Saturday, March 29, 2008

And an Actual Post on Stamping (Don't All Faint, Now!)

Candice of Art Neko has recently acquired some designs from another designer/store who's decided to retire, and asked me to make some samples. There are some quite cute ones in there! Here are a couple with an Asian theme (a lot of these stamps are also non-Asian):

Heather Taylor, White Egrets

And the second:

Heather Taylor, Spring Is Still Cold

On both these I was trying out my new Moonglow Stains and Spritzes, which I got at the stamp show the other weekend, at a booth run by "Lindy's Stamp Gang". While the stains looked good on the samples, I've been really disappointed with them on my samples--the main color, when looked at straight on, is very washed out and actually not super-pleasant. The mica glow when you move the paper side to side is quite nice, but really, who does that except perhaps on a card, the first time you get it? Certainly if it's a piece that hangs on a wall, you're almost never going to benefit from that reflection.

The stains, on the other hand, are super-saturated with color and I adore them. =) They also have a nice little shimmer, too!

The background on the 2nd piece was made according to a technique I recently learned from Ruth C. on the OSA group, called Cheesecloth Backgrounds. I adapted it (not having any cheesecloth) by dabbing the stains over a small piece of burlap which I moved around on the semi-gloss paper until it was covered. Then I also experimented with brayering the saturated burlap, and it left a really nice pattern plus a lot of stray fibers which left cool marks (and which I brushed off when it was dry).

I love that little brazier stamp! You can't see it in the scan too well, but I carefully embossed the brazier itself in black, then the coals in red, and the steam in gold... Fun!

Wherein My Swiss Heritage Is Showing (and a Freebie)

My son, who, since the age of 2, has restricted himself to about 10 foods, has suddenly developed a streak of brashness and has tried... *gasp* chocolate sauce!!! Of course, it can't be put directly on the ice cream, it has to come "on the side" in its own little cup... Anyway, I made a fun little layout from our most recent trip to The Big City, and got inspired by the Ben & Jerry cows. And whaddya know, out popped a mini-kit! And what's this "Swiss heritage" thing, you ask? Well, I grew up in Switzerland, in the French-speaking part, and only emigrated to the States for good after I finished college here. So of course cows and I have an affinity! *lol*

Here's the layout (click for larger photo, as usual):

Heather Taylor, Ice Cream

And here was the freebie mini-kit, called It's the Cow's Moo (the cat's meow, the cow's moo?): 4 papers (including the one with the faded-back cow), 3 ribbons, 2 stickers (it's the same sticker, 1 with shadows and 1 without), a cow brush (also in .png format), and a cow tag. Oh, and I forgot--a cow overlay too! Holy cow that's a lot of free stuff! I just kept having ideas, I guess... =) ETA: This freebie is no longer available. Thanks for looking!

Heather Taylor, It's the Cow's Moo Mini-Kit

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mod-Pak Papers Freebie

Based these on one of my drawings for the 21-day-challenge... And let it be known that I'd love to find a digi-store to sell from! *lol* Here's the layout I made with it, too:

Heather Taylor, 1979

By the way, check out the sunglasses in the layout (you can get to the larger version by clicking on it): you'll notice that the background is visible through the lenses. All I did was highlight the interior (save for the white reflections) and fill it with a gradient that went from the original lens color to transparent. Kinda nifty, eh? *pats self on back* ;)

And here's a preview of the freebie (started a new account on 4-shared cuz the yousendit was running out of downloads, and I certainly can't afford a commercial account!) ETA: Thanks to those who commented! Freebie is no longer available at this time::

Heather Taylor, Mod-Pak Papers

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Line Drawing, Part II

Today I created this little airplane graphic following Melissa Clifton's instructions for non-people line art derived from a photograph, and it turned out really well, though I did add a step: once I'd inverted the line drawing, I brought it into Illustrator, did a Live Trace, Expand, Flatten Transparency (then get rid of the white spaces). LOVE that vector art! The dotted line was just a fat little rectangle that I made into a brush -- just drew a path with the pen tool, and stroked it.

Heather Taylor, Evergreen Aviation Museum

Monday, March 24, 2008

Line Drawings and a Freebie

Yikes, that was a long flu! Thank goodness the rest of the family didn't get ill as well--it's hard enough taking care of a well little boy while sick, much less somebody who needs a lot of attention...

This week's challenge @ 2Peas was to do a line drawing of any kind. Being sick, I kind of used the easy route: the photocopy filter (foreground color set to black, background to white). For some reason this picture responded really well to that treatment, and all I had to do was some minor clean-up afterwards, then paint it with a low opacity brush until I liked the results. I chose a thin font (Birch Standard) then stretched it up until it fit the original lines of the photograph--that way, nothing looks cut off. Here's the result:

Heather Taylor, Boredom

But there are many other ways to go. This tutorial by Deke McClelland uses the photocopy filter, then enhances the end product with double cross-hatching, which produces a semi-comic book look.

Here's another by John Sweeney that I'll have to try, so this is also a note to myself.

Wow, and here's another by Stanley Ashbrook that uses the Smart Blur filter! (Don't you love Google?)

And finally, this fabulous one by Melissa Clifton (actually, 2 of them: one for inanimate objects, the other for people--the latter involves actually drawing with the pen tool).

Ooh, can't wait to try those!

And finally, a freebie of those frames and doodles that didn't quite make it through the criteria of Little Dreamer Designs (I've fixed the main objections, anyway!):
Boys and Girls Element Pack. ETA: Element pack is no longer available. Thanks for looking!

Heather Taylor, Boys and Girls Element Pack

And here's a layout I made with the little frame:

Heather Taylor, You and the Dirt

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Clone Tool

Probably one of the most useful Photoshop tools ever, the clone tool enables you to perform all kinds of magic on photographs. You can enhance skin tone, clone out that freak in the background of all your picnic pictures, or get rid of a color that clashes or a distracting element.

In the following layout, I used the clone tool (as well as some recoloring of the photo, and some different blending modes) to even out my nephew's skin around the eyes and the bridge of the nose, as well as get rid of all that teething drool. =) I find that the easiest way to work with the cloning tool for textured surfaces or non-detail work is to use the clone tool set to NON-aligned. Then, each time you pick up your pen, you go back to the same source point instead of picking up continuous pixels. This adds more randomness and avoids having the texture look fake. In addition, try reducing opacity and using soft, grungy brushes that will also introduce a non-repetitive factor, which is pretty easy for the eye to pick up on. Here's the layout, followed by the pic (please click on layout for materials source (all Designer Digitals):

Heather Taylor, The Gaze of a Child

Original photo:

Heather Taylor, Nephew

And here, just for fun, is a quick layout for a great picture of Candice (owner of Art Neko and Kathy (owner of Rubber Stamp Ave.) goofing around before dinner (the best crispy eggplant EVER at Fujin's, in Portland OR). Click on photo for details:

Heather Taylor, Truly Great Friends

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Ah well. Disappointment, of course, but at least life will return to normal! I look forward to receiving a private critique and figuring out what I can improve...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Round 3 is up!

Ack, I don't know why, but I'm having a serious case of nerves on this one. I know I can still design without winning this, but I'm really finding use in the instruction, which is teaching me stuff that I never knew...

Anyway, here's the preview. I'm guessing the people to advance to the next round will be notified tomorrow evening, and the elements will be available for download on Thursday... [ETA: Dang, they removed it because we were cut. *sigh*]

And here's a link to the days 15 & 16 of the challenge, which I accomplished despite being gone this weekend.

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge: Days 15 & 16

I had a great time hanging around with Candice, and really enjoyed interacting with the customers and fellow stampers! Here's a picture of Candice and her "booth"...

Candice Jordan of Art Neko Stamps and Art Neko Booth

Friday, March 14, 2008

21-Day Challenge, Day 14

I'm all doodled out for the moment, unsurprisingly =) This was sparked by the ideabooks4u challenge about randomly using 6 pieces of paper from your stash, and I will probably use this as a background for a future layout. But I have a TON of real paper, and thought this would be a good use for some of the millions of bits of yuzen washi that I have and can't bear to throw out because they're so pretty...

White acrylic paint as a base and "glue" for the torn pieces of paper, then over-painted with Lumiere paints in Sunset Gold, Pink-Gold, and Purple-Gold. Black Micron. Click for a larger view, as usual...

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge: Day 14

And this weekend... Stamp Show in Portland, OR -- look for Art Neko's booth, and there I'll be!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Digital Scrapping Element Freebie

Here are my submissions for Round 2 of the Little Dreamer Designs Apprentice Contest, and I made it through this round... Again, they must be looking at number of downloads in terms of what they're scoring, I think. Click on the pic to get to the download...

Heather Taylor, Elemental My Dear - Element Freebie

21-Day Challenge, Day 12

Wow, I'm totally early! But I got the Derwent Inktense pencils in, and wanted to try them out right away... They're definitely not like watercolors. The color smoothes out, but doesn't extend very far, and the colors don't blend all that well. You have to actually scribble the pencils one on top of the other to get much blending. And wow, the range of blues is dismal!! =/ So, a little disappointed, all in all. Ah well--try and learn!

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 12

Wibble. Wobble.

I've really been having fun playing with layer blending modes. Each of these photos (shot in dim conditions, so they turned out dark and orangey) has a base layer with the auto level adjustment, a copy of that turned to screen with the opacity around 50%, then a copy of that turned to vivid light. The text was rasterized, colored, then the base copy was set to color burn, and a top copy to vivid light. Fun to play around with, and gives it a funky grunge look too...

Click on the photo to read my own wibbling!

Heather Taylor, Wibble. Wobble.

Also, I made it to round 3 of the apprenticeship contest, 19th out of 30. *sigh* This round is doodling, which should be way fun!

And, this is my 21-Day Challenge, Day 11 entry from yesterday...

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge: Day 11

Monday, March 10, 2008

21-Day Challenge, Day 10

Tried to go back to that website, but for some reason couldn't find anything to spark my own designing oomph. Oh well. =) So I just doodled.

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 10

And the culmination of my apprenticeship angst: Elementary, My Dear. The assignment was for one metal element, 1 glitter element, 1 stitched element, and 1 free choice... I think they're changing their minds and will be making them available for download, but not yet.


Au Naturel, and Dodging and Burning

I think the pressure of the contest has been getting to me! Now that I have a couple days' respite, my layout designing is flowing again...

Promised you some gorgeous pictures from our explorations the other day, and here they are! Allen and I went to swim together on Sunday up in Newport, and then since it was so gorgeous and a bonus sun day (the weather forecast had predicted rain), we decided to explore a little. I'd seen this lighthouse in the distance from our forays on Nye Beach, and we went looking for it. Sure am glad we found it! Oh, and YaQUINa is pronounced like "quintuple"--old First People name. Fonts: Penguin and Bernhard Modern Standard. Journaling reads: "Just you and I, exploring on a glorious sunny day. We met Clement the Keeper, climbed 120 stairs, gazed at the amazing lighting mechanism, and read about rendered pig oil, which they used to store in 800 gallon tanks. Poor pigs. Now, they use electricity. The land is amazing -- ancient lava flow from 500 miles away!"

Heather Taylor, Yaquina Head Lighthouse

And this second one is another in my All Designer Digitals series (heh)-- do click on the image to find all the credits:

Heather Taylor, Balance

I think I'm finally getting the hang of this patterned paper thing! And I'm really pleased with the way that word art came out -- even the "saying" is mine! *lol* I'm not sure how it can really be a saying or a quote if I made it up, but oh well... =)

I submitted this for the dodging and burning challenge this week @ 2Peas, also. The original photo was fine, but nothing special. So I changed it into black and white, but the the contrast was terrible: the grass in the background was the same color as his jacket, and the right side of his body was disappearing into the pier. So I dodged the heck out of it. Still wasn't peppy enough, so then I thought maybe I could make it pop by duplicating and setting the top one to screen, but that didn't do a thing. So.... (long story short): put a lighting effect on it to highlight the contrast, changed both of them to brown, set the top one to color burn, then additionally, burned the areas in the upper left corner and on his hand and arm where the details were completely washed out. Turned out kinda funky, I think! I used the color burn on almost everything--I love how it grunges up the color all by itself.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

An Interesting Departure

Lynn Grieveson over at Designer Digitals posted a superb Web Challenge today; she was inspired by some design website featuring this striking image of a facially-tatood man. Mega-cool stuff! So I did what I could... =)

Heather Taylor, The Apple Of My Eye

The shapes are actually simple paths, stroked with a square brush of varying sizes. I then clipped them to her papers. Neat-o, eh?

21-Day Challenge, Day 9

Another last-minute sort of thing which took me almost an hour--and it was a lot of fun, so I'm glad I did it. Websurfed to illustration portfolios to see if their stuff could spark some ideas--and of course it did! Plus I got a good feel for one kind of illustration going on in the world...

I seem to have developed a pretty basic sketchbook kit, in a plastic baggie (hey, I'm all glamour!): pencil, charcoal pencil, eraser, waterbrush, small cake watercolor container, black pilot ink pen, black sharpie. I toted it with me everywhere today (expect some stellar photos coming soon!), but never managed to get Allen occupied enough with something else to use it.

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 9


I'm hoping to spend a lot of time with Allen today. What with going to bed way late last night, and getting up early (though losing an hour because of daylight savings! Grrrr.), I didn't have time to do much this morning...

For the 2Peas challenge using burn & dodge tools -- the inset picture was really washed out from the backlight of the sun, so I used the burn tool there to get it crisper. And the dodge tool over Allen's front, to make it more visible... By the way, I found out that if I used a fairly large, grungy brush, it looks a lot better than with a smooth one! Font: Architecture. Journaling reads:


Heather Taylor, The ZEN of Childhood

Saturday, March 8, 2008

When a picture is worth a thousand words...

...I still can't resist adding some on! Tonight's late and exhausted sketchbook entry:

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 8

I spent ALL day working on that Little Dreamer Designs Apprentice Challenge. Yes, I learned a lot. Yeesh.

Guess I've Been Busy...

Can't believe I haven't posted since Wednesday! Oops! Well, working backwards...

Here's the layout I finished this morning -- I dithered about a lot of things on it. A little snapshot of Allen's body language as he reads... The book is written in large print, and there are only 2 or 3 paragraphs on each page, but still--it was 42 or so pages! Font: Pooh, of course (with glints by Stephanie Shimerdla with her glitter brush -, though I did the shading). And Century Old Style. I did all the little drawings... =)

Heather Taylor, Dancing with Books

Shading the type was fun! Use your magic wand set at 1 tolerance, non-continuance on the type layer, click on the type, then make a new layer and with a very low opacity, low fill, wide brush, start highlighting (or shadowing, which is what I did on the lighter "Pooh" word). I added some glints at the very top of the letters -- all quite easy and painless!

Moving right along, the 21-Day Challenge, Days 7 & 6:

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 7

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 6

Continuing to sketch, and giving myself permission to just play instead of trying to be perfect, has been really fun. Hopefully I can keep it up!

And a couple of layouts. First, this one:

Heather Taylor, Port of Newport

By the way, want to know a cool little trick for getting your images to be the same width (or size)? When you go to crop your images, you can put the measurements up in the tool bar, and even the dpi (since my camera only takes up to 230 dpi, I work at 12x12, 150 dpi)! The only thing to remember is that there's a "clear" button -- in case you're wondering why your crop tool will only do a rectangle next time. =)

And finally, a touch of Spring fever:

Heather Taylor, Spring

Both these layouts were done with Designer Digitals items only (please click for specific credits). Although I'm getting a sinking feeling, because so many of the people who post there are just awesome layout artists. I just love going over there to look!

I've learned a lot from the tutorials for the Little Dreamer Designs apprentice program, too -- much sinking feeling there as well, but oh well. Maybe I can pick up a mentor somewhere... I went and took a look at EyeCandy, but was not super-impressed with the metal capabilities, though the chrome feature is pretty cool (and you can do chrome in other colors, so I guess that kinda works). The demos are good only for 30 days, but I can't afford the program at this point. A very cool place to go for textures: CG textures. The next day, when we went to the Port, I took pictures of all kinds of stuff I might not normally look at!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Little Bits for Today

A layout (Allen usually still drinks from a sippy cup, and doesn't quite have his straw skills down yet):

Heather Taylor, That Straw Drinking Thing

Love those popping papers by Anna Aspnes, and the doodled borders by Jesse Ewards, and the awesome nautical frames by Mary Ann Wise--I'm sure I'll use those over and over again, considering where we live! All Designer Digitals, of course... =)

And my sketchbook:

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 5

After being so tired and really dragging my feet on Day 4, I was surprised to find myself pumped for Day 5! Even planned part of my afternoon to being able to take advantage of DS playing in the sand to draw. As it turned out, he fell asleep on the way, and then woke up right as I was getting into it--and proceeded to have his usual post-nap cranky fit, so that was that. It looked pretty flimsy when I got back home tonight, so I added color with ArtRage (the underlayer is the original pencil, or charcoal for the head sketch [where the latter came from is a mystery to me--I certainly wasn't drawing from real life on that one]). So, not exactly as I'd planned, but still lots of fun! I really do miss the more stark lines of pen, and really missed color--I hope my new watercolor pencils get here soooooon!

PS -- I'm aware that I have lame drawing skills, so I'm feeling like I'm going out on a limb here. Thank you for your indulgence, and I'm glad I have a computer. =)

Monday, March 3, 2008


Yeesh, way too much time at the computer today. Wanted to make another, better, layout for the DD CT challenge (I really want to make that team!! I revere the designers there...), so did that. Wanted to make an all 2Peas layout, because I revere their designers too, and I love that I can get coupons to buy stuff! And, I wanted to make a layout with my own kit, so people could see how to use it. I'm on the total low end of comments, depite Julie K.'s EXTRAVAGANT pimping. That woman. ;) I actually really like the frame I made with the 4 vellum panels--it made Allen look even cuter, if possible... =)

So, for Designer Digitals (please click on all images for the credits):

Heather Taylor, Little Boy Blue

And for 2Peas:

Heather Taylor, Playdate

And finally, with my own kit:

Heather Taylor, Transparency of Time

Hopefully my digital "duties" for this week won't be so time-consuming... but the 2nd round of apprentice requirements has been posted, and wow! Should be fun!

21-Day Challenge, Day 3

Almost didn't get it squeezed in there, I've been so engrossed with digital stuff...

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge: Day 3

Sunday, March 2, 2008

21-Day Challenge, Day 2 (and a Card)

So, after feeling like a dunce subsequent to a discussion on Designer Digitals about where and how people organize their ideas (yikes, organized ideas?? What a concept!), I thought perhaps I should use this challenge to start keeping some ideas myself, and combining it with the back-to-drawing thing... I'm only showing one page out of 3, but in this one I was looking at Urban Baby Runway and seeing how many ideas I could come up with for digital stuff from just their front page. Turns out, quite a few! Just by drawing their design elements I became more comfortable with translating the concepts--that was cool to see. Dunno whether I can incorporate some of this into the next round of the Little Dreamer Designs apprenticeship competition, or if I'll just have to make it up and use it myself on a layout... =)

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge Day 2

I felt like an idiot not having a journal or system to keep my ideas, but then I realized that I do--I have a whole folder labeled ideas! Mostly, though, I see something then it percolates and bubbles and ferments all by itself, and suddenly makes itself known, usually right before I fall asleep--then that's the first thing I work on in the morning. In my environment I just don't have a whole lot of stimulation besides nature, and I guess I need to sit down with my journal one afternoon while Allen's playing at the beach, and go through the same process--find as many design elements as possible! Sounds fun, eh?

On the card-making front, I finally got one out today to satisfy a mingle I'd signed up for, using an Asian playing card. This one uses one of my stamps from Art Neko, as well as a sheet of yuzen washi from there, and a little tiny fishie charm from Far Flung Craft (whose design team I'm on as well--oops, forgot to mention that on the LDD application =/ ) that I recolored from silver to black with Ranger Alcohol Ink. The gold cardstock base is kind of a funky, rippled metallic gold lame that I found at the California Paper Goods Company, my favoritest of all paper supply stores for cardstock (plus, they have these amazing monthly auctions where you can get pre-cut cardstock and cards at amazing prices, as well as some good deals on hand-made paper). Oh, and I forgot to mention, the fish is painted with red alcohol ink after being stamped and embossed.

Heather Taylor, Playing Card Fish

Check out my downloadable Freebie!

Oh my... *fans self*

I made it through the first round of the Little Dreamer Designs Apprentice competition. Dang, there are some *fine* designs that have been submitted--I can't believe they put me in there too!

Anyway, here it is:

[no longer available, sorry]

And give me some feedback about what kinds of stuff you think I should do for the next round!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

21-Day Challenge: Day 1

Ok, I've decided to play along with Rhonna Farrer's 21-Day Challenge. Apparently, it takes 21 days to really instill a habit, so she's challenging people to find one habit they'd like to make or break and keep a journal about the path to that end.

I spend so much time on the computer! So I decided that I'd like to get back to paper and pen/cil, plus work on color--so I'm doing that. Day 1 was today. Wouldn't you know it, but the little shop where they sell watercolors was closed today! So I had to go to the expensive chi-chi shop, where I was amazed that they had a *couple* of (REALLY) expensive, blank-paged journals, suitable for using wet pigments in. So I got the cheaper, smaller one, but it's way cool too, and was designed by the Savannah College of Art & Design:

Heather Taylor, Journal Cover

and here's my scribbling (well, part of it--the rest really was a big disappointment to me: I need PRACTICE!):

Heather Taylor, 21-Day Challenge, Day 1

I did this while at the cafe with Eddie & Allen (they were playing Yahtzee, and Allen got 2 of them! He's really lucky at dice--hope he never figures that one out!), and I had to add the watercolors back later. I must be in the mood to spend all my non-existant money, because I really want to try out the watercolor pencils that Brenda's been writing about, and the Copic alcohol-based markers that Estivalia uses. So watch out Dick Blick!

Working with Dark and Some Other Stuff

Just a quickie to share some layouts: It's been interesting for me to work with very dark colors in a couple of recent layouts. Interesting, because I've discovered that it's quite possible to have a lot of richness despite the fact that you can't see a whole lot...

Here's the one that started it off:

Heather Taylor, Farm Boy

And then the companion layout:

Heather Taylor, Goats

Can I mention in passing just how wonderful I think Lynn Grieveson's Kiwiana Paper Pack is? I have used these more times than I can remember--some just as they are, others with hue changes, or as overlays. They're soooooo rich! Anyway, a completely *unaltered* (yes, you may all gasp in unison now ;) background turned out to be just awesome for this really cute picture of Allen I found. After cropping the photo, I found that it just blended in with the paper so well that it's hard to distiguish it from a roof on the top edge (which is why I chose to use that striped brush up there, partly). The Goat page also has one of her papers--again, unaltered, and it just fit so well! My advice is... just buy what your gut tells you, not what you think you might be likely to use... ;)

And an unrelated layout that actually took me quite a while, and started out in tones of purple:

Heather Taylor, Questioning

And can you believe that this uses Lynn's bright blue paper from that pack as its base? Hehehe. Oh, and the pattern on the left is from a *black* paper by Katie Pertiet. Play, play, play and experiment--it's amazing what you can find!