Feb 1 2017

Pixeladies Class Contest: We Have A Winner!

Pixelkris

Last week we held a contest to give away a Pixeladies online class. We asked our readers to leave a comment on our blog post about inspiration and documentation. Well, today we randomly drew* a winner: Kit Vincent! Kit wins a Pixeladies online class. Now, Kit can enroll in any Pixeladies class she wants to, but we think she might be interested in our Digital Designing class because:

  • she already knows how to use of the basic tools of Photoshop Elements
  • she is a fabulous fiber artist and might enjoy learning how to digitally create the elements of design
  • she would meet other students and get as inspired by their work as much as we do
  • and she’s from Canada. Actually, that’s not really a reason to take the class; we just love having students from all over the world!

Some of our scarf designs

If you are interested in enrolling in “Digital Designing,” registration starts April 1 for the class that begins May 1. Click here for more information. Thanks again for everyone who left comments. You’ve really inspired us!

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* This is how we made our random draw:

  1. We cut and pasted everyone’s email address into a spreadsheet.
  2. We then used a random number generator to assign a number to everyone.
  3. Then we sorted the list by the random number.
  4. Then Kris pulled out her telephone book (yes, she still has a few in the living room!).
  5. Deb, who was at her home talking to Kris on the phone, told her to open the phone book to a particular page.
  6. Deb then called out a random column and then a random row, like “seventh row from the top.”
  7. Kris then called off the last two digits of that phone number, and voilà, we had our winner!

Total silliness but some retro fun with the telephone book!

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Jan 17 2017

Inspiration and Documentation

deb-of-pixeladies

Kris and I are revamping our Digital Designing class. Sometimes it takes us quite a while to formulate a class, but this one came together in an afternoon. I just love it when that happens. So while Kris was fleshing out the outline, I was looking for inspiration for projects. I’d really love to have our students submit images of what they’d like to learn to create, but sometimes when a student is given such an open assignment, they freeze up. It’s sort of like having a new sketchbook; sometimes you just don’t know where to start. Someone once told me they took an art class where the instructor made a mark in the student’s sketch book, just so it wasn’t blank. But I digress.

I keep folders of ideas. I’ve never been a journal-type person. I wish I were, but it’s just not in my DNA. I scrawl notes on scraps of paper, rip ideas out of magazines, keep Pinterest boards, make written and audio memos on my phone, etc.

 

Last year I did manage to put most of the ideas on paper into a large binder, but it’s not organized at all.

Idea Binder

Idea Binder

Here are a few of the things from my idea book I thought might be helpful for our design class.

 

 

 

 

 

How do you document your inspiration? What would you want to learn in our Digital Designing class? Leave us a comment below by January 31, and we’ll enter you into a drawing for a free class! The winner will be announced on February 1, 2017.

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Dec 28 2016

The Power Of Word Of Mouth & Ohio

Pixelkris

We’re in the middle of registration for our next series of Photoshop Elements classes, and we’ve noticed a curious thing. The last time we taught online, we had several Canadians enroll. This time around, 26% of the Elements 1 students are from Ohio. Ohio!! Over 1/4 of our students . . . so far . . . from the same state. We don’t know if folks in Ohio have been talking about us, but we do find it extraordinary to get so many students from one US state. This is the fun part about teaching online. We get to meet people from all over. Besides the US and Canada, we’ve had students from as far away as Sweden, Australia, and Greece. And in 2017 we’ll have our first student from the Dutch Caribbean. (By the way, the Dutch Caribbean has quite an interesting geopolitical history. Read about it here.) Needless to say, we don’t have the marketing budget to reach out to all these countries, so we have relied heavily on word of mouth. When students talk about their good learning experiences in our classes, it makes all the difference. Take fiber artist Kathy Loomis, for example. Her blog entries have steered several students our way. Read one of her entries about our classes here. Thanks, Kathy!

Back to Ohio. Ohio is special to us not only for the online students we have had. Some of our first exhibition opportunities happened in Ohio. Since it’s the end of the year, we thought it would be fun to talk a quick look back.

In 2007, when Sacred Threads was still located in Reynoldsburg, “Owuo Atwedee” enjoyed its premiere. Some nice person even sent us a review of the exhibition in the local paper because they had published a photo of our quilt with the review! We have another quilt traveling with Sacred Threads 2016 because our first experience was so wonderful.

Owuo Atweedee

Owuo Atweedee

In 2010, we had the honor of having “The Picture is Only Half the Story” exhibited in “The Journey of Hope in America: Quilts Inspired by President Barack Obama” at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center in Wilberforce. We felt so welcomed. This artwork has recently sold, marking the end of a special time for us.

The Picture is Only Half the Story

The Picture is Only Half the Story

In 2013, “American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation” premiered at the Dairy Barn’s Quilt National ’13 in Athens. We loved the artist reception and the opportunity to meet and network with such talented artists.

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation

We’re looking forward to teaching again in 2017. Photoshop Elements 1 begins January 16. Whether you are from Ohio, Europe, or Timbuktu, we’d love to have you join us. Click here for more class information. And if you are a student who has posted about our classes, thank you for spreading the word! Your good word is our best recommendation. Here’s to a creative, productive, and remarkable 2017!

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Sep 13 2016

Photoshop Essentials 3? Help Us With Our Next Online Photoshop Course

Pixelkris

We’re taking a hiatus from online teaching until the new year so that we can work on revamping our design class. After a cursory review of the course, we realized that we had a bit of a dilemma, so we thought we would ask you for some help. Of course, we’ll intersperse our questions with some images to make the post prettier.

Design Elements

Design Elements

Question #1: the class needs a new name. “Designing Fabric with Adobe Photoshop Elements,” while descriptive, seems limiting. After all, while you learn how to create designs, the course is not limited to designing fabric. In fact, in this class you build upon what you learned in Photoshop Essentials 1 and 2 by working on:

  • review of layers and layer styles
  • blend modes
  • define pattern and seamless repeat
  • filter galleries
  • custom gradients
  • complex text tool manipulations
  • panorama stitching

4 Layers: map, color, pebbles, photo

4 Layers: map, gradient, doodle, photo


Understanding layers and blend modes, for example, is useful for any user of PSE, from fabric designers to photographers. Digital scrapbookers would benefit from learning how to define patterns and make seamless repeats – all those wonderful backgrounds can be so much fun to create. And that’s just a couple of examples. So, now you can see that “Designing Fabric” won’t appeal to all the people who would otherwise take the class. Any ideas for a new name? We’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment at the end of the post.

Gradients Explained

Gradients Explained

Question #2: Content. We’ve summarized the main areas of the class above, but it is very helpful to know what YOU want to learn. If you want to learn something specific, we might be able to add it to the class agenda. At the very least, your request might become the topic of one of our Tech Tuesday entries! Again, just add a comment at the end of this post, and we’ll see what we can do! Thanks for your help.

Finished scarf design

Finished Scarf Design

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May 10 2016

Tech Tuesday: 5 Things To Learn About The Photoshop Grid

Pixelkris

Whether you are using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, knowing that you can turn on a grid and use it to suit your needs can really facilitate your project. Here are 5 things to remember:

1. Turn on/off the grid. From the Menu bar, click on View > Grid to turn on/off the grid. The handy shortcut is Ctrl + ‘ (the apostrophe). Mac users will use Command + ‘.

2. Use the snap-to-grid function. When you are lining up objects, it is often handy to have the objects line up to the grid. To turn on Snap to Grid, from the Menu bar click View > Snap to > Grid. Using the Move tool, move an object near a gridline to see it snap to grid. Sometimes you need to zoom in to clearly see this function in action.

3. Turn off grid when using the Brush tool. If you have the grid on while drawing with the Brush tool, the strokes will try and snap to grid, causing a jiggy-jaggy effect. Turn off the grid to draw a smooth line . . . unless, of course, you like that jiggy-jaggy look!

GridNoGrid

4. Change grid preferences. By default, the gridlines are dark gray, with 4 subdivisions per gridline. However, you can make all kinds of changes to the appearance of the grid. To access the Grid Dialog Box, from the Menu bar click Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid. Mac users will click Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor > Preferences > Guides & Grid.

GridPreferences

  • To change the color of the grid, click on the Color drop-down menu (red arrow). Choose from pre-selected colors or select Custom to choose your own.
  • To change the style of the grid, click on the Style drop-down menu (green arrow). Choose from lines, dashed lines, or dots.
  • To change the unit of measurement of the grid, click on Measurement drop-down menu (blue arrow). Choose between pixels, inches, cm, mm, points, picas, percent.
  • You can also change the frequency of the gridlines by clicking in the Number box to the left of the Measurement menu.
  • To change the subdivisions of the grid, click in the Number box next to Subdivisons (yellow arrow).
  • The current color of the grid is shown in the color swatch (purple arrow). In this example, the grid color is a medium gray.

5. Grid does not print. The grid is designed to help you place your objects and therefore does not print, even when you have the grid turned on. If you want to print a grid, you can draw individual lines on top of the Photoshop grid. If you want to learn how to do this and more, you should sign up for our Photoshop Essentials class. Photoshop Essentials 2 starts on May 23, 2016.

We hope you will use the grid more often now. It’s a big help!

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Apr 8 2016

Two Cool Features Of Photoshop’s Move Tool

Pixelkris

We’re getting ready to teach our Photoshop Essentials 1 & 2 again, and this is the time we remember how powerful Photoshop is and how difficult it is to decide what to teach in these classes. Here are a couple of nifty features of the Move tool that we think really help our students speed up the creative process.

1. Automatically Switch to Move Tool after Writing Text

It often happens that after you write some text, you need to position it somewhere else. You can set your preferences so that the Move tool is automatically selected after you commit some text. From the Menu Bar, click Edit > Preferences > General (Mac users = Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor > Preferences > General). Make sure you check the box next to “Select Move tool after committing text” (see red arrow).

Preferences

2. Move a Really Tiny Object

Sometimes you want to move a something that’s so small you can’t quite grab it with your Move tool. Sure, you can zoom in, but sometimes when you do that, you lose sight of the “bigger picture” and aren’t quite sure where to move the object. There’s a great trick for this. All you have to do is place your Move tool cursor anywhere outside of those squares around the object (AKA the bounding box), and it will still move the object.* Try it. Click on the image below to note the location of the Move tool in relation to the “crown” it is moving.

DarcyMoveAnimation2sm

*Make sure you have “Auto-Select Layer” off. This is the default setting in Photoshop. We hate Auto-Select because we don’t need Photoshop trying to find the layer for us. We know what we’re looking for! The setting is in your Move Tool Options bar, seen here in Photoshop Elements:

Auto-SelectLayer

The cool Move tool is one of the things we cover in the Photoshop Essentials classes, and you’ll learn plenty of other nifty tips and tricks. Click here to learn more about our classes.

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Sep 3 2015

Registration For Photoshop Essentials Starts Sep 5!

Pixelkris

It’s that time again – registration for Photoshop Essentials 1 and 2 starts on September 5. Photoshop Essentials 1 starts on October 5, while Essentials 2 starts on November 2. We have so much fun teaching these online classes because we get to meet people from all over the US, Canada, and the world. Our last class had students from Sweden, Germany, Australia, some Canadians, Floridians, and Alaskans! It’s a great community. So, what kinds of things will you learn? Lots! Besides the 10 tricks in Essentials 1 like straightening images (think quilts, buildings, and gravestones), designing quilting lines, and changing resolution, you’ll learn in Essentials 2 about the importance of layers and selections. Click here to read more about these upcoming classes. Here’s an idea of what we’ll do:

Okay, so the “original” image was created with the stuff of Essentials 3 (we’re working on that class for the spring!), but you will learn how to use layers to create quilting lines. (If you don’t quilt, think how you can create line drawings on top of original photos. That’s lots of fun, too.) That means you’ll learn: the Brush tool, change brush color, create layers, layer visibility, and lots more. It sounds a bit complicated, but that’s where we come in. We’re pretty good at translating “Photoshop” into language you understand. Hope to “see” you in class soon!

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Aug 25 2015

Tech Tuesday: How to Make an Animated .gif in Photoshop

InternKelly

If you read last week’s Tech Tuesday post, you might remember my “Ode to Adobe Color CC” that I posted in the form of an animated .gif. If you missed it, here it is again:

gifanimated

I could stare at these animated .gifs for hours. They are just so much fun, and the possibilities are endless! In case you are wondering what in the world an animated .gif is, let me explain. An animated .gif is a graphic image that moves. It is made by combining several static images into one .gif file. If this sounds complicated to you, do not fret! The wonderful world of Photoshop has made it very simple for anyone to create an animated .gif.

You’ll notice that the .gif I posted this week does not “jiggle” as much as last week’s. This is because I went back and edited the static images so that they were all cropped to exactly the same size. In this post, I will show you how to make a perfectly framed animated .gif.

First, you will need a series of images you want to animate. The original Adobe Color CC .gif I created was made up of thirty-two screen shots. To save time, I reduced the number of images for the revised .gif in this post to sixteen. As you can see, the fewer images you combine, the choppier your .gif will be. Adding more images will give a smoother effect to your .gif.

Once you have all of your images, your next task is to put them into one file. Open your first two images. At the bottom taskbar, click on Layout > All Column, so you can view both images simultaneously. Select the move tool, and drag one image from one window to the other.

ttpost1

Click on that file, and make sure you have two layers. Once you’ve confirmed this, you can close the other file. With the Move tool selected, move the layer around until you think it fits perfectly over your original image. A true test is to click the little eyeball to the left of your original layer, turning its visibility off. Then, click the little eyeball on your newest layer, turning its visibility on and off a few times. If you can see any movement on the image, then you may need to continue adjusting with the Move tool. Slight to no movement? You are ready to add more layers! Repeat the above with each image, and add each image to that original file so that you will end up with several layers in one individual file. In my case, I had sixteen layers. This is truly the most consuming part of the entire process, so if it starts to feel monotonous, hang in there! A beautiful animated .gif is right around the corner. 🙂

Once you have all of your image layers aligned, named (but Deb never names her layers), and in the right order, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Great job! Now you have to resize your file so that you can animate it later. To do this, go to Image > Resize > Image Size. In the new window, find the Width box and change this number to 800 pixels or less.

ttpost4

Now for the fun part! Go to File > Save as and save your file as a .psd. You never know if you will need to go back and fix some layers. Now save the file again, but this time use File > Save for Web. In the dialog box, select GIF and check the Animate box. At the bottom of the dialog box you will find Looping Options and Frame Delay. Due to the radial nature of my .gif, I chose to loop it Forever, so the colors would continually move and change. Frame Delay refers to the amount of time between each image appearing in the .gif. I chose a very short amount of time (0.2 seconds) because it gives the .gif a smoother motion.

ttpost6

Name your file accordingly and then click Save. To view your .gif, find the file, open it in whichever application you prefer, and celebrate your accomplishment! I took the Pixeladies “PSE Essentials II” class, and that is where I learned how to work with layers, two images at the same time, resizing, and “Save for Web.” I would not have been able to create this animated .gif had I not learned how to do that first. By the way, the Pixeladies are teaching the series again this fall. Click here for more information.

Now I must embark on a brief tangent about the correct pronunciation of the term “.gif.” Since the acronym itself stands for “Graphics Interchange Format,” many people assume that .”gif” is pronounced with a hard G, as in “gift.” After researching the matter for myself, I understand that the correct pronunciation is actually a soft G, as in “jiff” (like the peanut butter). To quote Charlie Reading on The GIF Pronunciation Page, “Choosy programmers choose “GIF.” Ultimately, the creator of the .gif, Steve Wilhite, has the final say in its pronunciation, and he insists on the soft G. If you need definitive proof to put the matter to rest once and for all, watch this video of Steve Wilhite’s acceptance speech at The Webby Awards. That really says it all, doesn’t it? 🙂

 

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Aug 20 2015

#internkelly, Signing Off

InternKelly

Hello friends and followers!

Today will be my last day as an intern here at Pixeladies Studio. Although I will certainly miss “working” (if that’s what you call sitting around, laughing, and having fun) with the wonderful Deb and Kris, I look forward to taking everything I have learned here with me as I continue to pursue my creative endeavors. This internship has taught me an incredible amount about digital design and its application to fiber arts, the endless possibilities of Photoshop, the business, creative, and collaborative aspects of running a design studio, and helped me fine tune my writing and blogging abilities. The thing that will stick with me the most, however, is the way these amazing women handle their day-to-day work with great wit, artistic sensibility, mutual support and appreciation of each other, and a genuine love for what they do. I can only hope to emulate half of the talent and energy they put into their work everyday as I move forward in mine. Thank you all for your kind comments and encouraging words. This won’t be the last you see of me, as I have written the upcoming Tech Tuesday blog post and will be back to do some textile printing in the Fall, so stay tuned!

Until next time,

Intern Kelly

IMG_20150820_162325

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Aug 18 2015

Tech Tuesday: Adobe Color CC

InternKelly

One of my absolute favorite things the Pixeladies have shown me is the Adobe Color CC website (they teach this in their Advanced Photoshop class, but they let me work ahead a little). This site allows you to create your own unique digital color swatches online, which you can then apply to your Photoshop workspace. If you have a paid Creative Cloud membership, you can download your swatches directly from the website into Photoshop. If you have a free Creative Cloud membership (like the Pixeladies and I), you can still load swatches into Photoshop, its just not as simple. In this post, I will show you the “work around” for getting your swatches to load in Photoshop, for my fellow “freebie” lovers out there. 😉

The website (link above) opens right up to a color wheel with a menu of options to its left. Here you can choose what kind of “Color Rules” you would like your swatch to follow. Before you go any further, be sure to sign in with your Adobe ID. Anyone who owns an Adobe product has one, and anyone who doesn’t can make one for free. Once you’re signed in, you are ready to create!

colorcc

 

Look at all the fun you can have! (I made this .gif using another free website. Next Tech Tuesday, I will show you how to make your own.)

Okay, back to Adobe Color CC! The first step is, of course, to create your swatch. Simply drag your cursor around the wheel to select a base color, then make minor adjustments using the sliding bars below the color you selected. Warning: Time flies when you are playing with the color wheel. Sometimes I start a swatch, and by the next time I look up, an hour has gone by.

tequilaswatchexample

Once you are happy with your swatch, click the blue “Save” button. You will be prompted to name your theme.

tequila2

Kris and I are listening to Cuban music today in honor of the U.S. Embassy re-opening in Havana, and it’s making us want to go drink and dance, so this theme was inspired by “tequila.” You can choose whether or not you’d like your theme published publicly on the “Explore” page. I keep the box checked because I love browsing through other people’s work.

Now that your theme is saved, it will show up when you click the “My Themes” link. Hover over the theme you want to load into your workspace, and a few options appear.

tequila3

Click on “Edit Copy,” and you will be taken back into the creative space, where you can scroll down a little to find the HEX code, circled here in white:

tequila-4

This is the magical code that will allow you to find your exact colors in Photoshop. Now go into your Photoshop workspace and double click the Color Picker.

tequila5

A new window should pop up with a hashtag box somewhere in it. I am using Photoshop Elements 13, and mine is the last row, circled above in red. This is where you will type in your magical HEX code. It may help to adjust your windows so that you can easily navigate back and forth and see the code as you type it. Once you have your exact color selected, click OK, and then go to the “More” icon in the bottom right-hand corner, and a box will pop up. Go to the “Color Swatches” tab, then click the teeny-tiny fly-out menu icon on the upper right of the box. Now select “New Swatch…”

tequila6

When you click “New Swatch,” you will be prompted to name your colors. I recommend saving numerically (i.e. tequila1, tequila2, etc.) so that they are easier to find later. Repeat this process until all five of your swatches are visible in the Color Swatches tab, always using the “New Swatch” option.

tequila7

You will notice that the last five color swatches in your Color Swatch tab are the theme you created in Adobe Color CC! You can now work with your swatch in Photoshop. You can also save and share the swatch. To do this, select the first one, then while holding down your Shift key, select the other four. Once you have the five selected, let go of the Shift key and click on the teeny-tiny fly-out menu icon again. This time, go to “Save Swatches…”

tequilaLAST

… and save your swatch as an ACO file. To load a swatch file into your workspace, go to the “More” icon, “Color Swatches,” fly-out menu, and select “Load Swatches…” A window will pop up where you can select the swatch file you just created.

Swatch responsibly, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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