Posts in Geek Girl Society
Straw Poll: How do you use Photoshop @ work?

I would really love to get an idea of how women are using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements at their workplaces. Would you answer this quick straw poll?

QUESTION 1: What do you make for work using Photoshop?

Part A: If you said nothing, is that because:

  • you have literally never needed to use graphics anywhere at your job, or
  • you don't know how to use Photoshop (but wish you could)
  • you use another program (Canva, Word, etc) to put together any visual materials needed
  • you hire someone

QUESTION 2: What kind of job do you have? 

Part A: Are you self-employed?

QUESTION 3: How often do you find yourself using Photoshop, or wishing you could or knew how, for work?

Please pass this on, ok? 

xo, JS

Geek Girl's Guide: Giving Speeches

We get lots of opportunities to present our ideas to other people, either formally or informally. I've been thinking about this for a few days, because my beautiful girl Rowen just turned 12, and was asked to speak in church last Sunday. Terrifying, right? Getting up in front of roughly 250 people to expound, even for a couple of minutes, can be downright overwhelming. 

I've given a lot of talks & speeches. I did both speech and debate in high school, and participated in speaking contests outside of school for VFW, Farm Bureau, National Young Leaders, and others. I won prizes. I got to travel. It was awesome, and speaking has become one of my favorite things. I want to share a few secrets I've developed over time. In fact, these are the rules i use every time I prepare and deliver speeches.

image source: colleen simon,

image source: colleen simon,

divide Your Content into 3 segments

Preparing for and delivering speeches is a LOT easier when you divide up your main idea into a few sub-topics. Sometimes the points are explicitly spelled out ("I'd like to share three ways we can improve our racquetball game."), and sometimes they are implicit, simply by the verbal transitions you make.

I recommend that if you're going to spell out your points, that you use no more than 3. The reason for this really comes down to the short-term memory of your audience. You aren't giving a quiz at the end. They should be able to write down a few of your statements, but nobody can be expected to remember more than 3 "topic headings," because these aren't what stick. What sticks in the heart and mind are your stories. Even your most sympathetic audience member will get distracted, even if your speech is only 10 minutes long. 

By your 5th point I'm wondering again what the first one was, and then I'm thinking, ok, they said they had six, so just one more and then we're done! 

I know, not cool of me. But there it is. The exception to this rule is if your speech is accompanied by a PowerPoint that lists all your points and repeatedly refers back to the list as you step through them. Content plus context is king of them all.


Every great speech has outside references, whether they are specific quotes, scriptures, song lyrics, or more oblique references to world evens or history. Quotations are necessary. Use one in every segment of your speech. Remember from above, that what sticks in the heart and mind are the stories. Each quote is a story. You can even consider framing each segment of your speech around a quote or its main idea. Here's how.

When you're speaking without additional aids (like a PowerPoint), you need to guide your audience carefully through your points using repetition and reinforcement. Think of it like a sandwich: 

  • Explaination #1: In the first explanation, you'll provide backstory, as well as context and a lead-up to the content of your quotation. Do not underestimate the power of backstory.

  • Quote: Deliver your quotation with power, verbally emphasizing the keywords. Do not quote anything for more than ~30 seconds straight. 

  •  Explanation #2: In the second explanation you can provide analysis - why you chose this, as well as the all-important link back to the lives and circumstance of the audience.

Here's an example from a talk I gave this past February, for the explain/quote/explain method as I illustrated the relevance of the hymn, "Onward, Christian Soldiers":

(Explanation 1)

Here are the words of the great Christian battle-hymn, “Onward, Christian soldiers,” The first verse: “Onward, Christian Soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe, forward into battle, see His banners go!”

This beautiful song was written in 1865 by an Anglican curate named Sabine Baring-Gould. She needed a song to use as a processional for the town’s children to march to during Whitsuntide - the Anglican celebration of Pentecost - and sat and wrote this song in 15 minutes. It now has a place in Christian hymnals around the world. 

At the height of the second world war, with Britain embattled by German bombing, and just four months before the United States would officially enter, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met to agree the Atlantic Charter. As part of that meeting, a church service was held for which Prime Minister Churchill chose the hymns. He chose "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and afterwards made a radio broadcast explaining this choice:


We sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers" indeed, and I felt that this was no vain presumption, but that we had the right to feel that we were serving a cause for the sake of which a trumpet has sounded from on high. When I looked upon that densely packed congregation of fighting men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental laws, of the same ideals ... it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation. 
— Winston Churchill

(explanation 2)

Mr. Churchill’s words apply to us beautifully. Just as there in 1941 sat the congregation that represented the hope of the world - allies gathered in defense against a worldly tyrant, so sits here in this congregation today the hope of the world, gathered to the Standard of God against the spiritual tyrants, in the defense of our homes and our families.

The backstory for this quote is fascinating, both the story of the writing of the hymn, and then the story of its use at the height of World War II. in fact, i would say the backstory is what gives the quote its real impact in its implications for us today. I probably did an hour of research after I found this quote, and I am SO GLAD I did - my own life is better for knowing this, and I'm happy I was able to share it. 

Do as much research as you can on the story behind and around your quote. More than just who said it, who were they? Where was this said or written? What other things did they say ore write? what connections can you draw from their life or circumstance? what did other people say about it?

The quote itself, of course is from one of the great orators of the 20th century, so it has power on its own. But when that's spoken with the same conviction it was said originally, hundreds of people can be stirred by it again.

You can see the second explanation is pretty short. Essentially the task here is to provide that final connection between the life and world of the quotation itself, into the lives of your listeners. My goal was to draw a comparison between the circumstances of war as it was fought then, and the spiritual war we're fighting now.

As a side note, this is the beginning and middle of the second of my 3 points in this speech. Transition-by-quote is an awesome way!

like you mean it

It sometimes helps to read or listen to great speeches of the past as you're preparing. There's a reason these are great speeches, and that doesn't dim over time, regardless of how antiquated some of the words might seem. You've been given the rare opportunity to have the undivided attention of your listeners (10 or 1,000, doesn't matter), and you can change them forever by what you say. Connect your words to the WHY and the HOW - to them. 

One of the finest speeches I've ever heard was given by Suze Orman, the author and personal finance expert. She talked about personal finance, sure, but also about self-direction, self-love and perseverance, and I was moved to tears by the end. Not only is she a great speaker, but she was able to connect ideas for me, and sent me home a stronger person for it. And she was talking about checkbooksYour topic isn't dull, and neither are you. Prepare it like you mean it, and say it like you mean it, and they'll remember.

Save the Opening for last

In your preparation, I recommend saving the opening for last. Here's mine:

My 5th great grandparents, Caroline and John Butler, were baptized in 1835 in Simpson, Kentucky. At the Prophet Joseph’s command, they gathered to unite with the Saints in Iowa, and then in Nauvoo. They crossed the plains and finally gathered to Utah, where they settled in Spanish Fork. They faced persecution and poverty, and remained stalwart to the end. So with all our ancestors, literal, or spiritual. It is in that spirit - that legacy of gathering, of love, of unity, that I would like to speak today.

I actually wrote this opening about 10 minutes before I stood up to give my speech (not that I would recommend saving it THAT much). The last line of your first paragraph is the key transition from opening to the core of your speech. Here's where you say, "I'd like to provide three tips on how to improve your racquetball game." I was a little subtler, but connected the small story to the topic right there at the end of the opening. 

Make sure your opening doesn't weaken your speech. If it does nothing but "make the audience more comfortable," leave it out. As far as an opening joke, if your audience doesn't know you well, you have a 50/50 chance of a joke falling flat, and I wouldn't risk it. Your opening should take no more than ~10% of your speech. So for a 10-minute speech, think 45-60 seconds. And now for the most important bit, which I've saved for last.


We were actually in the car on the way to church while she was trying to figure out her opening (hm, did she inherit that?). And I've been thinking for days about this exchange.

I said, "Maybe just introduce yourself, and then go into your first thing."
She said, "What about, 'Hi, I'm Rowen Sprague. I am giving my first talk in church, so I know it isn't...'"
"No. Don't apologize."
She tried it another way, "'Hi, I'm Rowen Sprague, and I don't know why I was asked...'"
She was frustrated when I interrupted her again. "You don't ever need to apologize for what you are about to say."

As women, it's a sort of social instinct to make ourselves less - maybe it feels ingratiating, or polite, or that if we lower ourselves by apologizing for our work, we'll lower their expectations of us. But no. They won't like you better because you told them your stuff was crappy. You own that stuff, you have a right to be where you are, you're prepared for it, and you have a message to deliver. You didn't come share this just for their approval. Don't hide your light.

I mean it. This goes for any time you stand up in front of more than 2 people, write on your blog, post a photo in an online gallery, or talk in a meeting. You can never use any of these phrases ever again:

  • "I know this isn't..."
  • "I didn't..."
  • "I'm sorry, but/because"
  • "I can't (insert some technology reason)"
  • "I did this at the last minute" (or any reference to how little time you had, or even how much time you had, but that it still isn't any good for whatever reason)
  • Blaming your own shyness
  • Blaming your own inexperience at presenting/speaking/showing up "I'm not very good at..."
  • Blaming anyone else, even as a sort of joke (i.e. the boss told me I had to)
  • Comparing yourself or your presentation/material a great master.

Okay, I think you get it. Yes? You are not more by seeming less. You are more by preparing with that audience in mind, and then delivering with conviction. Don't hide your light. And don't ever, ever, EVER apologize for it.



My Business Cards

I've been asked several times online, and plenty of times in real life about my business cards. They put a smile on someone's face every time I give one. There are two really important factors to great business cards. 

Factor 1: What They Look Like

One of the two important things about business cards is what they LOOK like. Obviously. They should reflect you and your business, especially if you're self-employed. 

Everyone is intrigued by the design, and drawn to the little shot of red that is my name. And then they read the fun little invitation: Let's stay in touch, ok? 

I put the QR code on there that links to, so they can visit my site while they're still holding the card if they want, or anytime afterward by just snapping it with a QR code reader. More about creating your own QR code right here

Factor 2: What they Feel Like

The second important part of a business card is what it feels like. This part is honestly veddy veddy important, and I don't say that only because I'm a paper snob (although I am, raise of hand), but because it still subtly sends a signal. It should be smooth and sturdy in the hand. Or if it's textured or letterpressed, it should feel like that. 

I got my cards printed at with the smooth matte finish, and boy golly do they feel good. Sturdy and substantial, and rounded corners to boot. The rounded corners cost extra, but they add a really special touch, especially to a business with a little more feminine feel to it. (If you're a welder or a blacksmith, I'd say probably stick with the square corners. But your call.)


What Not to Do

And now this is the part where I beg. Picture me with my hands clasped together and an earnest look on my face. There are other places to get your cards done than Moo, and that's fine. But you must promise and pinky-swear RIGHT NOW that you will never get the ones that you print yourself and tear at the perforations. Not ever. I mean, have you ever run your fingers along a perforated edge? *shudder* Regardless, if you can hold them up and see light through them, they're too thin. You deserve a better first impression than that, and so do they. (Paper snob, over'n'out).

How to Give a Business Card

I studied Japanese for two years in college, I might have mentioned. One of the most striking things about the Japanese culture is the level of social convention - ceremonies, if you will. And included in this is "a way" to hand someone a business card. This particular convention is so important that we had a whole lesson on it, AND a practice where we handed cards to people after introducing ourselves. And you know what? I LOVED it. I try to do the 'toned-down, American' version of this whenever I hand over a business card. 

Handing someone your card with at least a LITTLE pause for 'ceremony' shows them respect, and while you don't have to follow the exact protocol the Japanese do (it's a little intense - holding the card with both hands, thumbs on the corners closest to you, text facing the recipient, and bowing as you hand it), I do think that in many situations handing someone your card could be a little more formal.

This sounds funny here in 'merica, where we are informal pretty much ALL of the time, but here's my reasoning. If I'm at a conference or a convention, and I'm meeting people and handing them my card, I want them to remember me. I've already talked above about the reaction I usually get when they actually look at the card, which almost always catches their eye and they pause. But before that is The Delivery

I say something like, "Can I have your card?" or "I'd like to talk more about this later, can I give you my card?" something like that. And then cue body language:

  1. Turn to my business card holder, which should be right in reach at the top of my bag (should I tell you here that you should have a unique and gorgeous business card holder? Yes). Make sure the card is upside-down to me (I usually pack them like this)
  2. Turn back to my contact, fully facing them, following the card with my eyes
  3. With one hand holding the center-top of the card, thumb on top, offer them the card (text facing them, of course)
  4. Wait til they take the card, then look them in the eye and smile like I mean it. 

I'm offering them something of value here. My time and an invitation to talk later. That's a big deal. And it communicates that I'm proud of what I do, competent at what I do, and I would be delighted to spend more time talking about what we might do together, and I'm not just saying that. 

You know, if this whole thing made you roll your eyes, you don't have to do it this way. There are other ways, instead of or in addition to this to capture leads and make initial contacts with people. And of course if you are in a situation where you're slinging a card at someone super casually, i.e. not in a business setting, you don't have to go through as much formality. Above all, though, don't apologize for your card or yourself, either with words or body language.

Now it's time to go design and order you some business cards, and then spend time practicing getting one out and giving it to someone. Remember turn to them, hand it with text facing them, and then eye contact and smile. Prep for the closing handshake, and scene. You made a new contact!

Now You

Have you made business (or personal) contacts with the exchange of business cards? Did they do something memorable, or did you? Are there any other 'ceremonies' you can think of where you work to make a good impression?

I'd love to see your business card, too! You can upload it in the comments here, or tag me on Facebook, or post it to the new gallery in the community

Geek Girl: How to Create a QR Code

Have you ever wanted to include videos or links along with your printed or digital scrapbook? You can create a special "link" that launches any URL (such as a link to a YouTube video) in a mobile device. You can see the QR codes I printed and pasted into my journal:

Make the QR Code

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create and print a QR code to add to your digital or physical items, so you can link videos that anyone can view with their mobile device. It’s a great way to make print come alive with video! Oh, and my son Elliott helps me with the last bit. You're gonna love it!

I use a QR code on my business cards to link to, and as you can see, I used it in my journal/planner to showcase the scare-fest that is Five Nights at Freddy's. *shudder*. It's fun to page through there and be able to pop out my device and relive it! :)

Use the QR Code with a Mobile Device

To scan QR codes from anywhere you see them, you'll need an app for your device that knows how to translate them. They're called QR code readers, and you can search your app store for one of dozens - they're free. 

After installing, open the QR Code reader app on your device, and hover your phone camera over this image. It'll go to YouTube and the delightful Five Nights at Freddy's experience Elliott and I had. Wee!

You can even take a picture of a QR code on a screen, like this. 

You can even take a picture of a QR code on a screen, like this. 

Take that video from your wedding, her first steps, his first jump into the lake, and more and add them to any printed item such as a scrapbook page and more. This also goes great with linking to your websites, Etsy shop, photo gallery, or online store, to your business cards, flyers, posters, etc. 

Even if you don't print your scrapbook pages (i.e. you show them on your ipad), QR codes still work beautifully. When you make one, link it up in the comments here and show us ok?

Have a great day, Geek Girl! 



How to Extract from Patterned Paper

Hey there! I'm excited to bring back some Photoshop Friday fun! I found this really cute patterned paper from Carta Bella, and I really wanted to use it in a design, along with an embellishment of the same type. Since there weren't any in the kit, I decided to extract an embellishment from the paper itself. Download the full-sized paper below, and then watch the video to see how to extract an embellishment from patterned paper!

I hope you enjoyed learning with me today!

Take your Photos from Good to Great!

Think back to the day you got your first digital camera. Boy how our lives have changed, right? I didn't realize all that could be done, all the memories I could hold onto. Now we can take photos all the time!   From phones to cameras to tablets... there are always photos to be taken, memories to be saved, a lifetime to savor.

In honor of our first digital cameras and ALL the photos we've taken since, I'd like to announce not one but TWO new photo editing classes, so you can take your pick! Each class is just $69 with the links below!

Photo Editing 1: Lightroom Edition

You've been asking for it, and here it is! My first-ever class for Adobe Lightroom! Are you as excited as I am? WOO!


In the Photo Editing 1: Lightroom Edition class, which launches November 3, I'll show you how to make easy global edits using the world-class Lightroom application, designed by photographers for photographers. If you've subscribed to the photographer's bundle from Adobe, this is the class for you! I'll show you how to combine easy Lightroom edits with the power of special techniques in Photoshop to create photos that will make your heart sing. I promise. You'll

Best part yet? I'm offering this class at an introductory price, more than 20% off with this special link. Regular price is $89, and you'll get the class for $69!

Register for Lightroom Edition

If you'd like to check out Lightroom, click here to grab the 30-day free trial

Photo Editing 1:Photoshop Edition

For Photoshop CC, CS6, CS5, and any version of Photoshop Elements!

If you only take ONE Photoshop class in your life, the Photo Editing 1: Photoshop Edition is it! (of course, if you've taken a bunch, this is still it! Ha!) Of all the things I could share or show, the one that will make the MOST impact on you as a memory keeper is the skill of editing photos.  


In this class, which begins November 3, I'll show you how to use the free plugin included with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements called Adobe Camera Raw, and then we'll take our photo right into Photoshop to make it sing! You'll learn how to make colors pop, how to turn photos black and white, add treatments such as tints and vignettes, sharpen, and save for both print and the web. You'll be armed with knowledge that will last you a lifetime, and will change your photos forever.

Best part? Right now you can get $20 off the original price! Check it out! Regular price is $89, and you'll get the class for just $69!

Register for Photoshop Edition

Regardless of which edition you choose, Photo Editing 1 is the place to start for editing those precious photographic memories. I can't wait to show you! Register today!

My New Answer: You Should Get Photoshop CC.

I get asked a lot of questions. (And I like answering them, so don't stop asking). Among the most common is this one:

  • What version of Photoshop should I get?

My Old Answer: Beginners Should Buy Elements.

For years (seriously, like 10 years), I've been answering this question pretty much the same way. If you are a beginner, you should get Photoshop Elements. It's like the sleek little brother to the big honking Mack truck that has features you don't need and that will only get in the way*. And it's less than $100. I don't think that anymore.

*This FEATURES YOU DON'T NEED thing has been the major change for me, because it has features you DO need now. Read on.

If you want to read on for the backstory and the reasons for the decision, please do. But I'll sum up right here:

You Should Subscribe to Photoshop CC.

Even if you are a beginner, I think you should subscribe to Photoshop CC. If you don't need any of the other Adobe applications (Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Dreamweaver, etc), then your price is simple: You can get both Photoshop CC and Lightroom for $10 a month and you should go do that right now. 

Here is the link for checking out the Adobe Photographer Bundle. If you already know you like Photoshop, just subscribe. If you're on the fence, get the free trial and head over to take my beginner digital scrapbooking class. 

And now for the WHY.

Firstly: What the heck is Creative Cloud?

(The CC behind Photoshop CC).

Creative Cloud is the subscription-based delivery for Photoshop and the other Adobe applications. You subscribe, click the Install button and you get the full version of Photoshop installed on your computer. Every time you connect your computer to the internet (which is all the time for almost all of us), it checks whether there are updates and gives you the option to install them right away. 

The good news: You get updates as soon as they come out - no hunting, no extra purchases. Just your monthly fee. Which if you JUST want Photoshop, is $10 a month. So cheap. 

The bad news: You never get to actually OWN any software. If you stop paying for your subscription, it goes away. (You own all your files, of course - you just can't edit them unless you buy PSE or install your old copy of Photoshop).

It's actually this bad news that had most people really freaked out. Nobody likes feeling like they have no contingency plan. What if Adobe goes away? What if somehow things go massively downhill and I lose access to all my files? This is a whole life's work here. You might remember the furore over the whole thing. But I REALLY DO think you should subscribe. It's been 2 years now, and there's no sign of slowing down. And I have a few good reasons for changing my mind.

So. Now for WHY. Gonna do these in reverse order like Letterman:

Reason #3: It is Really Cheap to Own Big Mama Now

In the past, I've always treated Photoshop C+ as the investment you made when you knew you were serious about digital crafting/art/photo editing, etc. But about a year ago, Adobe released the package for photographers, with Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC. For $10 a month. Less than I pay for Netflix. Less than lunch at anywhere but fast food. And while for a long time my purpose was to get as many people using Photoshop as possible, Photoshop Elements was the best deal in town. Don't get me wrong. It still IS a good deal. You can get it at Costco in September for like $60. So if you upgrade every year, you'll pay $60-$80. If you subscribe to Creative Cloud, you'll pay $120 a year. 

Reason #2: Sweet Features

Everything I've ever taught in Photoshop HAD to be available in Photoshop Elements, because that was what the majority of people were using. In a recent poll, however, the numbers are now neck-and-neck, with nearly 50% of people using some version of Photoshop CS or CC. So let's talk about Sweet Features. PS CC offers features like paths, the pen tool, better selections, better color management, better brush handling, and the BIG HUGE new deal: Glyphs. Which are almost single-handedly the reason why I changed my mind about what to recommend. Read on:

Reason #1: The New Glyphs Palette

This is a sweet feature and therefore kind of belongs in Reason 2. But it belongs in its own reason because it's such a huge game-changer. Glyphs are essentially the same as "characters" in fonts. But the Glyphs Palette (which has been available forever in Illustrator and InDesign) is what enables you to access all the alternate characters that are offered in those really nice, expensive fonts like Mercury Script and Samantha

Mercury Script. I die.

Mercury Script. I die.

Samantha Upright. I also die.

Samantha Upright. I also die.

And the fact that I myself no longer had to go over to Illustrator to get the pretty, and then bring it back in to Photoshop was reason enough for me to change my mind. I think that this is the best move all around, and we've been waiting for it for YEARS. 

So if you are on the fence about whether to wait for the next Photoshop Elements (probably coming out in September or October) or whether to dive in to the free 30-day trial of Photoshop CC, GO WITH THE BIG MAMA. 

I'll be offering a class on working with the new Glyphs palette starting next week! I can't wait to show you how AWESOME it is! And it comes with a FREE font you can use!

Love it. Go grab it. See you there.



Meeting my mister, part 1.

I'll set the scene.

Warning. There are a whole lot of parentheses in your near future. (okay?)

It's October, 1995. Rexburg Idaho. I had just turned 20, and was moving out of my parents' house for the second time (the first was to Utah for college in 1993, from which I had dropped out, and which is another story), and into an apartment "in town." (as the Sugar City people called it)

Before We Met, Was the Internet

First I need to explain some backstory in the geek world, because this plays in. In 1995, computers looked like this:

"The Internet" actually began as a search engine. Information was stored all over the place in FTP servers. Here's an article on the short history of search engines.

Before search engines were developed, the Internet was a collection of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites in which users would navigate to find specific shared files. As the central list of web servers joining the Internet grew, and the World Wide Web became the interface of choice for accessing the Internet, the need for finding and organizing the distributed data files on FTP web servers grew.
— The History of SEO

The way you found out about sites was through "listservs" - essentially a loose community where you could find specific sites related to an area of interest. You'd then go to that specific site. By 1994, BYU (my college), was using Gopher as its "search engine" and you could type in keywords to look things up. In the library. Because nobody had actual internet anywhere except the library or the computer labs in the engineering building.

So. Text-everything. (the first web browser, Netscape, was born in 1994). So rather than using HTTP (look familiar?), the oldsters would actually LOG IN to a specific server to browse the files there. They'd use FTP (also look familiar?), or another protocol called Telnet

This is deeply geeky, but bear with. The good stuff is coming. 

The Beginning of Online Games: MUD and MUSH

In the early 1990s, online text-based role-playing games were becoming were popular among the ultra-nerdy set at colleges all over the country (essentially you had to be a computer science student to have heard of them). The files (yep. text.) were usually stored on a college server somewhere, and if more than one person was logged in (Telnet) at the same time, they could talk to each other.

So we did like any good nerd would do, and we made up characters and played as them. Wait. Did I say text-based? Why yes. Here is what they looked like. 


The games developed several names, including MUD (pronounced like it sounds, and means Multi-User Dungeon), MUSH (I heard this one as Multi-User Shared Hallucination), MOO, and others. Here's a history of MUDs and MUSHes on Wikipedia.

So you would go to a specific site (using Telnet, with a Telnet client), and log in to the site, and join in with whoever else was there. Navigation through the world was by typing which direction you wanted to go. Interacting with objects (created using a programming language called MUSHcode), was also through text. Fighting monsters or other players - you guessed it. 

Each server had a specific theme, and I played on one that was designed after Frank Herbert's Dune

And if you haven't read Dune, GET ON THAT. It is an awesome, awesome book, and was written in 1965 and 40 years later is still amazing. Go right now. I'll wait for you.

So. I spent many, many spare hours through spring, summer, and fall of 1994 playing Dune MUSH, mostly in the computer science lab. I talked to people and role-played. I'm not much for straight-up combat, even still today.  

So this brings me to the actual meeting of my Mister. Which is the next post. ;) Now Dune? You have your assignment.

Your Turn

What is your first experience with the internet? 

Type-ology Lesson 3 Sneak Peak

Lessons 1 through 3 are live and so much fun! I hope you're along for the ride! If you haven't seen, here's the sneak peak of Type-Ology Lesson 3!

Lesson 3 teaches :

Mixing Fonts - Block Sans + Script

  • Create contrast in a design using a block sans serif and a brush script font
  • Use abstract brushwork and a structured typographic layout
Geek Girls Society: Welcome!

I've decided to start one of my New Year's Resolutions early this year! Welcome to one of my new regular posts for 2014! I hereby officially (ok, unofficially) form the Geek Girls Society, and invite you to become one of the founding members! (Blog badge to follow).

Here's what I'm thinking. We are the women who love and embrace technology, not only because it is shiny (mmm! shiny!), but because tech has a real and lasting influence for good in our lives. Let me rephrase. Technology enables us to do more good FOR and WITH the people in our lives. Which matters so, SO much more. Right?

So, if you:

  • Have ever named your computer, printer, camera, or external hard drive
  • Find yourself randomly daydreaming about how to organize your digital photos and/or digital supplies
  • Will freely admit to asking for RAM for Mother's Day
  • Blog, or wish you blogged more often
  • Consider as lifelong friends a bunch of people that you've never actually met
  • Know or can easily find the exact dimensions of the images you need to update your Facebook profile and header
  • Have more computers in your house than people
  • Hoard fonts
  • Own AND have installed, AND have used Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
  • Have created gifts, crafts, or home decor with the help of your computer
  • or wish that any or all of these were more true in your life,


The Geek Girl's Guide to Pixels & Resolution

To begin, let's talk about a subject I get a lot of questions about: Pixels & Resolution. This is an area that is critically important for getting great images in different contexts, but it isn't a subject that is easy to get your head around. Here's an infographic I think will help (click on the image to enlarge it).

Geek Girl's Guide to Pixels & Resolution.

The key thing to remember about size of an image is that it has TWO measurements: 

  • The number of pixels on each side of the image (1000+, big image; 600-, small image)
  • The resolution of the image (how many pixels are squeezed into each inch of space)

The main reason why this is important is that there are two contexts in which we use images - print and online. To get a great, crisp print, your image will need a lot more pixels at much higher density than a great, crisp image for the web

Big Images: Print great - way too huge for the web

The same image - let's say 3600 pixels wide - will appear 50 inches wide on a computer monitor (72 pixels per inch), and only 12 inches wide printed out. 

If you try to squeeze a huge number of pixels into an image for the web, it will either spread out to vast distances, or get squeezed down automatically by Facebook, your blog, whatever, and end up less crisp than it could be if you posted the image at its exact dimensions. There's just way too much data there.

Small Images: Look great online and terrible in print

Conversely, a small image - let's say 700 pixels wide - will appear 8 inches wide on your computer at 72 pixels per inch, but only 2.5 inches wide if you print it out. 

Worse though, is trying to print a very small image. If you try to spread out the 700 pixels to get your image to print larger, it will look gross. There's just way too little data there, so you'll get pixelated, grainy images.

And there we have Pixels and Resolution. Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Next lesson: How to find the size & resolution of an image.



BasicGrey + Jessica Sprague

I am so, so excited to announce that legendary scrapbook company BasicGrey has gone DIGITAL! They have joined as a digital designer, and their first  collections are available starting TODAY at! I swear I have been in a breathless tizzy for the last several weeks waiting for their launch today! 

Jessica Sprague BasicGrey Instant Album

In honor of our cause celebre'  I've designed a so-cute, so-quick Instant Album using the new BasicGrey Clippings collection available at

Jessica Sprague BasicGrey Instant Album FREE Printable

Jessica Sprague BasicGrey Instant Album FREE Printable

This FREE mini-album requires just a little bit of prep in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, and then a little assembly after you print it out, and then you have an amazing little book to toss in your bag or purse, hand off to someone as a gift. Or print several and stack them up on your coffee table to let guests flip through. 

The book itself contains ten photos and requires only three ingredients: 

  • Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, plus 10 pictures
  • A printer and one sheet of matte presentation paper (I recommend Epson Premium Presentation Paper Matte) 
  • A bone folder

Ready to get started? Follow the instructions below! 

Step 1: Download the Album Template

Here's what the template looks like when you download and unzip it, and open it in Photoshop:

Album Template Preview

Album Template Preview

Step 2: Complete the Album in Photoshop

Here is a video tutorial to show you how to complete the album:

Step 3: Print and Fold

After you've completed your album by adding photos and making any customizations you need, print your album onto a single sheet of letter-sized matte presentation paper, borderless if your printer does that, and then follow these instructions: 

1. Fold your paper in half length-wise, with the album print facing up.

2. Unfold, and fold your paper in half width-wise, with the album print facing up.

3. With the fold facing away from you, flip the edge toward the fold and crease down.

4. Turn the print over and repeat step 3. Your print looks like one mountain with two flat edges on either end. 

5. Unfold until step 2 - a simple width-wise fold.  

6. Cut along the length-wise fold from the fold to the first "page" 

7. Pull the two cut pieces away from each other and press the album open. 

8. Fold and crease the pages.  

Your print. Hooray!

Your print. Hooray!

Fold in half length-wise (we used to call this the Hot Dog fold, because it's long and narrow. ;)

Fold in half length-wise (we used to call this the Hot Dog fold, because it's long and narrow. ;)

Unfold and fold again width-wise (this is the Hamburger fold ;)

Unfold and fold again width-wise (this is the Hamburger fold ;)

Turn the paper over and fold both ends in toward the middle in "Hamburger Mode"

Turn the paper over and fold both ends in toward the middle in "Hamburger Mode"

Now unfold back to the Hamburger (one width-wise fold), and CUT along the hot dog line (the horizontal fold) until you reach the first crease.

Now unfold back to the Hamburger (one width-wise fold), and CUT along the hot dog line (the horizontal fold) until you reach the first crease.

Pull the cut pieces away from each other and down, so the pages are now back-to back.

Pull the cut pieces away from each other and down, so the pages are now back-to back.

Crease all the pieces REALLY well.

Crease all the pieces REALLY well.

And Done! After you do this even once, it will make so much sense.

And Done! After you do this even once, it will make so much sense.

Customize your album with ribbon, stickles, pop dots, ink, or anything you like!

Customize your album with ribbon, stickles, pop dots, ink, or anything you like!

NOTES: The pattern for this album is from the book called How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith.  

Special thanks to my bestie Kristen Creech for the lovely step shots. :) 

Have a wonderful day, friend! Don't forget to check out classes at, and grab some of the gorgeousness that is BasicGrey today! 



{Color} Scheme On: Campbell Edition

I love the work of Joseph Campbell. He was an author, a university professor and a world-renowned expert in myths and mythology. He wrote about the universal "myths" - this is the real sense of that word, meaning foundational stories - that guide each of our lives. 

His insights link ancient and modern myth, religious and spiritual ideas, and the choices we make about our own lives every day.  

I recommend if you get the chance to listen to his series of interviews with Bill Moyers called The Power of Myth. This is my favorite way to learn his stuff, because while it's full of meat and insight, his conversations with Mr. Moyers are obviously extemporaneous and casual. The full Audible book is here, and there are excerpts and transcripts here. There is also a TV show called Mythos on Amazon where you can purchase individual interviews.

Ok, enough there - go find some Joseph Campbell! - and now on to our Color Scheme, the Campbell Edition. Here is the color scheme, and you can find the download with the Adobe Color Swatch file below:

Joseph Campbell, {Color} Scheme On by Jessica Sprague.

Joseph Campbell, {Color} Scheme On by Jessica Sprague.

And don't forget that you can visit the tutorial right here from Youtube to find out how to load this and all my other .aco color schemes in to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements!  

Have a wonderful day, and Scheme On!