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Hi, I'm Cyndi, and I've been writing and updating  Mixed Media Artist since 2005.  If you're a new visitor, welcome! Come tr...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Making a digital stamp

Photoshop "stamps" are really easy to make. You’re actually using the Brush Tool, but instead of dragging it to paint with, you merely click it in place and your image is stamped onto the background. You can change the color of “ink” that you use, fool around with the opacity and blending mode, anything that you’d normally do in Photoshop.

After I cut out my expanded square with an exacto knife, I mounted all the pieces onto white cardstock. Then I scanned it.



So here’s how you can turn your scan into a Photoshop brush in 3 easy steps:

1. In the layers palette, double click on the background layer and rename it to layer 0.

2. Use the Magic Wand Tool to select the white background and delete it. Don’t forget about any white parts that are inside the square.

3. Go to Edit —> Define brush

That’s it! Give it a name and start playing with it. Try painting with it too…you never know. I suggest saving your file in a folder outside of Photoshop as well. When you do upgrades, you don’t want to lose all the brushes that you’ve created!


Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.



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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How to create a peaceful landscape

Not every landscape photo is well-suited to the tranquil feel of this one. I look for strong lines, not too much detail, and water!


As usual, when it comes to manipulations done in Photoshop, I can’t really give you exact settings for filters and colors. Each photo is different, and you’ll have to do some experimenting with your own. Still, here’s basically what I did:

1. Open your image file and duplicate it.

2. Apply the smart blur filter to the entire shot. I used a fairly high radius and threshold on this one because I wanted the water and sky very blurred.

3. Apply a layer mask, and fill with a black to white gradient, bringing back the sharper edges of the land and dock.

4. Add a channel mixer adjustment layer. Check off monochrome, and adjust the sliders to give you a good looking black and white shot. I usually keep red very low or even on zero, and make blue and red add up to around 100.

5. Add a curves adjustment layer. Lower the highlights so that there are no harsh whites. Adjust the shadows as desired.

6. Merge all your layers to a new layer.

7. Change the mode to grayscale. Then change it to duotone. Load or create a duo- or quad-tone mixture that you like…maybe featuring sepia or selenium tones.

8. Return the work to RGB mode. Adjust the color balance to add yellow and red to the highlights and midtones if needed.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A few tips for making altered book cover frames

Like all altered book projects, there are really no rules that must be followed. However, there are a few things that will make your life easier if you want to make one of these!

The first tip is to use a box cutter to make the holes for your image or images. Make sure you’ve got a sharp new blade - book covers take some work to get through, and you’re much more likely to have skipping (and cuts!) if your blade is dull. I used clear silicone caulk and Elmer’s carpenter’s glue to create a “frame” around the cut out. When they are thoroughly dry, they both accept acrylic paint quite well. I also used the carpenter’s glue to attach the fabric to the one cover. I used acrylic paints on both covers, and added some texturizing media to the Homer cover before painting.


I checked in with my favorite folks at the Altered Books yahoo group to gain the benefit of their collective wisdom. Here’s what I’ve been told:

If the cover is shiny, prime, sand, or gesso it. Otherwise, not really necessary.
All the compounds work fine, adhere well, and do not flake off over time.
Caulk and heavy acrylic medium are probably the most flexible.
Additional texture things like sand and stones can be mixed into all the compounds.
Other adhesives like Gorilla Glue and E6000 can be used to adhere heavy things to the cover and they hold up well.
Spraying with a sealer is optional, but probably a good idea. Favorites are Krylon acrylic or varnish.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How to alter photos

Back when I was using a film camera, I managed to collect tons of shots that were…well, ok…but certainly not remarkable. Fortunately, I saved them. All of them. (Remember our motto here: don’t throw out anything! I practice what I preach.)

Anyway, I’ve learned a number of very fun and fairly easy altering techniques that can be used on photos, so if you have already thrown out all your duds, just have a handful of your digital shots printed out. Many techniques work on shots printed on either photographic or regular printer paper (like inkjet prints), but I like the way the real photographs respond the best. Your mileage may vary.

Here’s what I did to these poor photographs:


1. Soak them briefly in water to soften the top layer. Rub all or parts of the photos with medium grit sandpaper while they are still damp. The “Long and Winding Road” is the only one that I thoroughly sanded. The others are selectively done.

2. Apply spots, streaks or lines of bleach. I used a Clorox pen on “Picture Yourself” to make the spots. I also used a thin film of bleach on some other areas of each photo to lighten them up. Rinse the bleach off really well. I used some mild soap as well to make sure that it was all gone. You’ll have to experiment to see how long each photo will need to be treated with bleach to get the look you want. I don’t think I left it on any of these for more than about 45 seconds.

3. Use water-soluble pastels to colorize your pictures. I like the surreal colors these give. Buff them with a piece of paper towel to really rub the color into the sanding cracks.

4. Use a Micron or Pitt pen to write on your photos.

5. Spray lightly with matte varnish to keep the pastels from rubbing off.


Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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