Cat ephemera and thoughts…

{sigh} This is getting to be a habit. I troll happily thru all manner of interesting resources I find, some actual physical things (books or papers) but more digital resources housed in many wide and varied collections but available online, then all of a sudden BAM! I am hit with crazy racist images or statements or misogyny in full flower or just shocking and unexpected whatevers.

I am not going to include them here, you will just have to trust me on this.

I was quite happily converting some posters advertising a defunct short story collection magazine when I saw something that made me gasp. Not the worst I’ve seen but so darn unexpected. You can imagine why I was keen on these images…

Poppy is actually a Tuxedo Cat, I’m told, as she has a white chest and paws and a few white markings on her face, but still….

I was enjoying the work, cleaning up all the extra text and had an eye towards using a bit of one somehow in a Christmas card – cause ain’t she festive? And regal! LOL!

Kinda took the wind out of my sails for a moment. I know that times have moved on, but then I think of current real life happenings that also take my breath away, and I think maybe we haven’t progressed as humans quite as much as we might like to think.

Whoa. Too deep for a Monday morning? Perhaps.

To lighten things up a bit. while looking at those images, I also found these wacky ones. They made me smile – wish there were more cause I think they are so stinkin’ cute!

Although, I sense the high-wire gal juggling knives shares my feelings today…


Working on a fun journal addition…

…or is it? I get these ideas, spend far too much time working on them, then in the end I sometimes totally abandon them if I think they were not really so great. I am on the fence about this one.

These little foldable structures are meant to get added to a journal. Lots of uses, I think. I like to create a small stack of lined or grid papers then make that into a small booklet.

It kinda hides the pretty butterfly, although I only stick the booklet at the top edge, so you can flip it up to see that if you care to. Fold it all back into a closed square and…

I have a kit al ready to go, with four different printable squares, four backing papers to coordinate, and four coordinating grid papers. and yet I hesitate.


To be fair I might just go ahead and add them, cause they are cute, and really, I feel like someone will like them. But then I thought that about the pretty Lichen-dye swatch ones and they are still totally unloved. OK, well one WOYWW friend did say she liked them but still, no one adores them like I do. I am just waiting for the old set to get removed so I can add the new ones. Sneaky peek, anyone?


A sweet little birdie freebie…

I was working on a set of journal cards, based on an old library check-out card, but trimmed with digital lace. Not sure when it will appear on Creative Fabrica, but when it does it will be here. Here is a preview:

Editing the original file took a bit of time, and it was interesting – not sure what I did or why it affected the file, but Inpainting simple did not work on some of the lines. I had to go back to the clone stamp, which felt slow and cumbersome by comparison. Anyway, another thing I was working on at the same time, swapping mentally between them, because I could not decide which one to focus on, was a set with tiny little birdies. They came from one of the printer’s sample books, from a sheet like this:

all those tiny little sweet images! Anyway, I was working on them and as the images are mostly transparent (due to previous editing, not from the original!) I found I needed to edit the lines on the cards in order to make them look right. I am sure you will have seen these exact little guys before, as stamps or printed on papers. Public domain so free for anyone (who can find them) to use them!

I was struggling with what to bundle them with, but I realized it has been a while since I added a freebie. I mean, for CF subscribers, all the stuff I have been adding is technically free, but for my blog readers it’s different. I am still hovering on the edge of being out of space, so I will add the actual download on Ko-fi here. Also still not worked out how best to add stuff there, and link it here so both the blog post and the download are live simultaneously! So if you go there and it is not live, just go back and it will be later in the day. I’ll pop them in to Creative Fabrica as a freebie as well.

I think they are very cute and I like that there are lines – my writing goes super wonky if I am not concentrating super hard as I write LOL! I like the 5 x 3.5 size, fits even fairly small journals, and the colour is quite vintage-y.

An interesting point. I felt like I could position the birds so it looked like they were sitting on one of the lines, but when I did, it looked more like they were floating. Leaving the existing line (wire?) hovering just over the line on the cards really makes it look like they are sitting on something. Optical illusion? Don’t know, but I know what I like…and I hope you like them too!


Why are blend modes such a challenge?

IS it blend modes, tho’, or is it my indecision??

I have been working on a set pf journal signature printable pages that will work nicely with a previous design,and when it came to the final edging, I spent far too much time working thru the long list of blend modes and struggling to identify which one I liked best. Some of them are so close, you can barely pick between them, and some are really different but still appealing in some way. I tried to work out the best way to capture them and this is what I came up with.

So Negation and Add (at least on my monitors) look very similar. There is also not a ton of difference between Pin Light and Hard Light (and that I find to be true for most things, but not all)while Difference is much more on the grey scale and Colour-dodge much more on the brown. Linear Light is warmer and Glow is more … beige? Arrgghh! I mean, how do you decide? and as I probably too casually mentioned, this is MY monitors, with it’s own colour sync and settings. I wonder what it looks like on your monitors?

I feel like I have narrowed it down to Linear Light, Glow, and Add. To be fair, some of that decision is based on the bits of the piece you can’t see, cause I’m not done with the set yet. In fact, even now I think I am mentally discarding Glow. I feel like Add ties in nicely with the already blended damask colour-wise, while Linear Light offers a bit of warmth, which could easily be amped up with some inked edges in a darker sepia tone. Although maybe the warmth is the problem cause the background is cooler maybe?


I will share a page, as I am confident I will have finished and added the set before this publishes. I love it, overall, and think it will work so well with the other colour-wheel set. So much so I may have to make a journal with it myself.


It happened again!

{sigh} Times change, and what was once ok sometimes is not ok anymore. Sometimes it’s more of a perception thing, and sure as anything, if there is offense to be taken, someone will be offended. Why leave yourself open to that sort of thing if you don’t have to, right?

What is she on about? you wonder. well. I was looking at some old kids books, Primers and Readers, and the like, looking for something to make into cards. I found a book that had some kinda cute alphabet pages, that I thought could be made into something cute. I liked the fact that the letters were all associate with name – A is for Albert (which was my Grandfather’s name) B is for Bertha, etc etc. They were all kinda old fashioned names, but some of them are making a comeback (maybe not Zerlina, but…) so they could have been fun. Two of them stood out. Gave me pause.

OK so Q is a queer looking boy isn’t inherently bad, just an old-fashioned use of the word. In fact in the olden times they would never have used it the way some people do today – some who embrace it, some who use it as a slur. It could have easily been Quincy a boy in the snow, right?

And saying X is a cross little daughter kinda peeved me. Why couldn’t it have been a cross little son? The X could have been a cross little cat FFS. I have one so I know! LOL! I guess the point is the both of them just felt like not what I wanted to make. Not sure my skills are up to editing the text in a seamless way IYKWIM. I moved on.

And of course, further hunting produced something that ended up being a lot better!

I ended up making these into two useful items. The 3×4 cards are made from the book pages, which have a 4-patch of letters in a block. The sheet above is each of the letters carefully extracted as a small 1.25×1.75 inch block. I think they are super cure and very useful indeed. The small blocks could be mounted on a scallop-edged block to make a kind of postage stamp or layered in a cluster. They are charming and old-fashioned and vintage without being unrelentingly brown. The original book was made from linen so there is a bit of the fabric texture in the images. All in all a better choice, right?

I may not give up on the whole book, yet, as there are some bits in it that might be worth working on. Not sure. And there are 100s of other Primers/Readers thru the ages that might end up being better choices. Even looking at a few, the colourful ones from the alphabet set are definitely the exception. B&W is the norm, so I should have plenty of choices!

I need to be looking towards my June journal too, so I might have to drag out the old gel plate and do a PMAS colour challenge sometime soon…


A kit and a project

I am attempting to make some fun things that are (I hope) a little out of the ordinary. I had a folder of collage ephemera, old advertising items, mostly colourful ones, that I wanted to do something with. I was thinking about the folders I made and created a kit that includes a printable circle template for a folder. But it is more than that!

The circles when printed can be folded in a couple of ways. They can make a simple folder if scored in the middle of the cut-out slice, or they can be folded with a spine.

The backing papers can be printed on, well, the back, obviously, and line the folder. If you print a couple, or even three, maybe more, you can create a small booklet.

And the kit comes with a sheet of the ephemera bits to print, which you can then store inside this “keeper” – while it does have a spine, I think it is thin enough it could go inside a journal, maybe stuck to the back cover? And many little bits can be stored inside.

I think it is really sweet and useful, but I kinda doubt my assessment of stuff lately LOL!

Hoping for a nice weekend and a lovely walk in a garden. IF I have my ATCs closer to finished…


Affinity Photo has a magic tool…

Obviously I have been doing a ton of editing of old public domain resources, so I am really putting Affinity Photo and Designer thru their paces. But I have discovered a tool that is something I have never seen in Photoshop. It’s called INPAINTING. What happens when you use it is Affinity Photo will look at all the surrounding information and make it’s best guess of what to fill in after it removes what you don’t want. I KNOW. Wrap your head around that for a moment. No clone-stamping, nor erasing then patching and blending, just select the thing you don’t want and let Affinity remove it while leaving the background in place. Well, mostly.

Looking back at those Lichen cards. I just want you to see what I was working with. Ick.

Very yellowed, with an almost greenish cast. But lots of writing all over too. The first way I used the Inpainting tool is to draw a box around what I want to remove

then click Inpaint from the drop down Edit menu. I just draw the marching ants arond the text and click. And like magic, the text is gone, but the background is not.

After a whole lot of work the ugly start ended up really pretty. Nope, not gonna let it go. LOL! Should I redo them all without the text? I like it better with, to be fair, but….

Now, sometimes with this method (kinda like with the clone stamp) you might get a bit of the thing near what you want to remove appear. But you can instead select the Inpainting Brush Tool from the tools palette

and in do a more precise selection. Either way, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome of a tool.

So yeah, I would keep my eyes peeled and if you do this kind of work, Affinity Photo (unlike Photoshop) is a one-time purchase (ok within the version anyway, but it was YEARS between AFPhoto1 and AFP2) that is very cheap on sale (even full price it is just under £70). Yikes. A bit too parenthetical there, sorry about that. No I am not paid to say so, but when something is good, I feel like you shouldn’t keep it to yourself. And I find new workflow improvements every single time I use it.

So yeah, I still have to get back to some serious work on my ATCs or I am going to run out of time. AND I still want to try to make a card from the Lichen card set. And I have two or three other digital journal things that I am keen to share cause they are really fun.

AND it is WOYWW tomorrow and I missed out on doing my visits on the day last week (knitting) then got hung up with some other stuff around the house, and it took me till the weekend before I could desk hop. {hanging head in shame} Must do better this week…


Funny what you find buried in old books…

I have been bevering away on so many things. The reality is that I will get an idea, have a bash at it, sometimes go a really, really long way down a (unbeknownst to me) dead end, and then reluctantly give up. It was a bit of a fiddle to get this kit I was working on where I wanted it to be, but I like it a lot in the end

I loved the Ledger cards that I shared a while back but it wasn’t until I was working closely with these that I spied something kinda remarkable. I had no idea the whole time I worked with the same assets that this was lurking in it.

OK, yes, it is spelled wrong but still it is pretty weirdly serendipitous, isn’t it? So the whole set is on Creative Fabrica, where you can download it for free if you subscribe, but it just tickled me so much to find this I am going to add it to Ko-fi (well, just the one folder) as a freebie.

On another note, I have been really surprised how disinterested everyone is in the Lichen set! I am convinced it has more to do with the name – like people don’t know what Lichen are maybe? Or cause it doesn’t had JOURNAL CARDS at the beginning of the title people don’t get it pop up in a search? Is it the foreign language text that I left on the cards from the samples? No clue. Anyway, it’s another case of me loving something so much and it just not striking a chord with anyone else. I mean, they are really pretty, right? It’s not just me?

I love both the bright and colourful version and the toned down more vintage version. I really can see them printed and used on a card front. I may just have to give that a go myself, just to see what one would look like! I also found an amazing editing tool in Affinity Photo that I have no recollection of in Photoshop. It is, like the colour gradient matching, a game changer. So there, I have two things to share and will have to see if I can mash them up into a single post or if that might be too long…a bit like this one. Oh dear. Best wrap up!

It’s live now so here is the link!


Blend modes are so confusing…

One of the things I tend to do when making digital sets is to try to add texture to the image. It’s tricky, because sometimes, I actually quite like the image just as it is and don’t want to add something that overwhelms it. I have been working with a set of colour charts, as a companion to the previous kit I did

and in fact I believe the book I am using is where the very first image in the upper left came from. I really like them as is, but then the kit really has no “value added” does it, if you are just re-sizing or trimming a public domain image. To be fair, there is the hunting down the images part but still…

Anyway, I found a few damask wallpaper images on a different public domain site, and the good thing is for blending, it doesn’t need to be a super high-quality image. In fact, if the image is too big, then the kit size gets out of control! I made one that was over 400mb. Yikes! So here are my choices. I thought it was a good selection of light and dark, big and small, with more neutral colours and then the blue one to change things up

Then the fun begins! The list of blend modes is long, but a lot of them you can pretty much ignore. The first few are the most common

•   Normal—The default blend mode. The top pixels display over underlying pixels according to the level of top layer opacity.
•   Multiply—The blending result is a combination of the top and bottom color at each pixel position, always producing a darker value.
•   Screen—The opposite of Multiply, where the blending result is a combination of the inverse of the top and bottom color at each pixel position, always producing a lighter value.
•   Overlay—Applies either Multiply or Screen blend mode, depending on the bottom color at each pixel position. If the bottom layer pixels are <50% gray, it multiplies; if >50% it screens.
•   Divide—Lower layers are lightened based on luminance on the upper layer. White has no effect. Lightness is increased progressively by gray through to black.
•   Color Burn—Darkens the bottom color pixels relative to the values of the top color pixels.

And I have used many of the “other” options as needed. And I have NEVER used a number of them:

Darker Color
Lighter Color
Color Dodge
Soft Light
Hard Light
Vivid Light
Pin Light
Linear Light
Linear Burn
Hard Mix
Contrast Negate

So I tried a bunch of combos then tried to narrow the field to the ones using each paper that I liked best. A couple of them I liked but the damask was too overpowering.

The top one is light grey damask, Color Burn blend mode on the chart layer over the damask setat 50% opacity. The bottom one is the Black damask, with a Hard Light blend mode, over the damask set at 50% opacity.

I prefer the Black Damask with the Screen blend mode, still 50% opacity but I believe this one had the damask layer OVER the chart.

The last two I also like a lot. We have the Blue Damask, Hard light blend mode, and the damask layer set at 70% opacity. I love how the damask can be seen within the colour blocks, but feel it might just be a little too prominent. Taking the opacity down may make the pattern all but invisible.

So I think I might have settled for the big damask wallpaper pattern, the Color blend mode, and 11% opacity. The larger damask is less busy and you can see the pattern in the blocks at the higher dpi.

IDK, I love the cool grey version above too. I think at the end of the day, it might be swung by how the other pages react using the same blend mode! I mean it has happened before. The colour cast of the original pages can be wildly different depending on the scanning technician and you can end up with one or two weird pages if they scanned, oh I don’t know, before lunch or after, or on a rainy day vs a sunny one. So we shall see what they all look like at the end. I hope it doesn’t end up being an abandoned resource. I had one of those recently and it was a little heartbreaking!

Crikey, that got long. Cheers if you stuck with me. Hope in the end you found it at least interesting – and do tell me which you prefer and why. I’m so curious … 😀

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Sorry for making you follow…

…me down the digital rabbit hole. I am still working on my WOYWW ATCs and making good progress, but I only manage a couple of them in a day, during my crafty time. All will be revealed soon. Till then, I am still playing with digital designs and making kits for Creative Fabrica (free if you are a subscriber there) and cross posted usually on my Ko-fi page. And that is all I really have to blog about.

I was looking at the stats on CF and I found that one of my most popular kits was one called The Language of Flowers. It was very vintage, but I thought it was quite interesting. I had found another book, which made my head ache (and you can see both of them discussed here) because of the poor quality of the scans and the weird coloration that was a real struggle to sort out. I finally did something I don’t often do – I abandoned it. As I learn more photo/image editing, I may revisit it, cause it was kinda pretty, but for my sanity I just had to close the folder and walk away.

Instead, I worked with a different Language of Flowers book, still 1800s, still not the best scans ever but lots better. And I shifted much of my editing to Affinity PHOTO instead of just Designer. There were a couple of tools in that which streamlined my process greatly. One thing was clearing up the colour-cast. Honestly, between image one (the original) and image two was a matter of one or at most two clicks.

I assure you , the images are MUCH clearer in the kit – these are just screen grabs of them open on my desktop. It seems silly to clean them up and make them white, then make them vintage again, with a damask overlay, but…

Still, they are quite sweet, in an old-fashioned sort of way. I do quite like the “pure” versions too, the simple cleaned-up ones, without the vintage cast to them. I might have to look at developing them in some way. I have ideas, but nothing firm yet.

The real surprise came on the pages, however. I did what I like to do, which is make about 8 pages, grouped in twos for folding into a signature for a journal. I feel like a lot of my kits have a similar vibe for the pages, so they all kinda work together. These are no different

But what was really fun was reading those pages! Some real surprises in there.

I mean, did you know Wild Tansy means I declare war against you? Or Black Mulberry means I shall not survive you – I suppose you could take that as I will not outlive you vs I shall not survive my relationship with you, but either way… Make me wonder about every floral gift I get in the future LOL!

There are pages of meaning, and I would love to extract some of the amusing text to make a set of companion tags or little labels, because that is totally my sense of humor. There are certainly plenty of other page pairs, but crikey it is still a lot of work to clean them up and make them as good as possible. I may eventually get fed up, but at the moment it is both the learning new programs as well as the funky things I keep finding that still enthrall me.

Will you get fed up before I do….I wonder?