I’ve been away from my blog for a while now, and will be for a few more weeks. I’ll be having spinal fusion surgery next week and will be recovering for a while, then catching up on everything I’ve missed. But as soon as I’ve got a spare minute, I have lots of good info to post on Disney World (just got back)! Good food, not-so-good food, how to not wait in lines… good stuff.
I’m a Photoshop geek (and proud of it). I create actions to solve editing problems, then obsess over getting them just right, and for me that’s fun. This is the first action I’ve created that I felt worthy of sharing publicly. It solves a problem that crops up a lot in infant portraits. Babies have very transparent skin, and that can lead to looking blotchy in photos- especially if the child is cold or slightly jaundiced. Here’s an example:
I looked all over the internet trying to find the best balance between time involvement and quality, and came up empty-handed. You could either blur it out till it looked like a Glamour Shot, or zoom in to pixel level and spend a bazillion hours taking out the blotches while retaining texture. I may be exaggerating just slightly.
This is my solution, and I find that it works pretty well. I use it after I’ve already made most (if not all) of my other edits to the photo. The action is probably not perfect, but then again, I am giving it away for free. It’s definitely versatile; you can zoom through the process by clicking “okay” through every dialogue box and get an acceptable result, or you can tweak results to your heart’s content. Everything is saved in adjustment layers. So have fun and let me know how it goes!
Download it free here:
Smooth Baby Skintone Photoshop action by Rachel
Fabric Design Class (a free pdf of the handouts from my class)
Here are the materials for the class I taught today at the Festival! For those of you who don’t know what this is about, I taught a small class on designing fabric for printing at Spoonflower.com. One method uses Photoshop, and one uses Illustrator. Lots of links and resources are included at the end of the packet. Hope you enjoy
I made this! With the help of an awesome tutorial you can find here. However, this being pro bono work, I didn’t want to buy all the stock photos he referenced, so I went in Photoshop and made my own. (I really made my own, no screen captures of other people’s work!) Also of great use was a very cool plugin called Filter Forge. I love being forced to learn how to do something new!
If you happen to be in the Montgomery, AL area toward the end of March, and have any interest in fiber arts, please come by and enjoy our fiber art festival! This is our 3rd year and we are growing each time. I’ll actually be teaching a workshop myself, which is kind of nerve-wracking but I’m excited about it too. The class will cover basic fabric design principles for people who are interested in having fabric printed at Spoonflower.com. Or anywhere else that does print-on-demand fabric; that’s just my favorite.
Funny how things can become clearer when you’re doing a mundane task like washing dishes. I noticed how the same amount of water cleaned off the stuck-on food so much better from the sprayer than the faucet. It’s not a huge epiphany, I know, but it did make me think about why I never seem to reach my artistic goals. I’m trying to do too much; I’m not focused.
Here I am, trying to (in my spare time, no less) design fabric, make a quilt, knit a blanket, paint a painting, spin art yarn (ok, the last two aren’t really happening at all right now, just sitting in my studio/office taunting me) and design teacher resources. And sometimes do photo retouching on the side. I don’t have a solution yet. But I do think I’m going to make a list of goals and figure out where to focus my attention. Lists always have helped me. Does anyone else have a bad habit of going too many directions at once?
Welllll, I got my rejection email from the Repeat(ed) contest last night. I felt down about it for a little while but I’m looking at the bright side. I won’t be stressing and working my butt off to make deadlines for the next several months of the competition. And I have four great new designs to put on Spoonflower now. This is one of them.
I bring you… the Great Vanilla Coke Experiment.
I’ve had to give up caffeine. We won’t go into how much I miss coffee- I can’t even do decaf. But once in a while I crave a Vanilla Coke. (Thanks, Zaxby’s, for getting me hooked.) And guess what? There’s no caffeine-free version that I’ve ever found. So I did what any Gen-X-er worth her salt did and Googled it.
Opinions appear to vary on how to properly fake a Vanilla Coke, but by and large people either said to add pure vanilla extract, or cream soda. How much is right? Nobody had a firm answer. So, my experiment. First challenge was to find caffeine-free cream soda, so thanks Publix; you’re awesome. (Can I just say that Publix seems to have more of a commitment to caffeine-free and MSG-free foods than Earth Fare? But that’s another post for another day.) C-free Coke was easy to find. And don’t try to give me Coke Zero folks; it’s nasty. I had vanilla extract already, and lastly bought a true Vanilla Coke for comparison.
I had separate cups for the two mixes and a third for the real thing, even separate spoons for mixing. Hey, this is scientific stuff here. So I measured out 4 oz of C-free Coke into each glass. First glass got 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract. Taste result: yep, it’s vanilla-y, but one big problem. It instantly went flat. Really, left-it-out-all-afternoon, flat. So extract is out.
All hopes on the cream soda. So I add 1 oz of cream soda to the glass and try it. Pretty good, but still mostly Coke. I try adding 2 oz and taste. Oops, I just made it 3 oz… duh. So that one’s too much cream soda. One last chance. I pour a new glass and add 2 oz of cream soda. Perfection. I try the real Vanilla Coke, try the fake. Try the real, try the fake. There are two subtle differences. The real Vanilla Coke seems not quite as sweet as the fake; it has a tiny bit more kick. (It could actually be extra carbonation instead of sweetness, since the cream soda is a store brand after all.) And the fake concoction has a slight caramel flavor which really tastes pretty good.
I passed around the two glasses to my family members and we all had a hard time telling which was the real thing, although there was a slight but noticeable difference between them. So there you have it. My recipe for Caffeine-Free Vanilla Coke: 1 part Caffeine-Free Cream Soda to 2 parts Caffeine-Free Coke. I think my cravings are going to be okay… except for coffee.
Let me know if you try this for yourself! What do you think?