Thursday, April 30, 2009

FCTSC Digital Challenge #2 - Make Your Own Background Paper

As I posted last week, I have taken on the role of Digital Challenge Coordinator at a new crafting (and more) website called From C to Shining C. I decided to do this because I really enjoy digital scrapping and I want to do more of it. I will be posting a digital challenge every Thursday morning. Some weeks I will make another Cricut related post on the same day - it will depend on how busy my day gets!

If you want to participate in this challenge you will need to join the forum site (linked above) in order to be able to post your project in the gallery.

I work with the Creative Memories StoryBook Plus program for my projects, but the challenges will be general enough to be done in any digital scrapping program.

I have always wanted to try making my own background papers even though I was not sure where to start - but I finally have made some because of this challenge"(!)

***The Digital Challenge for this week is to try to make your own 12 x 12 background paper - if you have time you can use it your newly created paper for the background of a digital layout.

I started with a plain piece of digital paper and added this 12 x 12 square in lilac applying a two tone gradient.

I added this digital overlay and made it white so at the next stage my paper looked like this...

so far, so good...

Next I added this texture overlay and turned it white as well.

Above is the paper after the first two overlay layers were added.

Next I added a leafy overlay frame and changed the color to a pale purple - below is the purple shaded overlay...

And here you can see the paper after these three layers had been added.

I then chose the overlay design below and repeated it four times, rotating each motif 90 degrees. I changed the color to a lighter, bright purple.

Here is how the new overlay looked when I was finished.

When I added this to the page I also used a light shadow to lend definition to the design.

Here is my final background paper - this was fun to make and I have saved it as a PNG file so I can use it for future projects.

Finally here is a very quick page I did using my new paper - I used the hue control to change the coloration to work with this old family photo.

If you want to try this challenge and are not yet a member of FCTSC, be sure to register as a new member and then submit you project on this FSTSC thread and post your paper and layout in the gallery with the tag "digi2." Thanks for joining in!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shadowing Welded Words - Design Studio Video #4

Today's addition to my Design Studio video lesson series is on the much requested topic "How do I make a shadow for my welded word?" It is a little rushed at the end - I got right up to my time limit - but I think you will have all the information you need to make these shadows quickly and easily.
Click on the image at the top of this post to go to the video

EDITED May 3, 2009 - I have changed the link to share the video - when you click the image above you should see the video appear on your screen, ready to play. Please let me know if this new sharing method works for you - Thanks!

Edited (again!) 2:00 p.m. - the  videos worked for most but not all people, however, there were bandwidth limits which were quickly exceeded so I have changed the link back to the 4shared site.  I am sorry if this doesn't work for you - I will keep trying to find a better way....

For those of you who are not able to see the video play, I did a little research and found that you need to have a browser plugin version of the Macromedia Flash Player, which is free and available online.

It is very helpful to get your feedback. A lot of you have been leaving comments at the download site. If at all possible, I would prefer that you leave comments that contain questions or requests on my blog so I can answer them where others who are reading my blog can see them too. Despite having the site preferences set to send me an email when someone leaves a comment, I never get notified of new comments on the 4shared site and have to go checking for them to see if you are having any problems. Since there is usually not a way to contact you left in the comment I have to do a lot of copying and pasting to move the questions here and then hope that you see my answers - this gets complicated!

I have copied and pasted bits and pieces from the comments over the past few days here so I can answer them - the inquiries are in bold and my answers are in italics. (I added a few of the flower photos that I took last weekend to make this post a bit prettier - there were just too many words!).

Thanks for the video. I missed the second one. It went to my SPAM.. luckily I caught the 3rd one. Is there a way for me to see the 2nd?

I am not sure how you would get the video in your spam since they are hosted and not actually sent in the emails that go to the readers who subscribe to the feed. However, you can watch any of the videos by clicking on the linking images in each blog post and there are links to the video posts at the top right corner of my blog.

Would love to see a video on the Wild Card cart. - especially on sizes for cards and envelopes. Like for instance on a 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 card, at what size do you cut your envelope?

I will show you how to do this in a future video or as part of the online lesson on designing cards with Design Studio. If you just need to know how to make a basic A2 envelope (for a card that is 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches, check out the Scor-Pal site - here is a LINK to their excellent directions).

I would like to see a video on aperture cards with letters in the center please.

This is the next topic in my list so look for it in another day or two..

Looking forward to your next one, especially shading welded words.

Today's video is on this topic!

Can you also maybe explain what the different pages are used for as far as layering, etc. I really don't understand some of the cut files of layered items and which page you actually print...or do you print all of the pages with the different papers neces...

I will do a video explaining the layered cuts soon - this is also the topic of one of the live online lessons that will be available soon!

I needed that lesson--thanks so much for your time--will your lessons be available all the time or do I need to download and keep them?

The videos can be viewed directly from the download site. At this time, I have no plans to remove them unless I run into hosting difficulties.

I would also like to know what system you are running DS on. My dh wants to upgrade mine to Vista and it truly scares me! Help! :)

I have an HP laptop with Windows XP - my neighbor runs Design Studio on Vista with no problems. I believe the issues with some incompatibility with Vista have been resolved with the more recent updates but I am not "up to speed" on this since it does not affect my computer. You may want to check with Customer Service for more detailed information. Be sure to make back up copies of all of your .cut files before you make any changes.

..can you explain how to do do the word book....

Word Books are on the list and coming soon.

I am a beginner and I need all the help I could get. My problem is knowing how to do the ratio's. How do I know what number to use to make it smaller or larger besides just stretching it with the arrows and taking a chance by cutting it out?

The online lessons will include a session on the basics which will cover this topic.

I am very interesting in more videos and on line lessons so count me in.

Online lessons are coming very soon.

I would like to see a word book and something with Disney carts.

Yes and Yes - word book and Disney layered characters are coming...

Maybe I'm too new, but it would be nice to see a video on what buttons you're using, how you move things around on the mat, how are the layers used, Can I Make a Square if I don't have George? Is George a must to have with DS?

If you are totally new to Design Studio, be sure to watch THIS VIDEO on the site - it gives you a "guided tour" and explains basic functions but it was made before the updates to the software and does not cover many of the topics requested in the comments above. If you got your software without the CD or manual, you can download the PDF of the manual from the Cricut site - here is the LINK. Once again, this manual has not been updated so there is a lot of information missing but it does give an explanation of the basic functions.

George is not a "must" but is very useful for lots of designs and, since it is the native cartridge for the Original Cricut and can be used to cut in the trial version of the software, you will find many shared .cut files that use George.

The online beginner classes will cover this information as well - info on how to sign up for these is coming as soon as we work out a few more details.

****So - What's the scoop on these online lessons?***

For over a year I have been trying to figure out a way to do online classes that will be affordable and helpful for those who are struggling with the Design Studio software. Many people live far from any store that offers classes and need help getting started in creating their own files. Others would appreciate truly personalized lessons that address their "problem files" and how to fix them.

I have invited my friend, JenC, from the Cricut Message Board, to join me in this "Design Studio School." (Just call us the "Studio Goddesses" - a term that has been jokingly used to describe us at times!) We both have extensive experience in using the software, and, since we are on opposite sides of the USA, we can cover class times for the various time zones more conveniently.

Jen and I have done some trial sessions with volunteer students and we have been very happy with the effective teaching we can do using the service I have paid for. There will be fees for lessons and classes which will vary based on the number of students in the class and the length and topic of the class. We will teach some classes individually and there will be some "clinics" where the "Studio Goddesses" will both attend and troubleshoot the thornier Design Studio issues that you may be encountering. We will also have some project-based classes that will include .cut files and full project directions.

Our testing will take a bit longer, but we are very excited by the chance to use our skills to help others learn and to make our "hobby" help pay for itself!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

History (Or Her Story) Tags plus inchies swap

As I mentioned a few days ago, the last two sets of Tags plus Inchies (TPIs) for the swap my friend Kopperhead organized were themed "Weather or Not" and "History. Or Her Story." For my "His(her)story" TPI, I decided to honor my maternal grandmother, Cora. She lived with us when I was in high school and was a great knitter and crocheter, making hundreds of pairs of mittens and slippers and many, many afghans over the years. If one of our children had been a girl, we planned to use "Cora" for the middle name (but I live in an all boy plus Mom household and love it!).

Here is a photo of Cora, taken in 1912, shortly before she married my Grandfather. Can you believe how tiny her waist is! I love these old family photos and have been planning on doing some heritage albums but I am still working on collecting all of the photos I need.

I scanned the old photo and then created my top layer for the tag using my Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus software. I cropped the photo in an oval to eliminate the dark mat frame it was in and softened the edges. Then I layered the cropped photo on some digital paper with a textured overall design and added the words "Remember When" from one of my CM digital kits (but I altered it a bit by making it narrower and taller to fit my image). I printed these images out nine to a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 heavy matte photo paper and then cut and embossed them using the scalloped rectangle Nestabilities. I cut and embossed my colored cardstock backing from the next larger size rectangle in the "nest."

I still needed an "inchie" for my tag so I decided on a sort of "stealth inchie" (!) I cropped the photo of Cora's face with the "circle punch" in the CM program. I use a circle size a bit more than an inch so I wouldn't have a problem punching inchie sized circles after printing,

Above you can see my sheet of faces in circles which I printed on glossy photo paper. (I know there are more than I needed but I decided to fill up the page and may use these little faces on another project). I punched out the faces using my one inch circle punch. Below is a close up view of the glossy inchie, adhered to the large photo with a large dimensional glue dot.

I have created many .cut files for scalloped shapes, and there are now a number of Cricut cartridges that have scalloped shapes, but there is just something irresistible about the embossed edge that you can achieve with the Nestabilities. Here is a closer view... isn't it pretty?!

I punched a hole in the top left corner and added a bit of thin ivory ribbon. Below you can see are my 20 His(her)story tags ready to send for swapping.

I received the other tags in these two swaps yesterday and they are all amazing - it always seems like a lot of work to create multiples of the same item but it is a lot of fun to receive all of the different variations from the other participants.

I must apologize - I know I am behind in my emails and answers to comments but I have been working on an exciting new project - I can't tell you everything about it for a few more days but I may leave a "hint" or two here and there - maybe you will guess what I am up to...! Thanks for all the feedback on the videos I have been making - it has been helpful to hear from so many of you and I have a long list of suggested topics! There will be a new video tomorrow unless my day gets totally crazy...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Design Studio Video #3 - Welding (Method 2)

Today I am posting the video I made to explain the second method of welding a word. After uploading the video, I checked the download and I realized that I called an "a" an "i." I don't have a way to edit these videos yet so you get the little flubs along with the information! I'd like to upgrade to a better program to be able to add images and labels and fix my bloopers but that is not possible at this time. Soon I hope....

Just click on the image at the top of this post to go to the video download.

When you go to the download site you will see a small image of the video which can be played from that screen. You should click on the "Download Now" button. That will bring up the "countdown screen" - when the countdown is over click on "Click here to download this file" and the video should appear in a much larger size on your screen with the triangle play button ready to start the video playing.

For those of you who were not able to see the video, I did a little research online and found that you need to have a browser plugin version of the Macromedia Flash Player, which is free and available online.

Thanks for all the feedback on my first couple of videos - I appreciate any comments, suggestions and information about topics that you'd like to see me cover in future videos. I will be doing shadowing of welded words, aperture cards and word books in the very near future.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April showers...

The last two sets of Tags plus Inchies (TPIs) for the swap my friend Kopperhead organized were themed "Weather or Not" and "History. Or Her Story." For my Weather themed set I immediately thought of "April Showers" (not terribly original - what can I say?).

I had this paper from a Debbie Mumm stack and I wanted to use the word "Rain" for my inchies. It was tricky to get the paper set up so I could punch out enough inchies - there were only nine "Rains" on each sheet and only three sheets in the stack so I needed to get it right! I cut into the paper on the diagonal so my punch would reach (sorry, I guess I didn't think to take a picture of that).

I "fussy-punched" the word "Rain" twenty times but, since this stack is just paper, I needed to cut backing squares from cardstock to make the inchies sturdy enough to add to my tags. To make it a bit simpler, I used adhesive backed cardstock so I could quickly put the two pieces together.

For my "May flower," I chose the six petal flower on the Plantin Schoolbook cartridge. I decided to use the same sort of lettering technique that I used for my "time for cupcakes" tags by having the words cut into the shape (here is a LINK to that post). This time I used the Printing 101 font instead of Alphalicious.

This was very time consuming - in order to use the stencil version of the letters, you need to hide the outer contours so that only the letter will cut. I also hid the center holes in the flowers. If you look carefully at the screen shot above you can see all of the blue hidden lines. Remember, you can click on the image to make it larger. The words are not welded but the letters are nudged close to each other in order to make the words legible.

I used the puzzle piece version of the letters so I would only have one contour to hide on each letter. This was faster since I wasn't planning to reuse the file. The problem with hiding only one contour is that it will not stay hidden when you reopen the file as you can see in the screen shot above. I would have a lot of hiding to do before I could cut these again! I hope this problem will be fixed in a future update of the software.

Here is a close up shot of the flowers with the words cut into them while the flowers are still on the mat. I am always amazed that letters and shapes that are so tiny will cut successfully. I used blade depth 4 and medium pressure since this was paper instead of cardstock.

When I carefully lifted the flowers from the mat, the words remained stuck down. Even though I usually save everything - these were just too tiny and delicate for me to imagine reusing them so they did go into the recycling...

I cuts sets of three flowers into four inch strips of paper on the baby bug. The offcuts were saved for future projects - don't they make a cute border?

The flowers were adhered to textured cardstock circles in a pretty pale pink. I added a "skittle" to the inchie for a raindrop and punched through the tag and the inchie to tie them together with some thin ribbon.

Here are my 20 TPIs ready to send for swapping - I have come to the conclusion that 20 of the same thing is a lot to make!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Fabulous" card (if the shoe fits...)

I participated in a card swap recently. The only stipulation was that we had to use the Graphically Speaking Cricut cartridge. This is an incredibly versatile cartridge full of lots of images and word art - it is on my list of favorites.

There are 50 jumbled words on this cartridge - I chose the word "fabulous" as my inspiration.

I used this scalloped frame - I really like the frame within a frame look. I have used this for other designs - you may remember this card from the holiday season.

(Here is a LINK to the post about this card and the file).

I also chose this shoe - there are so many great images on this cartridge!

Finally, I used the overlay for the details on the shoe.

I created a design combining the shoe, frame and the word "fabulous" - I did this as an adjustable design so I can use it for other sizes of cards. The cards I made were A2 size (or 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches).

There are thin "brackets" left over after cutting - of course I saved these! (Soon I will have to post some of the cards I make with these "leftovers").

I used the Design Studio program to help me decide on the colors and layers for the card topper. Here is the screen shot of the preview with my chosen colors. I like black and pink together and this was meant to be a "girly" sort of card.

Above is a photo of the finished card. I cut a rectangle of pale pink to add as a backdrop inside the inner frame. I cut these with a paper cutter, not the Cricut, to use my paper more efficiently.

I cut the overlay for the shoe from dark pink glitter cardstock - I cut twelve even though I needed only 10 cards. I like to have a few spares in case of cutting mishaps. When I cut glitter cardstock I use pressure at 4, blade depth 6 and multi-cut 2 times.

When I assembled the cards, I added a small "gem" for the shoe button.

I printed the insides of the cards with this sentiment - I have heard this saying in various forms many times and it always makes me smile! I used my Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus program to set up the cards for printing.

Here is a close up of the sentiment.

Here are my twelve cards (ten to swap and two to spare), ready to package and send for swapping. I expect to receive the swap cards early next week and I am looking forward to seeing what the other swappers made.

We were also expected to do envelopes. I had plenty of this double-sided patterned paper by American Crafts. I used the pale pink on the card fronts and I liked the design for the inside of the envelopes. I made the envelopes using my Scor-Pal keeping the pale pink on the outside (there are excellent and easy-to-follow directions on the Scor-Pal site, here is a LINK to the page).

To make my envelopes a bit fancier, I punched the edge of the flap with the Martha Stewart cornice border punch.

This file is adjustable, but if you change the size you will need to resize the shoe overlay to fit. There are four pages at the beginning of the file which are each layer separated for testing color combinations in preview. These are not for cutting. The fifth and sixth pages are for cutting the shoe overlays and the framed design. They are set up for cutting multiples on a 12 x 12 mat, but you can either delete images or select one and copy and paste it to a new page if you want to make a single card. You can also change the mat size to 6 x 12 if you have the original Cricut or the Create.

(This file will be available until May 1, 2009)