Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Get Hopping on Your Easter Design Products With Help From These 7 Whimsical Clipart Collections

Clipart image of a bunny in an Easter basket with spring flowers
Spring, officially has arrived — though it does have a way to go yet before it actually feels like it.

Looking out the window we can see there is still a bit of that winter blanket lying around. Stepping out the door, we can feel Old Man Winter's still got some kick left. But then the sun finds us and we know that things are only going to get better.

It's that time of year, when our heavy coats and sweaters, mittens and gloves, toques and caps are probably all just too much, yet anything lighter doesn't quite cut it.

It's also the time of year when we look forward to another holiday that tends to be synonymous with family gatherings.  With thoughts of spring filling our minds,  we look ahead to the promise and fun of the Easter season.

While getting ready for this occasion isn't the hectic organizing and prepping that precedes Christmas,  there's still plenty to think about and plan for. One of the first traditions for me has been shopping for spring outfits for my little grandbabies, which actually got a really good start this year. On a mall outing with my younger daughter the topic of this ritual came up and like two greyhounds out of the gate we hightailed it to the children's clothing store and after a frenzied spree, I was able to tick this task off the list.

Last week, I managed a few minutes to get the rest of the treats to go in their baskets and am now left with the grocery list, preparing the eggs for the hunt, the food for the main meals, along with the baking. Given that it's a far less hectic time of year than the Christmas rush, though, it's all rather enjoyable.

There will be one other task, however, a project that I came up with a few years ago, as a way to add a little personal touch to the dinner table. With our family growing, I thought it might be fun to try and avoid the mealtime shuffle around the dining room, where lefties jockey for position in order not to be constantly bumping elbows,  and came up with a well thought out seating plan. What would make this more entertaining, particularly for the little ones, was the creation of tags. It was a simple project, created with some of the adorable Easter images to be found from online clipart sources.

To show the smorgasbord of images available, here are some of my favourite collections from iCLIPART.com

Clipart Image of a cute country bunny on a stool holding an Easter egg
A captivating collection of folksy Easter images.
Clipart image of a blue Easter bunny holding a basket of eggs
Sunny, bright and airy, this is delightful group of images can bring fun to any project.
Clipart image of a cartoon Easter dragon with eggs
When you're looking for something with a touch of humour you won't go wrong with these cartoons.
Clipart image of an Easter egg background
Start your Easter project with a seasonal background or add a nifty element to complete it.
Clipart image of a cartoon Easter bunny pulling a red wagon full of coloured eggs

There's amusement and whimsy to be found in these absolutely awesome cartoons from an iCLIPART.com favourite.
Clipart image of a vintage Easter greeting with a blue bunny painting a pink egg
This group of images is sure to appeal to your nostalgic side.
Clipart image of a puppy in a bunny costume beside little chicks and Easter eggs
Bunnies, chicks, and pups highlight this selection of adorable Easter images. 

Clipart image of a cartoon pink Easter bunny holding a basket of coloured eggs and waving
Yet another lighthearted group of of popular cartoons.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Create Your Own Delightful Images of Easter With These 7 Fun Tutorials

Photo of Easter eggs in a wicker basket
"Easter — the only time it's okay to put all your eggs in one basket" — Unknown

A recent social media post showed step-by-step video instructions on how to give your Easter eggs a marble effect using shaving cream. It looked fairly simple, which piqued my interest.

Finding hacks that make the annual egg decorating ritual not just efficient but with uniquely attractive results that are guaranteed to enchant the aesthetic senses of little ones, has become a bit of a goal the past few Easters. With mixed reviews. Some in the past were not exactly as advertised, but they had to do. It wouldn't be Easter without those colourful eggs.

Images of this holiday turn minds to Spring - from the aforementioned tradition to the season's soft pastels and vibrant hues, fluffy chicks and bunnies, the elegant lilies and for us older folks, to recollections of white patent shoes and pretty straw bonnets with satin ribbons. 

We see these images in flyers for Easter egg hunts, promotions to inspire a freshening of the wardrobe or bulletins for local events. The internet offers unlimited resources for people to step outside their imaginings and discover boundless supplies of clipart and photos themed to all of these cheery subjects for use in personal and business projects.

However, when it comes to finding the right images for these, not everyone wants to go shopping online for the perfect examples. Image editing software has given a lot of people an option, providing a new outlet for everything from designing websites and physical products, such as cards and advertisements, to scrapbooking and collages, to altering photos or even to creating original illustrations.

One's first thought on this, of course, might be that they lack the ability or the talent. For those looking for new challenges it's good to know that these days you really don't have to be a professional to give it a try. Nor do you need to invest in expensive programs. From tutorials to cost-effective software (even some free ones) you can find all the help you need to test your artistic abilities on the world-wide web.

The diversity of tutorials also ensures that you can find something that doesn't just appeal to you but matches your skill level. Start slowly and learn as you go.

To get you tapping into your creativity, here are some wonderful tutorials using a variety of software to inspire your Easter projects:

From PSDDUDE this tutorial offers a simple way to create a a vector egg in Photoshop.

Envatotuts+ outlines in an easy to follow step-by-step tutorial how to create a simple background with subtle texture and a few baby chicks.

Celebrate the holiday of spring by making your own Easter-themed, vector postcard from Template Monster.

A YouTube tutorial to guide you through the steps of making a realistic chocolate Easter Egg using GIMP.

Another great chocolate Easter egg tutorial from Creative Tutorials, this time using Photoshop Elements.

A simple tutorial from Fantasvale on YouTube to make a greeting card with the shape of an Easter egg. 

Another great tutorial from envatotuts+! Learn how to create flat Easter icons using Adobe Illustrator.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Showcasing Flags From Around the World in Image Collections from iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com

Clipart image of a leprechaun and a pot of gold for St. Patrick's Day
In just less than two weeks, many people, regardless of ancestry, will be feeling a little bit Irish. With the arrival of St. Patrick's Day, folks from all corners of the world will be into the spirit of things. In keeping with the celebration it will mean plenty of green — whether people are donning it or drinking it.

The vibe is already in the air. In the days leading up to March 17, children in classrooms will be colouring fanciful outlines of shamrocks and rainbows, pots of gold and leprechauns.

Adults will soon be diving through their closets to find an outfit or piece of clothing that's just the right hue of jade or emerald. Then when St. Pat's Day is finally here, people will line the streets for parades, and parade into pubs for lively entertainment.

But amidst the frivolity and enjoyment, it's quite likely that only those with green blood coursing through their veins will be waving the tri-coloured flag of Ireland in true patriot pride.

The recent Olympics are the epitome of a nation's flag symbolizing the patriotism of the people. When a gold medal win means citizens have the opportunity to watch their flag rise highest above the podium accompanied by the national anthem in honour of  gold-winning athletes, it strikes a unifying chord across the country. 

A nation's flag is a representation of that place and its denizens. Some proudly boast an image —  a coat-of-arms or something symbolic. For example, there is one star for each state on the American flag. Also, the bold maple leaf in the centre of the Canadian flag celebrates that country's diverse nature and environment. The five stars on the Chines flag represent the relationship between the unity of the people under the Communist Party of China. 

However, as is the case in the Irish flag, the colours can stand alone in conveying a message. Courage, revolution, hardiness and valour are typified by red; freedom, vigilance, perseverance, justice, prosperity and peace are represented by blue and justice by yellow. Groupings too can be significant — red, white and blue being a representation of revolution and freedom; or or an area — red, yellow and green being the colours of the Pan-African nations.

In the Irish flag the three bands of vertical colours signify an often tumultuous part of the country's history.  Roman Catholics are represented by the green, while the Protestant supporters of William of Orange are typified by that colour. The white swatch between these is a symbol of peace and hope for union between the two religions. 

So, while we find our various ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, let's pay special attention to the people who carry or wear that flag with pride in their hearts this March 17. In the meantime, let's celebrate patriotism the world over with this showcase of flags from around the world with two wonderful clipart collections:

Clipart image of a waving Irish flag

Clipart image of the flag of Ireland in a heart shape

Friday, March 2, 2018

Wonderful Photography Tips to Help You Capture Spring's Ever-Changing Palette

Photo of spring photographs hanging on a clothesline above a camera sitting in the grass
One of the hobbies I have come to enjoy, but have had very little time to pursue over the past few decades is photography.

My interest began with some rather technically wretched results from chasing around my children with a camera. It was the era of Instamatics and Polaroids so I can take some of the blame off myself. However, my focus was completely on capturing those beautiful faces in cherished moments, with little thought for such things as contrast, composition or exposure.

An understanding of what a camera can actually do developed later through my work as editor of our local community newspaper. Covering everything from sports to crowded group gatherings in dingy auditoriums with a 35 mm then its digital version, I picked up what I needed to get good shots. Those few tips, plus the better equipment,  have ensured that the photos of my grandkids are far superior to those I took of their parents.

Family has always been a favourite photographic subject, but during our trips up north for several summers, I discovered a fondness for landscape photography as well. And if we think of heading outdoors with a camera, is there really any better time than spring? The countryside is an ever-changing palette, a constantly-altered playground.

Photo of a close-up of cherry blossom
In a few short weeks, when we head outside each day will bring a new sprout of green to our flowerbeds. The tiny buds on trees will become increasingly more visible, the grass more green.

Birds will flit, squirrels will sprint, cats will prowl,  all happy to be in gardens bursting to life. Soon there will be colour and foliage to run through and hide amongst.

The season's capricious weather also adds interest, with sprinkles and puddles one day, brilliant sun glinting of dewy, damp leaves the next.

For photographers whose favourite subject is nature, the possibilities are endless. Given that, where to look and what to seek, then making the most of that, are the only challenges in taking great spring pictures.

Photo of ladybug on a blade of grass in the sunlight
Once temperatures warm,  it will be time to wander into the garden on a quiet morning and sit quietly to soak in the enlivening atmosphere. A bug crawling up a tiny bud of green, will inspire a picture.  The sun sparkling off the dew will also be a lovely photograph. And should a robin stop by to perch on the railing of the deck, how foolish it would be to not have a camera at the ready.

Getting outdoors to enjoy the new blossoming world is a great way to spend a day. Taking a camera outside with you makes it even better.

Here are some great tips to help you find your subjects and improve your spring photography skills:

7 Great Spring Photography Tips

Spring Photography Tips

Useful Tips for Spring Photography

Photograph Your Kids in Spring Flowers

How to Photograph Outside in the Spring

Spring Flower Photography Tips

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Celebrating an Enchanting Occasion With St. Patrick's Day Colouring Pages from iCLIPART.com

Clipart image of a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for St. Patrick's Day
 "St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time — a day to begin transforming winter's dream into summer's magic." Adrienne Cook

As we move ever closer to the start of March, excited for the warming sun and the promise of spring that comes with that month, we also can look forward to a spirited holiday. And with just a couple of weeks to go before St. Patrick's Day arrives,  this seems like an opportune time to focus some attention on that particular holiday.

Since we all know how swiftly time moves these days, we also know that it really won't be long before March 17 is here and with it the fun and spirit of the Emerald Isle. Though this celebration of Ireland's patron saint arrives a few days before spring, it certainly feels more like a party for that season with its charming images of leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold.

Verdant shamrocks decorating everything from windows to websites, people sporting every hue of green —  these are the images that contribute to a vibrant landscape far more synonymous with the blooming season yet to come, than the often dreary, often miserable one soon to be fading away for another year. After winter's monochromatic palette and our penchant to cocoon through it, is there any wonder that we can be enlivened by the notion of a lively celebration on the horizon?

In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is more of a religious event. In other places though, grownups in green gather in pubs to sip beer of the same lush hue and sample traditional Irish fare, while listening to the flutes and fiddles of Celtic entertainers.  In certain cities around the world the day is marked by festivities and parades enjoyed by many, regardless of  ethnicity or culture.

My childhood memories of the holiday are simple, yet again carry with them the hint of this being the right occasion to usher out winter.  There is such a lively vibe surrounding St. Patrick's Day that even a child must notice the sense of spring awakening that accompanies it.

Harking back to my good old school days,  I recall that prior to March 17, classmates and I (with much excitement about a holiday to which few of us could lay any legitimate ancestral claim) worked on little projects to decorate the schoolroom and Mom's bulletin board. Clipping shamrocks to hang from strings put spring in the air, in contrast to the dirty mounds of snow that lingered outside the windows.

More shamrocks were found in charming images that also included  impish leprechauns and pretty rainbows. Crayons in hand we delighted in bringing all the colours of the spectrum, as well as multitudinous shades of green, to fill in the space between the outlines. Many pleasant school hours were spent colouring St. Patrick's Day images with enthusiasm.

As this particular childhood memory fills my mind in the weeks coming up to our favourite Irish celebration, here are some terrific colouring pages for the occasion:
Clipart image of a happy leprechaun colouring page for St. Patrick's Day

Friday, February 23, 2018

Welcoming the Month of Spring With Beautiful Bird Photos from iPHOTOS.com

Photo of a cardinal in a tree
"Spring would not be spring without bird songs." — Francis M. Chapman

February 2018 will soon fade from present to past. It's dark, dreary days will open to March, a month during which we feel the bite of winter's chill, warmed by the sun's kiss on a lengthening day.  Snow still drapes itself on branches, blankets itself across the ground, but the promise of spring nudges its way into our consciousness.

We begin to ponder plans for March break. The black, white and grey images of winter that fill our minds, give way to notions of soft pastels,  of blooming buds and painted eggs.  Occasional days of warmth, foreshadowing what lies ahead, will inspire the opening of windows and doors, if only for a moment or two, chasing away the stale air of a house that's been shut away from fresh air for months.

March makes one think of revival and rejuvenation. There is snow, always snow, but rains come more frequently to wash it away, freshen the earth and brighten the landscape. And it won't be long before snowdrops and crocuses will push their heads through leftover clumps of flakes.

Photo of a St. Patrick's Day hat full of gold coinsThere will also be celebration. With a nod to the Emerald Isle, we enjoy in March an occasion full of spring's favourite colour.  St. Patrick's Day gives all an opportunity get their Irish on as, we find ourselves amidst images of shamrocks, pots of gold and leprechauns. Even the beer is green on this day of "drowning the shamrock".

At the end of the month this year will be Easter. On the Christian calendar it marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For youngsters it means the Easter bunny, chocolates and pretty pastel eggs, decorated and hidden for hunting.

The aforementioned are all welcome harbingers that warmer days are ahead of us that spring is nigh.  But there is one more sign that warms my soul more than any. Walking to work on a recent morning, I became suddenly aware that the typical winter silence was not settled around me. Instead, there was the music of a few of our feathered friends. Just a chirrup from one corner then another, the singers tucked away in the bare branches of towering maples, but it was the sound of spring.

The next day, a cardinal serenaded my progress and it was with much pleasure that I stood and listened to him. The melodic call put a smile on my face and lifted any worry from my shoulders.  As Carly Simon, herself a bit of a songbird, has said "The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.

Photo of a robin in a nest
I'm a big fan of most birds. The music, colour and life they bring to gardens is the very essence of spring.  Watching a nesting robin or seeing it tug on an early morning worm can fill quiet moments. Standing outdoors on a clear spring day, the air still cool, but with a freshness that's pleasantly refreshing, not numbing, hearing the first trill of a cardinal is uplifting.  Even the cackle of a group of boisterous, tone-deaf blue jays is okay since aesthetically they're perfect.

In celebration of these lovely creatures, as we head towards the final weeks before spring, we highlight here wonderful bird photos from iPHOTOS.com

Friday, February 16, 2018

Looking for Ways to Improve Your Infographics? Check Out The Great Tips Offered Here

Clipart image of an infographics template
For over two decades I worked in journalism. I came away with a lot of information from those years, but none perhaps so pronounced as the fact that a picture is assuredly worth a thousand words.

Whether it was adding a graphic element to a story or to an advertisement, it was well-known that the right one would increase interest. Done well,  the visual after getting your attention, clarifies the words that might accompany it. A writer might paint a picture with his prose, but an artist or photographer leave nothing to the imagination. The images they produce draw the viewer in to the story they paint or photograph.

There's no better way to get people to notice your message than by adding visual elements to facts and information.

This is the purpose of infographics, where text and images combine to present data in a clear, concise manner. Together they educate, build awareness and market strategically everything from products to people.  Studies have shown that a good infographic is up to 30 times more likely to be read than a text article.

The trick is putting this into action. Simply slapping together some cool fun graphics with some interesting tidbits isn't going to achieve the result you hope for. To get the most from them,  to understand the potential and realize it for yourself,  here are some wonderful sites with tips for what to do and what not to do:

Clipart image of an ingraphics template
Once you know how,  the next step will be sourcing out some wonderful graphics to highlight your project. There are a number of online resources, such as Clipart.com  and iCLIPART.com where, with a subscription,  you are able to access a huge variety of images safely.

Then, armed with perfect graphics and the knowledge of how to grab attention with your infographic, the only thing left is to find the firght tool to create it.  Here are some excellent options: