Category Archives: Adobe Creative Cloud

CHINESE NEW YEAR OF THE HORSE

GONG XI FA CAI! XIN NIAN KUAI LE! HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

Today I’m sharing with you my workflow for creating 2 Chinese New Year horse motif greeting cards. I remember admiring the way Chinese calligraphers painted horses using only brush and ink. I loved those horses with their long, flowing black manes, impossibly long legs and beautiful stances. This would have been in a previous Year of the Horse, so the Western year would have been 1978, and I would have been 8 years old. I saw those horses on Chinese New Year red packets (filled with money, yes!!), on wall scrolls, on greeting cards, on paper decorations.

Fast forward 3 twelve-year cycles, and the year is now 2014. It’s the time of the Horse again. I wanted to create a horse-themed e-greeting card or printable for my social circles, something that my friends could share freely with their own circles. You don’t have to be Chinese to join in the celebrations, you know. Think of it like Christmas, everyone is welcome to enjoy the celebrations…only, the Chinese will be enjoying a whole fortnight of it, not just a day.

I searched through Dover Pictura http://www.doverpictura.com online and was overjoyed when I discovered my beloved horses of old hiding in one of the e-books. So I purchased the page, put the images through Photoshop on my Mac to convert them from TIF to PNG, then transferred them to my Samsung Galaxy S4. (TIF files don’t show up in the photo gallery on my S4, for some reason, hence the need to convert to PNG).

I chose 2 images to work on. I then cast about for some suitable apps or filters to process my horses with. First, I used PicsArt’s “screen” blending mode to give my original horse image some colour, by blending it with a colourfield background I’d created using Impressionist Fingerpaint.

Here is the original image:

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And here it is after the PicsArt treatment:

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It still lacked oomph…then I had the mad notion to run this through PicsArt again, this time blending it with an image I’d Percolated.

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Wow, this one really zings! I love it! Now what? I decided to have a look at Pixlr Express, as last year over the Christmas period they had had some special, limited time only, borders and stickers. Maybe they had something Chinese I could use? My gut instinct proved right, as Pixlr Express does indeed have Seasonal borders and stickers with a Chinese New Year theme. Yay!

This is what I did with the image:

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Isn’t it lovely? I felt it needed a bit of background colour, just a subtle tinge, nothing that would detract from the simple beauty of the image.

I used Photoshop Touch this time, to blend another colourfield background created using Impressionist Fingerpaint, with the above image. This is the result:

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And, using the same workflow, I created this with the 2nd horse image…from this:

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To this:

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Dear friends, you are most welcome to use these 2 completed images and share with your friends. I only ask that you attribute it back to me, AlyZen Moonshadow, as a shout out. May you all have a Happy and Prosperous New Year of the Horse!

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

MOYO online magazine – a HUGE resource for surface pattern designers

I came across the website of Make It In Design, while surfing the Net looking for information on how to become a surface pattern designer (wallpaper, fabrics etc). Whoa, looks like I hit the Motherlode of resources for aspiring designers. Check it out on:

http://makeitindesign.com/design-school/

This offers courses on becoming a surface pattern designer, from learning how to design, to approaching companies for licensing and marketing deals. Here’s what their blurb says:

  • The Design School featuring The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – an acclaimed online course for anyone who has ever dreamt of seeing their designs on stationery, homewares, fabric, wallpaper etc. The course takes you from sketch to pattern design to product in three modules. Find out more and register here

  • MOYO Magazine – the world’s first online magazine dedicated to surface pattern design. Get FREE inspiration and advice, read interviews with successful designers and enter design competitions

  • The MOYO Directory – the place to showcase your work and connect in the world of surface pattern design. Get your own webpage with unlimited portfolio space, get in front of potential new clients, and find other designers to network with

  • Live workshops and design masterclassess

  • A host of useful resources as you build your design career

I had a read of the pre-requisites of doing the online course. As I suspected, a certain level of proficiency in both Photoshop and Illustrator are on the list. I’m not proficient in either, and my learning-by-osmosis technique isn’t working :D. But I’m sure many of you reading this know a lot more about Photoshop and Illustrator than I do, and this may well be right up your street. So go ahead, check out the course, who knows, it might be just the ticket for you!

Next, I looked at MOYO magazine, a quarterly magazine currently in its 5th edition now and available entirely online. No matter what your interest is in surface pattern design, I can guarantee you will find interesting articles, useful information and inspiring art within the magazines. Best of all, it’s completely FREE!! So, do take a few minutes of your previous time to sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and a piece of cake, and immerse yourself in these beautiful magazines.

http://makeitindesign.com/moyo-magazine/

Issue 1:  http://issuu.com/moyomagazine/docs/moyo-magazine

Issue 2:  http://issuu.com/moyomagazine/docs/moyo-magazine2

Issue 3: http://issuu.com/moyomagazine/docs/moyo-magazine3

Issue 4: http://issuu.com/moyomagazine/docs/moyo_magazine_issue_4

Issue 5: http://issuu.com/moyomagazine/docs/moyo_magazine_issue_5

Some of the articles I found most interesting in the MOYO magazines are those about taking a tour around a wallpaper factory, an interview with a real flesh-and-blood textile designer with behind-the scene views, DIY fabric printing, custom-printing your own wallpaper designs (http://www.wallpapered.com – which I am going to check out!), an interview the fabulous Amy Butler, etc.

The MOYO Directory enables you to set up an online profile where you can get in touch with industry mavens, to market and sell your designs. It does cost £9 per month though, so it isn’t a free resource. However, I would advise that if you were truly keen to get a foot on the ladder and get your designs “out there”, then that may be the wisest £108 spent this year.

Good Luck!

About the Size of it

Recently, a Facebook friend posted a question about how large a print one can get from a smartphone WITHOUT resorting to resampling software. Back in 2011, I did some research into image resolutions and print sizes, after being told that an image I’d sent through email for a CD cover was only suitable for a postage stamp!  My report can be read on http://www.mobitog.com where I was a moderator for a year.

Here is the thread: http://www.mobitog.com/threads/image-resolutions-and-resizing.1563/

Of course, things have moved on since.  

However, whilst smartphone cameras are getting better if not bigger, and photographic Technology is improving by leaps and bounds exponentially, the co-relation of image resolution and print size is still a very valid argument.

Okay, before you read any further, remember these 3 Very Important Things:

1) we are not talking about DSLR cameras here, we are discussing smartphone cameras, with the emphasis on smartphones having access to either iOS Apps (Apple) or Google Play Apps (Android). If you have a hybrid camera that also makes and takes calls, yay for you, and consider it included in the smartphone category. If you have a DSLR and rely on traditional photography methods, then your best bet is still Photoshop, Perfect Resize, or any of a growing number of image resampling/resizing software.

2) we are not going to talk about resampling/resizing software here, we will instead concentrate on image print sizes “straight out the box”, and in practical terms, notwithstanding advances in processing software and Apps.  

3) I’m not going to talk about the difference between dpi and ppi here. Suffice to say that dpi relates to the number of ink Drops Per square Inch in a printer, and ppi relates to the number of Pixels Per square Inch on a camera. The difference between the two is explained further in a number of the weblinks listed below as we go along. From the mobile photographer’s practical point of view, consider both dpi and ppi interchangeable (oh, I know they’re not!), file it away in the recesses of your memory, and let’s get on with the real stuff.

 

I did some digging around on the internet, and here are links to several sites that attempt to shed light on the eternal Megapixel vs Print Size question. I have no affiliation with any of these sites, and some of the information may be outdated/moot especially in regard to the iPhone and Apps. However, you will see that most concur that the industry standard for professional printing should be 300 dpi, and then explain what happens when the dpi drops. In a nutshell, the relationship between dpi and print size is converse – the bigger the dpi, the smaller and more “picture perfect” the photo, the smaller the dpi, the bigger the photo but with possible loss of detail i.e the dreaded pixelation.

 

http://thebeginnerslens.com/iphone-photography/printing-iphone-photos-a-guide-to-print-size.html

A recent post by experts in the field of mobile photography, with salient points especially in relation to the iPhone.

 

http://lifeinlofi.com/2010/08/25/iphone-photo-prints-how-big-can-you-go/   

MARTY YAWNICK’s article about this, which goes back to 2011 around the time I was doing my research, an oldie but still a goodie, as it’s been updated to include later incarnations of the iPhone

 

http://griffintechnology.com/blog/fun/does-my-ipad-take-bigger-pictures-than-my-iphone/    

For those of you curious about how your iPad camera photos will look “in real life”.  Of course it looks bigger on a bigger screen, but how will your photo come out in print? Griffintechnology explains.

 

http://photo-to-canvas.com/faq_s_amp_info/faqs 

Explains pixelation in Photoshop. And how you must never assume that Photoshop will resize your low-resolution images without pixelation…there’s a different algorithm involved in resampling pixels and not just blowing up the size of existing pixels. 

 

http://connect.dpreview.com/post/1313669123/how-many-megapixels  

Compares different smartphone cameras and how they print at 300 dpi. 

 

http://www.design215.com/toolbox/megapixels.php  

Contains a useful colour chart showing maximum print sizes in relation to Megapixels

 

http://www.techhive.com/article/128982/article.html  

Explains it from a different viewpoint, literally. Billboard posters are generally printed at 72dpi, which looks great from a distance, as that’s how they’re meant to be viewed…however, if you go close up to the poster, pixelation is immediately obvious.  So, for up close and personal viewing, it is highly advisable to choose to print at 300dpi.

 

http://www.photographyicon.com/enlarge/    

Icon Photography School has a useful colour chart made by one of its students explaining Megapixels and maximum print size, again at the industry standard of 300dpi. 

 

http://easybasicphotography.com/image-resolution-pixels-print-sizes.html  

Explains the difference between ppi and dpi

 

http://www.nickcarverphotography.com/blog/how-many-megapixels-do-you-really-need/  

From a DSLR photographer’s point of view, if you don’t use resampling or have no recourse to Apps via your imaging device

 

http://photo-editing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/image-resolution.html    

Again, another site that explains the difference between ppi and dpi

 

http://flyingsamphoto.com/digital-photo-printing-megapixels-300.shtml

From a DSLR user’s point of view. 

 

Just a couple more things to remember: 

1) The number of Megapixels on your smartphone is not actually the same as the output. To give you an extreme example, the Nokia Lumia 1020 boasts a whopping 41MP camera, however, when the image output resolution is calculated, it comes out more like 34-38MP. I don’t use my iPhone anymore, so I’m not sure if the iPhone offers the same facility, however, on my Samsung Galaxy S4, the camera gives me a choice of resolutions to take pictures at, so I can essentially choose whether I want to use my full 13MP resolution for each shot (which naturally takes up more room on the phone), or to shoot at lower resolutions and thus save on storage space.  

2) Again, what goes in isn’t necessarily what comes out. If you choose to save your images at the highest resolution, and then process the image through various Apps, bear in mind that some Apps, especially the free ones, will reduce the size of your output to postage stamp sizes. So, the caveat is to check whatever App you’re processing your image with, and make sure it will save at a high enough resolution for you for printing later. I’ve been there, done that…processed images that look wonderful on the iPhone/Galaxy screen, only to realise afterwards that the App/s used only saved at a measly 600×800 pixels, which means I can’t print a large size without first having to resize it in Perfect Resize. Again taking the Nokia Lumia 1020 as an example, straight out the box you can get huge, quality prints…however, if you tried to “app” your image first and then print it out, you will find that most Apps (iOS or Android) simply do not cater for such high resolutions and will just reduce your image to their default saving resolution. The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a Windows smartphone, however, and the Windows Apps Store has a long way to go before it catches up with the 2 front runners, iOS and Android, so my guess is most users will simply buy that as a point-and-shoot, as there aren’t many photo editing Apps in the Windows Store. Then again, I’m fairly sure of 2 things – that Apps will be updated offering higher and higher resolutions, in keeping with the trend for bigger and bigger Megapixel counts on smartphone cameras, and that the Windows Apps Store will be playing ball with the big boys within the next 3 years. 

Not Quite Photoshop…but close. PART 2. NATURE’S WINDOW

For this tutorial, I have used an image I processed earlier, of a tree in front of of a gorge in the Kalbarri National Park. This one’s from the Nature’s Window area, so when I processed the image I had in mind something that would hark back to the natural phenomenon known as Nature’s Window.

Here’s the image I processed using the Android App “PicLab”.  I have filed this App in my “Type” folder on my Samsung Galaxy S4, as it offers a variety of text fonts, graphic design-type “windows” and frames, among other things. I used the simple triangle window for this image. (At the time of writing, PicLab has unfortunately suffered from a less than perfect Update, and now won’t open up. The developer has informed me a fix is in hand).

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Next, I ran the image through the Android App "PicsArt", using the Offset filter, horizontal and vertical passes, and also various passes thru the Collage setting.

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I found that by using a “Bulge” filter I was able to create an “eye” of sorts in the middle of the image. I then set up a 4-square grid, and alternated adding in a “normal” image and one with the “eye” bulge. When I ran this through the collage filter, I found that it created the impression of a half-drop effect.  Pretty cool, huh!

The following shows the results after each pass through the Collage setting in PicsArt.

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While this isn’t strictly a true half-drop effect, it certainly gives the impression of a design that flows. What I like about it is how all the lines just tie up smoothly, something I have not yet managed to master on Photoshop on my Mac.

Not Quite Photoshop…but close. PART 1. AN EPIPHANY

So, some of you may be wondering how my adventures in Photoshop are going. Not much to report, actually, I haven’t had much opportunity to practise what I learnt the last time, and so now when I go to Photoshop I’m scratching my head and saying to myself “How did I manage to do that the last time?!”  And I’m having to re-do and re-learn it all over again. Right now I can just about select, cut and paste an object and make that object repeat. That’s it.

When I get frustrated doing something, or when my creative juices aren’t flowing, I find that doing something else that takes my mind off the problem helps my subconscious work things out. So, the other day when I found that my image just wasn’t repeating in Photoshop the way I was willing it to, I decided to go play on my Galaxy S4 instead. 

I was playing around with the Android App PicsArt, just to get inspiration for scrapbooking-style images, when I came across the “Distort” link, which had a “Mirror” effect on it.  Normally, an App with mirroring effects will give you just vertical or horizontal mirror images. But PicsArt goes one further and offers Horizontal, Vertical, Mode 1 and Mode 2, with an (oh joy of joys!) Offset slider. Which means not only can I create a mirror image of my original image, I can then change at which point it splits into its mirror image.  

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Then, also in PicsArt, I found the “Collage” section, where I can choose a vast variety of layouts for my images, and have them arranged a la the iOS App Diptic-style. As I wanted symmetrical and equal pattern repeats, I chose either the 4-square option, or the 9-square option. By minimising the corner radius and border size to 0, I’m able to get a perfectly repeated pattern that lines up. 

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And so, here are some results of my experimentation. The following shows the process flow:

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Not quite Photoshop, but close, don’t you think ;-)?!  I’m really pleased with how this has worked out, so I’m going to devote a few more posts to this subject. Practice makes perfect, as they say. The final image above has a slight wonk on the right, it’s very slight, but I can see it. So, will work on my technique more. But the potential is certainly there…

Next, I’m going to try to see if I can jig some sort of “half drop” effect, as I haven’t yet found any App capable of doing this.  If anyone reading this knows of such an app, please do let me know! 

 

ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD – first impressions from a total greenhorn

The other day, hubby, myself and the kid found ourselves at Booragoon Apple Store. Why? Because I woke up that morning with the crazy idea that, if I was going to start my education in all things Adobe, I would need a dedicated computer for that. And, seeing as hubby already owns a 21 inch iMac that I’d bought him with my very first Australian paycheck 2 years ago (well, ok I paid for 2/3 of it), and that, with his new music studio in our house slowly coming together, he was probably hankering after a bigger screen…a bit of handing-me-down seemed called for.

So, hubby got a new 27 inch iMac that is so thin our current flatscreen TV wept. And I “inherited” his/my old 21 inch iMac. Happy days! A look-in at Dymocks bookstore in the same shopping centre unearthed a “Creative Cloud for Dummies” book…cool, right up my street. Plus, I have a couple of books on the same subject on order from Amazon, but those will probably take a couple of weeks to arrive. But now, with Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscribed to monthly (AU$49.99), and bolstered by my new Dummies book on the subject, I can get started immediately.

The Dummies book is reassuringly thick. Possibly like me. And it will make a wonderful pillow for my poor head, when all that hard learning gets too much.

Creative Cloud for Dummies book

(I’ve posted the link to The Book Depository as they offer Free Delivery Worldwide, so anything you find on Amazon that they also offer, do yourself a favour – check their own site first and see if you can get the item cheaper directly from them).

I realise now that I have to sift through tonnes of Photoshop videos to get to what I want, and that is pattern repeats.  I don’t intend to utilise Photoshop fully, as I am perfectly happy using my Samsung Galaxy S4 mobile phone and Google Apps to create my mobile photography images.  However, what I do need to use on Photoshop, or Illustrator, is the offset pattern repeat functionality.  Here is a video of an interesting tutorial I found on Lynda.com.

http://www.lynda.com/home/Player.aspx?lpk4=141907&lpk42=00:00

I also found this lovely one on YouTube.  She makes it look so easy!!

http://youtu.be/TxkZnyhjJDk

I followed Helen Bradley’s wonderfully simply video tutorial on using scripted patterns.  Here are my first 2 efforts in creating a brick and weave tiling pattern.  One’s a strawberry flower, the other is a red poppy.

While that worked for brick and weave patterns, it didn’t come out nicely for spiral or random patterns.  I thought about it, then realised that was because I hadn’t actually cut out the flower, I’d merely selected the image and put a black background around it.  So, in actual fact, my image was a rectangle, hence the jaggedness when formed into a spiral pattern.  Back to the drawing board!

Strawberry flower1 RedPoppypattern1

Day 2 – today I used Photoshop’s very handy crop tool, which is soooo easy to use, by the way, to cut out my Poppy image completely free from its background.  Then, I opened up a new image and pasted the Poppy to it, so I now had just the Poppy floating about on its own.  A definite improvement!  I also found a handy script pattern UI that someone else had created, and played around with it.  http://uebelephoto.com/CS6_Fill.html

Here are some results from today’s foray into Photoshop CC.  Much better…but I think I really need a lot of practice to be able to remember how to do this!

RedPoppyAgain Red Poppy mixed

RedPoppyPractice

The Winds of Change

So, recently we were away for a short break, and what an eye opener that trip was! In fact, you’ll find me writing about aspects of our holiday in greater detail. Keeping my blog going those 4 days in early October was an Herculean task, as for much of the time there was no mobile phone reception or GPS, and I had to rely on my husband’s portable wifi dongle. Oh, and not to mention how scarily fast one’s mobile phone battery goes down when sitting in a car on a 15 hour drive!

Anyway, I’ve been unhappy at work for a while now. It’s not the nature of my work, which is answering enquiries from bank customers. That’s easy and pleasant enough. It’s the fact that my department is run by children, for children, literally. The managers are too young and inexperienced to be managers, and yet they call the shots. Everything is about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and Customer Satisfaction. It’s all about statistics, and nothing about Staff contentment or retention. It’s not what you know, but who you know…and if you want to get anywhere, then there is a lot of brown-nosing and favouritism involved. Well, I’m not one to play this game. So, I’ve given my notice and although I haven’t another job to go to, I feel nothing but relief at being able to escape from that infernal place. I know I deserve better.

What will I do? Well, I decided to take the plunge and invest in Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I’ll not be buying the CS6, which at over $3100 is beyond my budget. Instead, I’ll be subscribing to the Creative Cloud (CC) for $49.99 a month first, with an annual outlay of $564. It will be hard going, but I know if I persevere with getting to grips with this powerhouse of programmes, it will be so worth the effort!

Adobe announced in March 2013 that it would no longer be producing hard copies of its software programmes. Instead, subscribers would be able to access all its products online via a range of payment options and packages.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Many diehard users of Adobe’s software were unhappy at the announcement made by Adobe, as they had grown used to idea of perpetual licenses. This new development meant that instead of owning a CD hardcopy of Adobe, one would be “renting” it monthly. For me, though, having never had any experience with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver etc, at least there’s nothing to unlearn. I’ll be a clean slate that hopefully will fill up with knowledge and know-how. That is the plan, anyhow.

And here are my reasons for wanting to use Adobe’s CS6:

1. I want to be able to design pattern repeats for textiles. My aim is to be able to produce my own designs for bedlinen, cushions, curtains, rugs, wallpaper, maybe even clothing such as coats, scarves and t-shirts.

2. I’d like to be able to publish my photobooks to platforms such as Kindle and e-books.

3. I want to print my own CD album covers, CDs, book covers.

4. I’d like to be able to bring my Graphic Design ideas to life. There are very few Apps on iOS and Android that offer graphic design templates.

5. Maybe, if I ever get past the basics, I could even write some photo editing Apps? (Wishful thinking)

So, from time to time, when I’m not posting about mobile photography art, or music, or recipes, or travel, or anything else under the sun that catches my fancy, you may find me posting here about my experience with Adobe CS6. Or maybe ranting about it, when the learning curve turns into a slippery glass mountain.

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow