Thursday, May 21, 2015

Goodbye isn't Forever

I don't know if many know, but in January, our family said, "goodbye" to my husband while he went overseas on an unaccompanied hardship assignment.  The children and I put our belongings in storage and moved in with my parents so the children could be closer to family during this transition.
Usually when my husband goes away, I go crazy taking photos, but I never scrap the time that he's away.  It's too painful to scrap the photos because he isn't there to see them.  Or it's too painful to scrap the photos after he comes home, because I remember how much I missed him and become a sad, depressed woman.  I tried scrapping current photos while he was gone the last time, but every time I scrapped the photos, I felt guilty and ended up in tears!
This time around, it's been four months since he's been gone.  Over the weekend, I missed my husband so much that I started looking through the photos that I've taken since he's been gone, or the week he left.  As I was looking at the photos, I kept thinking to myself, "oh I love that photo" and before I knew it, I had about 20-photos that I wanted to scrap.  So instead of just taking photos to store on my hard drive and feel guilty about scrapping them, I sat down this weekend and scrapped two different photos, which in a way was major therapy for me.  Yes, I cried.  Yes, I miss my husband, but somehow scrapping these layouts don't make me miss him so much and I can start to look forward to the day he comes home next year!
These photos were taken at Reagan National Airport.  After a crazy day, my husband's flight was finally secured and we had the timeframe of when we had to say goodbye.  We asked at the USO if they could get the family in at the gate to spend time with him, but they were unable to help us.  So we asked at the reservation desk.  Normally, they allow one person back at the gate, but because we were a family of five, they were more hesitant.  My daughters started crying and that's when the man behind the counter handed us four tickers that allowed us to wait at the gate until my husband boarded his flight!  We waited about two hours before they finally called my husband's plane.  Saying goodbye, with a baby, was really hard!  He had no idea what was going on, but knowing how much he'd grow in the year that my husband was going away, really made it difficult.  The girls, really struggled to keep their composure so that Daddy wasn't sad before he left.  Once he left, the kids and I stayed at the gate, waiting for his plane to take off.  The kids were standing at the window when the man behind the counter, the one who allowed us to go to the gate, came and said, "if you wave, the pilots might wave back."  The kids waved and sure enough the pilots waved while they were checking their engines!  It was really neat.  About 20-minutes later, the plane taxied and we watched it take off.  That moment, was probably the hardest moment in my mother-years.  Immediately, I had two hysterical girls and a toddler screaming, "Daddy".   It took me another 20-minutes to calm them all down with the help of the gate clerk and the man behind the counter.  The drive from DC to PA was a long drive, filled with the occasional crying of a child
**please click here for credits**
If you look closely to the background of the layout, you'll see an airplane blended in the background.  That is my husband's plane taking off and heading towards Jacksonville!!
Fast forward to the end of April when I picked my husband up from the Philadelphia Airport to surprise my children that their daddy had come home for a short visit!  His flight came in at midnight and we didn't get home until closer to 2am.  As soon as my husband came in to our bedroom, the dog barked and growled not sure of who I brought home!  Once he realized who it was, he was so excited to see my husband.  I really wish I had captured their reunion on video!!
The following morning, my husband hid in our bedroom while I told the three children that we were going to make birthday pancakes for our middle, who's birthday was the next day.  The girls reluctantly came downstairs and were a little aggravated that I was going to take photos and video them making their own breakfast, when normally I make them breakfast.  It was at that time, my husband entered the kitchen saying, "hey, what's for breakfast"
This moment, I did video and uploaded to YouTube, so the family and friends could see the children's reaction, which was priceless!!  You can view their reaction here:

**please turn down your volume as my middle cries almost the entire video**
A month prior to my husband coming home, my middle had been having nightmares that Daddy came home and when she woke up he was gone.  So when he actually came in the room, she started crying because she thought it was another nightmare.  I don't know if you can hear, or understand her, but she keeps screaming, "this isn't a dream" and then she asks, "is this a dream?"  She thought for sure she was going to wake up and he'd be gone.   She really couldn't believe he was right there, standing before her in person and not in dream!!
So this weekend, along with scrapping my husband's departure, I had to scrap his visit home, which while it was a very short visit, we did a lot during his time home.  Sadly, he's back at his duty station but we are now counting down the days until he comes home!!
**please click here for credits**

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Are you a Whovian?

When Tracey released Loving the Doctor at ScrapMatters, when I was on the QC Staff, that was the first that I had heard of Doctor Who.  She said "watch the show", to which I tried, but never got in to it.  And every time I heard people talk about it, I zoned out.  ScrapMatters closed and everyone moved on.  Fast forward to this month and I now have not one, but TWO Whovians in our household!  Every time they bring up something Doctor Who-related, I try to listen, but for the most part still zone out.  I even tried sitting down to watch an episode or two, okay maybe a whole season, but I just cannot get in to the show!  But not my children, they are obsessed with Doctor Who.  This Christmas, it was all that my oldest got for presents!  She got a set of Doctor Who socks, a "Bad Wolf" pin as well as a few other Doctor Who related pins.  But her best and favorite gift was a Sonic Screwdriver.  You should have seen her zapping things around the house, looking for aliens!! 

Imagine my excitement, when I was browsing Tracey's store at GingerScraps and stumbled across Loving the Doctor!!  Of course I had to buy it and add it to my limited Doctor Who collection.  I finally had a kit that was scrap-worthy of my daughter's Christmas presents!!

As you can see, it SCREAMS Doctor Who, that is if you are true Whovian!!
So this weekend, as part of GingerScraps Mix It Up (May) Challenge, I scraplifted a kit I never used before and honestly may have "forgotten" about it until my daughter begged me to scrap her Whovian photos!! 
**please click here for credits**
I'm so excited that I stumbled across Tracey's kit and even more excited that I found a challenge to make me use the kit and in a way that I would never have thought to use the kit--in a PL-style layout!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Template Challenge

That's right, I am hosting a template challenge over at MouseScrappers!  All you have to do is download the template and create a beautiful layout about Disney!!  It's really that easy!!! 

So head on over to MouseScrappers.  While you are there, check out their other challenges and prizes you can earn for scrapping all things Disney!!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Most Magical Place: Journal/Date Cards

My best friend, Dawn (Aussiegirl) is hosting a Scraplift Challenge at MouseScrappers.  She had asked me if I would create a participation prize for her.  Little did I know that not only could I still design, but (1) I had fun doing it and (2) it would spawn in to a full blown Disney-inspired kit!!!  That's right, you heard right!!  You will WANT to do Aussiegirl's challenges over at MouseScrappers and earn a beautiful product that you can scrap all things Disney!! 
This week, you can scraplift a layout using her challenge rules and earn
Most Magical Place: Journal/Date Cards
When you complete the challenge you will get three sets of journal/date cards in Black, Red and Yellow so that they can coordinate with the other pieces of this Most Magical Place collection!
Hurry, head on over to Scraplift Challenge #136 today to earn this prize!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Common mistakes: part 1

I've been meaning to update my Design Tutorials, but life has been so busy.
Today's post will be about one, of many, common mistakes that newer designers make.
Why do they make these mistakes?  I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing they make these mistakes because (1) they don't know and (2) no one ever told them!  So here I am to show/tell you a one of these problems.  Don't worry, I'll be back at a later date with a different mistake, but that will be a whole new blog post!
So how do I know about these mistakes?
Well even though I just recently came back to designing, I have actually been designing since 2005 and know a couple of things between designing and doing quality control.  Some of the mistakes, I learned the hard way, some I read in tutorials and some I was taught by wonderful mentors who wanted to educate.  That's what I'm here to do today, share a little bit of what I've learned throughout the years in hopes that it helps newer designers in this business.
Part One: Using Black and White
First of all, you should not use the color white (#ffffff) or black (#000000).
These colors are extremely hard to texturize, even for well established designers! 
If you do texture white (#ffffff), it will often looks like this:
**sorry I had to put a stroke around it so you could see the paper!**

Do you see those black lines in the white paper?
The lines are so heavily colored that it doesn't look natural, as if you took a piece of white paper and folded it in many folds.   Quite frankly, the above paper is very unappealing to the eyes and something you should never try selling or even giving away for free. 
Another reason as to why you should never use white, is that I've been told that when you print layouts, white (#ffffff) paper does not print true to color.   I could be wrong about this, but a few years ago when I was printing a lot of layouts, the printer told me not to use white paper but to use a grayish shade of white.  In the end, my layouts that did use white paper, especially on the backgrounds, were not white at all but a grayish color.  While some of the layouts looked okay with the gray background, some don't look right at all.  I wished I could have known that and changed the background paper out to a different shade so that it matched my layout design.
We all need some sort of white or black paper in our layouts.  Then what do you do when you are looking to create a white or black paper? The answer is easy! Move your color picker to a grayish white, not quite white and not quite gray:
and then you will have better luck adding textures to your white papers!
Now look at that same white paper, using the above color choice:
It gives it a more natural look, almost as if I took a white cardstock paper and folded it!
That's the look you are trying to get when you create white paper.
The same concept is with black.  Black is very hard to texture black correctly, if at all!
Instead of using black (#000000) use a lighter black such as this:
You will have the same results like the white paper.  Your textures will show through and look at lot more appealing to the eyes.  
Overall, its pretty simple to correctly texture white and black once you realize this simple trick!
Until next time . . . .

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


What kind of term is Anti-Alias and what does it do for me?
Anti-Alias is simply a method of fooling the eye that a jagged edge is really smooth.
So why can't I make a smooth edge on my computer? Because computer images are made up of tiny square pixels.  When you want to make a straight line, you'll be able to have a straight line of pixels stacked up one another.  However when you have an angle or a curve, the pixels can't bend as they need to fill in that block, thus seeing the steps of the rounded edge. 
That is where anti-alias comes in handy.

The clever system that anti-aliasing uses to fool your eyes into thinking that a line is not jagged is to use subtle changes in color around the curved or diagonal area. These slight changes in color make the image blend around curves and giving the impression that the line in true. The colou changes are on such a small scale that you eyes cannot detect them under normal circumstances
**taken from Panther Products website**

Make sure when you use the marque tool (the cutter tool) in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro you always have the anti-alias option checked.  Back when I first started designing no matter how many times I tried to make a smooth circle I couldnt and didn't understand why.  Then one day, not too many days later, I realized I had unchecked that box.  Boy did that make a difference.

So how can you see if your anti-alias is check-marked. 
Open your program and click on the marque tool.
From there, look to the top of the screen and you'll see the following in Photoshop CS4
(hopefully the same for the other versions)

Or the following in Paint Shop Pro X2
(hopefully in the other versions as well)

To see what I am talking about, here is an example in Photoshop CS4 with the anti-alias unchecked:
Are the edges (pixels) are more noticeable to the naked eye?
Notice how the edge is jagged--you can see the steps of the circle!

Now take a look at this circle with the anti-alias checked
Doesn't that look like a smooth, round circle the way our eye is used to seeing an image?
That is the difference between on checked or unchecked button.

Make sure when you are using shapes Anti-Alias is ALWAYS checked!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Learn Your Program

After learning about copyright the next thing you should do is learn as much as you can about your program; know what it does, what it is capable of doing, how to do those things, etc.  Designing is not purchasing the best Commercial Use products available and recoloring with each and every kit.  Designing is an art of creativity.  For most it is starting with the basic shapes and creating from there on up, adding shadowing, textures, etc.   
Take for example this construction barricade.

What shapes do you see when looking at this element?
It is basically created from squares and rectangles. 
When I was changing my blog around, I sat down at the computer and imagined what a barricade looked like and started creating my template.  I started at the focal point, creating shapes to look like what I was envisioning in my head.  Once I created the template it was just a matter of filling in the colors, adding bevel around the edges as well as adding texture to the sign.
There are a handful of designers who do the exact same thing when it comes to creating templates.  Look in any online digital store, under Commercial Use, and you'll see countless templates filled with shapes in all different sizes and characters.  These designers look at something and recreate it with shapes or they are artistic and draw the element they are wishing to create.  That my friend can be you if you learn and understand what your program is capable of doing!
Where do you start?
Well if you are reading my blog, I guess this is a good start.  But generally when I started learning how to design and about my program I relied on Google for the answers.  There were nights while my husband was deployed that I would be searching "Photoshop CS + Ribbon Tutorial".  I would walk myself through several tutorials on that element, learning how to do it without looking at any guides, notes or tutorials. 
Another thing you can do it enroll yourself in some classes where it be online or in your local university.  There are a handful of online sites that offer classes with different programs.  The perk of it being online is that hopefully you are able to work around your schedule, work, naptime, etc.
When in doubt if you dont know, understand, have questions ask a fellow friend who uses the program.  I had been designing for several years and one day Melissa Daniel Designs said "hey you know if you do this . . . . "  and a lightbulb went on in my head understanding what she had told me! I had no idea that I could do that with my program, let alone the possibilities she had opened up by telling me a simple suggestion!
Learn your program before jumping in to designing. It makes it that much easier when the harder stuff comes knocking at your door.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Understanding Copyright

To some copyright can be a scary thing when the legal department is knocking on their door demanding payment of some sorts due to a violation  To others it just is a legal, mumbo-jumbo word that doesn’t mean anything to them. 

So what exactly is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection to the authors or creators of original creations.  Copyright protects both published and unpublished creations.  A copyright gives the owner of the creation exclusive rights to (1) reproduce their work, (2) create creations that derived from their original creations,  (3) distribute copies of their work by sale, rent, transfer, lease or lending, (4) perform publically if applicable (5) display work publically if applicable. 
It is illegal for anyone who does not own the copyright of that creation to violate any of those clauses

It is important for you to learn and understand what copyright allows and doesn't allow before creating a digital product or project.  That's right folks, even with our scrapbooking, we need to be diligent in making sure we are not violating copyright laws when we put together our layouts!
Now when you are creating an element, you have to be careful not to steal someone’s creation that is protected under copyright laws.  Take for example Prima’s flowers; they are protected under copyright laws.  If you go to your local Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, etc  and pick up one of these flower packs you’ll notice a little note saying “copyright” on the package.  That means, you cannot purchase one of these flowers, scan them in to your computer, extract them image and use them in your product.  That is violating Prima’s copyright and you will get some sort of a punishment should Prima catch up with you and your designs.   Before you think about being sneaky and doing this be warned that Prima has caught up with a couple digital designers a few years ago who were using Prima's flowers in their own products as well as selling them for Commercial Use!
That is just one little example of copyright for one little element, which if abused can cause a whole lot of trouble for you as the designer who violated that company's copyright of said product.
It is very important for you as the designer to know the laws, know what is protected and what you can/cannot legally use in your digital creations.  You cannot go into your local Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, etc and purchase $100 dollars worth of scrapbooking products, photogragh or scan the products in to the computer, extract the image and use it in your creations, let alone turn it in to a Commercial Use product if those things are protected by copyright laws!  It is plain and simple. 
Scrapbook paper is another thing that is copyrighted.  Just think, digital designers are asked to create paper lines that sell in stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc.  If you scanned in that paper and use it for your own creations, it would be no different than you downloading their digital product and reusing it as your own.  Its wrong and something that needs to be avoided to save you the headache and hassle of finding a lawyer and dealing with your consequences.
In a nutshell, learn and understand copyright laws and how they can protect you as well as keep you out of trouble when learning how to design.  If you don't know if the product is under copyright seek legal advice from a lawyer who specifically deals with this issue.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Designing Tutorials

Alright since I have nothing better to do . . . . .if you believe that one then let me sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for half-off the original price! 

Lately I've been noticing several posts around digiworld asking beginner questions about designing.  Just recently I saw a post over at MouseScrappers and decided to answer it with a few things that I've learned along the way.  Later, as I was talking with my best friend, AussieGirl, it was suggested that instead of posting here and there things that I've learned why not post them on my blog so that people can come to the blog, read things they are looking for in one central location instead of this site or that site.  So hopefully as time goes on I'll be able to share with you lessons along the way in case you are one of those people wishing to learn how to design.

Sound interesting for you?
Is it something you wish to see?
What are your thoughts because I would love to hear them.
I'll post a couple things and if there isn't any interest in the tutorials, then I'll not continue.  If there people interested, I'll continue sharing what I know.  Got any questions about designing?  Feel free to email me and I'll try to answer them, if I know the answer that is!  LOL