Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Photoshop Play

Can you believe it is the last day of September?  Where is time going? I am working on a secret project and am about 1/2 done. The deadline is October 5, but I just can't seem to get myself to finish it. I am sure I will get to it later today, but for now I can't seem to pull myself away from Photoshop.

Here are a couple of pieces I put together yesterday. They both use photographs I have on my computer. The first one is a peachy colored rose from my garden and the second is a photo from my sister while she was vacationing in the panhandle of Florida last winter. Both of these techniques are based on tutorials by Scott Kelby. If you don't know Scott and are into Photoshop, you really should check him out. He is a very prolific author of Photoshop, Lightroom, and Photography books that I know. I have attended a couple of NAPP workshops at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor where he was a presenter and have never been disappointed. Another author/presenter you should get to know is Dave Cross. He is as knowledgeable as Scott, but is terrifically humorous as well.

Another resource if you are into Photoshop is the Creative Techs free webinar once a week for 6 months. This week the focus is on the Pen tool. I promised myself I would spend time learning how to use this tool, but haven't become proficient yet. That is my goal for this winter. I could be so much more productive if only I could master this tool. Can't wait for tomorrow's webinar!

For now, I need another cup of coffee and then need to get in the shower. I have to get into town to send back a package via FedEx and really must do some grocery shopping.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Digital Drawing

I know I said I would have pix of the wedding today, but when the hubster unplugged the laptop while packing to leave Iron River, a removable portion stayed in the outlet. Neither of us realized that this could happen. I discovered it Sunday evening while staying in Mackinaw City and using their WiFi, so called the Americinn in Iron River to confirm that they found it and then called Lindsay (Mrs. Mike Demske), the new bride. She said she would pick it up on Monday morning and overnight it to me. Such a nice girl! For now I have very little battery power and am going to leave it until I have the power adapter.

This morning I spent time trying to draw using the Wacom tablet and pen. What fun! The hardest part was remembering to label each layer. I have separate layers for jawline, lips, nose, nose shading, eyeshadow, eyeballs, eye lights, get the picture.

Here she is:

I know that she is not perfect, but for my first attempt I am pretty pleased.

I'd appreciate comments/suggestions.

Gotta go make breakfast. The daughter is coming out in a couple of hours with the 2 year old. I am going to keep the baby for a couple of hours while D gets her hair done.

I've unpacked, but still have to do laundry. And sometime today I need to get to a store. We need fresh fruit badly.

See you later!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Photoshop Tutorial - Text Magic


I am back home again after the lovely wedding in the far west UP (about 500 miles one way) and have a small, but very cool tutorial for you. I will have pix and stories to tell about the wedding later.

Open a picture that you like a lot. Here is one of mine you have seen before:

Next, select the Text tool. I am using the vertical text tool that is nested with the horizontal text tool. For your picture you might want to use the horizontal orientation. This "magic" trick works for either.

I am using Trajan Pro as my font and 125 px as my size - the color doesn't matter as you won't see it when we are done. Your font and size may be different - go ahead and experiment and when you are ready come back to the next step.

I am typing the word POPPY in all caps.

Now, while still on the text layer, go to the Fill amount and change it to 0. I know. You are saying, "I must have done something wrong. The word disappeared!!" Look below - it looks like my word disappeared, too. It is still there, but it is transparent.

Here is where the "magic" happens. Go to your blending options and choose "bevel and emboss". I used the default settings....

and Voila!

Hope you liked this one. It is one of my favorites!

See you tomorrow....


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Iron River

We arrived yesterday around 3 PM (CST) and immediately hooked up with my sister, Anne, and her husband, Tom. They are the parents of the groom. We visited for awhile and then headed out to the rehearsal, while the hubster took a nap and shower.

Mom arrived just before we got back from rehearsal and was tucked in for a nap and then planned to watch the Tiger game.

After rehearsal we headed for Bewabic State Park for a cookout and get together. The young men in the party were playing corn hole. Apparently this is a big favorite up here. They had four or five sets going at once. The hubster makes these boards and has sold a set at home. I think he should bring them up here and sell them all. Had a lovely meal and visit with my family who had made the trip and Lindsay's family who are new to us.

I took lots of pix on the way up mostly through the windshield. Surprisingly, they turned out pretty well. Here are a couple of the color somewhere between Iron Mountain and Iron River.


I got up early this morning and went down to the breakfast area to find Mom, Mike and Jane deciding to go out for breakfast because they wanted eggs. I was invited along. We found a small restaurant, Main Street Cafe, with a great breakfast. I had a two egg omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach. It was delicious! Jane treated which made it all the better.

Came back here to the motel and pressed the hubster's shirt and my pants and decided to post here before heading out for a walk.

Mike and Lindsay are being married at 1:00 pm today and then will have a reception around 4. I have to be at the church at 12:15 because besides giving a reading, Lindsay's aunt Dolly and I are handing out the programs.

This is a mini family reunion besides a family wedding. My Mom, my sister Pat, Pat's daughter Cindy and her three boys, Anne & Tom (parents of the groom), their daughter Lisa, my brother Mike, my sister Jane, my sister Molly and her husband Bud are expected to arrive sometime this morning and are staying the night. Last night we were all up in Mom's room and it was pretty noisy, but lots of fun.

We are planning to head back tomorrow morning and stop somewhere along the way to spend the night. Neither of us wants to make the 9 - 10 hours trip in one day.

I will have a Photoshop tutorial to share some time later in the week once I am home on my desktop. For now, hope you are having a great weekend.


Friday, September 25, 2009

On the Road

Yesterday was a great driving day with more and more Fall color the farther north we drove. There was more traffic than I expected, but still a good drive.

We got to my Mom's in mid-afternoon and stopped for coffee and a visit. My brother, Mike, was there and I hadn't seen him in a long time, so it was an even better stop than anticipated. Mom looked really good and is looking forward to the wedding this weekend. It will be a tough trip for her. It will take 4 or 5 hours, but they will stop a lot and let her get out and move around to ease her arthritic knees.

We spent the night in Epoufette along US-2, a small basic motel, but clean and a great view with an overlook of Lake Michigan right across the road. The only bad thing so far is that we couldn't get the Tiger game on the TV, so had to look for updates online.

Here is a picture of the sunset last night:

It is much more vibrant and colorful on my laptop.

And on a totally different topic - when I uploaded the sunset pics I discovered I had pix of the hubster's wine rack he built out of oak - it is really beautiful with a removeable tray built into the top.

I had him put all those different sized glasses to show the various sizes that would fit. I don't really think those great big glasses are the size you would be using. This is really beautiful and is on casters. He is asking $300 for it and has taken it to the mall where he sells his wood creations. He hasn't yet put anything online, but I am hoping to get a site up this winter. I am not sure about the shipping on something of this size, but once I have a site up I will have it link to a site that will figure that out based on the purchaser's zip code.

It is a chilly, windy morning and we are just getting ready to make coffee here in our little room and then we will hit the road and stop for breakfast somewhere on the way. I think it is another 4 or 5 hours to Iron River and our destination. We have been told there is a cookout this evening for all guests and then the wedding and reception are tomorrow afternoon and evening.

So far, it is a great getaway and I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Going on an Adventure

I am leaving in a couple of hours for the far western UP. Having been raised in the UP, I can't believe I've never made it to this part of Michigan. I am thinking this is the perfect time of year to visit because the color should be just beautiful.

I won't be doing any art, but I will be taking lots of pictures, meeting new people, participating in a wedding of my dear nephew, Mike, and more than likely having a great time. I am expecting to see my Mom, my brother Mike, my sister Molly, my sister Pat, my sister Jane, and my sister Anne (the mother of the groom).

The place we are staying has high speed internet access and I am taking my card reader as well as my Canon Digital Rebel with 2 fully charged batteries, so I will surely have some breathtaking photos to share.

I will resume my Photoshop play when I return and will post a tutorial for the film strip as requested.

I am thinking of doing a Photoshop tutorial each Friday - maybe I could call it Photoshop Phriday, unless this is taken already. I just did a quick search and it looks like more than a few sites are using that phrase, so I think I can use it, too.

I have not begun to pack and expect to leave in a couple of hours, so I'd better get this body in gear.

See you later!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Slide Mounts and Film Strips

There was some conversation in one of my Yahoo! groups lately about slide mounts and trying to find some that were made out of paper instead of the plastic ones, and it made me realize all the things that can be made in Photoshop.

Here is my slide mount:

I found one of my daughter playing in a sand box in 1983 and used it as my model. I made it by using the rounded rectangle to make a large square (I used a document that is 3" x 3" and 300 pixels/inch) with rounded corners.

On the next layer I again used the rounded rectangle tool and made a rectangle across the center. I then used Commant-T to get a bounding box and holding down the option key I moved the side handles in until I had the size I wanted by opening to be.

I then made my cream colored slide layer active and Command-clicked on the thumbnail of the smaller rectangle that I just made, then turned off the visibility of the small rectangle and hit delete. This punched out the center of the slide mount.

I then went to the Blending Options and put a small bevel on the mount.

The last thing I did was to add the words (I used the same look as the one I have at home). Slide mounts have different words on them sometimes.

To use the slide mount digitally, turn off the background layer (click on the eye next to it in the Layers palette) and then choose File > Save As...

Decide where you are going to save it, give it a name and save it as a PNG.

If instead you want to print it out to use in a more traditional way, File > New and choose U.S. Paper.

On the slide mount document Select > All, Edit > Copy (or Command-C)

Go to your new document and Edit > Paste (or Command-V), move it where you want it up near the upper left corner. Command-V, move up next to the first one, Command-V, move it......

Do that until you have a whole page of them. Print them out on card stock and cut them out. Voila!

I also made a film strip:

If you are interested, I can do a full tutorial on either or both of these. Let me know if you are interested by leaving a comment to tell me which one (or both) you'd like to have.

The words accompanying the slide mount may be enough for you to duplicate it - if not let me know and I will do a tutorial with screenshots.

I have a billion things today including packing, and I have the 2 year old this afternoon and then her 6 year old sister until bedtime.

I'd better get a move on.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making A Signature Brush - Photoshop CS3

If you would like to sign your digital artwork with your actual signature instead of using the Text tool, here is an easy way to make a brush from your signature.

I used a Wacom tablet but you could just as easily write your signature (a bit large) with black on a white piece of paper and scan it into Photoshop.

File > New
I chose a 6 x 6 file with the pixels per inch set to 300. If you don't get a white background by default (I have my selection in the file > new dialog box set to a white background) you can fill your background layer with white. Then click on the new layer button in the bottom of your layers palette (it is the second from the right next to the trash can). In the screenshot below you can see my history palette. The reason there are so many listings of the brush tool is that when I write I lift my pen several times.

Edit > Define Brush Preset

This brings up a dialog box where you can name your brush.

Then close this document. When asked if you want to save it, choose Don't Save (you've already saved it as a brush).

Now let's open a picture that we want to put our signature on:

I've chosen my current favorite flower picture.

Select the brush tool. 

Then go to the drop down menu in the options bar and find your signature brush (it should be the last one in the list or the last icon. If you hover your mouse over each brush the name of that brush will be shown.

WHOA! My brush is way bigger than my picture!!!!!

To change the size of any brush use the bracket keys on your keyboard. The left bracket makes the brush smaller and the right bracket makes it larger. I am using the left bracket to get  the size I want.

Look in the bottom of the tool palette to see your foreground and background color chips. Mine are black and white. Your brush will use the foreground color. I don't want mine to be black, I want it to be white, so I will click on the double headed arrow just above and to the right of the color chips to get white as the foreground color and black as the background.

If you want a color that isn't either black or white, just click on the foreground color chip (the top most one) in the tool palette. This brings up the color box for you to choose a new foreground color. The nice thing about this is you can click in your picture if you want a coordinating color.

Move your signature brush to the place on your picture and click just once to get your signature on the picture. If you are unhappy with the position or color, there are a number of ways to go back one step. You can use Command-Z, which is the Undo command, you can go in the history palette and click on the previous history state, or you can go to  Edit > Undo.

Here is what my picture looks like with my signature:

Now, let's save that brush so that even if you choose a different set of brushes in your brushes palette, you can always find your signature brush.

Edit > Preset Manager

Choose your brush (see the dark border around mine in the screenshot below?). Then select Save Set.

 Here is the path I choose when I save my custom brushes:

I hope you liked this tutorial and find it easy to follow. Please let me know if there is anything confusing or if you need more information.

By the way, I am working on a secret project which I will share with you in early October. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I need a second mug of coffee before my daughter drops off the 2 year old, who is spending the day with us.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Clay Play and Photoshop

I had some fun on Friday playing with clay and trying out some stamps and shapes and cooking times. I am not altogether happy with how they turned out, but it was a great experience and I am definitely going to make some more. I am thinking that they would be great additions to mixed media pieces. When I decide what I am actually going to do with them I will share.

The weekend was busy, but fun. The birthday party for little miss 2 year old was big fun and she was so happy with all the Sesame Street related gifts and the lovely shopping cart. Late that evening the whole family including uncle Mike came out for a wienie roast. The birthday girl fell asleep in my arms watching Sesame Street around 9:30 and my son and his daughter spent the night.

Yesterday I worked again to better organize my art room. It is slowly evolving into a well organized workshop, but then I made the mistake of scanning a few things and Photoshop reached out and grabbed me. I made more background papers and can't wait to share them with you. Feel free to use these, but remember you can make your own (way more fun!) by following the tutorial on custom patterns a few posts back.





Sorry, as usual I got carried away. I could have stayed up all night playing with this. But my art friend, Nancy, is coming over this morning and we are going to Eaton Rapids and Charlotte browsing second hand stores, so I thought I'd better get a good night's sleep.

On a totally different subject, I have canceled the Verizon MiFi because after trying it for 5 days, I couldn't even get more than one bar and couldn't get the laptop connected to the network because of the weak signal. So I have reconnected the HughesNet modem and the Linksys router (what a big job that was) and this is the way it will be until either things become available out here in the Dead Zone (read boonies) or we move to a small community where I can not only get hi speed internet, but have sidewalks, city water and sewer, be able to walk to most of the places I want to go. Ah, but for now, it is what it is.

Well, the coffee is made, but I haven't had any yet and I'd better go get some and then get in the shower and get ready to start my day.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spill It! Online Class


I've been reading about a fun, creative online workshop called Spill It! It begins October 1 and runs until October 31st, but the network, discussion forums, videos and resources will be available until (at least) the end of the year.  You can pop in and absorb the information and create at your leisure. No pressure.  No deadlines.

Straight Talk with Carmen from Carmen Torbus on Vimeo.

All this for only $43. Go here to find out more.

October is the ideal time to try something new. The kids are back in school, life is, to a degree, slowing down and it is time to do something for yourself. What better gift to yourself than an online experience that you can enjoy at your leisure - in your pajamas even!

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Joy Diet

  • This dot is leftover from trying to format the list below - I can't seem to get rid of it! So just ignore it and go on to the next paragraph which is officially the start of this post. %-)
When I first saw mention of The Joy Diet through a post on Facebook by Gretchen Wegner I thought "Hmmm, a diet that makes you joyful?" "It must be an avocado and chocolate diet!"

Actually The Joy Diet by Martha Beck is "a menu of ten behaviours you can add to your way of living and thinking to enhance every day's journey through the unpredictable terrain of your existence. You can add these behaviours gradually and watch your life become steadily more vivid and satisfying. Or you can go on a "crash Joy Diet" to help you navigate life's emergencies." This is from the inside cover.

Jamie Ridler has a book blog adventure group to read this book together and share what it is like for us personally. The chapters in the book have intriguing names:

  • Nothing
  • Truth
  • Desire
  • Creativity
  • Risk
  • Treats
  • Play
  • Laughter
  • Connection
  • Feasting

For week one we are reading the first chapter, Nothing.
Jamie suggests posting on Fridays (I know it is Saturday!), but there are no hard, fast rules. This is about experiencing Joy, after all.

Previous books that Jamie shared with her blog adventure group included Soul Coaching and Wreck This Journal.

Well, I have a dishwasher full of clean dishes, a cupboard with dirty dishes, and a house that needs more than a little TLC. We have invited the kids and their kids and the BIL and his son for a wienie roast this evening. You know what that means - the 15 minutes of nothing today will have to wait until after I get this blogging body in gear.

Bye for now!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fill-In

I almost forgot to do the Friday fill-in.

Here goes:

1. My car runs smoothly and efficiently, but needs and deserves a good cleaning.

2. Fall is coming up next.

3. Lately, things seem to be going quickly and smoothly.

4. My art/computer room is one of my favorite hiding places.

5. What happened to summer?

6. Ignoring my emails and subscribed blogs is not impossible!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a quiet, arty evening, tomorrow my plans include a 2 year old's birthday party followed by an evening wienie roast and Sunday, I want to organize my craft room so that I can more easily find things.

To find out more about Friday Fill-Ins click the link in the left side bar.


Birthdays, Digital ATCs, Clay and more

Today is a shared birthday of my youngest grandgirl (yes, I made up this word, but I have used it enough that it is sure to show up in a dictionary any time now) and my youngest brother. My little sweetie is 2 today and my little brother is 50. Happy Birthday!!

I started my day yesterday - actually it was after posting to my blog and having a couple cups of coffee and some oatmeal - by making a simple sketch of a cat and a bird. There is something in my head about a catbird that is churning and waiting to present itself. When it sorts itself out and I commit to paper I will share it. For now, here is a simple, unrefined sketch of a cat and a bird.

 I find it difficult to get a good picture of a pencil drawing.

Once I was in Photoshop trying to optimize the contrast between the paper and pencil in the picture above I couldn't help myself, I had to play. I started playing with making custom brushes and wound up with a really nice leafy background and went from there.

 Looking at it now, I think I may have overdone the texture.

And then I made this one. I got this woman image on a pinkish background from a free download site (sorry I can't remember which one) and she was a trial to "cut" out of her surroundings, but I am pretty pleased with the final result.

I couldn't decide if this was done or not, but couldn't think what else to do.

The "selections" Photoshop lesson through Creative Techs had some difficulties yesterday afternoon, but was eventually resolved and it was a good lesson, but I was surprised that the selections lesson didn't include Select > Color Range. It will be interesting to see where this shows up - perhaps in Advanced Selections that has been promised for later.

In the evening I had a class with Amy Babchook at the East Jackson branch of the Jackson District Library. We made a couple of clay pendants. I am not overly thrilled with my results, but did find Amy very knowledgeable and friendly. She has a class every two weeks alternating between clay and beading. If you are new to either of these and live in the Jackson, Michigan area, you really should check her out. Here are my first attempts:

Amy provided the clay and materials along with the lesson for only $10.

My daughter and the birthday girl are coming out for awhile today and then later when the birthday girl's big sister gets out of school, I am keeping the little one while Mom and Sister go shopping for her birthday present.

I am in the process of switching from the dreaded HughesNet to a Verizon USB modem/router. It is called MiFi and is supposed to support up to 5 users at one time via a wireless network. My signal is not strong enough to support other users, but I am getting as good or better speed from this as I did from the satellite on the roof and they will not cut me off if I do a lot of downloads in one day. They do have a 5 GB limit per month and I can check usage each day, but they do not cut you off, they charge a small fee per additional MB after your 5 GB has been reached.

Unfortunately, the fact that the signal is not strong enough to support a wireless network means that I had to move my wireless printer next to my computer and attach it with a USB cord, but since the Verizon solution is $30 less per month than HughesNet, I am gracefully disappointingly accepting the limitations.

This change means that between now and mid-October when I can cancel HughesNet without penalty I will need to get a new email address and notify everyone everywhere all of my friends, business associates, Yahoo! groups, subscriptions, etc. of this change. I am thinking of gmail as my web mail of choice. If you are a gmail user or used to be what is your opinion of the best option for a web based email. I do have a address, but haven't been using it much. Maybe since it costs $99 a year to have it I should be using that. Of course, the hubster needs a new email as well. Any ideas????

I feel like I am rambling and I need to get on with my day. I am hoping to make it to the post office this morning to send out "Making Books by Hand" by Mary McCarthy and Philip Manna to funkycrafter, the winner of the giveaway. And I think we are inviting the kids and their kids for a wienie roast tomorrow evening so I should probably clean the house. I love inviting people over periodically - it makes me pick up and clean a little. Otherwise, the cleaning/dusting takes a far backseat to arting (yes, I made up that word, too.

Bye for now!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giveaway Winner

Drum roll please......

The winner of the book giveaway is

Funkycrafter, I need your email and snail mail addy so that I can get your book in the mail. I will be sending this book to you. I have used it a lot, but still have not made all the wonderful variations. I sure hope you like it.

Just a reminder, the next session of the free Photoshop class from Creative Techs is today at 2:00 pm EST. 

I am taking a clay class one of the library branches this evening. I really don't know what to expect. I couldn't find a lot of info, but whatever it is, I will surely be sharing tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've got to get a move on - so much to do, so little time.....