You must be sick of seeing this….

…but I thought it might crystallize it in my mind and as you have been so helpful with your opinions I figure it’s only fair to share.

I worked thru a number of options for the colour of the photo.  The blue was felt by many to be too cold.  I do like it, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t a difficult thing to try a few more options.  Seeing them all side-by-side I thought might help me really SEE which one I preferred.


What that shows is (clockwise from the top left) standard sepia in PSE, antique effect in iPhoto, standard B&W in PSE, and Sepia effect in iPhoto.

Now, the antique version matches most closely the tone of the Tim Holtz papers, the pumice stone option rather than the blue.


It could be slightly warmer but overall it is my favourite, I think.

The B&W version is OK too, although I think it has less definition – the Convert to B&W in PSE is a but of a sledgehammer, IYKWIM.  I think you see that most clearly in the folds and creases of GFs jacket.


And the other two sepia versions are overall maybe too warm. But not the iPhoto sepia holds the same definition


and the PSE sepia is less so:


I still like all the words, but then I like text and think more is better 99% of the time LOL! But I’ve a lot of time invested in this mini and I am not willing to rush the decision just to have it done.  I may take it with me to my crop tomorrow and see what people think seeing it IRL, but I am pretty sure it will be DONE done by Monday.

Cheers to all who voted and commented, either here or on PollDaddy – while I am never one to do something just because other people like it, I am certainly not so dim that I can’t agree to look at suggestions and see if they really are an improvement.  A few people did say that, at the end of the day, it’s MY book and I need only please myself, but it is helpful to know WHY they suggest a different version, then to see it in action.  So thanks for that.  I promise I WILL move on from this…soon….




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Sunday-Someplace-Else (iPhone Photography)

This link dropped in to my in-box this week, from Stampington & Co. (Postscript is the newsletter, if you fancy signing up for it) and DH in particular took a LOT of iPhone photos on the trip so I may even get to play with these tools a bit.

Here is where she begins….

The apps she uses are:

  • Camera+
  • Art of Blur* or BlurFX
  • Scratch Cam
  • Noir Photo
  • Pic Grunger

and her final image? Wow.

Loving the look of that!



Treetop Angel

This is harking back a fair few years – at least 10 – and I’ve certainly shared it on UKS before, but it when I saw Carmen’s post on It’s a Creative World, and her comment on my WOYWW, it felt like a good time to share it again. I love Carmen’s angels – it would have been fab to have a whole set of family angels when we were all a bit younger (and dare I say thinner?)

This is not a very good photo, but I hope you will get the idea – I took this photo (in 2001!) of the angel on a layout, and I don’t have a good photo – that I can find anyway –  of just the angel standing free.

UPDATE: Now that we have dragged all the stuff out of the garage and set up the tree, I can share a much better photo of the angel! As you can see, it looks great for being 12 years old and getting dragged out, packed away, and dragged out again year after year!

Here is what I did to make my customized treetop angel:

1.  Take a photo of your child.  DD was in just  knickers so there was no distracting clothing to cover up.

2.  Enlarge the photo to whatever size you think appropriate.  This was done waaaay before digital photography, so I took the photo then took it to the copy centre and had the image enlarged to about 10 inches.  Today I would have probably printed it at home on photo paper.

3.  Cut out the figure. Laminate it and cut out leaving a thin border so the lamination stays closed.

4. Dress the figure.  The way I did it was to cut out a duplicate of the body and use it as a pattern for the “body suit” which I cut out of sticky-backed glittery vinyl.  I know you can get this from Hobby Craft, their own brand. I added a little silver braid at the neckline, just to smarten it up.

5. To make it a “tree topper” I fashioned a cone shape from a piece of acetate (I think it was actually a laser printer transparency) and glued it to the BACK of the figure, before adding the skirt. A covered kitchen roll tube would also work – you just need something to allow you to put it on the top of the tree.

6. I hot glued the wings to the back and twisted a little starry halo from wire garland and left a straight bit off the circle.  I hot glued this to the back of the head.

7.  I made the shimmery skirt by cutting a piece of sheer, starry fabric  to the length I needed for my figure then sewed on a little edging to the bottom and then turned over the top edge, stitched it down and gathered it to fit.  I sewed up the seam in the back then hot glued it to the figure, OVER the acetate cone, adding the silver braid over the join.

And there you have it!  A very sweet little personalized tree topper.  I had always intended to take a photo of DS and turn him into a Nutcracker or Toy Soldier, to minimize any potential sibling rivalry, but once it was clear he didn’t really care (and actually disliked the idea)  I gave it up.

On years DD kicks up a fuss and insists that the tree needs a star on the top, the cone allows me to stand the angel up on the mantle and still have it on show.


Bad school photos? There is hope – and help!

My kids have rarely taken a great school photo.  There have only been one or two over the years that I would say were ones I would want multiple copies of.  DD is particularly bad – she is usually gor a fake grin plastered on her face, her eyes are drifting off to look anywhere but the lens,  she sticks out her tongue  A LOT and her glasses tend to slip down her nose and the top of the frame crosses her eyes.

This year, she had three possible shots – none were great, but there were elements of all three that might add up to a decent photo.  We got all of them as digital images, and as luck would have it my ever-so-clever FIL was here when they arrived.  FIL had showed me a very very brief demo of something he learned in Photoshop (he has something like CS5 while I still reside in the land of PS7) using the AUTO ALIGN function that is designed to make one good photo from a series of group photos where not everyone looks good in any one single shot.  It involves, from what I can understand, layering the images over one another and erasing bits to let other bits show thru.  He used it to mix and match various bits of the three not-great photos to create a single pretty good photo.

He took these:

(looking off to the side, hunched shoulders but good eyes, good smile but glasses in the way)

and created this:

I think that is pretty amazing.  I will have to ask him if there is a link to a tutorial that I can share, because all I really know is what I’ve said here.  It feels more “real” than just Photoshopping with any other technique, I guess because you really aren’t altering the person at all, just mixing and matching the best bits from any group of photos.

Isn’t she sweet?  14 this week…. how did that happen??

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Another Kraft-Folder book

A word to my sister – LOOK AWAY NOW!

You may recall a little kraft-folder book I made a while back using some folders I got at Staples. I wanted to make a little gift book for one of my nieces to give to her when we see her (soon, soon!) and I did!  Started at a crop yesterday, run by Bev of Banana Frog , it (quite shamefully) doesn’t actually include any stamps but I think my next one will! I will also probably have to do a little video for it, although I suspect the vast majority of my YouTube subscribers are actually in the USA and not the UK I am thinking I will have to bring back a pack of manilla folders and work out how to do one in that size as well to avoid frustrating people who can’t get A4 folders.

I used some paper I had laying around (I think it was sent to me by Scrapbook Inspirations, probably intended for use in a feature that never came to be once the mag folded) from Cloud 9 called Cinnamon Stick.  I also had a set of glittery die cuts that I used.

The little clip just holds the left side of the book closed as the ribbon tie really doesn’t.  I can have wrapped the ribbon around and tie it on the left, which works better, in reality, but not with her name where it is.  That was placed as it was to use the open area of the patterned paper on the cover, but I always learn something, and refine my projects with each one I make.  So next time I will take this into consideration!

Something else I did on this one that seemed a good idea at the time, was to stick down the sides of the pockets.  Still a good idea, but it does mean the “tags” need to be thinner to accommodate – and the middle two are slightly wider than the outer two, as the way the ribbon threads means the outer two pockets are just that smidge smaller widthwise.  All part of the learning curve!  Each tag can hold one or more photos, depending on the size, and additional photos can easily go on the body of the folder behind the tags. I really didn’t want to force any particular sizes by adding photo mats so I will leave that up to her.

The back is just plain patterned paper – fine for adding photos or leaving it as it is.

One thing I have been using a lot recently is this site. It’s been on the UKS Homepage and is in the Library entry on printable papers.  I love it to death!  You can make a variety of selections, like style of grid, size, colour of lines, then generate a PDF which will download to your computer.  The PDF is either 150 DPI for graph paper or in the case of the storyboard paper, 300 dpi, so very easily edited in something like Photoshop. The papers are great for journaling blocks, all the lines are spaced properly, and in this case the storyboard spot makes a nice place for another photo.

The storyboard is nice as it gives you a block at the top with journaling lines under it.  I played around with many different set ups to get just what I wanted (and then had a further play and got something I really liked better, but wasn’t going to take the whole thing apart to replace what I had!) then printed it onto ivory cardstock to back each of the tags.

So what SHOULD happen when you click this is you will get the .jpg which you can use (like the tags from the other day the lines LOOK patchy on the screen but print fine).  It should print at 3.5 x 8 but you can resize it.  I made this one black although the one on MY tags is actually a sort of maroon-y brown to match the paper – I thought the black was more useful. Better still have a play on the site.  By setting the columns and rows you can force the box bigger or smaller and thus the journaling lines longer.  There is a bit of waste at the top and a bit of site advertising at the bottom, but I just made mine bigger than A4 then test printed it to see what came out.  But in the end I did mark one of the columns of the PDF and copy it over to a new Photoshop file where I could delete the empty bit at the top and the site advertising at the bottom then fill a 12 x 12 file with the strips and print.


Brushes and holiday resolutions

Oh the holidays are so busy for us all, aren’t they? But every time I start to have a little twinge of guilt that I am ignoring my blog and instead spending time working on last minute gifts (dearest DD sprung on me she fully expected a set of school uniforms for her dolls (eight of them, seven made by me, with varying degrees of technical success but with 100% approval ratings from her) for the mythical “Sunshine Lane school” they all attend while DD is at school, as well as “the new doll” I only just found out is expected) or cuddled up on the sofa with DD watching some old classic like The Secret Garden or Wallace and Gromitt, or seeing DS perform his newest card trick, I end up (quite rightly, I think) pushing it to one side.

But I fairly recently got a copy of the newest PSE for the Mac, and have been playing around with it. It really is quite powerful for the price. I was getting a bit fed up with seeing great brushes out there and not being able to take advantage of them if they didn’t also come as a .PNG file.

One of the places that prompted me to get PSE was Mel’s Brushes. Wow. Mel is from Gloucestershire, here in the UK, and is a graphic designer, art workshop leader and video artist. I love her brushes. Check out the brush index on her old site, as well as her “newer” blog. There are tutorials as well as lots of other links. I thought would first ease my twinges of guilt by sharing, then go back to the sofa with DD. And I resolve to keep those twinges at bay till the new year.

Here is a cute brush set to whet your whistle:

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Photoshop fun

jackprintimage copyMan, I love playing around with Photoshop. I am well behind the times as my full Photoshop is PS7 (and I swear if DH tells me ONE MORE TIME Adobe is stupidly expensive and I should use The GIMP I will scream) so I don’t have all the newer bells and whistles. I did buy PS Elements, which, if I am honest, lets me do just about all I want to do for a much lower price tag.

Still one of my most favourite things to do is to use a technique I learned over at She calls it Allowing Patterned Paper to Show Through a Photo and it is a great way to get a cool looking photo effect with very little work. Check it out. One of the things I like is to capture the progression of the image. I used all four of these “steps” on a layout, which I still love. I made it after spending a fair few nights with DD watching Any Dream Will Do (she was a bit Joseph-obsessed for a while) and the line “I look handsome, I look smart, I am a walking work of art” kept running thru my head so that was the only logical choice for a title. I think the right photo would look great poster size as art on the wall, and not just hidden away inside a scrapbook.


And while you are at it, be sure to sign up for her free
Holidays in Hand class. I’ve done her classes in the past and I always, always learn something that I then incorporate into my photo editing routinely. She is a great teacher, and really communicates the steps clearly. The videos make it like you are there, looking over her shoulder while she works. I have the luxury of a dual monitor set up so I usually watch on one screen while I am testing out the techniques on the other – you could do the same thing watching on a laptop and working on your desktop, but watching in a window and working in the background also works. However you do it, just do it. You won’t be sorry .

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Rasterized photos

Pixelated DD

Pixelated DD

This is a fun one. I’ll start with how it came about – I had seen a post about Pixelating photos on Apartment Therapy – the example was a massive portrait of Abraham Lincoln and was done by gridding off a canvas and mixing paint to match the limited grayscale colour palette and painting the squares to match. OK so that got me thinking that I could do that with scrapbooking paper rather than paint. So I got my DDs not-very-good school photo (which we ordered as a digital print – and I won’t rant about THAT, but only say what looks acceptable in a very tiny proof is often shockingly bad in a larger, high resolution size!) and ran the PIXELATE filter (standard in Photoshop 7 – find it at Filter>Pixelate>Mosaic then use the slider to set the size) and was delighted with the outcome…until I realized that in order to have the end result recognizable the pixels across would have to be something like 85. Even at an inch square (which is the smallest size *I* would be interested in working with) that would mean a MASSIVE piece or art. Scaling down the number of pixels produced an amorphous blob that even her loving father would be hard pressed to recognize as his beloved child.

Rasterized DD using The Rastorbator

Rasterized DD using The Rastorbator

I looked at the first comment and found a link to the questionably named The Rastorbator. Brilliant fun. There are many many options to choose from (overall size, number of pages in the completed piece, size of dots, border or not, grayscale only) and you can upload an image of up to 1 mb then set it working. It will create your rasterized image and send you a PDF of the individual pages. There are instructions for printing the set of sheets – mine was 5 x 5 for a total of 25 sheets if printed US letter (A4 users beware – don’t print as it comes. Read and follow the directions) but I wanted to see if I could do things a different way.

I opened each page of the PDF and saved it instead as a best quality .jpg (I do this using Preview>Save As on the Mac but I assume PC users will know some way to do this as well) then opened each .jpg in Photoshop (I assume PS gurus will know how to automate this process so they can resize all the pages – I did it manually by scaling it in Image>Image Size>Pixel Dimensions which I made 50% (note the DPI is 150.) I had some old Epson ColorLife paper (Super A3 size – loved the paper but they don’t make it anymore) so I create a new file that was 13 x 19 inches, 150 dpi and then dragged in each of the smaller .jpgs in to create a single image. Lining up the dots perfectly was a bit of a challenge (possibly knowing more about the whole “snap to grid” thing might have helped) but in the end I was pretty happy with the final result. The image RIGHT is the .jpg and really is not a true depiction of the final product.

It’s free to do and the image you upload is deleted after 3 hours (so make sure you save the rasterized one that gets downloaded to your desktop) and takes only a few minutes so have a play with all the options to find the one you like best. I have too say the really, really big ones, made of many, many sheets of paper, with a border around them, look really cool. I could see doing a massive wall sized one as a real focal point, but I already have a few ideas for how I might use these sorts of images in my scrapbooking.