Archive for November, 2012

It’s very simple. . .

I’ve never been much into now. I pretty much stopped paying attention to the world after 1994 when it comes to trends, social standards, and culturally accepted norms.

So put simply, I’m not a big fan of most modern anything, either ignoring it or readily ridiculing any inherit stupidity. I’m a bit like an old grumpy 78-year-old spinster hiding in a 22-year-old’s body, completely stuck in her ways. Occasionally, however, I stumble across some product of the 21st century that doesn’t make me weep and mourn the loss of all good entertainment. Usually, of course, whatever it is falls into either the science fiction T.V. show or soundtrack categories.

I have recently made a “discovery,” though. I suppose it’s hardly new for most people since it’s a T.V. show that’s been on for years.  I vaguely remember hearing about this show before, like most new things I ignored it. But my curiosity was irreversibly peaked when I saw a clip of it a couple weeks ago, so I watched a bit of it and fell in love. Granted, I’m not a big fan of the episodes flaunting characters displaying the common but altogether inglorious low moral standards (I’m very “Dick Van Dyke Show”). But there are some really great episodes. And more often than not I find myself  laughing like crazy, especially when a geeky reference is made that I completely get. I refer of course, to The Big Bang Theory. I won’t go on too much about how hysterical it can be and how awesome the scifi references are for a geek-girl like me. I completely realize how very behind in the times I am regarding this.

The whole point of this post is actually just to say that even something as simple as a sitcom can lead to a nice exercise in graphic design.

From the get-go Sheldon has by far been my absolute favorite character. So, naturally, I decided to make this 11 x 17 poster inspired by and sort of in honor of Dr. Cooper. It was a nice way to work some fun stuff into my graphic design portfolio.

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock playing guide by Karissa Cole 2012

I shall never play rock-paper-scissors the same again.


Photoshop Tutorial – Photo to Watercolor Painting

“Watercolor Works” Photoshop Tutorial.

Preview Image Watercolor Photoshop Tut by Karissa Cole 2012

How to turn a photo into a watercolor-style painting in a few simple steps. Earlier this week I found a super simple way to bring new life to old photos. I posted my pieces here. And now, in my first tutorial, I’ll show the steps behind how I did them.

Tools used:

  • Adobe Photoshop CS4 (almost any graphics editing program capable of making and using custom selections and brushes will work, including GIMP, older versions of Photoshop)
  • Digital photograph of your choice (I recommend a photo with few but vibrant colors and a simple composition to start) I used a personal photograph
  • Watercolor brushes (I suggest making your own. In lieu of that free high quality brushes can be found at at Brusheezy or deviantART.)
  • Paper texture (again something that can be made at home or downloaded for free at deviantART or CG Textures.) I used Paper0007 (Texture: #6807) from CG Textures

Get your materials ready and then open up your editing program. (When clicked, the instructional images will open in a new tab so they can be seen larger.)

1. Bring your photograph and paper texture together in one document

With your materials ready open up your photograph in Photoshop. Press ctrl+A to copy the entire image, then ctrl+c to copy. Open your paper texture. Press ctrl+V to paste the photograph. Close the original photograph window. [Alternatively, if you know what size document you want create it and bring both photos in by copying and pasting.] Resize and position the photograph if necessary. Rename Layer 1 “Photograph.”

Save your PSD before continuing.

2. Select a color range, create a new layer, and begin painting

With the brush tool active (B) alt+click the part of the image you’d like to paint first. Once you’ve selected the foreground color, hit (X) and select the background color. The colors should be similar. [Selecting two slightly different tones directly from the image and then switching between those tones while painting helps create depth.] For my piece I selected two of the green tones found in the leaves of my image.

Now it’s time to make a selection based on these colors.  Go to Select>Color Range. . . a dialog box similar to the one below should appear

Select “Sampled Colors” from the dropdown box. Adjust the fuzziness setting as you see fit. Higher numbers = more is selected. 90 worked the best for this part of my image. Click OK when ready.

Without deselecting, create a new layer and name it after the color or part of the image you’re creating. [Since I was working with green my layer was aptly named “Green (1)”]. Hide the Photograph layer. On your new layer, with your range still selected, use  your water color brushes and begin randomly painting. Only “dab” the brush – do not drag it around. Leave a few spots empty to help build up the desired effect. If you have two tones, one foreground, one background, alternate between the two. When you’re satisfied  crtl+D to deselect. Painted too much? Use a watercolor brush to randomly erase any excess color. Also be sure to gently erase any hard edges.

Continue this process for each color you wish to represent. You will need to show the photograph layer in order to pick the next color range, then re-hide it as you begin painting on a new layer. (Layer order is unimportant. Keep each layer’s blending mode on “Normal”.)

3. Enhance colors and textures (optional step)

Duplicate the paper texture and the photograph layers, bringing them above all your other layers. Set them both to Soft Light.

Make color adjustments as you see fit. I ended up using a photo filter and a color balance adjustment mask to saturate the colors. Once you’re satisfied save your image.


the Butterfly - Watercolor by Karissa Cole 2012 all rights reserved

Enjoy your result. I’ve found these kinds of images make great greeting cards and wall art pieces. Vary your subject matter, though, and you can do anything. Try working with photos of people or a cityscape to get some really awesome results! Also, try leaving one main color out of your image to create an interesting 3Dish effect.

Watercolor Works

I feel the need to be creative. Granted, this isn’t really a revelation or anything. But I think it’s become more apparent to me in the past few days. This is mostly because, although I don’t exactly have mounds upon mounds of free time sitting around collecting dust, my somewhat loose-knit schedule of late has led me to (re)discovering StumbleUpon – one of the best ways to use up free time while at the same time being one of the best sources of inspiration.

Most of my interests are settled around Arts, Crafts, Graphic Design, and Design. Every page brings me to new, crazy, amazing designs and creations. The one downside to this is that as I flip through each insanely creative Stumble after Stumble, I become more and more aware of how tiny the creative bit of my brain actually is. I’m so not that awesome and artistic. I’ve always been pretty good at mimicking things. But coming up with my own, fresh, unique ideas? Yeah, I totally suck at that.

Somehow, though, I did manage to come away from an hour of art & design surfing with a not exactly new but still completely usable idea. At one point I stumbled across this cool little watercolor-type image. I was in a stumbling groove, so I didn’t give it too much attention. But it got me thinking that it’d be neat if I could play around with some photos in Photoshop and give them with a watercolor effect. If I could, this would be especially gratifying since I cannot actually paint to save my life.

There are plenty of tutorials and actions out there, I’m sure, that deal with this. But I wanted to find my own simple, hands-on method. You know, getting as close to genuine painting without . . .  well, the genuine part. After a few minutes of playing around, this is the image I came up with:

The Flower (wc) by Karissa Cole 2012

I thought this was kind of neat, and really quick to do, so I kept playing with the idea. Here are some other pieces I ended up making:

Garden Flower Rain wc by Karissa Cole 2012 all rights reserved

Just to See (1) by Karissa Cole - all rights reserved

One Ocean wc by Karissa Cole 2012 all rights reserved

Color Me WC by Karissa Cole all rights reserved

It turned out to actually be a really easy technique. And it’s a great way to bring a bit of life to old pictures. Plus it was nice to create something that’s not a space-themed piece or a boring, yet cute, amigurumi critter. Not that I plan to stop making either of those things, of course.

Immersing myself in new types of art has been pretty invigorating. I don’t know if that euphoria will last, but for now I’m feeling pretty energized. There’s so much out there I can do and try. Why limit myself to just two things or even three, or four things?

Why limit creativity at all?

Life + Baby Dinosaurs

Baby Dinosaur by Karissa Cole 2012 - all rights reserved

“life is always better when a baby dinosaur is around”

This is a revelation I had earlier this evening, waiting for dinner for finish cooking.
I think it’s absolutely true though. I mean think about it: if everyone had a cute baby dinosaur (because, naturally, all baby dinosaurs must be cute) to call their own, there would be no wars. No fighting. It’s a fact of nature that cuteness overrules meanness.

new Look, new Name, new Logo

So as it turns out, yesterday, I apparently renamed my blog. exastris1701 is now ea1701. I’m still not too sure how that happened. I remember messing around with the theme, color scheme, and page headers. . .  after that it gets a bit fuzzy. As far as I know I didn’t mean to change the name. But it’s done now and it looks like there’s no turning back.

The site’s getting a makeover this week: links are being updated, pages are being polished. There’s a new color scheme in play and several  new banners, displayed at random, now adorn each page. In honor of all this “new” I’ve decided to create a logo.

Here’s my first prototype:

ea1701 logo prototype

Clearly my logo design skills (if you can call this skill) still need to be honed. That’s the one thing I never really learned in school. That and typography. But I think I’ve already devoted part of a post to the nightmarish typo class I took last year. No need to rehash.

I think I may stuff Browsing the Internet for Interesting Logo Design Ideas – something I without a doubt need – somewhere onto my brimming with creative things (as usual) To-Do List. It’s not exactly a hot need or anything, but I still think it could stand to head the list. This logo thing can sit not too far behind my almost finished short story/amigurumi design combo and animal themed cupcakes.


Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet by Karissa Cole 2012 all rights reserved

New wallpaper pack, includes widescreen, iPad, and iPhone resolutions. Mwhahahaha.

Spaced Out

Dreamweaver by Karissa Cole 2012 all rights reserved

Simply Wonderful by Karissa Cole 2012 all rights reserved

Wake Again by Karissa Cole 2012 all rights reserved

Still working on some other projects – new amigurumi patterns, stories, and digital paintings included – but I was feeling a bit spaced out today. And since I am sadly without the Doctor and the TARDIS to take me around the universe, I just have to imagine for myself what might be out there. But it’s okay. I think I manage okay – so far.

Tonight I’ll go to sleep thinking of all the places and things out there for me to see, letting the possibilities and promise seep into my dreams and take me away.

I will probably also at least a little bit think about that video I saw on YouTube today where a bunch of scenes David Tennant stared in were pieced together with the song “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 playing. This, though, is probably mostly because that is an extremely catchy song and I’ve been listening to it all day. Still, there are worse things to have on the brain whilst drifting off to sleep. No?

Love, imagine, create, scrap, live.

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