Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Releases and Sugar Plum Fairies!

Today is a new release day over at The Pixie Cottage store! Michelle is going to be revealing some wonderful new winter images just in time for your holiday card making endeavors. I know that you will love the new images, including reindeer, Jolly ol' Santa and much more!
I used this gorgeous fairy from illustrator Alisa Ramirez. I thought she would make the perfect Sugar Plum Fairy for our winter theme today.
I painted her dress, shoes, bow and wings with shimmerz and popped up her cute little head for a 3-D effect.
Hop on over to The Pixie Cottage blog and see the other beautiful cards the Design Team has put together. I know I was inspired!

Don't forget! You still have until midnight EST Sunday, the 25th to submit your card for the first Pixie Cottage Challenge! There are some wonderful prizes up for grabs.

Card Recipe
Stamp - The Pixie Cottage Ballerina Fairy
Paper - Basic Grey Eskimo Kisses
Cardstock - Bazzill and Gemstones
Ink - Versafine, shimmerz paints
Accessories - Sheer ribbon and snowflakes from my stash

Basic Grey - Blue, green, red (eskimo kisses paper is blue, green, red)
La-La Land - Sparkle (sparkle in the embossing powder and clothes shimmer)
Whimsy Stamps - Emboss-abilities (image is heat embossed)
The Treehouse - embossing (image is heat embossed)
Our Creative Corner - inspired by your favorite holiday book or movie (Nutcracker!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Picture Tutorial using The GIMP

A few months ago I viewed a tutorial on how to enhance your photos using Photoshop Elements. While PSE is a great program, not everyone wants to spend the money to purchase it. Here is where The GIMP comes in handy! The GIMP is a free photo editing software that does almost everything PSE does. However, one of the complaints I have heard about GIMP is that it is not user friendly for beginners. I love using GIMP so I thought I would put together a tutorial for basic photo editing.

To begin, download a copy of The GIMP here.

Photo basics.

Use a sheet or (in my case) a white pillowcase, as your background.
Use natural light from a window whenever possible.
Use the macro setting on your camera (usually a tulip symbol)
Take a couple of shots so that you can choose the best to work with.

Step 1. Take your photo, upload to your computer and open the GIMP program.
(To open your file in GIMP, click on File, select open and choose your photo)

Your window should look like this with the photo and toolbars open.

Step2. Cropping your photo. To crop your photo, choose the crop tool in the toolbox by clicking on it once. (this looks like a knife) Using your cursor, draw a square around your image, leaving a little bit of white on all sides. Once you have your square, a box will appear. Click on "crop".

step 3. Now you will have your picture with a transparent background. Select the "Image" tab at the top and select "Fit canvas to layers". This should center your photo and change the background to white.

Step 4. Select the "tools" tab and select the "color tools" option. From this option, select "levels". A box should appear with what appears to be black mountains. Under the mountains (for lack of a better term!) there are three arrows. Click on the arrow on the far right and drag to the base of your mountain and release. This will brighten the photo. I usually drag the arrow to the base or just past the base of the black. The arrow on the far left will add more contrast. You can also drag that arrow to see the differences. You can play with this until you get the desired effect. Once you have found the right level for you, select ok.

Step 5. Now to add the foggy border everyone loves so much (ok, maybe it is only me!)
Select the tab at the top that says "Script-fu". Under this option select "decor" and choose "fuzzy border". This will open another window with options. There are so many ways to play with your photo here so I will just tell you what I do.
a. Color = White
b. Border size = I usually stay in the 60-70% range.
c. Granularity = Somewhere in the middle (8)
d. Shadow weight = I stay in the 70s
e. make sure your blur border, work on copy nad flatten image boxes are checked and click OK.

Voila! Now you have a bigger, brighter photo with a great fuzzy border. If you don't like the way the border turned out, close the new window and start the script over again.

Step 6. Saving your new photo. Sounds easy enough right! There are a few items that are different in GIMP that I want to walk you through. Click on the "file" tab and select "Save as". Rename your photo and add .jpg at the end of the file. GIMP will not automatically save as a file type. Select the folder you want to save in and click OK. A new window will open and you can select the quality of the photo you want to save. I always choose 100 unless I need a smaller file size.
Now you are done!
Here is my final photo. Can you see the difference?
Don't be afraid to play because you can always delete.

Next week I will go over how to add your watermark!
If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Whiff of Joy and Heated Pearls

I love trying out new techniques, even if most of them don't turn out that great the first time. (don't tell anyone!)
Today I tried out the technique called heated pearls. You can find the tutorial on SCS.
To create this effect, all you need is Pearl ex (preferably more than one color) Elmers glue, a stipple brush and a heat gun!
I used the technique on the top of Willows umbrella to create a wet look. Like I said, not perfect but enough to make me happy :)
1. I stamped the umbrella on glossy cardstock and then heat embossed with clear embossing powder.
2. I dabbed small dots of elmers school glue all over the umbrella.
3. I sprinkled two colors of pearl ex lightly over the glue. (doesn't have to be perfect, just sprinkle away!
4. I used a stipple brush to blend the glue and the pearl ex all over the umbrella.
5. Heat with your gun until it starts to bubble!

Some tips that I learned the hard way!
1. Cut your image out before you go to step two. Otherwise, once you have heated your image, you can no longer see the lines you need to cut on!

Other than that it was a lot of fun to try! If you decide to try it, post a link to your card, I would love to see it!

The Stamp used here can be purchased at Michelle's Scrapbooking and More!

Whiff of Joy - Use a die cut - I used Spellbinders circle Nesties!
Whimsy Stamps - Get Punchy - I used a spellbinders circle die
Stamp Something - Bling It - I used sparkly embossing powder of of course my shimmery umbrella!
Everybody Art - Shapes and punches - I used a spellbinders circle die
Paper Play - Favorite Embellishment - I LOVE using ribbon on everything
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