Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Digital Portrait

Some years ago, after I learnt Paint Shop Pro, I started getting into digital painting and even bought a digital drawing pad. It's kind of ironic though because I have never really painted with real paints before. Well actually I can think of one time at school when we had a project to paint a wooden spoon for a Mother's Day gift. So I made a butterfly which I copied from a nature book. Years later my mother showed it to me, and I was quite impressed! Apart from that, I had only ever used coloured pencils and pastels and I didn't create anything particularly fantastic.

The reason I think I enjoy digital painting more than on paper is that there is the undo button - and I tend to use it a lot!

This picture is the only portrait I have ever made on the computer. Other than that I only ever did a few pencil portraits at school. Technically I am not sure I can really call this a portrait because I actually used someone else's portrait painting to make mine, seeing as I didn't have the luxury of having a real live person to paint. Why I chose to copy someone elses art I will never know and I don't even remember who the artist was. My picture doesn't look like the original either.

There are some things I love about this picture and some things I hate. First of all I never made a background for it, the ear seems a bit on the small side and I know I rushed the hair. Perhaps I got bored with it because like always I starts questioning why I am going to all that trouble. I am working on changing my internal dialogue! What I do like though is the face; particularly the eyes and the lips. It gives me a glimpse of what I am capable of. At the same time it leaves me a little sad that I never went to art college, the biggest regret of my life.

Anyway, if you would be interested in me making you a digital painting, maybe from a photo of you, or a family member, or of something else, I will certainly have a go (and I promise to put in a background :-) )! Just leave a message here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A bowl of glass grapes

Time goes so fast and it's hard for me to believe that it was over ten years ago that I belonged to many online groups relating to Paint Shop Pro. I remember one such group where they would post an image as inspiration for the members to create their own image. Once completed you would share your picture with the rest of the group and they would give feedback. I remember some people had such exceptional talent that it was a real privilege to see what they had created.

One week this photo was put online to give us inspiration.

As you can see by my version below I changed the background to a darker background which I felt made the glass grapes stand out more. The bowl I made fairly similar to the original just by creating a half circle which I filled with blue and dabbed with a grey colour. The grapes I am pretty sure I created with just one oval which I then duplicated, recoloured and rotated several times. Looking a little closer I am fascinated at how I created the highlights of each grape. I do sometimes forget how I created a certain effect unless I write it down at the time which luckily I did nine times out of ten. But this time was the exception I guess.

As always, if you have a picture/s you would like me to use as inspiration for a new image just let me know and I would be happy to create something for you.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Calorie-Free Banana Split

One day I was playing around in Paint Shop Pro, as I often would do, and purely by accident created something that looked to me like a banana. With just a slight adjustment of colour it looked pretty good. So after thinking a short while how I could best use it I decided to make an banana split. After all there are so many tasty things that go into a banana split it would be a fun challenge to try and recreate it.

Luckily I wrote down a tutorial so I can make it again, but I may well modify the instructions a bit as several things are not as I want them. But for better or worse here is the result:

So what do I need to change I hear you ask? Well I want the ice-cream scoops to be bigger for sure, and the overall appearance needs to be glossier and tastier looking. Also there should be strawberry syrup on the strawberry ice-cream and caramel on the vanilla ice-cream - at least that's the way I would make a real banana split if I ever stopped counting the calories. I think I would also put nuts and chocolate sprinkles over too.. hmm I'm starting to get hungry all of a sudden!

Let me know whether you would find this a fun tutorial to do in PSP. I could soon finish off the instructions and put it on this blog if there was enough interest.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cool Tiling Background

Working with Paint Shop Pro has always been a favourite creative outlet of mine, because when you play around with the software you don't always know what creation you are going to end up with. Sometimes just changing one little setting can completely transform your image and I have often discovered very interesting effects this way.

Today's picture is one such creation. I wanted to create a Christmas background for a project I was working on at the time offering free web set graphics. Unfortunately web sets went out of fashion before I ever completed this project but I still really like this background as it gives a sort of optical illusion, where the lines that make up the squares start to look kind of slanted. Feel free to download this image and set it as a tiled desktop background tiled. I find it a cool effect anyway.

It is so much fun to create these repeating backgrounds and I am itching to play around with PSP again. If you need/want a background to co-ordinate with your website or as a fun desktop background I will gladly make you something. Simply leave me a message here and I will get right back!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pixel Building

Over the last 10 years or so I have spend a lot of time online (who hasn't) and I am always on the lookout for interesting graphics. What I have seen though is that things that were popular a few years ago seem to die out when the next new craze comes out - just like in "real" life. One thing that used to be really popular at one time were pixel graphics. I used to fanatically save any picture which would wow me, and there were many!

What I did notice with pixel graphics that sometimes a certain detail could just be copied and pasted to save a lot of time. Bearing this in mind I decided to use as a reference a little picture I had of an office building as there were a lot of repeating details. This the office building that I made:

It may not be one of the prettiest pictures I've made, but I like it nonetheless. And even though I obviously did a lot of copying and pasting, it actually was a lot more work than it may appear at first sight. But it was also a lot of fun!

I really enjoy making pixel graphics, they look pretty cool, and I wish this was still a popular pastime. Shough you know of any pixel graphics sites out there please let me know. And if you want to request a pixel graphic from me, let me know too. I am up for a challenge!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Cameo in Paint Shop Pro

Some years ago when I was learning Paint Shop Pro I came across a few tutorials on how to make a cameo. Although the end results were pretty, I felt no-one quite nailed the effect. So that's when I decided to have a go myself. For my first attempt I found a font I liked which, instead of having all the letters of the alphabet, had elegant ladies in place of each letter. I found an image I liked and made the cameo below.

It turned out quite pretty but it wasn't very creative - I just added a shadow to the figure, added gold framing and that was pretty much it. And really it didn't feel to me like a real cameo, it was barely 3-dimensional, so I would have to think up another method.

After many unsuccessful attempts I went on to other things and forgot about the cameo. That is, until one day when I was playing around with some effects and settings and created a wonderful 3D image, suitable for making a cameo. I quickly wrote down the steps I'd taken so I could duplicate this effect again. The nice thing is you can make this out of any 3 dimensional looking image, so I found one that I thought would make a great cameo. Here is what I made:

If you would like to find out how to make your own cameo, post me a message and I will tidy up my notes and make this tutorial for you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Victorian Sig Tag

At one time there used to be lots of web groups online and I belonged to several Paint Shop Pro web groups. They used to be so much fun and typically a group would post links to great PSP tutorials, set challenges to encourage creativity, and image sharing was eagerly encouraged. The images would be cut out from an image and shared as a PSP tube which could then be used in any number of ways to make a completely new graphic. My inbox used to get very full!

Although these kind of web groups don't seem to exist anymore (let me know if you know different), I still have lots of these tubes and still intend to use them for future PSP projects. I find them particularly useful for creating sig tags. A sig tag is a little graphic that has your name and can be used signing off an email. So not only is it pretty but it is functional too. 

Here is a victorian sig tag I made a number of years ago. I created it in the style of a real victorian notecard and I love the way it turned out.

One of the things I enjoy about making sig tags is finding a font that looks good with the image, and by using different text effects (shadows, colouring, embossing, etc) you can get a really unique effect.

I am planning to make this into a tutorial if there is enough interest. I can also make a personalised sig tag by request, either using this tag or completely from scratch. Perhaps you already have an image you would like me to use? Leave a message and I will see what I can do!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy

Over the years I've joined many web groups and forums relating to Paint Shop Pro and making various sorts of computer graphics. On some of these forums you could request graphics from other members, often in exchange for some virtual "payment" (e.g. in-game currency or points). Anyway one day someone requested me to make them Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dollies. If you don't know, Raggedy Ann and Andy are dolls that originated in America although I am not sure if they are as popular as they used to be years ago, but it just so happened when I was younger I had been given these dolls by a family friend so I knew what they were. I looked on the internet and found hundreds of examples as reference.

I don't remember which forum that was now, it was a few years back now, but you can almost guarantee it no longer exists. I was left with these two cute little dollies and didn't really know what to do with them, so decided to make them into a little sig-tag (a fancy sign-off at the end of an e-mail or message). Here was what I came up with.:

Cute huh? They were such fun to make, and by converting them into a sig-tag they became something useful too! Would you like to see your name on this tag instead of mine? Just email me your request and I will be happy to make one for you?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My First Digital Painting

Some years back I came across some fabulous tutorials on how to make digital paintings in Paint Shop Pro. I don't think the tutorials are online anymore, which is a real pity as they were very detailed tutorials and the pictures you could make looked really impressive.

One of the pictures was of a mountain and looked really astounding, so I decided to give the tutorial a try. This was my result:

I remember that to make the reflection of the mountain you simply had to flip it. Then you created the effect of water by making a few horizontal lines. So simple yet so effective!

Ok so my effort wasn't a real masterpiece but when I look back at it I find it wasn't bad for a first try. I still enjoy making digital paintings, I find it very relaxing.  One of the benefits it has compared to real painting is if you make a mistake you can simply press the undo button!

I would like a challenge to make a digital painting of something or someone, so if you have any requests just send me an email.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Unique Agenda

A couple of years back I was looking for a new A5 agenda and I came across an advert for unique items made out of cowhide, such as handbags, purses, coasters and all sorts of accessories including agendas. They all looked gorgeous with different natural colours and markings, and beautifully decorated with studs, beads and tassels. This seemed like the perfect idea for my new agenda!

The woman who made them mentioned she was happy to make items to other people's own designs. So I looked at photos of different things she had made and noted specific details which I particularly liked on each, then worked out how they could be incorporated into my agenda design.

Coming up with ideas was one thing, but how could I clearly explain to her all the specifications so the end result was close to my original idea? This was made more difficult because I live in Holland and my dutch is far from perfect. So I decided I would have a go at creating an example in Paint Shop Pro. I also wanted a matching keyring to hang down the spine of the agenda so included that in my picture. I was pretty chuffed at how it turned out.

I think it's prudent to mention that this is not a photo of the agenda I received, but the image I made in Paint Shop Pro.

In the end the agenda turned out just a little differently; the lady had to make the studs bigger and fewer, the stars bigger and I opted for a snap closure rather than a band. Also obviously the pattern wasn't the same, but on the same lines. It certainly took a lot of work to make this image but at least I ended up with an agenda that is truly my own design.

I could imagine this - dare I say it - "talent" of mine might be of use to someone who has a design in mind of something but has trouble putting it down on paper. Let me know and I would be happy to help where I can.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Useful technique in Paint Shop Pro

I love creating Paint Shop Pro tutorials using a mixture of different techniques I have picked up by following other people's tutorials.

One of the first tutorials I ever tried more than ten years ago still sticks in my mind today because I was so amazed at the effect you could achieve. It was a tutorial demonstrating how you could create the effect of carved wood. I am almost certain I still have a copy of that tutorial sitting somewhere on my computer. In fact I nearly always save good tutorials on my computer so I can still follow them long after the website ceases to exist. But I digress.

So anyway, being inspired by this useful and and very effective technique, I started playing around with some of the settings to get different effects. Almost by accident, as so often happens when you play around in Paint Shop Pro, I created the look of carved out soapstone - at least that is how it looked to me.

Having made the design for the carved out effect using a special heart-shaped font it just seemed logical to me to then turn it into a cute heart-shaped trinket box. With a little jiggery-pokery this is what I came up with:

Often when I used to make things in PSP I would write a tutorial so I wouldn't forget how to recreate it, and this was no exception, but like the others I never actually put it online. However if I was to consider uploading the tutorial I would change a number of things such as the colour, the texture of the soapstone (which it lacks) and the angle of view so you would see it more from the side.

What do you think, would this make an interesting tutorial? Could you put that carved out effect to a better use? Let me know what you would find useful and I can make a tutorial by request.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pixelated Butterfly

I must be unique in the world because I am scared of butterflies, particularly when they are fluttering towards my face. I dislike insects in general and to me they are just another insect in a pretty coat. However, at the same time I can and do appreciate their beauty and diversity.

So there was a craze a few years ago when people were making all kinds of pixelated images, and I decided it would be fun to create a series of pixel butterflies in Paint Shop Pro. As is so typical of me, I gave up after making just one, questioning myself why I was even bothering. If I knew I was going to upload them to a blog one day, maybe that might have given me the motivation to carry on. Nowadays I just try and push all doubt out of my mind and do things regardless. What are we all on this earth for anyway?

So here it is:

I pixelated everything except the brown of the wings, where I used a gradient fill. I find it a lot of fun pixelating images, though I would like to be given a project to do rather than doing it purely for my own pleasure. If you or anyone you know needs/wants such a project to be completed, then drop me a line, I would only be too happy to help.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Decorated oriental fan made from scratch

Today I'd like to share another Paint Shop Pro creation of mine. In my blog yesterday I mentioned that several years ago there used to be lots of picture plate PSP tutorials on the internet which had inspired me to write my own plate tutorials. Similarly there used to be a few tutorials which showed how to make beautiful decorated wall fans, each one quite different.

So I thought I might have a try at making my own fan. I certainly don't have as much imagination as those talented ladies back then, so instead I used a picture of a gorgeous oriental fan saved from the internet as my reference. I'd almost forgotten I had made this until I was looking through my PSP projects the other day.

So in case you are in any doubt I did actually make the above image in PSP, it's not a photo of a fan! The only thing I haven't put on this fan is some oriental writing. I say "oriental" as the original fan I was referencing had text but I am not sure if it was in Chinese or Japanese.

So how do you like it? Do you think it's worthwhile making a tutorial? Is there something else you would like me to create, or a tutorial. I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My challenge in Paint Shop Pro

I really enjoy creating graphics in Paint Shop Pro and will often challenge myself to recreate from scratch something from another image or photo.

Several years ago I made an image in Paint Shop Pro of the Philips television we used to have at the time. My husband was busy making the content for our family website at that time and came up with the idea it might look cool to have a TV and have the content of the website appear in the TV screen.

He also suggested I make a remote control so that different 'channels' could be chosen by pressing the buttons on the remote. Each button would access a different part of the website, however not all buttons had content so for those without content I wanted to make a tv test card. I found a suitable example as a guide then set about recreating it, again in Paint Shop Pro.

This was how it turned out. It does bug me that the circle is not absolutely round but am trying to learn to let go of perfectionism!

We still currently have the website online though it is embarrassingly out of date, you can find it here www.joce.nl

If I have a good example image as a reference, I am pretty confident I can create most things in Paint Shop Pro. So if you need to recreate an image of something, maybe for your website or for some other project, please let me know in the comments.

Make your very own picture plate

More than 10 years ago when Jasc owned Paint Shop Pro it was really popular software with creative minded people who wanted to create their own graphics. It lost a lot of its popularity when Corel bought the rights, possibly because of its less user-friendly layout. I do remember it took me quite sometime to get used to the new look and functionality which became closer to that of Photoshop.

With its loss of popularity I saw more and more PSP tutorial websites closing down and with it disappeared some serious talent. Those were sad days. And to top it all I hadn't even got my tutorial website off the ground! I had made several tutorials but then never did anything with them as I thought no one would be interested anymore.

These days a Google search for 'Paint Shop Pro tutorials' brings back those largely focused on photo editing. You will probably have more success doing a search on Pinterest and in fact I have a board devoted entirely to beautiful PSP related goodies (tutorials, tubes, shapes, etc). You can find it here: Paint Shop Pro Inspiration.

I do miss the really amazing ideas people used to come up with to make very unique graphics. These were not so much collages of other images but instead images created from scratch. I remember one theme you often used to see were tutorials for turning a picture you loved into a plate. Using a certain filter you could give the illusion of ceramic. I even created a few tutorials myself, varying the instructions to give different results. And here is what I made back then:

I am pretty sure I have the tutorials for these somewhere. If not then it shouldn't be too difficult for me to recreate them, so if you are interested in making any of these plates with your favourite picture then just let me know and I will add it as a tutorial on this website. I plan to have a separate section for Paint Shop Pro tutorials if there is enough interest anyway.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First blog post – creating for you!

Over the years I've often thought about, and attempted to make, various websites without ever fully completing them. The problem isn't that I am unable to make a website or that I lack ideas for content. No, I have plenty of ideas, too many sometimes. It’s just acting upon them is proving to be the challenge. This comes through an internal struggle with my self-identity and trying to find my purpose here on this earth.

At the age of 46 I find myself in the privileged position of not having to go to work. It's not that I don't want to work but circumstances have prevented me from doing so. This has subsequently left me with a whole lot of time on my hands causing me to do much soul searching to try and figure out what exactly I should be doing with my life.

The answer started coming to me recently after reading someone else’s blog. Her solution to leading a fulfilling life is both simple and eye-opening at the same time; that we should serve others. Of course! This started me thinking back to past jobs when I worked in IT support. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than to help colleagues out with computer problems. I enjoyed the work itself of course but making other people happy played a bigger role.

So how can I apply this to my life as it is now? What skills can I possibly offer to other people that I would feel driven to do every day? The answer is obvious to me yet conversely lacks clarity. I realise I spend a lot of my time creating things; whether it is on the computer (for instance making graphics and tutorials in Paint Shop Pro) or off the computer (eg art, photography, writing or anything that involves the creative process). As long as I am creating I am happy. So I have decided, rather than just making things for my own pleasure, I want to spend my time making useful things for other people.
But the question is, what can I make that other people would find useful? This is a question I struggle with all the time and that continually stops me from moving forward in some direction. So instead of waiting any longer for life to take me by the hand, I figured I just have to throw myself out there and see where I land (I’m a poet, and I didn’t know it, lol)! So that is when I decided to make this blog to showcase some of my work. 

So this is how I wish to advertise my services. You get to see my work and you get to decide if I can help you in some way, whether it is creating graphics for a website, or making a tutorial in Paint Shop Pro, or something completely different and non-creative!
One last thing I must mention before I finish this post. All my services are free. Yes, you read me right. Free. I am sure some people might be sceptical as to why someone would offer any service free of charge. Everything revolves around money these days and its hard to get anything that is genuinely for free. However, I find making people happy is more important than making lots of money. That’s just the way I roll. So please enjoy looking at my various creations and hopefully I can be of some service to you in the near future.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, September 7, 2015

Flower art I made for a cancer research walk

A couple of months ago my husband gave a donation to a colleague who was doing a walk for cancer research. In return he got a paper bag which he was told could be decorated with pictures or text related to the cause. This bag would then be used in the evening of the walk to put a candle in. (I still haven’t quite worked out how they would light the candles without posing some sort of safety risk, but anyway). As I am the creative one in the family my husband asked if I might like to decorate the bag. A few people close to me have had cancer so this was quite a meaningful little project.
I used this picture from the internet of a beautiful bouquet of flowers as my reference and inspiration.
I drew a few of the flowers and leaves and coloured them in with markers, then cut them out and arranged them into a bouquet. Then I coloured and cut out the pink paper so I could stick all the individual little pieces down with double sided sticky tape. To finish off I made the breast cancer awareness ribbon and added this to the bottom of the bouquet before attaching it to the paper bag.
So this was the finished result!

Having never made anything like this before I had no idea if it was going to work out, but I must admit it turned out better than I expected.
I would have liked to have added more detail and perhaps more flowers but I only had a day to make it and I ran out of time. I really enjoyed making this and would love to make something else using this sort of technique. Perhaps there something I could make for you? Let me know in the comments.