Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Photoshop Friday - Color sampling

As you're working with your pictures in Photoshop, you might want to add a caption or a border or stamp or some other element. And you may want that element to be some color other than black. So here is how to take the guesswork out of color.

In this picture I'm adding a little saying and I think I would like it to match the pretty pink of her sweater. First I get all the type lined up just how I want it.

Now for the fun part. Let's change the color of the text first. Using your text tool, you're going to highlight the word that you want to change. Either in the Character palette or in the main toolbar, you're going to see an option for color (handy arrow to show you.)

Clicking on the color box will bring up this text-color window. Just about any color imaginable is available to you here. You can click in the rainbow bar to get reds, blues, greens... and then fine-tune your color in the big box by picking a color that is brighter, darker, more muted or vibrant... whatever suits you. But in this example, we're matching the color of her sweater. So move your cursor outside of the color box (but still over the photograph) and notice that it turns into a little eyedropper tool. This tool will pick up the color of any pixel that you're holding it over. Try clicking around the picture and you'll notice that the color changes each time. Also notice that even though her sweater is pink, there are different light and dark areas. So try a few and see which you like better, and which looks best over the background. You can always go back into the Select Color window and make it lighter or darker there as well. Pay attention to the background to make sure that your text or other element looks good against the background and adjust your color as needed.

When you've found the perfect shade of pink, click OK and de-select your text. Viola! Repeat for the rest of your text as needed. Instead of trying to find the exact area of the sweater where you chose the first pink, you can click right on your text and pick that color (eliminating even MORE guesswork... so fabulous!)

You might have to change the color of a shape, instead of a word. This is easy too. You'll notice that each shape in your layers palette has a colored box next to it? Double-click this box and it will bring up your Select Color window again. Same thing with the eyedropper.

Finally, if you're adding a stamp or a brush to your picture, you're going to want to choose the color before you start applying the brush. Change your foreground color (the upper left box) to your Perfect Pink by selecting the eyedropper tool and clicking on the photo. You can also double-click the color boxes to bring up the Select Color window.

Have fun with your photos!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New designs

After much stubborn procrastinating I finally buckled down and came up with new baby announcement designs! I'll be posting them on my website today so you can see them all. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recovering a bench

Minnie's aunt had a cute black metal vanity in her bedroom when she was little. Now that she is grown up and married, it has sat in a corner for years. So one day they brought it over for Minnie's room.

The whole thing was in great condition, with a pretty glass table top and a mirror but the bench fabric was worn and a little dated (think 'rose and forest green'). So we made a trip to the fabric store and picked out pink, red and orange fabrics that match the eye-watering bright colors in her room.

Foam is surprisingly expensive so I used some egg-crate pad to cushion the seat. After sewing strips of the fabrics together, I pulled it tight over the foam and stapled it to the underside of the bench.

She was very happy with the result.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hot Cross Buns (a week late, sorry!)

This is a sweet roll that my grandfather used to make every Easter. And since I was sick last week, we made them yesterday!

The tradition is that the flecks of fruit represent the blessings in your life, and you think about and appreciate them as you eat the roll. Here's the recipe so that you can carry on the tradition for special holidays of your own!

3-4 cups flour
2 pkg yeast
1 - 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (depending on the freshness of your cinnamon and how much you like it)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup candied fruit (the kind you use in fruit cake. alternately you could use currants, white raisins, slivered almonds, craisins... whatever you want)

Warm milk until it's lukewarm. Add sugar and yeast, set aside for about 10 minutes. Add oil, 1 cup of flour and beat in eggs one at a time.

Take second cup of flour and cinnamon, add to the candied fruit. Mix so that the goopy fruit is coated in flour and separates into bits. Add this to your dough and mix well.

Continue adding flour until dough forms. Knead about 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Let rise in a warm place (a closed oven with a pan of boiling water works nicely) for about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and form into balls for the rolls (about 18). Alternately you can form the dough into 2 long loaves. This would be Panatone (pah-na-tone-eh) instead of Hot Cross Buns. Let rise for another 1/2 hour. You want these to be smooth and glossy so brush with a whipped egg white before baking. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Make a thick icing with powdered sugar, vanilla, a bit of milk and the leftover egg white. Pipe a cross onto the top of each bun. If you used almonds in your fruit mixture, you can add almond extract instead of vanilla.

Note: for the fruit in my rolls I used Citron (there was no candied fruit available at the grocery store this time of year) Craisins, slivered almonds and the zest of one orange. I also substituted one cup of white flour for whole wheat so I added a teeny bit more yeast as well (just let one teaspoon heap up). The rolls were delicious and I'm definitely using the wheat flour and the orange zest from now on. Also the pale green of the citron and the deep red of the cranberries will make these festively beautiful for Christmas so I'm going to be making these twice a year from now on (neighbors are now forewarned).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photoshop Friday - Correct a crooked picture

Yes, it has been a while since I've posted anything. Blame it on this snow, which sucks my will to live. Or the extra-super shorthanded month we've had at work. Or the fabulous case of influenza that both Minnie and I came down with and lasted for 2 entire weeks. Whichever is your Excuse of Choice, go with that one. And hey, it's time for another Photoshop Friday!

I don't know about you, but I take a lot of crooked pictures. Maybe one leg is shorter than the other. Whatever the reason, I end up straightening out a lot of shots in Photoshop afterward. And here is how.

Step 1 - take a crooked picture. This is the easy part. Because I know I do this, I often leave a lot of extra space around the edges of pictures I know I will have to line up straight later.

When you open your picture in Photoshop, expand the work window so you have some gray space around the picture to work with. Just pull out the lower-right arrow so the window gets bigger (it won't affect the picture, just your workspace).

If your window doesn't have a ruler around the top and left edge, click Cmmd (Control on a PC) R to get one. Or go to View - Rulers. Place your cursor inside the ruler, click and drag out a straight line. Place it anywhere you like (it won't show up on the finished picture.)

To rotate the picture, click Cmmd(Ctrl) A to select all. A dotted line should appear around the entire picture. Then click Cmmd(Ctrl) T to Transform. When you put your cursor near any of the corner transform boxes, it should turn into a curve with an arrow at the end. Use this to rotate the picture until it is straight up-and-down (use your ruler line for reference).

Once the picture is lined up, click Enter and all the transform boxes will disappear. Click Cmmd(Ctrl) D to de-select the area and make all the dotted lines disappear.

Using the crop tool, crop in on the picture so that the white areas at the edges disappear.

You're done! Perfectly straight picture.

Remember, if there's a Photoshop technique that you'd like to learn, make sure to tell me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jeep Safari - the aftermath

Rain/snow/horrible? Yes. We drove the new and improved Sammy on Poison Spider Mesa. Joe fashioned a shelter from camouflage tarp which kept the kids dry. Up front we enjoyed rain, sleet, snow, wind and even more water pouring from the tarp onto our laps. We were both soaked all the way through.

Minnie slept in the bunkbed in our cabin... until she decided to go for a walk in the middle of the night and fall out.

After her second spill out of the bunk bed (this time out of the lower bunk and onto the back of her head, I packed up our stuff and the two of us came home with friends. Joe and Bart stayed the rest of the weekend.

The morning we got home, I woke up with a terrible cold, which is why I have been a Post Slacker. This morning Minnie has a fever and doesn't feel well. WHY?!?!?!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jeep Safari

I'll be gone for a few days for Easter Jeep Safari. I'm crossing my fingers that it won't snow/rain and be horrible. Have a great weekend!