Friday, November 22, 2013

Great Ideas for Christmas Photo Cards

The lights, the garlands, the joy and general goodwill make this season one of the greatest blessings of the year.

But while my love for Christmas borders on the fanatical, I can't honestly say that I love everything about the holiday.  When it comes to sending and receiving cards I am a complete Scrooge.  Preparing them for mailing I sit with doleful demeanour firing off a hasty greeting above the signature.  And the ones sent my way are,  with little guilt, given a perfunctory glance before I file them.

Perhaps I should back this up a bit though. While this was never one of my favourite Christmas tasks, I wasn't always so Bah Humbug about it. When my kids were little,  the cards were a family project with each and every person signing their name. Besides quality time together for us, it was a personal touch that friends and relatives seemed to like.

Something else I've noticed is that Christmas family photos are also appreciated. It's fun to see how children and families have grown.  But I often wonder what to do with all the ones I received over the years. Was I expected to keep them, to add them to my massive collection of photographs?

Well, once again today's technology created a solution. Begrudging the time spent signing cards and the money given to Canada Post for mailing them,  not wanting to send a photo that people feel obliged to hang on to,  yet wanting to involve myself in all aspects of the holiday season,  I decided last year to send an e-card. The money saved on stamps was then given to a local charity.

Brilliant, yes? No writer's cramp, no icky licking, no hoarding, no waste. The only thing needed is an adorable photo. Hopefully, inspiration can be found here:

Harvard Homemaker 100 Photos to Inspire Your Holiday Cards

Christmas Your Way Family Photo Ideas for Your Christmas Card

Lolly Jane 25 Cute Family Christmas Picture Ideas

Pleated Jeans Funny Family Christmas Card Ideas

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Change or Remove an Image Background

Finding, selecting and using images in your projects is much easier than it used to be. Take it from one who knows.

Not all that many years ago, while working as  editor of a community newspaper,  when a graphic element was required to dress up editorial content or design an ad, I ran to the good old cut-and-paste book then leafed through page after page, image after image to find just the right one.  The result was that many times I settled for an okay illustration because deadline was looming.

A digital catalogue of the images eventually went online a few years before my departure, enough time for me to know what a difference it made — in time and in creativity.

Today there are many sites providing affordable, convenient images to use in commercial projects — safely. Understanding and reading the terms of use for each guarantees that you are using the images legally. Just as any online purchase, it's one-stop shopping without leaving the comfort of your home.

However, while the range of images is incredible, there are times when the terms state a little alteration is necessary, even though you love the illustration you have. For example, some sites, such as iCLIPART.com ask that the images be edited for commercial purposes. Changing or removing a background will help to meet that requirement while leaving the primary subject as is. You can learn how and see some examples by checking out these sites:

Digital Arts Lab Quick Background Change

Exposure Guide Change the Background of a Photo

tipsquirrel Changing the Photo Background

Media Militia Removing a White Background

Graphics.com Mastering Photoshop's Background Eraser Tool

wikiHow Change the Background Colour in Illustrator

Digital Trends Two Foolproof Ways to Remove a Background

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Clipart Collection to Welcome Baby

At this time of year, everyone is busy thinking about the holiday season. The American Thanksgiving is on its way and Christmas shall follow close on its heels.  It means plenty of chatter and emails among family members, sharing gift ideas and planning busy schedules.

However, today I received a different email from my younger daughter. It was to tell me the date and details for a Jack-and-Jill baby shower she and her sister are hosting for their brother and his partner.  Happening in January it's the first of a few of these events. There are actually three babies my husband's and my babies are expecting early this spring.  It's a pretty exciting time for Grandma and Grandpa,  even better than Christmas.

So, in addition to all the tasks involved with the holiday season,  my daughter  has been  thinking about the invitations for the first of our parties, and emailed some of the graphics she's considering for my input.

We're lucky we have someone in the family who's a bit of a whiz with Photoshop.  Not everyone has the ability or creativity to design these kinds of projects. But fortunately, with the wonderful online resources for clipart,  it's not necessary.  Keeping  baby showers in mind here are some terrific images to illustrate what I mean. With the addition of  text, these are pretty much good to go.

iCLIPART.com Baby Shower Invitations

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Photoshop Tutorials for Your Christmas Projects

It might be weeks away yet, but at my house it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Compared to some people, I suppose my holiday decor isn't too over the top. However, as I like to put a little bit of seasonal cheer in most every room it does take some time. Thus, the goal this week is to chip away at the task a little each night  after work. Starting last night.

I've had many people say this is too early to be decorating and years ago I would have agreed. I typically started my Christmas projects around the end of November and was usually one of the first to do so. Then several years ago, I noticed more and more people getting a jump on the season, so I moved my timeline forward  a bit too. Then a few years ago I noticed more and more people getting a jump on the season so I moved my timeline forward a bit more.

Not that that's been a problem. I enjoy having the work done before the crazy busy of the holidays begin. While others rush around in the final weeks leading up to Christmas, I sit, wineglass in hand, snuggled cozily amidst twinkling lights and  flickering candles, listening to Bing and Bowie, watching Allen and Chase, my head filled with warm thoughts of this amazing time of peace and goodwill.

No matter what the project for Christmas, I'm a true believer in the benefits of wrapping it up as soon as possible. Even in the world of images. So for those of like mind, here are some great Christmas Photoshop tutorials to get you in the spirit.

Smashing Magazine 60 Christmas Photoshop Tutorials

Adobe Tutorials Create a Christmas Card in Photoshop

iCLIPART.com Fun Way to 'Tag' the Folks on Your Christmas List

benarent.co.uk Print Your Own Christmas Wrapping Paper

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's All About the Turkey

Let's talk turkey today. After all, in just over a week, tables in homes all over the United States will be laden with food, at the centre of which will be the succulent roast turkey.

Then a short time later turkey will once again be the centrepiece of the Christmas feast for many families.

I ordered my fresh turkey yesterday and can hardly wait for Christmas Day, when the mingling fragrances of sage, thyme and roasting bird will fill my home. 

While there are obviously alternatives — other meats beef up festive dining menus for other gatherings, too — for me it's all about the turkey.

Much like these collections of illustrations:

iCLIPART.com Turkey Illustrations

TOONClipart Turkey Cartoons

ClickArt Online Turkey Illustrations

iPHOTOS.com Turkey Illustrations