Easy fall design layout

A fall design layout, and I’ll show you what I did to make it:

fall design layout

fall design layout

First lets find a background image I choose this one from my image gallery:

Second, I followed this tutorial to create the bokeh effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO2h7L-LV9A

This gave me a great background to work with and something to showcase in the foreground (a leaf in this case). I took the following pictures:

IMG_3891 IMG_3893

Using the pen tool, outline the leaf to cut it out from it’s background. I also upped the saturation of the leaf slightly, blurred the edges and brought the opacity of the background down to make more contrast.


With the wood railing that the leaf sits on in the final piece, cut along the edge paying attention to your line work and any chipping paint. The board, although it appears straight, has a bow in it. Once the siding in the background of the railing was removed a slight blur was added to try and soften that line.

Place the leaf on the railing, which will need rotated – to create the shadow I added a new layer under the leaf (above the cut railing) and used the brush with a 0% hardness tip to ‘paint’ the shadow of the leaf. I chose a deep auburn instead of black, if light would come though the thin skin of the leaf, it would take on a shade of that color.







Photo A Day & Toledo Casino Night Charity Event Update

Updates since last post:

photo a day challenge

Photo A Day Challenge: One step at a time

Photo A Day Challenge
Been able to make it to day 5 so far: http://galleries.soft-graphix.com/

More info on charity event
I’ve been helping my sons high school parent staff association with a casino night in Toledo charity event. If you are in the Toledo, OH area and you are interested, more information can be found here: http://itstartslocal.com/

Added some new photos

I feel like I have neglected wordpress recently… My bad. I have uploaded some new images to the gallery page for design project use:


Royal Flush Photo

Dealer Button

Poker Chips

These are some of the initial images that I plan to use for a project dealing with a charity casino night. The make-shift light box is still intact, though I need to experiment with (and learn more about) bouncing light.



Charity events coming to Toledo

I’m very excited about an upcoming charity event this March in Toledo, we will be hosting a Casino event (I love Texas Hold ‘Em!!!!) to raise funds scheduled roughly March 21st or 22nd 2014.

The details are still preliminary, so I don’t have much information yet; however, I may have the opportunity to design the website for the event. I already have a spare domain & host that would work perfectly if my group is in need of one.

About 10 years ago I worked as a poker dealer (though was moved to head of design shortly after hire) and fell in love with Texas Hold ’em. I think this event could draw a large crowd; besides hold ’em, it looks like we may also have (if we can get enough people to help out):

  • roulette
  • craps
  • bingo
  • plinko
  • black jack
  • and more

Will make updates as they come available to me.

Simple color correction with Gimp






For this project I will be working in Gimp. If you are not familiar with the program, I highly recommend checking it out (especially if you do not have any photo editing software): gimp.org

The above image shows some simple techniques for correcting some minor issues with photos. On the left is the edited version and on the right is a copy from my gallery page. My goal was to create more contrast and give the statue a ‘bronze’ appearance –  (this image was taken on a semi cloudy day and has a pane of glass between the camera and the subject. ie: windshield).

The first thing to do, color correction & balance:


On the menu bar, click ‘color’ and then ‘color balance’, this will bring up a window that you see on the screen shot above. I played with each setting: shadows, midtones, & highlights. With careful control of the sliders, I was able to rid the statue of that green washed appearance and bring in tones of red.

Next I further adjusted the coloring with the ‘Levels…’ found in the ‘color’ tab on the menu bar. Because I wanted to wash the green out of the statue, I choose it’s complimentary color on the color wheel, red. Notice that I’m working exclusively with the red channel bar at this point (this option is right above where it says ‘input levels’ and below ‘presents’ on the adjust color levels pop up).


Because I couldn’t stop messing with reds, my leaves in the back ground became slightly discolored and washed out themselves. To try and correct this, I open the ‘Hue-Saturation’ option in the ‘Color’ drop down from the menu. Notice I have the color green selected. These sliders are a little touchy, so take it easy on them by moving in small increments until you are happy with the results. statue-hue-sat

And wah-la, these simple steps allowed me to create more contrast in this image.



Creating a mosaic with your photos

Andrea Mosaic is a really neat & easy to use program that I have used for years. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind gift to surprise someone with this Christmas, you might want to check it out.


I’m not sure if the website offers a newer version than the one I’ll show you, though mine is years old and operating on XP.



First, as shown above, open the program and select the plus sign near the top to insert the image you want all of your pictures to form. In my case, I selected the crane.



Notice the setting on the left. If you hover your mouse over an area for a minute, a pop-up will appear explaining what each option does. For print, you want the ppi to be set high. Next, click the ‘select tiles’ button on the bottom. This will open a window for you to navigate to your folder with the images you wish to use to create the mosaic. Note that it can also select any subfolders located in the selected folder.




Click ‘OK’ to select the folder.




And save your archive.




This shows the images added. Click ‘OK’ to continue.



Click ‘Create Mosaic’. The statue bar at the bottom will show your progress. When it’s completed, it should give you the option to open the folder it was saved to so you can preview it.

Before printing, make sure you zoom in at 100% and check for pixelization. Also, double check your measurements in inches. If you plan on having a print shop print it, run a test print to check for sharpness.

These make great gifts and are easy to do. Check it out: http://www.andreaplanet.com/andreamosaic/




Digital illustration of a reindeer

With the holidays fast approaching, I wanted to create a cute kid design:

It’s a really cute design that is surprisingly easy to do and can take less than an hour to do. I will be working in Illustrator CS for this project, if you are in need of a free program, inkscape is a good option (though it’s installed on the living room computer, not this one).

Alright, first thing to do is draw an oval, then select the bottom point (not the whole object) and move it down with the arrow key, kind of like an inverted raindrop:



After that, we will add some eyes. Draw one large circle (holding shift down to make it a perfect circle), and one small circle. Fill the color in: large one black, small one white – both with no outline. Place the smaller circle off center to make it appear as if light is reflecting off the soon-to-be-eye. Once you have that, group the two objects and copy and paste another one so you have two of the same:



Align the eyes so they are level and place them on the head (our inverted rain drop). Next we will give this guy a nose; make a horizontally long oval with the circle tool and, using the pen tool, add two new points to the oval, both between the bottom point and the points on either side. Using your select tool, play with the location of the newly added points until you get a shape that looks somewhat like a distorted ‘T’:



Ears can be made with the circle tool, draw an oval that is slightly long on the vertical, select the top point and pull the handle in to create a ‘point’ on the top. Play around with the width and height until you get something that looks like an ear:


Rotate the ear so it angles to the left. Copy and paste the ear, in Object/Transform select ‘reflect object’ to get a mirror image, though angles to the right.


For the antlers, we are going to make a series of lines. Start with a line leading from about the center of the head and curve it slightly up:


Add a couple more lines:


And change the weight/thickness of the stroke (I also select the option to round my ends):


Outline your path/line so it becomes an object:


After the paths become an object (you will be able to tell when a new path forms around your stroke, instead of through the middle), merge them together so you have one large antler instead of three independent pieces.


Copy, paste and reflect so you have two antlers. Don’t forget to align them.


The body is another oval with points added on either side between the top and side points. If you look closely at the image below, you can see where the points were added (roughly at the intersection of the body and head lines):


I moved the top point up to distort the shape. Unfortunately I forgot to take a screenshot of this. The object was further modified by making it shorted, but not thinner, this can be seen in a later image.


The legs are made up of elongated ovals with the bottom point handles dragged in so it created a shape angle. First, create a copy of the four oval feet (the image near the star below), one of the copies will be used for the modification below. Make sure your ovals are aligned correctly and create 4 circles the intersect at the bottom of the oval legs:


Select the four circles and four ovals; in your path finder tool, select ‘divide’ to break up the objects where they intersect. Delete the top portion of the previous oval and the bottom portion of the circle so you are left with just the triangle (the third image over). Place those over the original ovals, these are the hooves.



I neglected to take more screen shots, so I will try and explain what steps I took to get to here:

1.) select the body and make a copy, delete the top point and the points that were added earlier so you are left with just a half circle. Ensure that there is no fill color and use a calligraphy brush to stroke the line/path. Select the object; from the top menu select Object/Expand and say yes to expand the fill and stroke. This will turn your path into an object with a fill color instead of a line with a stroke.

2.) Do the same copy/paste with the two front legs and delete the top point. Use a calligraphy brush (one that if vertical) for the stroke. Expand that line as well.

3.) Select the hind legs (the ones on the further right & left) and merge them with the body.

4.) Move the antlers to the back so they are behind the head.

5.) Do 4 more circles (like you did to make the hooves originally) and divide the bottom points of the legs out so you have a hoof-like look about them.


Copy and paste the deer. On the copied one, select all objects and select a fill color so everything is one color. In the path finder tool, merge these objects together so you have an outline of the deer. Change the stroke thickness/width and place that object in the very back (on PC, pres ctrl + [ to move and object back).


Now group your first deer so it will be easier to move around on your work space. With that grouped and the other copy merged, you should have only two objects. With both objects selected, click align center on both the horizontal and vertical. You should have your own deer:


This was my first illustration tutorial. I hope it was not too hard to follow, I tend to ramble and try to be detailed – which may cause confusion.

Computer problems, other writers, and a photo

I carry my camera everywhere with me. To the store, to work, when visiting family… Even when I get gas in the car. You never know when a good picture might come up; though as someone said on twitter, the difference between and amateur photographer and a professional photographer is knowing when NOT to shoot. I’m an amateur, that’s for sure. But, you gotta start somewhere. The camera case looks kind of like a purse, so I don’t think people assume I’m crazy or a stalker. I was at my sisters the other night in a terribly lit living room. Had to lower the shutter speed down and still produced a crappy image:

bad light, bad stability, just a bad image

bad light, bad stability, just a bad image

I was hellbent on making this photo look at least a little desirable. I tossed it through my photo editing software. The first thing I did was edit the levels and curves to lighten the whole image up and heighten the contrast so you could at least see it. Secondly, I used a stamp tool to get rid of the plug and wires. Thirdly, I added a filter to it and cropped the image. I’m pretty happy with the quick results:

cropped, edited and filtered

Looks like it may have been a painting in another life, except for the window could use some straightening.

On to mundane problems, I think my trusted 2001 Dell XP is finally on it’s way to dying on me, or maybe it could just use a reformatting, which I’m too lazy (or busy, take your pick) to do right now. I’ve got a lot of programs installed on the main drive and surely some files there too. So, I’m in the living room on the kids computer writing now and pondering what to do with my oldy-but-goody computer. Thankfully I remembered most of my passwords, even wordpress, and have been able to at least migrate some of the important things like email and my web host.

Since I did remember my password to WordPress this morning, I logged in and noticed some other blogs that were following mine. First off, if you read this, thanks for following me. I still consider myself new to WordPress and honestly have not taken the time to look around the whole site to figure it out. I can post something and change my theme as well as find the ‘freshly pressed’ button. I can also click on names of people who are following this blog, which I did this morning, and found some really excellent writers! I spent about an hour reading between two other bloggers and instantly recognized that they have a natural talent for writing (something I lack, though always appreciated). I followed them back, because frankly, their writing style rocks and I look forward to reading more from them. Me… I’m not a natural writer.