Introducing Uncle Henry

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My Uncle Henry was a character. A veteran of the Spanish-American War and World War I he claimed to have taught Roosevelt how to use a machine gun (possible and feasible but not verified) and later as a telegrapher in Chicago to have been the one to broadcast the famous moment when Babe Ruth pointed and hit - also not verified, but with the wonderfully plausible cover that he was the one reporting it because nobody else in the press box was paying attention! He went on to become a union organizer and took great pride in getting equal pay for women telegraphers.

He also took great pride in his handwriting, carefully lining even envelopes before writing out the address. This font is based on that handwriting with some modifications to make it work in the modern world.  Most of it is based on a 2-page letter he sent me when I was fifteen and he was in his nineties entitled "Research on Embalmed Mummies".  That pretty much sums up Uncle Henry!

Uncle Henry, the font, will be going on sale next week. I've no idea if it has commercial appeal, but as a labor of love I'm convinced it will find its place, even if its just on family Christmas cards.

Christmas Glitter

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For no particular reason, I've been working on holiday designs these last few weeks. It's just fun to make sparkly, pretty things. I'm not sure what the market is for this right now but perhaps if I put it all on a mermaid...

It's interesting to see what trends are forecasted and how people respond to them in real-life. While I'm not much of a study the trend first and then create, it can be fun to experiment. I did this recently with a small design that was created from an accident and started in black and white. When it came time to apply color I didn't have any strong preferences so went with the current hot color for summer - bright orange. It's proving to be more popular than I expected. I'm not however, going to recolor my entire portfolio into tangerine! Not today, anyway.

Dahlia Delights

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Ever since the 'beaujolais' dahlias began blooming I've been thinking about using that color palette for designs. So this week I sat down and played with the pinky apricot shades with some hints of lime green. I'm pretty pleased with the results although the main design also represents my computer's limits with Illustrator - just too much shading for it to handle. But they say that constraints are what makes for great design, right?

Since the whole point was the color palette I've only done this in a couple of variations switching out the background color. While it would probably look fabulous in a blue/green variation I don't think the computer is going to cooperate so we'll save that for a pared down variation at some point in the future - or possibly try recoloring in Photoshop...

Back to School fun

For no particular reason I started playing with some office & school supply designs today - namely paperclips. So much fun! Who doesn't love office supplies? And unlike the real thing, playing with digital paperclip chains doesn't mean someone has to undo them before they're useful. Here are a couple of the highlights:

 

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Tutorial: Nature-inspired Art Brushes

I have vague memories of a particular Christmas that involved endless silk screening of a cedar twig onto heavy red paper for Christmas cards - back when greeting card volume was socially necessary AND crafting was big. I was too young at the time to do more than beg to have a turn and the equipment got buried in a move not long after. 

If you remember this era at all you'll probably recall similar leaves and things screen printed onto bags and tea towels and endless other products that could be made flat enough to get the dang thing to work.

Fast forward a few years (ahem) and I was sitting in front of the computer playing around with some peony leaves I'd picked. For no good reason other to try it I decided to scan them using the cheap scanner I'd purchased a few years before. It gave up printing correctly almost immediately so it had been sitting around gathering dust except for endless scanning of documents during the house purchase last year. There it sat promising poor quality but speed. Worth a try.

Maybe this was what it was meant for - because for all the blurry text it had produced it's ability to capture nature was truly surprising.  None of this is technically new, but if you haven't experimented with this technique, and you have a scanner handy, give it a try. You might be surprised by what you can make.

1. First, find something lovely, flat and fairly open for the best effect, it will have to fit in the available scanner pane - here I went with a fern segment.

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2. Scan it and open in Photoshop. Crop to just the desired element (I used the middle one for obvious reasons), select all and copy

3. Paste into Illustrator. Set the LiveTrace to Black and White and trace it.

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4.Expand the image and hit Ungroup as many times as it takes to make that command grey out.

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Select an outside (white) edge and delete, continue around the design until the background is gone. For a safety check, select the design and change the fill color to something wild like pink. If you still have solid areas where they shouldn't be continue selecting and deleting. Change the color back or leave it, it doesn't really matter.

5. Now you can make it into Art and Pattern brushes and go crazy!

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