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Anki How to Create and Use Image Occlusion Cards (simple)

  • Sean 

Want to learn how to use Image Occlusion Cards in Anki? I’ve used Anki for years and this is definitely one of the steeper parts of Anki’s learning curve.

However, don’t worry because this guide will simplify and explain everything you need to know about Image occlusion in Anki.

This article first walks you through the basic and most effective way to use image occlusions cards but also will leave you with some knowledge on how to use the more advanced features of this Anki add-on.

But first, let’s just get on the same page about what an Anki image occlusion card even is.

What Is Image Occlusion in Anki?

If you are new to Anki, lots of these terms may seem unfamiliar.

Image Occlusion is an Anki add-on that allows you to essentially make images into flashcards by “occluding” (or hiding) parts of the images. These hidden parts are revealed when you complete the card.

Here’s a demo of image occlusion cards in action.

A demonstration of how to use image occlusion flashcard inside the flashcard program Anki
Garrondo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

However, aside from image occlusion cards, there are many other Anki add-ons that can improve your memory.

This is why I also have other articles that include my 10 favorite Anki Add-ons for better learning and how to install Anki add-ons if you are interested in other effective ways to use Anki.

Now that you know what an image occlusion card is, you might be wondering, when should we use these?

When should you use image occlusion cards in Anki?

It’s not the case that all of your Anki cards should be image occlusion cards. So this leaves the question, when should you use these occlusion cards?

There are quite a lot of applications for image conclusion cards. Most of these applications will be quite visual. For instance, Anki is very popular among medical students because it allows you to memorize highly visual information like anatomy and biology quite effectively.

However, Anki isn’t just for medical students. I’m a Cognitive Science student and I’ve been using Anki’s image occasion cards for years.

You can really use this Anki card type with memorizing information that is visually represented. This leaves you with a lot of applications.

Now that we know what an occlusion card is and when to use it, let’s get into how you can create them.

How do You Create Image Occlusion Cards in Anki?

Let’s get into how you can create occluded images within Anki. This is the simple way to create these occlusions, it’s also the way I’ve been creating them for years.

I rarely, if ever, feel the need to use features more advanced than what I will describe in this section.

1. Download the image occlusion add-on

Here are the simplified steps to downloading the image occlusion add-on. You can either take the code from the steps below or go to the Image Occlusion Enhanced page.

  1. First Click Tools > Add-ons
  2. Press “Get Add-ons”
  3. Paste copy and paste in the download code 1374772155 and press “OK”
  4. Restart Anki

Now it’s time to start using this Add-on.

2. Find an image and open the editor

The first thing you need is an image to occlude. To do this first open the Anki Card creation menu by pressing “add” from the main menu. From here, there are two ways to add an image to the Anki Occlusion Add-on.

  1. Take a screenshot: If you just take a screenshot (using Shift+WIN+S or Shift-Command-4 on Mac) it will be saved to your clipboard. Once you have the screenshot just press the “add image” button in the card creation menu.
  2. Find the image file: If you already have an image you can also add an image from a file directly.

Once, you press the “add image occlusion button”, the image occlusion editor will open.

3. Hide parts of images

For adding occlusions all you need to do is choose one of the shape tools on the left side.

  • Rectangle: Draw rectangles on the images
  • Ellipse: Draw elliptical shapes

Once you have selected the tool you can just simply cover the areas of the image you want to hide. Here is a quick demonstration.

Brain_human_normal_inferior_view.svg: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustratorderivative work: Beao, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons. The image appearance has been modified by putting it into a flashcard program.

There are some keyboard shortcuts that come in handy here. You can also duplicate occlusions by selecting one and pressing D. Changes you make can be undone with Ctrl+Z and redone with Ctrl+Y.

Now that you have occluded all the parts of the image you want to remember, it’s time to put your work into an Anki deck and start learning.

4. Add the cards

A word of caution: Each button push could add many cards that are annoying to delete. This is becuase each time you press either of these buttons it will add a card for each occlusion you create.

From here you have two options for adding cards:

  1. Hide all, guess one: This means that when you see the cards you will have all of the other occluded areas hidden that you aren’t guessing.
  2. HiIde one, guess one: When you see the cards only the card you are guessing will be occluded.

Which option should you choose?

I always use the hide all, guess one option. This is because having the other occlusions uncovered can help you find the answer more easily through deduction. But I want as few cues that help me find the answer as possible, so I hide all of the image occlusions when doing a card.

That covers the basics of how to create Image occlusion cards. This is honestly all you really need for the basic use of Image occlusion cards in Anki.

For now, I’ll show you how to use these but later I will also go into some of the more advanced features in the image occlusion editor.

How to learn using Image occlusion cards

Now that you have invested the time to learn how to create these image occlusion cards, it’s time to actually use them.

When you start learning an Anki deck you will see that each occlusion you created is its own card. Once you reveal the answer you can also click on “toggle masks” to remove the rest of the masks.

I usually like to try and guess the whole diagram and then click toggle masks to see what I got wrong. This just lets me get in some bonus repetitions.

How to edit the cards after you have created them

If you are currently doing an image occlusion card and press E (the usual edit key shortcut) you can’t edit the masks for occluded regions of the cards. So how do you edit these cards?

It’s pretty simple.

  • Open the card browser and find the card or press E while reviewing the cards to edit them.
  • Click the “edit image occlusion” button or press CTRL+F or CMD+F on Mac.
Garrondo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

From here you can do anything you could do while creating the cards.

However, creating and using simple occlusions in the image occlusion app is really only the tip of the iceberg. There is SO much more you can do with this Anki add-on.

You can stop here, but if you want to learn some valuable ways to improve your image occlusions, keep reading for some slightly more advanced functions in the occlusion editor.

Advanced Anki Image Occlusion Editor Functions

This section is about some of the more advanced functions in the image occlusion editor. It’s worth noting that there are still other ways to use this editor that aren’t covered here.

But if you use this in combination with the streamlined way earlier, I would say that you are getting about 95% of the value out of this program. Most of the remaining functions aren’t really worth drilling into, in my opinion.

Grouping occlusions

You can group specific occlusions together so that multiple occlusions are revealed at once. This helps If you want to reveal multiple things at once that are not directly next to each other or if you just want to create fewer occlusions.

To do this simply draw out the shapes as normal then click one of them, hold shift, and click the other one. You will notice that you can now move them together as a single unit.

Now click the group elements button or press G on your keyboard.

Garrondo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

How to edit groups

To edit a group, double-click the selection of shapes, and you will see a small popup saying masks -> [image name] (or something similar to this) on the upper left side of the screen.

You are now editing within this group. Adding or removing cards will add or remove them from that group.

You can then click on the “masks” text that appeared earlier. Now you have exited editing the group.

Garrondo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Creating custom labels

Another more advanced feature involves adding more items to the diagram. You can do this using layers to create custom labels and then put the occlusions over these.

Here are the steps to do this.

  1. First, open the layers tab on the right side of the screen by clicking layers.
  2. Create a new layer, I usually just call this “labels” and move it below the layer the occlusions are on, usually called “masks”.
  3. Use the text and line tools to add additional text and arrows to things you want to memorize.
  4. Add conclusions to these in the same way you occluded the other parts of the images. Just make sure to switch back to the top layer when you do this!
Garrondo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Additional Card Fields

The editor actually has two tabs. So far we have only been discussing things within the “mask editor” tab.

But there is a whole other tab that allows you to display specific extra information either before or after you flip the card over. This is the “fields” tab.

  • Header: text that is placed above the image before you flip the card.
  • Footer: Text below the image before you flip the card (good for mnemonics).
  • Remarks: Additional notes when lip the card over (good for adding some context to a card).
  • Sources: A field for sources when you flip the card.
  • Extra 1: An extra text field when you turn the card over.
  • Extra 2: More extra text when you turn the card over.

I don’t use these too much, but they are handy if you want to add some extra text in addition to the diagram that isn’t on the image.