Category Archives: Tips

Looking for public domain images? Try these.

In the course of my own inner Lenormand revolution or evolution, I’ve been scouring the internet for images that I can utilise for my divination card decks. I’m terrible at drawing. Having said that, I’m good at using photo editing Apps to change the way my photos look, so not being good at drawing isn’t quite a disadvantage.

Just very recently I learnt that the British Library has released a MILLION images into the public domain, via its Flickr account.
Also, Archive.org have done the exact same thing.

What this means is that if you are searching for images to use in your artistic endeavours, whether as clipart or to print out and use in scrapbooking, etc…then before you buy images from other people, you should consider these 2 FREE sources first. Save yourself some money!

And guess what, there are many more organisations and museums out there that have recently jumped on the bandwagon and made their treasury of artwork, photographs, illustrations etc available online for everyone. It really is a revolution, albeit a quiet and peaceful one. This brings accessibility to a whole new world of Art and Photography like never before. I for one intend to make good use of this manna from heaven.

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Here’s the link to the British Library Flickr site: https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/britishlibrary/

Here’s the link to the Archive.org Flickr site: https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/internetarchivebookimages/

Definition of Public Domain:
NOUN
the state of belonging or being available to the public as a whole, especially through not being subject to copyright or other legal restrictions.

Trimaginator

Trimaginator is an App I stumbled upon recently. It’s available on both iOS and Android platforms.

Trimaginator for iOS

Trimaginator for Android

Here’s a video showing how it works:
http://vimeo.com/m/99873058

Trimaginator is the brainchild of Paul Ollivier. On the Trimaginator Facebook page, Paul says:

Make your pictures stand out from the same old thing that you typically post or share! Trimaginator allows you to unleash your creativity and turn your photos into unique and captivating works of art!

Just press one of the top right buttons for automatic point generation and tweak the result with your fingers by adding [ + ] or removing [ – ] points, or start from scratch [ x ] if you’re feeling wild!

Trimaginator also features different rendering styles that change the look of your triangles : how cool is that?

So I went and had a good old play with the App, just for fun and to see if it offered me anything new by way of creative ideas.

I had some photos of our Koi and Goldfish, that I hadn’t made any plans to use in any projects. So I figured this would be the ideal opportunity to utilise them.

Like Paul Ollivier suggested, I just pressed buttons at random and saved the results that I liked.

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What do you think? I love how well my Koi and Goldfish translate into geometric shapes. The App certainly has potential. Well, I’m off to experiment more with the + and – buttons, and the different filter effects.

App Review: Grungetastic by Jixipix

Jixipix the developers have a large stable of photo editing Apps available both on iOS and Android. For smartphones, they started on iOS and have now made most but not all those Apps available on Android too. I first came across Jixipix back in 2011, when I was starting out as an iPhoneographer. Then I switched to Android and didn’t have access to their Apps anymore.

The snapshot below shows Jixipix’s webpage. Note the long list of Apps down the left side. Available on PC, Mac AND smartphones and tablets too. Heaven!

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I’m happy to report that my love affair with the likes of Grungetastic, Moku Hanga, Artista Oil etc has been rekindled on my Samsung Galaxy S4.

Only recently I was casting about for an App that had grunge and texture filter effects, and when I came across my old flame Grungetastic, it prompted me to take a Lenormand deck I’d just created, and app the hell out of those images until I had another set of cards – a darker, edgier, grungier deck. I loved the experience of playing with that App.

So today I’m going to show you just a few things Grungetastic is capable of doing. Here’s Jixipix’s own blurb about Grungetastic:

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Okay, now for some hands-on. I took this photo of a red Chinese door with a lion’s head knocker. When you first open up Grungetastic on your smartphone (this post is only about the smartphone versions of the App, not the desktop version), this is the user interface you get:

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Pretty empty, huh? I loaded up my red door photo, and the App churned away merrily and gave me a random grunged image, for starters:

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Notice how the user interface (UI) has opened up more options. These are so you can tweak the effects by selecting different filters, colours and parameters. If you’re feeling lazy, or need a kickstart to start up those creative juices, hit the dice at the top right-hand corner. Grungetastic will randomly generate another grunged-up pic for you. I like to use the dice, and when I get a look that I like, I then use the controls for finetuning.

I clicked on the icon at the far right, and got this set of background “paper” textures. 39 in all. I selected the very last one.
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You can also change the tint of the grunge. Here it’s magenta. But let’s change it:

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Now it’s a bright turquoise. See the difference?

The second icon in from the right gives you a variety of borders:

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These are also tweakable, using sliders:
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The App offers 2 main grunge overlays, meaning you can layer one on top of the other. Working from the right side in, using Grunge 2:

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Remember, the presets for Grunge 1 and 2 are the same. But there ARE 108 filter effects, so the combination is mindboggling. After selecting the filter and strength for Grunge 2 above, I went on to do similar for Grunge 1:

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Notice how the two grunge layers are now added together. Unfortunately there isn’t a way to select a different colour of grunge for both Grunge 1 and Grunge 2 filters. However, there is a way to cheat and bring out flashes of colour, and that’s by utilising the paint palette icon, third from the left, to change the colour of the main image. I could go back to the first icon on the right and change the turquoise to another colour, but I like how it reminds me of bronze patina. By tweaking the strength or threshold of this paint palette icon, I can bring forward or recede certain colours of the main photo. You’ll need to experiment with this yourself.

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So here I’ve simply changed the main colour of the door from red to yellow. It certainly makes that door look old and rusty.

Here are some shots of randomly generated Grungetastic results on the same photo, using only the dice function:

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Right, I’m off to play some more with this great App!

Posted from WordPress for Android.

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

FREEBIES! Happiness posters

I’ve been playing with the App Moldiv, which offers just 2 things – Collage templates and Magazine mock layouts. I’ve already used one of its collage frames to create a deck of Lenormand cards. Now I’m experimenting with Moldiv’s Magazine layout templates.

Moldiv on Android

Moldiv on iOS

Here’s what I’ve done so far. The layouts come with text embedded in them, which can’t be changed. Which is a pity, in some ways, as there are a few grammatical and spelling errors in them. If I wanted to, I could easily create a worded poster of my own in Phonto and stick it over Moldiv’s text.

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Feel free to save or share these with your friends and loved ones. Happiness is Free, as is Peace, Joy, Kindness and Love. Let’s spread the word!

Posted from WordPress for Android.

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

Pit Bull Art

Photo Artista Oil is an App by Jixipix, available on all platforms (computer, iOS and Android). You don’t have to know how to wield a paintbrush, this App will turn your everyday photos into classical works of art with a few simple pushes of the button.

What I love about Jixipix is how the developers utilise a uniform user interface across most, if not all, of their Apps. If you have already experienced working with one of their Apps, you already know how to use their other Apps.

I woke up one morning and decided on a whim that I’d love to design and wear a t-shirt with my pit bull Shelagh’s photo on it. Perhaps with a funky slogan extolling the virtues of pit bulls. To this end, I’ve been experimenting with Photo Artista Oil. If this works out, I’ll be putting up my designs on my Society 6, Red Bubble and Etsy store pages.

Here are some of the results so far. Enjoy!

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This is the original photo of Shelagh.

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I used Repix to paint out the backgrlund and foreground. I used my favourite brush here – paint drips.

Then, I ran the image through Photo Artista Oil . Here then are several incarnations of Shelagh.

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Posted from WordPress for Android.

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

The Half-Tone and Altered Half-Tone Lenormand

I was looking for an App that would give me a framework upon which to hang my Lenormand archetypal images. And I found a new (to me, anyway LOL) App on the Android Google Play Store, called Moldiv, that has heaps of cool collage templates. Moldiv is also available on iOS here.

For my Half-Tone Lenormand divination card deck, my initial idea was to create some sort of newspaper/scrapbook effect, as if I’d cut my images out of newspapers and magazines, and stuck them to my template.

Firstly, I collated the images I wished to use, into a folder on my Samsung Galaxy S4. Said images came from my library of my own photographs, public domain/copyright free images and clipart.

Then, I found a simple App that would give me the Half-Tone effect I wanted, called Just Sketch It. Of course, the App does give more than one style of sketching, Half-Tone being merely one.

I ran all 36 images through Just Sketch It, one after the other, and saved them to a new folder. (Thank the Universe for my S4’s expandable memory, I’d be lost without my 64GB memory card).

Then I set up my template in Moldiv, selecting a simple 2 photo frame, accommodating one large and one small photo. The App is versatile in allowing users to change the ratio. For this Lenormand card project, the 2:3 ratio worked a treat. I chose a neutral light grey textured background, and a font that I liked. I already had my 36 playing card inserts, created previously, waiting in another folder on my S4. We were all set to go.

The creation of the Half-Tone Lenormand was relatively straightforward. I did everything in-App in Moldiv – rotating and resizing the images, tweaking the colours, brightness and contrast etc, putting in the playing card inserts.

Here are a few of the completed cards:

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Then I got creative. I stumbled upon a long-lost old friend, an App that had previously been on Apple iOS only. The developers, Jixipix, have at long last made some (but not all) of their iOS photo editing Apps available on the Android platform, so when I came across Grungetastic, I knew my Half-Tone Lenormand project was going to produce not one, but two separate decks. A nice, clean one, if you will, and a dirty, grungy one that looks terribly worn. I adore grunge and texture! I’d already found an App that gives me the effect of torn washi or decorative tape, which I dearly wanted to use. (I will write about that App, as well as Moldiv, Just Sketch It and Grungetastic, in future posts). The App is called Masking Tape.

And so I went to town playing with first sticking on virtual tape over my images with Masking Tape, then grungifying (is that a real word?) them in Grungetastic.

Et voila! The Altered Half-Tone Lenormand deck:

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I had such fun doing this 2-in-1 Lenormand deck! 😄 Both versions will be made available on my eBay and Etsy stores in due course. I shall also post up video slideshows of them on my YouTube channel.

Posted from WordPress for Android.

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

A different workflow : The “Geometrical Lenormand”

In the past, I created my Lenormand decks card by card, with no fixed theme. However, I was inspired by the App “Pixlr Express” (available on both iOS and Android platforms) to alter my usual modus operandi and create an entire deck of 36 cards in a different manner.

The way I approached my “Geometrical Lenormand” may be likened to a conveyor belt at a factory. The developers of “Pixlr Express” like to tempt and taunt their users with promotional filters and effects, which stay for a short period in a special folder within the App, before vanishing into thin air. And so, when I noticed that it had just pulled its previous promo filters and introduced its newest – the “Cosmic Geometry”, I knew I had to act promptly.

To say I was inspired is an understatement. My previous Lenormand decks had all taken me around 2 weeks of constant editing, processing and tweaking, from start to finish. My “Geometrical Lenormand” took all of 5 days. I started on a Friday evening, and the project was completed, bar printing, by Wednesday evening.

This time, I kept things very simple. The parameters I set myself were:

1) I would use the simplest images where possible for this project.

2) the images would be from clipart, or come from within the Apps I use, from public domain images, or otherwise cut out from photos I’d taken.

3) I’d use a plain, coloured background for all the cards, instead of creating collaged backgrounds like in my previous Lenormand decks. For this project I generated 12 different coloured backgrounds using the App “iMagic Pro” (available on both iOS and Android platforms).
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4) on the first pass, I’d simply put a geometrical design on a coloured background. This design would be from “Pixlr Express”. The 3 promotional folders within the App are called “Wavelength”, “Bezel” and “Supernova”. Each contains a variety of geometrical designs that can be enlarged, flipped, rotated etc. The Screenshot below shows a collage of the 3 folders.

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Here’s a background with a geometrical design I’ve put on it.

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5) on the second pass, I would stick on a Lenormand archetypal image over the coloured background with the geometrical design already added. I’d do this systematically over the course of all 36 cards, starting from 1 through to 36 in that order. No fancy filters or other special effects. Let’s use the Bear card. This is a public domain image that I’ve cut out digitally using the Android App “AThumb Cut”. I simply pasted it onto my prepared background image, using another universal App, “PicsArt”.

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6) on the third pass, I’d add a simple, subtle background design to each of the 36 cards, using the special filters in “Pixlr Express”. Again, here is the Bear card.
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7) on the fourth pass, I’d add the number and title corresponding to each image. So, again, here is my Bear card.

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8) I then thought hard about whether to put the traditional playing card pips on the cards or not. I wanted this to be a modern Lenormand card deck with ultra clean lines, and debated with myself whether adding the pips would clutter things up. In the end, I compromised by not adding actual card inserts, but a simple number plus ♤♡♢♧ symbols.

So here is the completed Bear card from my “Geometrical Lenormand”.

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I like the simplicity of this Lenormand deck. Not having to create a complex collaged background saves a lot of time, and a simple background makes the archetypal Lenormand images easier to see at a quick glance. Also, adding the effects layer by layer throughout all 36 cards, instead of completing one card at a time, gives a more consistent and uniform look to the deck.

Note: the “Cosmic Geometry” filter effects are part of the App developers’ marketing strategy to get people to sign up to their desktop App. These filters will be removed from the mobile Pixlr Express App, but will remain a permanent feature on the desktop version. Check out their link:

https://pixlr.com/desktop?utm_source=pex&utm_medium=direct&utm_term=ExampleKeyword&utm_content=&utm_campaign=cosmicgeometry?utm_source=pex&utm_medium=direct&utm_term=ExampleKeyword&utm_content=&utm_campaign=cosmicgeometry

Posted from WordPress for Android.

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

Claritin to the rescue!

My Pit Bull-Mastiff dog Shelagh loves playing Fetch. Our lawn is no longer grassy but more of a golf sand bunker. Shelagh’s a heavy dog, but very agile and quick, and her paws do tend to tear up the lawn when she’s chasing after tennis balls. When she skids in the dirt, dust billows up everywhere, and gets in her eyes and nose. I call her my “Dusty Darling”.

A couple of days ago, after a particularly energetic workout with Shelagh, I noticed in the evening that she had developed hives on her back. They were like raised bumps where the fur had been pushed up. At first I thought she might have been bitten by a spider or mites, but I couldn’t find any bite marks. Her skin wasn’t broken anywhere. There was no redness or rash, just a raised bump here and there. She was in no discomfort. But she sure looked weird.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a photo of poor Shelagh, she looked rather unsightly and not her usual beautiful self. But here’s an image from Google to give you an idea of what hives on a dog can look like:

ImageUploadedByPG Free1373214229.648756

Once again, Google came to the rescue. Yes, I know I could have taken her to the vet to be checked out…but the last time Shelagh went to the vet was to get “fixed”, and that visit cost us over $850. No, I’m not kidding.

Luckily, a few accurate keywords later, under “Causes of hives in dogs”, I found the answer on Google Images. Very handy, that. Did you know you can also upload an image to Google Images and it will find you similar hits?

So, it was some kind of allergy. Probably something in the soil and dirt that Shelagh had kicked up. I looked up treatments for dogs with hives, and found several sites claiming that Benadryl tablets helped relieve the itchiness and bumps.

My local chemist had Benadryl, but only in liquid form, and only meant for coughs. I enquired about anti-histamines, and decided to try Claritin Reditabs. (In Australia it’s spelled “Claratyne”, but elsewhere it’s spelled “Claritin”). The Reditabs are the sort that dissolve immediately in the mouth. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get Shelagh to take a tablet, as I’d never tried before.

Back home, I Googled “Claritin and hives in dogs”, and luckily found out that it is a safe product to use on canines. (Please do not take this as medical advice, always do your own research or consult a qualified professional first).

I popped out a Claritin tablet, got Shelagh’s mouth open, placed it on her tongue, and prepared myself for a battle of strength…which never came, as she simply let me hold her muzzle shut for the 5 seconds it took for the tablet to dissolve. What a beautiful, good girl she is!

That night, the hives were still on her back. But this morning, when we greeted each other with our usual enthusiasm, all the hives were gone. Hurrah! Thank You, Claritin!

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The Making of the “Moonshadow Lenormand”: Part I

Okay, folks have been asking me how I created my first Lenormand cartomancy deck.

This Project had me using a technique I had never even considered before. And it’s such an old technique, by today’s standards. By this I mean the use of a Scanner.

I’d been intrigued by seeing pictures of the Palimpsest Lenormand, by Bertrand Saint Guillain.

Palimpsest : masc. noun, A palimpsest (/ˈpælɪmpsɛst/) is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word “palimpsest” comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος (palímpsestos, “scratched or scraped again”) originally compounded from πάλιν (palin, “again”) and ψάω (psao, “I scrape”) literally meaning “scraped clean and used again”.
Source: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palimpsest)

Here’s a photo of some of Bertrand’s cards:

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Here’s an explanation of how and why Bertrand created the Palimpsest Lenormand, taken from his site:

From realisation to the final picture
The drawing is made by hand on standard cards whose original picture has been partially or entirely covered (hence the name). The result is then photographed and slightly adjusted with an image manipulation program to harmonize the whole deck.

Instead of having an insert in the middle of the card, the standard card association is given by the corner indices.

I was strongly intrigued by the whole idea of using the Palimpsest method for my deck. I decided I would use it as a springboard for my own deck. Not copying Bertrand’s deck, but distilling the idea of Palimpsest and giving it my own creative twist.

I already had 2 decks of cheap playing cards, so I sacrificed one. And set to desecrating obliterating altering (hehehe) the central images of the cards with white gesso. I had no Tippex like Bertrand, but I had lots of Gesso to hand. Needs must.

I was coming from a mobile photographer’s point of view, so instead of following Bertrand’s technique of photographing the finished product, like he did, I knew I wanted a digital version I could then work on. So I simply gessoed the 36 cards I needed (reducing the playing cards deck from 52 to 36 by removing the cards numbered 2-5 from each suit) and then I scanned each card, one by one, on my trusty old workhorse, the Canon Pixma MX870 printer-scanner-copier-fax.

I then transferred the scans to my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, which is essentially my studio. To do this, I first had to save the scans to a USB stick, then transfer them to my Mac, then from the Mac I used an App called Photo Transfer (funnily enough) to move them to the S4. Convoluted, but worth it.

Et voila! A Palimpsest deck of playing cards that can be used time and time again, as the template or background to my first Lenormand deck. Or any subsequent Lenormand deck, for that matter. I wasn’t too concerned about whether I’d completely covered the central images on each card or not, or whether I’d gessoed over parts of the side indices, as I like a bit of randomness. Besides, most of the central part of each card would be covered by digital imagery that I would superimpose on them.

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The gessoed cards
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Close-up of some of the gessoed cards.

Please bookmark this and check out Part II, coming up next, where I will explain how I then used my Palimpsest templates to create my Moonshadow Lenormand cards.

Posted from WordPress for Android.

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

Introducing the “Moonshadow Lenormand”

I have finally completed my debut Lenormand card deck. And decided to self-publish it through Printer Studio. It was a choice between Printer Studio and Game Crafter, and as I couldn’t get my head around former’s templates but found the latter’s very user friendly, I went with Printer Studio. The company is based in Hong Kong, so I expect turnaround to Australia to be 14-21 days. That’s when I’ll get my hands on the “real” cards, and can assess the card stock and printing quality. I have a couple of decks by other artists, from the same printer, and their cards were nice and smooth and excellent quality.

Here are the links for both Printer Studio and Game Crafter.
Printer Studio
The Game Crafter

So here is a teaser page showing the fronts and backs of some of the cards in my deck.
Moonshadow Lenormand
If you are interested in purchasing this deck, you can find my eBay listing here:

http://m.ebay.com/itm/261630354440

Introducing the brand new Moonshadow Lenormand by AlyZen Moonshadow. The Lenormand divination system is named after Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand (1772-1843), the great fortuneteller who read for the likes of Napoleon and Josephine. Although Mlle Lenormand never designed or created the system that carries her namesake, the Lenormand divination system is faithful to the imagery of the Sibylla of the Salon, who read in the cosy parlours of the gentry, giving practical advice with regards love, romance, finance and even war. It is a very different system from the Tarot.

This is my very first Lenormand divination card deck, created using only my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and Apps, and using either my own photographic images and clipart or images from the public domain.

The accompanying images show the front and backs of all the cards in the deck. There are the usual 36 Lenormand cards, plus an extra Man and Woman card for same-sex readings. Included in the deck also are 2 cards showing some card meanings, and also a card of recommended further reading. 42 cards in total. Your order will come directly from the printers, fresh off the press, in a clear acrylic case. Please allow 14-21 days for delivery, as this is beyond my immediate control.

Postage is Free to wherever you are. Please contact me directly if the item is meant to be sent to someone else, so I can change the delivery details. Thanks for looking!

And here is the listing on Etsy:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/207677660/the-moonshadow-lenormand-card-deck-by