryptic names that only you will understand; spell out words that do not have standard abbreviations. Other editors will find it much easier to use the image if they can figure out what it is from the name alone.
  • If you make a mistake naming your image, there is no way to rename it. The only option is to upload an image using a new name, and request deletion of the original image. Be sure to fix any links that were made using the original file name.

Uploading images

Once you have an appropriate image, the next step in adding it to the wiki is uploading it.

Pattern images

When a pattern page is created, a link to an image for that pattern is automatically created near the top-right of the page (as long as you have "nofile=true" or "rle=true" set in that pattern's template). Simply click on that link and fill out the form. In the summary box, please type "{{PatternImage}}" (without the quotes), as that will help the LifeWiki find and appropriately index the image.

Animated images

To upload an animated image for a pattern, first set the "animated=true" in the template at the top of that pattern's page. This will create a red link just under the pattern's main image; click that link and fill out the form that pops up. In the summary box, please type "{{AnimatedImage}}" (without the quotes), as that will help the LifeWiki find and appropriately index the image.

Other images

At the bottom of the left-hand menu on any wiki page, under "toolbox", is an "Upload File" link. Clicking that link will pull up a window where you can browse to find the file you wish to upload. Fill in the remaining entries on the page:

  • Destination Filename: Provide an appropriate name for the file
  • Summary: Enter enough information so that other people can identify the image. If the image is a static image of a pattern, please enter "{{StaticImage}}" somewhere (without the quotes), as that will help the LifeWiki find and appropriately index the image.

Hit Upload File and you're done.

If you are uploading a large number of images, you will probably find it most convenient to use your browser's back button to return to the upload page, and just modify the page as necessary for the next file.

If you made a mistake in the summary of the image, this can be modified from the "Image:" page by clicking edit. This will pull up a standard wiki edit window.

Note that LifeWiki is not a general image-hosting server. Any non-LifeWiki images that are uploaded will be deleted on sight.

Replacing images

Any image can be replaced; use the link "Upload a new version of this file" on the image page. In general this is only appropriate if your new image is of significantly better quality than the existing image. Note that replacing images does not add to your edit count.

Adding images to pages

To add an image to a page, you need to use the [[Image:]] tag. At its most basic, this mean inserting the text [[Image:filename.png]] where you would replace "filename.png" with whatever name you chose for your file when uploading it. This will insert the image right into the line of text.

For most purposes, you usually do not want to include an image in the middle of a paragraph of text. In general, images such as pattern screenshots should be shown at sizes of 125px to 250px in size. 125px is usually appropriate if there are multiple images on a page; 250px is more common if there is a single important image.

The simplest way to change the size of an image is to add the desired width to the Image tag. So [[Image:filename.png|150px]] produces a thumbnail of "filename.png" that is 150px wide. Note that you are only allowed to reduce the size of an image, not enlarge it. If you will want your image shown at the side of the page with the rest of the text wrapping around it, add a position to the Image tag. For example, [[Image:filename.png|right]] would place the image to the right of the paragraph.

You can also specify the height of an image rather than the width, but this is more difficult. You must first specify a width that you are sure will be higher than it should be, then follow it by an 'x' and the desired value for the height. E.g.: [[Image:filename.png|300x200px]] produces an images that is no more than 300 pixels wide and 200 pixels tall. Using this syntax, you can specify both the maximum width and height for a whole set of images in order to standardize a set of images with varying aspect ratios.

However, this simple command is only appropriate for icons and small images, because it does not actually create a thumbnail version of the image. For any larger image, you want to specify "|thumb" or "|thumbnail" in order to ensure that the wiki generates a reduced-size version of the image. For example, [[Image:acorn_final.png|thumb|120px]] produces the image at the right.

Acorn final.png

In general the "|120px" part of the command is not needed when doing thumbnails; the thumbnail will default to the reader's preferred thumbnail size. If the image itself is small enough that you don't need to specify the "|thumb" parameter, but you still want a frame around the image, you can specify the "|framed" parameter.

Thumbnail images are by default positioned on the right hand side of the page, as evident with the example in the previous paragraph. If you want the image at the top of the paragraph, you would put the Image tag at the start of the paragraph. If you want a thumbnail to appear on the left or in the middle, use the following format: [[Image:filename.jpg|left|thumb]]. Replace "|left" with "|center" or "|centre" to place it in the middle. Sometimes you will see a thumbnail with the "|right" command specified; this does not actually do anything, as thumbnails are always on the right unless told otherwise. One final placement option is "|none" which overrides the default right-alignment and places the thumbnail at that location without "floating" the image or wrapping text around it.

This is a glider

It is generally recommended that you provide a description of your image. This is accomplished by adding the description to the end of your tag. The complete version of the image command used to create the image shown at the left hand side of this paragraph is: [[Image:glider.png|left|framed|This is a glider]]. (Note that if you do not include either "|framed" or "|thumb" in this command, you will not see the caption; the text will only be shown if you hover over the image.)

When you are adding images it is highly recommended that you use the Show preview button before saving the page. This is in general good practice when editing wiki pages, but becomes more important when you start adding more complicated commands such as images.

Multiple thumbnails

When adding images to an "image gallery" section of a page, you have two options; either use the <gallery> tag, which basically takes care of formatting and thumbnailing for you, or insert each image manually. If the images that you wish to add vary greatly in size, then the <gallery> tag is preferred because the code is easier and it does all the thumbnailing for you. If you only have one image or all of the images are roughly the same size, inserting each image via an Image tag is preferred, and without thumbnailing if possible; thumbnailing pattern images blurs the grid lines and generally makes them look ugly.

External links