All posts tagged as Christmas

31 Dec

Christmas Greeting Card

In Christmas,Graphics,Gregorian Greetings by Greg / December 31, 2011 / 0 Comments

I’ve always enjoyed making greeting cards of my own, especially as opposed to buying cards at the store. It’s not that the store bought cards aren’t really nice, many of them are even better than my own cards. What I like about creating my own cards is that I can personalize them, either to something I want it to be, or make them specifically for their recipient. For this Christmas I had many ideas running through my head about how I would create these cards, in fact I spent weeks thinking on different ideas and even shooting a few pictures in anticipation for use in my cards.

It wasn’t until just a few days before card making began that I decided I would try something entirely new and unique this year. I decided to learn and use lightpainted images to draw elements I would use to create the Christmas cards. This turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I thought as it took me many tries to get each element just the way I wanted. The resulting lightpainted images still required quite a bit of adjustment in Photoshop before I could use them in the cards too – mostly masking and free transforming but some required a bit more work than others.

The cool fact about these two greetings I created is that every single element, except the typed text was created from photographs, though not all lightpainted. For example, the snow flake was from a snowflake ornament I took a picture of, and the Xmas lights were from real Xmas lights I photographed out of focus.

They turned out to be the most difficult cards I have created so far. I originally had wanted to create a personalized card for each person I was giving them to but I just did not have time. In fact I was so pressed for time, I didn’t even make cards for all the people I originally wanted to, only close family that I saw over Christmas. So I was really bummed about that, but it was the best I could do, and hey, like many of the things I am doing lately, I learned a lot of new tricks, in lightpainting, photography and Photoshop. I also ran into a lot of trouble getting them printed as I was testing out an external ink system (ie CIS system) for my Canon Pixma 9000 printer, and lets just say the color was so terrible I could not get anything remotely acceptable. I switched back to regular cartridges after wasting 30+ sheets of expensive paper.

So after much blood, sweat and tears, well actually there wasn’t much blood, don’t recall too many tears and only a little sweat, so I guess it was mostly just time…here is the greetings I created. The first is the card and the second is a greeting I created just for my savior:

Christmas Greeting

Savior Greeting

31 Dec

Light Paint Brushes

In Gear,Mods by Greg / December 31, 2011 / 0 Comments

I’ve always wanted to learn lightpainting ever since I first saw photos in my various Google searches for photographic related techniques. It just seemed so cool, but its an art very different from your ordinary photography. It really is more like painting than photography, except that you are painting in the dark, facing the camera, guessing at how it will turn out. You cant see the result of your work until the picture is finished, and even then its hard to see the result until you put it in a photo program where you can flip the image horizontally so it has the same orientation as you originally drew it. Don’t bump your head or stub your toes fumbling around in the dark, and definitely try not to knock your camera over, tripod and all! Not that I did any of those things, just some deep thoughts I thought I would share for those inclined to clumsiness of which I would normally be categorized, but I did pretty well on that account for this project.

So anyhow, my great plan to make Christmas cards was to rely heavily on photos created by lightpainting. I started brainstorming different ways to get good colored light, particularly cheap ways. I realized I had the perfect cheap solution, small LED flash lights modded to hold colored LED’s. I already had a couple strands of LED Xmas lights I didn’t need so all I really had to buy were a pack of flashlights, and those I found in an 8-pack for just twelve dollars! I did end up buying a few extra Xmas light strands because they were on sale, but I didn’t need them.

I ended up coming up with a few different designs for my light brushes. I made some that were long wands with some very directional LED’s. I realized these were a bit difficult to use because you really need to hold the stick near the light end, like a pencil, but the on/off switch is on the back. I might re-wire them use in the future, with a pushbutton switch near the front. I also realized it wasn’t really necessary to make them so long. I just used pieces of PVC to make the wand extensions. If I had to do it again, I would make them much shorter.

I cam up with another design which used flexible arms which I scavenged from a pair of those clip on LED reading lights. This allows me to spread the lights around to different positions for different kinds of effects. They also have sockets so I can put different kinds of LED’s in them.

This is probably a good time to note differences in the Christmas light LED’s I was using – if you are running them off 3.6V (aka 3 rechargeable batteries) then red and yellow LED’s need 100 ohm resister, but blue and green ones do not. You can use a resistor in series with any of them to lessen the amount of light they create, since when working in the darkness they can be quite bright actually but you may want that effect.

Also if you need another color besides what you can find in LED’s, you can either use white LED’s and cover them with gelatin filters. You could also recolor the painted images in Photoshop, since the colors are pretty consistent should be quite an easy adjustment.

Here are a couple shots of my lightbrushes (the next post will feature the greetings I created with these lightbrushes):

Wand style

Light Brushes