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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Contest Winner!

halloween witch

I’ve had such fun reading all the comments left on the Friday Freebie giveaway. Thanks to everyone who shared their fave Halloween costumes!

The winner of the Halloween collection of Close to My Heart products is Heather at Creative Coconut. I used random.org to select the winning entry. Congratulations Heather, comment #26! Please contact me with your mailing address to receive your goodies!

halloween giveaway

Freebie Friday, Halloween Goodies!

Friday, October 28, 2011

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Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, because everyone can be creative, and there’s no pressure if your craft skills aren’t perfect. Hot glue and paper mache are a standard fixture in my house at this time of year, it’s a creative chaos.

I heard on the news that 50% of American adults plan to dress up for halloween. So in honor of halloween, and because I feel like giving something away, tell me about your Halloween costume, and enter to win these spooky Close to My Heart products!

halloween giveaway

Prize includes
Backdrop – Charmed $17.95
Midnight Felt Shapes, $5.95
Mischief Complements Rub-ons, $4.95
To enter, leave a comment and tell me…

1. what costume you plan to wear this year.
2. OR If you’re not going to wear a costume, tell me what your favorite costume has been in the past, 
3. OR what you’d like to wear if you could choose any costume.

I’ll only count entries who answer at least one of the questions, if you don’t wear costumes, well…. you’re out of luck.

If you do not have a profile with email contact info, you must include your email address, so I can contact the winner. Winner will be chosen October 31 by random drawing of all qualifying entries.

Haunted House in Spokane

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I’m up to my neck in blood and guts, and having a ball.

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If you’re in the Spokane area this weekend, you are cordially invited to attend the City School Haunted House. My son is a student at this alternative middle school and they pull out all the stops for this annual fundraiser. Two floors of terror, it takes over the entire school! Tickets are $7 per person. This year I am serving as the Creative Director, so I’ve been a bit busy. And bloody. But it’s all for a good cause.

Tomorrow…. a Friday Freebie giveaway!

Resist Technique

Saturday, October 22, 2011

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I missed my ustream show last Wednesday, it’s been a crazy month and I am sorry I couldn’t broadcast as promised. I will be back for the Wednesday, Oct. 26 show, so if you didn’t get your Fabulously Artsy fix last week, you’ll want to tune in then.

If you watched the last episode of my show, I covered several resist techniques. You can watch the shows on my channel. True to the nature of live shows, there was a blip in the program and my recording cut into two parts. Whoops! Part one and part two are both from the same night, not two different episodes.

Let’s make a card using one of the resist techniques, shall we?

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All of the papers shown above are from the Mischief paper pack, with the addition of a square of Garden Green and Colonial White. This pack is not just for Halloween, it’s perfect for fall too!

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I stamped the large medallion using Happy Moments stamp set. (Just $13.95!) I used Versamark ink and then heat embossed with Clear Embossing Powder.

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Using a sponge and Chocolate ink, I buffed color onto the cardstock. For a soft sponged look, buffing in small circles is very effective. Pouncing your sponge results in a different, textured appearance. I also edge-inked the cardstock with more chocolate ink, using my sponge.

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Putting the finishing touches on the card by stamping the border stamp in Barn Red ink onto the Barn Red cardstock for a tone-on-tone effect. Sand the solid cardstock pieces to give them a weathered effect, then ink the edges of your pieces. Add a hemp bow and antique copper brads. Stamp a sentiment from Say it In Style stamp set. Finally, add Bronze Glitz Gel to highlight the center medallion.

Don’t miss the next Ustream technique class on Wednesday, Oct. 26th at 7 pm. (Pacific Time). More irresistible techniques, this time we’ll take a look at what’s underneath. And I promise I’ll actually be there this time.

Whatever Wednesday–Creative Nerd Wedding

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is such a sweet video, and the details in this wedding are incredibly creative. From the invitations to the lego-accented flowers, this couple went all out to celebrate their nerdy love.

Making Your Own Blog Header in Picasa, Part 3

Monday, October 17, 2011

It’s the final installment of the tutorial! Today we’ll get your new header installed in blogger.

In case you missed it, check out part one and part two of this series.

blog dog

Blog Dog and I are going to start out this post with a disclaimer. I am not a brilliant tech-guru with loads of computer programing experience. I hope to help those who want a simple way to improve their blog without a lot of fuss or prior knowledge of computer lingo and coding. In no way is this tutorial going to be the only way to do things, or even the best way. It’s my way. Blog Dog agrees.

If you followed along so far, you’ve created a lovely header for your blog using your own photos and text. Now let’s put that header on your blog, shall we?

1. Open Picasa and Open Your Blog Layout

First, open Picasa on your desktop and go to your header that you saved. Without closing that window, open your blog dashboard and open the Layout.

Blog Dog tip: If you’re nervous about making changes to your blog, you might want to set up a second “test” blog just for messing around with. I have a blog named “fab art test” that is set to private. I can try out all my changes before I upload them to my real blog. If you do set one up, make sure that you choose the exact same template, so they will look identical. You don’t need to create posts or keep up on this blog, it’s just for fiddlin’ with.

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The next step may be the last, or you may need to do some adjusting. I needed to do a lot of adjusting to get my header to look right, you may too.

2. Edit Your Header in Blogger

Does your interface look different than mine (below)? I use bloggers new version. Doesn’t matter, you can use the old or new. Click on “edit” in the header bar.

picasa 3 layout

If you already have a header installed, you’ll want to click “Remove Image.”

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Select these options… From your computer, Instead of Title and Description, and Shrink to Fit. Leave the blog description blank.

picasa3 configure header

Click on the BROWSE button and find your photo. Select it and click the orange SAVE button.

Keep your fingers crossed…. now preview or view your blog.

Does it look right? Is it the right size? If so… congratulations, you’re done!

If not, don’t worry, I’m going to show you how to make adjustments. My blog is a three column blog and for some reason blogger wants to make my header too narrow and leave a bunch of white space on the left. Not cool. I want my header to stretch the entire width of my blog, including my sidebars, so I need to do some fiddlin’.

If your Blog Header is the wrong size….

First, try step 2 again, but unselect the “Shrink to Fit” option. This may fix your problem. If not, you need to change the size of your header in Picasa. There are several ways to do this, I’m just showing you one way.

You may need to change sizes a few times. I find that it’s easiest to just keep trying different sizes until I get it.

To change the size of your photo in Picasa, pull down the file menu and select “Export Picture to Folder”.

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Change the width of your header by using the slidebar or typing in a different number.

picasa3 size change

Make sure your image quality is Maximum. Click the Export Button. Again, Picasa is a little goofy here, you need to pay attention to where your photo is located so you don’t misplace it.

Now, go upload that new version and see if it fits. Too big or too small? Adjust the size by a few pixels and try again.

It took me three tries to get mine set up in my test blog. My blog is supposed to be 1,000 pixels wide. The header ended up needing to be set at 980 pixels wide. Don’t ask me why, Blog Dog might know but he’s not telling me.

Hopefully, you’ve got a stunning new blog header now! Leave me a comment with your blog address if you’ve created a header with this tutorial.

Last note: Why is the header on this tutorial different than the one on my blog? Because I wanted to show you the Picasa method from scratch and get all the screen captures as I created it.

Making Your Own Blog Header in Picasa, part 2

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ready to add finish your blog header? In part one, we created a photo collage using Picasa. Now I will show you how to add text, with a nifty little trick to create a drop shadow effect.

Begin by opening your collage photo in Picasa. Remember that it will be stored in my pictures/collages/picasa. 

picasa2 collage

In the sidebar, select “text.”

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Click anywhere on your picture and type your words. Don’t worry if the font and size aren’t right, you’ll fix it later.

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Use the text editing tools to change your font and color. You can also change the size using the editing tools, but I like to use another method, shown below.

picasa2 size tool

After typing your words, if you hover over the box, a round circle appears – see above. It looks a bit like a clock. As long as your cursor is inside the circle, you can click and drag your words around. Hover over the little arrow tool (white arrow with a red dot – hover over the red dot and your cursor becomes a hand. This allows you to adjust the size and angle of your words. Just play around with it, you’ll see.

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Once you have the font, size, color and placement of your text, click apply in the sidebar.

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Save your work by selecting control+s. At this point, you might be done with your text.

Or you can take it a step further with a drop shadow.

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My photo has darks and lights and the text just doesn’t look right without a bit of shadow. Picasa doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles when it comes to text manipulation, but that doesn’t mean we can’t add a shadow easily. We just have to get creative.

To add another block of text, you’ll need to have saved the first text. This makes the black text I added a permanent part of my photo. Until I saved, I was free to change the text as much as I liked, but couldn’t add a second text box.

To create drop-shadow letters, click the text box again.

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Type your words and position them exactly over the first set. I’m choosing white for my letters.

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Now just move the text box slightly up and to the side to create the shadow effect. Click apply, then save your work and you’re done!

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To apply more lines of text, repeat the process. Remember that you need to save each text box onto the photo before Picasa will allow you to add a new text box.

Next step: tomorrow I’ll show you how to  install your fabulous new header on your blog!

Simply Irresistible - Techniques Class

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Don’t miss tonight’s live Ustream class on resist techniques.

ustream intro

click the TV  to go to the classroom

Resist Technique Class

Wednesday Oct. 7

find your time zone….
7 pm Pacific
8 pm Mountain
9 pm Central
10 pm Eastern

Making your Own Blog Header in Picasa, Part 1

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Want to make your blog unique? The first thing a reader sees when they visit your blog is the header. You can create your own using any photo program that allows you to combine text and photos.

blog dog kissBlog dog is going to show you how to create a header using Picasa. I like keeping things simple, so if you’re a wiz at Photoshop, you may not need this tutorial. But if you want a simple to follow how-to on creating a custom header for your blog, you’re in the right spot!

extravaganza

I’m going to show you how to create this design, using your own photos and words. You can have more or less photos, I chose three.

This tutorial is for blogspot blogs, if you have another blog host you can create the header using Picasa, then install it using your own blog’s help section.

First, it helps to know how wide your blog is. Cheater tip: You don’t really need the size,  you can wing it and blogger will allow you to set it to size correctly when installed. To find out your blog width, go to dashboard>template>customize>adjust widths. Don’t change anything, just take a peek at how wide your blog is. (By the way – I use the new Blogger interface, if you use the old you may have a slightly different path to get to your width settings).

If you can’t find it, or just want to skip this part, you’re safe creating a header of 800 x 200 pixels for two column blogs, or 1000 x 200 pixels for a 3-column blog.

Blog Dog designer tip: don’t make your header too big. The phrase “Above the Fold” means the area you can see on your computer without scrolling. This is prime real-estate. Your header is above the fold… and there should be room for your content too. “Content” means your posts. A large header that take up a ton of screen space is a sure sign of an amateur design. Regular visitors should be greeted by a new, fresh page often. If your header is taking up most of the screen, your blog appears stagnant. You want the header WIDE, but not DEEP. Leave room for your content – keep your header 200 pixels tall, or less.

Let’s make a header!

Open Picasa and browse through your pictures. When you find a photo you want to include in your header, select it by clicking on the photo, then click the hold button in the tray at the bottom left of your screen.

picasa screen

See that tiny green lightning bolt in the pic below? Click it and it saves the photo into the tray.

picasa hold

Keep adding photos until you have your choices. You can change your mind later, so add whatever you think you might need. I’ve got three photos in my tray, so let’s move on.

picasa menu bar

In the menu bar (shown above), click on “Create”. Select “Picture Collage.”

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Your screen will have all of your photos that you placed on “hold”  in the collage. As you can see, my photos are repeating themselves and the  size is wrong, so let’s fix that.

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Set your collage to “Grid”, if it’s not already set that way. Then open the “Page Format” shown in the middle of the screen shot above.

picasa add custom aspect ratio

Set the size of your header by selecting “Add Custom Aspect Ratio”, as shown above. A new window will open. Type in the width and height you want. Two column blog: 800 x 200. Three column blog: 1000 x 200. (or whatever your blog width is).

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Drag the photos around on the screen to arrange them how you want. If you want to add white space between the photos, add it with the “Grid Spacing” sliding tool.

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With space added.

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If you have photos you don’t want, they can be removed dragging off the workspace, over to the left sidebar, or by clicking the remove button on the workspace. You can also drag the photo within the cropped area, moving it around until it looks just right.

When you have everything in place, it’s time to save the collage (you’ll add the type later). Click the “Create Collage” button.

picasa create collage

Collages are saved automatically to the Collage album. I forget this, then I can’t find my photo after saving! To find it, go to Pictures>Picasa>Collages.

That’s it for part one. Next step… adding text.

Ghosting Technique with Michelle Nist

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This is my good friend, Michelle.

michelle ghost

She’s a colorful friend of mine, as you can see. Check out her fabulous and funny tutorial on the ghosting technique. Using glossy cardstock, Versamark and CTMH dye inkpads, you’ll love this stunning resist technique.

Make sure you watch the bloopers at the end!

Blogtoberfest–are you in?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Join in the Blogtoberfest event and add your name to the participating bloggers list!

Click the button to read all about it and join the fun!

blogtoberfest button

Taking Better Artwork Photos

Blogs are better with pictures. There, I said it. Your writing is important, but let’s be honest and face the fact that most viewers look at the pictures more than they read the text. blog dog photographer

Blog dog wants to know: are your photos adding to the reader’s experience? Are they well-lit, brightly colored, and include details? If not, read on!

I’m going to share my tricks for better photos, without complicated photo editing programs. I personally use Picasa to edit most of my photos. It’s free, and very easy to use. You can also use an online photo editor such as Picnik or Photobucket. Whatever you choose to use, these tips will help you show off your artwork at its best.

First, let’s set up your “studio.”

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In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to take your photos using natural light. Choose a spot that gets natural indirect light. Indirect is important, you don’t want a sunny spot. Today it’s overcast outside, so I set up very close to my sliding glass door. I often use my kitchen counter near a large window, today it’s a little too dark in that spot so I am using the floor. If the sun were shining brightly today, I would need to move my set-up a bit farther back, so the light does not shine directly onto my paper. You should have soft shadows and even lighting when the light is indirect.

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I use a large piece of posterboard as a seamless background. I taped the top of the posterboard to a chair rung. Sometimes I can just prop it up. You can also choose a different color background, I sometimes use black.

Turn off your flash and take a few shots from slightly different angles.

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I like the last one best.

Next step, sprucing it up with photo editing. First, use your crop tool to remove the unnecessary background. You want your artwork to stand out, so crop in nice and close.

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If you’re using Picasa, there’s a cool feature – the “I’m feeling Lucky” button. It will auto-adjust several aspects of your photo. I usually start with that. Sometimes it works great, other times not so much. With this photo, it works pretty well (below). The color is more vibrant and the photo is lighter, with just a single click.

picasa card3-1 Don’t be afraid to add more light to your photo. Most photos look better when they are almost overexposed. I used the slider bar options to increase the Highlights. If it starts to look too flat and washed out, use the Shadows feature to deepen the shadows.

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See those little specks of stray glitter near the third flower from the right, in the white areas? Use the retouch tool to remove them (below). Just a few clicks and you can clean up little boo-boos and smudges. Don’t expect major photo retouching, but it’s a great option to clean up stray embossing powder and dirt specks.

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Lastly, use the Text tool to add your name and blog address (below). Don’t be afraid to watermark your art. It’s a good idea to protect your artwork from appearing on other’s blogs without credit, and it’s also helpful for readers who like to save photos and forget who the artist is. I typed my name and blog address in black, then used the transparency slider tool to make it blend into the background a bit so it’s not too bold.

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So, that’s it. About 3 minutes of photo editing will really make your photos pop! Compare the pictures side-by-side.

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You like?