Archive for March, 2012

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Blog or Website – is it an either/or choice?

Recently someone on a creative group I’m part of posed the question as to whether, seeing as Blogging is the new “big thing” there is any reason why they should not scrap their web site and just blog in future.

It was an interesting question and since there was a feeling that this might be “a good idea”, I felt it necessitated a strong reply on the negative side.

Here, for more public consumption is a summary of my feelings:

Don’t make the mistake that because a blog is “the thing” it is the only thing, it isn’t – far from it. A blog and a website are two very different things.

One (the blog), is like an ongoing journal and the other (your website), is your way to show your products to the world.

To see how they differ and why you should ideally have both, do this simple exercise. Ask yourself, if you were a manufacturer or editor wanting to know more about my work and if it would suit your needs, would you rather view my blog or my website?

And, if you were me, do you think my skills are being showcased better in an easy to view way by my blog or my website?

If you seriously put on a manufacturer’s or editor’s shoes for just a minute and try this and then think about what you’re really seeing from their point of view and given what they need to find out about you – and if you do this from your own point of view as an artist/designer as well – you’ll see that clearly that they are in no way alike. Having one does not and should not exclude you from the need to have the other.

For most people the concept of discarding a functional and very informative website and replacing it with a verbose mix of everything which is what a blog is, is not a recommended choice.

I like to think of a website as like a nicely organised and categorised library and a blog as like a dump of books all in a pile on the floor – both might contain the same information but one is significantly easier to find your way around than the other and both appeal to different audiences.

However, that said, blogs do get indexed very quickly and they are easy to update, so, the “better” solution is to link blog to website and vice versa so they feed off each other not destroy one to replace it with the other.

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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Draw a Cityscape in OmniSketch on the iPad

omnisketch cityscape Draw a Cityscape in OmniSketch on the iPad

OmniSketch is one of my favorite iPad drawing apps. It really has just so much and the developer Richard is adding more effects at the moment and even better, he replies to posts on his blog which you can find at

This image I created with OmniSketch using a range of brushes from the original set. I used the Standard brushes Open Square for the building faces and also these other brushes that I’ve circled.

I’m really enjoying building up lots of color by first getting a dark color and laying down the building outlines working from front to back.

Then I select colors such as pale yellow, pink, blue and green and choosing very low opacity brushes and use them to fill in the details. Buildings toward the front have more opaque brushes used on them and those in the back less opaque. One of the nice things is that the brushes tend to splatter a little bit into the background to give you a really neat background effect. Here too I created a darker foreground to tie the bottoms of the buildings in and darkened around the edges with a view to adding a vignette later on.

One of the most recent updates to OmniSketch was the ability to buy more brushes with an in app purchase. There are 24 brushes in the new collection and it costs 99 cents. The brushes that are included are shown here.

omnisietch brushes2a Draw a Cityscape in OmniSketch on the iPad

Some of the brushes anchor when you start drawing so that they spin around creating almost spiral images. These are mathematical brushes and they look totally spectacular.

One of the brushes I like is circled here. It looks very different when drawn down and drawn across. It changes to look something completely different.

omnisietch brushes2c Draw a Cityscape in OmniSketch on the iPad

The new circular brush is fascinating and so too are the dot brush, the one that has dots and sticks and the one that’s made of dots and dashes (circled in red l-r below).

omnisietch brushes2d Draw a Cityscape in OmniSketch on the iPad

These brushes are a welcome addition to OmniSketch as I really think you can never have too many brushes particularly when the procedural brushes here work in such interesting ways.

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Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

resize a knitting pattern5 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

I had an opportunity to use a pattern for knitting a project recently. The pattern is one for a character called Shaun the Sheep and the original knitting project was for a Nintendo case. I don’t have a Nintendo but I do have a small camera and it seemed to me that this would be a cool use for this particular design – it really is totally cute.

The problem is that my camera is a lot smaller than a Nintendo so the entire project needed resizing. The first time I did this I tried simply knitting less stitches and fewer rows. The problem was that while the project looked okay it was still way too big for the camera. I had shaved stitches off the pattern for the sheep’s face on the right where I could do without them and didn’t stitch all the rows required for the front but even so, I still knitted too many stitches horizontally and too many rows.

resize a knitting pattern8 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

The only option really was to totally resize the pattern – and the problem is how to do it quickly and efficiently. My solution was to grab the pattern as an image. It was shown on a web page so all I needed to do was to go and take a screenshot of it. Having done this, I pasted it into Photoshop by choosing File > New and then Edit > Paste. Choosing File > New after you have taken the screenshot (press Prt Scr) sets the new image size to match the clipboard image size so you don’t have to do any guessing and you can paste the clipboard in very easily.

resize a knitting pattern 1a Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design
At this point you need to crop very closely around the image. You need to crop the image so that all you have is the stitch grid and nothing else.

resize a knitting pattern Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

You’ll also need to know just how big the original pattern is in rows and stitches. In my case, it was 36 stitches wide by 26 rows.

In Photoshop I resized the image to these proportions using Image > Image Size. I set it to 36 pixels wide by 26 pixels tall and then clicked Ok. This resizes the image so that each pixel is a knit stitch.

resize a knitting pattern2 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

Having reduced the image to this small size I enlarged it again using the zoom tool. At this point, I made a copy of the image so that I could compare the original design and the new smaller one. To do this I chose Image > Duplicate and then clicked Ok to create a second version.

I then reduced the colors in the image by File > Save for Web and Devices and then selected GIF. I set the Color Table to 3 colors to reduce the colors to the 3 colors in the pattern- you would reduce the colors to the number of colors in your pattern.

resize a knitting pattern31 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

Reducing the colors now means that when you size down the pattern only these colors will be used and you won’t get a lot of ‘in between’ colors.

Save the image and then reopen it. Choose Image > Mode > RGB Color. This is the version that you’ll be working on.

In my case, I wanted to knit a project that is more square than rectangular so I saw I could eliminate some stitches from the right side of the pattern without losing any of the sense of the character. I cropped off 8 pixels from the right of the image – this reduced it by 8 stitches.

resize a knitting pattern41 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

Now choose Image > Image Size and set the size of the pattern. You will want to enable the Constrain Proportions checkbox so you don’t skew the shape of the pattern. I wanted my knitting to be 20 stitches wide and when I set this Photoshop calculated that the appropriate height would be 19 – making this 19 rows. I clicked Ok.

resize a knitting pattern5 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

In the process of resizing, Photoshop is forced to reduce the number of pixels in the image so it discards some of them – so it is redrawing my pattern for me at the smaller size.

This is where the duplicate image comes into play. If you line this up beside the shrunk down version, you can see if there are portions of it that you think could have been drawn in better. For me there were one or two pixels that I wanted to change. So I selected the colors from the image using the Eyedropper then selected the Brush tool, sized it down to 1 pixel in size and then clicked on the image where I wanted to change a color. This allowed me to fine-tune the design to suit my needs.

After you have done this, you can scale the image up again and print it out. Then draw using a ruler over the image to create the grid that you need to use to make your pattern.

Alternately you can make your own grid. To do this, scale this image up by 1,000 percent by choosing Image > Image Size and set the Width and Height to 1000%.

Now, to create the grid image, choose File > New and make an image that’s 10 x 10 pixels, RGB color, with a transparent background. Zoom into it so you can see it clearly. Make a 1 pixel wide selection down the right of the image and fill it with black. Then make a 1 pixel deep selection across the top of the image and fill it with black. Choose Select > All and then Edit > Define Pattern, type Grid as the name and click Ok.

resize a knitting pattern7 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

Now back in the pattern image, add a new layer by first choosing Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and then choose Edit > Fill, choose Pattern from the Use list and from the custom pattern dropdown list, select the last pattern in the collection and click Ok. This drops a black grid over the image.

If the colors in your pattern are such that you can’t see the black grid over black stitches, select the grid layer and choose Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Adjust the Lightness up, click Colorize and then locate a hue that can be easily seen over the top of your grid. You may want to adjust the Saturation slider and then click Ok. Now you can see the stitches and you have a pattern that is resized to your own needs ready for printing.

resize a knitting pattern61 Use Photoshop to Resize a Knitting Design

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