Q+A Tuesday!

Grabbing a couple of minutes here to spin through some of your great questions. And Wowwweeee! Thank you for the great compliments. Seriously, you guys are making me blush. But I’m glad to know that these things help. Glad to hear what you like so I can do more of that, and you made my day. :)

Answers, Part 1

Dawn asked: My question for you is how many layouts did you submit before you were first published?

Good question. I don’t remember. :P I started scrapping in the summer of 2004, and my first page appeared in the Scrapbook Trends baby special issue in about March of 2005. I think I submitted the page in September or October - so it was probably among the first 20 or so I had done.

Ruth asked: How about taking the entire background out [of a photo]?

There are several ways to do this, and they are all complicated. :P Human hair and pet hair are the two MOST complex things to try to select around and get a good extraction. I think the easiest way is to start out with your Magnetic Lsso tool, feather it by a couple of pixels, and see where that takes you. I MAY do a PSF or class on this in the future, but it’s one of those complex things where, depending on the photo, one approach may work and another might totally not work, so it’s hard to give a recipe for this one.

Ruth also asked: Do you use a Wacom tablet?

Yes. Mainly for doodling, swirls, and handwriting on layouts and photos. The Wacom can be used with MOST Photoshop tools, though, if you prefer doing photo editing with a pen in hand instead of a rock (mouse..). It’s especially nice to zoom WAY in on a photo and use it to clone or make other tiny corrections.

Do you use InDesign?

I have used it. I don’t use it on a daily basis.

Do you print out all your digi pages and put them in album for your family and friends?

I print most of my digi pages and slip them into the albums right alongside my hybrid pages. :)

Mel asked: My question is: as a “paper” scrapper who is going hybrid, what are the essential digi things I need to get, and what would you recommend??

GREAT question. In the Computer Tricks special issue, I list 5 things:

  1. A computer (probably you figured that out when you saw the title of this issue)
  2. A graphics software program. I recommend Photoshop Elements 5.0
  3. An inkjet printer. I own the large-format Epson R1800 and would recommend this to anyone, but a large-format printer isn’t a necessity. A printer that does a decent job of printing on photo paper and cardstock will suffice til you can give the people who love you enough lovin’ that they feel your pain and get you a great printer. :)
  4. A cold drink.
  5. Some digital supplies to play with. You can get those at a LOT of places. Check out my Favorite Digi Shoppes link over in my right side panel.

Michelle asked: Can you please link me up your World of Warcraft layout?

Hehe. Ok. It’s right here. I have two galleries here of my work, which I try to keep updated. You can find links to them on the right panel over there.

Faith (and Michelle) asked: Where do you find time to parent, design the tutorials and projects for the magazines, and still get your own scrapping done???

Read back to my post from 2 days ago (the sobbing? yeah…). It’s a tough balance. I have a babysitter who comes to help me two days, about 12 hours a week. She feeds the kids lunch and puts them down for their naps, and saves me so I can run to the post office or those other kid-free errands, and I get a block of hours to concentrate. Mostly, though, I work at night. Kids in bed by 7:30 or 7:45, and I’ll be in here til midnight or 1 working. That way my days can be spent with my kids, which is what I want. But like I said, it’s all about trying to balance…

Casie asked: What version of PSE would you recommend a total newbie to get?? I have been eyeing PSE 3.0 on eBay as it looks like a good deal. Would it be worth it to get the newest version or not??

Two things about PSE 5 make it worth it, I think. First, there is a one-click B/w conversion that is hard to beat. Sure you can come watch my Levels tutorial and get it done in a couple of minutes, but you can’t beat 3 seconds. Nope.

PSE 5 also has a click-and-drag text box feature (so you can define the size of a block of journaling and the text wrapps inside of it that 3 doesn’t have.

And lastly (that’s three things, isn’t it? ha.) PSE 5 has included some Curves functionality to help with photo editing. Very cool.

Also (and this makes four! LOL) PSE 5 is the only version with a patch for Windows Vista. So if you’re upgrading computers anytime soon (like in the next year or so), you’ll HAVE to be on PSE 5.0.

In summary: If you can swing it financially, pick up PSE 5.0.

Carolyn asked: What do you not like to use photoshop for? What do you think is better done the traditional, paper and glue way?

In general, as a hybrid scrapper, I love to use Photoshop to accomplish things that are tough do to in paper, and paper for things that are tough to do digitally. If you are a hybrid scrapper, this comes down to what of your traditional supplies you want to use, I think. I love ‘real’ chipboard, ribbons, rhinestones, brads, and flowers. I also love rub-ons, and I’ll use them in places where digital rub-ons would be impractical to print out. Of course there are digital versions of all of these, but I just love the dimensional look I get by using these traditional supplies. I also think these supplies with the most dimension are the toughest to get to look “right” in an all-digi page, so I prefer using the real thing where possible.

In an all-digi page, this question doesn’t really apply, and I use Photoshop for everything. I’ve begun to see the value in a good drop-shadow for things like alphas, stickers, and journaling cards, although I have yet to bring myself to put a digital brad, rhinestone, or flower on anything … not gonna say never, but you know…

Kaylea asked: My question though is how do you download the video for later use?

The short answer to this is: You can’t. I chose to use the Flash format, which requires a web browser and an HTML page to embed it in. I did this knowing that there would be people who couldn’t see the videos because of poor connections, but the file sizes of downloadable videos are enormous. Plus, I like having control over them. ;) Free to use, but you gotta come here (or to CK’s site for the ones that are there).

Brooke asked: When are you coming to the Pacific Northwest!!

Hehe. Can I stay at your place? I don’t take up too much room, and I LOOOOOVE Seattle and Portland! :D

imblessed2beme asked: Now…my question….what made you decide to start scrapbooking 3 years ago? AND, (sorry..two part)….Had you thought about it before then?

I was a member of Two Peas for a couple of years before I ‘discovered’ scrapbooking - downloading fonts for use on cards and completely ignoring the ENTIRE scrapbooking section (message boards, gallery, the works). Scrapbooking held no interest for me whatsoever until.. you guessed it… I had a baby. Then all of a sudden I have all these photos and needing a baby book. Decide to walk into an Archiver’s… and the rest is history. :D

Dedra asked: Do the kids’ Crocs slip off? Do they stay on well or is it sort of a half on/half off thing?

So far, firmly on. Even running. That’s a great thing. I was worried about this part too, but somehow even those loose shoes are staying put.

Cher asked: Where do copyright issues begin and end?

Well, I am no copyright expert, as I’ve said before. If you are using a design for your own personal use, I think it’s a much different story than if you are planning to use the piece commercially or re-sell it. And of course it’s ALWAYS illegal to redistribute copyrighted material, such as digital kits, scanned items, basically anything that is someone else’s intellectual property. Piracy = bad. That’s all I know about that. :)

Keep ‘em Coming! I’m here all day! Try the veal!

Answers, Part 2 (4:30 p.m.)

Janie asks: My question relates to your wonderful photography. What kind of camera do you use and what lenses do you like to get those great pics of your kids?

First of all, thank you. :) I have been studying about photography, and practicing a LOT. In addition, I remember two distinct jumps in the quality of my photos. One was getting the Nikon D50, which I got in March of 06. It’s a GREAT camera. I think a digital SLR camera can open photographic doors for you. It’s a great way to learn about how to take photos, what the settings mean, and so forth. The other big jump was getting the 50mm fixed lens, which I got in about September of 06. For me, this is a perfect lens. I don’t have kids I’m chasing on a playing field, so I don’t need a big telephoto - I wanted a nice portrait lens. It’s a 1.8 aperture, which means it opens wide enough to be able to take photos in lower light, such as indoors. I take a LOT of photos indoors, and this is where I really noticed the difference in the quality and sharpness of my photos. The best part about digital photography is how inexpensive it’s becoming to get great quality cameras and lenses. Nikon just released a new D40, less expensive than the D50, to reach that segment of the market, and you can get a 50 mm 1.8 lens for around $100.00.

Laura asks: What conversions do you use on your photos to make the colors pop so?

This is an awesome question, and unfortunately is very much like the one above, in that every photo is different, and it’s very tough to give out a ‘recipe’ for perfect, bright, saturated photos. I can give you a super-short answer, though: it’s all about increasing saturation and contrast, while balancing out brightness. There are several ways to do this - Curves, multiple blended layers, even the Hue/Saturation dialog box. More to come on this topic later this summer. :)

Carol asks: Does your news have anything to do with Lisa B’s news?

My news is different from Lisa B’s news. Sorry for being cryptic.

Ania (my WOW doppleganger - hey holy/disc priest!) asks: How did you end up in this industry getting “so far”? :)

Well, that’s a tough one. And if “dumb luck” isn’t enough of an answer, I don’t know what else to say. :) I do know that I spent a lot of time when I was younger (high school and college, mainly) searching for things I was good at. Looking for my talents, and kind of sad that I didn’t have one obvious thing I could point to and say, see? This is me. I remember entering the Junior Miss pageant with girls who could sing, or dance, or play the piano or other instruments, and seriously wondering: what am I good at, and passionate enough about that I could make it my life’s work? I actually didn’t know the answer to this question until very recently.

Then came this long interval of education - Photoshop, instructional design, writing, editing, graphic design, web design, (and let’s not forget an undying love for school supplies). I had no idea that I would be someday be using them all. Not to say by any means that education has stopped - I learn things in all of these areas all the time - but I think I just happened to be there - and prepared - at the right time, is all. I think that OFTEN in our lives we go through experiences that prepare us for some other thing, and that without that first thing (which may make no sense at the time), you wouldn’t have shown up at the right time all ready to go. So here’s to the misfits, wondering what the heck we’re supposed do. :)

Heather asks: Any chance you are going to head up to Canada any time soon?

I would love to take the CKU classes and methodology I’ve developed “on the road” so that more people can have the opportunity to create pages in Photoshop in a live class, have them printed, and take them home on the spot. It may have to wait til 2008. But I’d be willing to entertain offers. :)

Heather also asks: Are you enjoying NC?

We LOVE NC. It’s beautiful, we have a great place to live and raise our kids and enjoy our life, and the only single thing is that we are far from our families. If we could have them closer, that would be awesome.

Debra asks: Are there other ways to sharpen photos other than un-sharp mask?

If you’re using Photoshop CS2 or CS3, there’s a feature called Smart Sharpen that I use most often. But unsharp mask does a pretty good job. I actually JUST learned a new sharpening technique that enhances edges without enhancing digital noise in flat areas. Not basic, but I was very impressed. :) It requires CS2 or CS3, though, because it involves creating a new channel. I’d be happy to share it if you like.

Kirsten asks: What type of paper do you use when you print out your digi pages? Glossy or matte? And when you’re hybrid scrapping?

Excellent question. I definitely recommend first of all using the ink and paper that is branded for your brand of printer. No cheapies, okay? Okay.

That said, I print all the full-digital layouts onto matte paper. If it’s a 12x12, I use Epson Art Matte Scrapbook paper. The cheapest source I’ve been able to find for it is here at Atlex.com This is also the paper that we use to print the layouts for my CKU class. It is excellent. 

For hybrid pages, I will print photos onto glossy or luster paper because I like that look.

If it’s a non-photo digital element, such as a reversed-out journaling block, embellishment, or something like that, I’ll use matte paper again.

 Okay, I’ll come back for one more session after dinner. :)

Answers, Part 3: 11:30 p.m.

So somehow “after dinner” turned in to finishing an assignment and here it is 11:30. I’ll go quick. I’m tired.

Kristen: Congrats on the new camera! And there are definitely days when I would be glad if someone borrowed my child for a photo shoot for oh.. 6 or 7 hours..

Chris asks: How do you organize your digital supplies?

ACDSee Photo Manager is the coolest little program. It is super speedy, and I tagged everything in my digital library in about 1.5 hours. The evangelists over at DigiScrapInfo have even given me instructions on how you can download and install my tag set to get you started if you want. I’ll post those here tomorrow if you like.  The key thing here is that I use it exclusively for my digi supplies, so the tag set is very specific to digital scrapbooking. Makes it really easy to find “Solid patterned paper” or “Blue patterned paper”, or to scan through all of my staples, stitches, and ribbons without needing to move any of the files from their original locations. It has completely changed the way I digi scrap, since it’s so much easier to combine things across kits and designers.

Chris also asks: How much ink does your r1800 really consume? How often do you have to change your print cartridges?

This is a good question. And hard to answer, because, like most things in life, it depends. But as an example, I purchased the R1800 in November, and completed the ENTIRE hybrid book (30 layouts and projects), PLUS a bunch of other assignments, and just changed the inks for the first time in March. Granted, very few of these layouts were full-digital 12x12 borderless - more like photos and journaling and titles and embellishments and etc. added on to the paper pages. I’ve changed out a couple of colors to my 3rd set since March, but some of them are the 2nd set since I’ve owned the printer, about 7 months.

Epson tells me you can get 100 or so full 12x12 borderless digital pages from a set of inks. At about $88.00 retail, it’s still less than $2.00 a page with paper and ink, and WAY less than that if you are a hybrid who doesn’t print 12x12 borderless. Unless my math is sucky, which is entirely possible. :D

Kristinah asks: How do you keep from getting overwhelmed with digi-ness?

 If you’re new, just remember that Photoshop and digi/hybrid scrapbooking represents a journey and not a destination. Everyone’s at a different spot on the journey. But it’s a feature of digi/hybrid scrapbooking that it is complex enough to keep our interest for a lifetime, right? Things like that don’t always come easy. But they’re worth it. And when I personally get overwhelmed, I go take a bath and go to sleep. Helps a lot. :)

 Stephanie asks: Do you/will you work in vectors?

 Photoshop’s vector capabilities are a little limited, basically to what you can draw with your pen tool, or one of the shape tools such as the rectangle, circle, and so forth. If I’m looking to create vector files for their smoothness (such as doodles and swirls), I’ll create those in Illustrator and bring them in to Photoshop.

Jana asks: Live Photoshop Friday. It seems I can get started but then something won’t be quite right or I can’t make it work. Any advice here?

You are awesome, first off. Don’t forget that. :)  Photoshop Friday Live isn’t necessarily my ideal way of showing something, since I can’t SHOW it, but have to talk it through, in a noisy crowded chatroom. It isn’t the best forum for someone who is newer and still getting to know the program. That’s why I always post the instructions the next day for review. Think of PSF live as a chance to get together, to get a sneak peek of the technique and the freebie, and to have a cold drink with a bunch of other geeky ladies. There will come a day when we do live video chats. Oh yes, and that’s a little sneak peek. ;)

Linda asks: Do you sketch your layouts 1st? Do you have the product drive the process or a picture?

Great question. Almost always it’s either the picture or a particular story I want to tell, and it goes from there. If it’s a hybrid layout, though, I’ll usually sketch out what I want to do, since the design of my layout is usually very tight. By that I mean that the pieces tend to depend on one another in size or space, and it’s something that needs to be right the first time (since there is no Ctrl-z in real life!). I’ve gotten spoiled with digi, because you get infinite do-overs. :) 

I do get assignments, though, to integrate specific products into my layouts. But almost always, again, my approach is, “What story can I tell that uses this product?” Rather than, “How many places can I schmear this product around on my layout?” Not to say one approach is better, but regardless of WHO I make the layout for, or WHY, I want it to always reflect me, and be something I’m proud of.

 Molly: Best of luck, my dear! You’ll do AWESOME!

Heather: GORGEOUS. Great example of a hybrid page. Love the curving text.

Katrina: I think a scrapper’s guild would be awesome and hilarious. :) 

Share: I love you, too, girl! And that line is from So I Married an Axe Murderer! ;)

The End.

Thank you so much for playing along today! I had an awesome time. Tomorrow I’ll choose some post #s at random (from both posts) to send out some RAKs to. Come check back to see, ok, since this blog doesn’t require you to leave me your email address when you comment…

I just want to say thank you. You are awesome. I am humbled and grateful to be part of your life as we take this Photoshop and digi/hybrid scrapbooking  journey together. That’s not a small thing. You are investing time that you could be spending doing other things, but instead you’ve chosen to do this, because it’s important. Because it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Because you’re a glutton for punishment, maybe, too…

But whatever your reason, you’re telling the stories of your life, and I get to be a little part of that, too, as you share your pages with me. It is amazing. YOU are amazing.

Have a wonderful night. :)