Catch Me Stuido

Morning Coffee

via GIPHY

Late nights and early mornings have created the need for a stronger morning coffee.

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning of the Digital Kind

Time for some spring cleaning
of my digital files

Every digital artist or graphic designer I know has at least one folder on their desktop called “Stuff.” I have two such folders on mine, but I was creative when I named them. One is called “To Do” and the other is “Working.” I like to think it’s an organization feature, but it’s more of a mental crutch for content I’m not 100% sure I’ll use.

Spring Cleaning

As I was thinking about how to put this blog post together, my eye kept creeping to those folders. I hate clutter and like to keep my desktop a clean space. Stray working files, random PDF’s, the occasional JPG reference all finds a home.

In my line of work, I need to have a few options to store client work, my personal work and a reliable backup for both. The ebb and flow of customers manage my Dropbox folders so no worries there. My 2TB Western Digital Passport HD and the two folders are prime spring cleaning targets.

Purging creative files isn’t simple. We have a boneyard of ideas just waiting to be browsed while sipping coffee for a reason. The stuff folder is not a hotbed for notions. It’s populated with files with the original names of “scan” with an iterative numbering system, reminding me I’m not very original with names. They have dates that stretch back several years which is embarrassing.

A quick look through them and it’s obvious it’s time to move them to the trash. 2013? Really? What project was I working on needing an ornate border? No clue. Time to move on.

Spring cleaning took nearly an hour. Time spent picking through images, snippets of code and Word files with the intention of getting rid instead of finding a reason to keep. A few things survived, finding a home in the idea boneyard or archived with its project. The rest pushed off to the rubbish bin, emptied and forgotten.

I feel better for having devoted my full attention to the task. Last fall I took a half-hearted pass, not really getting to trash much. I should’ve put more effort into it.

Does anybody want to help me spring clean my filing cabinet?

Waterfall Garden Park Pioneer Square

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On my daily trek to work, I’ve the fortune of passing the Waterfall Garden Park, located in Pioneer Square. This small “pocket garden” is a magical oasis of calm of downtown Seattle. Each morning, the park is alive with chirping finches and nuthatches. As spring inches closer, the heavenly smell of fresh blooming flowers is a welcome treat. Often I’ll stop for a few minutes, taking in the peace of the park. I’m looking forward to flowers and blooming trees in later spring. In my busy and often stressful day, this park is great place to catch my breath.

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If you would like to learn more about the Waterfall Garden Park, want to know more about Pioneer square, follow this link for more information.

Holiday Baking

Every holiday season I will try to get some holiday baking done. Whether its sticky buns, cinnamon rolls or cookies, I try to find a weekend where I can get something done. This season has been a challenge. A new job with all its demands, has kept me from the kitchen and the business so my time is short when I do, I try to make the most of it.

This past Sunday, I started with cinnamon rolls. The recipe is a hand-me-down from my dad who also used to bake breads when I was a kid. In his time, the sweet, gooey dough was mixed by hand in a glass bowl and wood spoon. It was rich in color and smelled yeasty and buttery. He would pour it on the floured counter and knead it until it was just dry enough not to stick to his hands and then to the bowl for the first of it’s two rises. Now that I’m making them, I tend to use my mixer to get it nearly ready. I still like to knead last bit by hand; it’s my favorite part of the process.

The recipe has two options, a great sticky sauce with pecans, walnuts or raisins or a “dry” cinnamon and sugar mix. The family tends to always like the sticky buns the best and with the cream cheese icing, you can get cavities by just looking at them. This time, however, I went with the dry. I had plans for some olive oil rolls and needed the extra time for that.

The olive oil rolls, a three stage sponge recipe from Martha Stewart, was something new. I’ve flipped past this page more times that I can remember, thinking someday I would try them. I should have done them sooner. They were amazing, spongy rolls with great flavor and texture. The crust was a bit flaky and with the bit of butter I brushed over them, just browned enough. I’ll be doing them again!

hand-drawn elements

3 Things About Vectorizing Hand-drawn Art

hand-drawn elements

They started off as a doodle on the edge of the page, this hand-drawn swirl. Soon they were spilling down the side of the page somewhere around the ten minute mark of that boring meeting about the stuff from the meeting an hour before. By the end of the meeting, there are two pages of great and not so great doodles. Some of those doodle are freaking works of art and you really want to use them somewhere. Anywhere. But how do you get them into your computer? Here’s my process.

Scanners, Wacom tablet and Illustrator, oh my!

Okay, I’ll be honest and say I’m not the best at recreating my doodles and sketches with the pen tool on a blank page. I have a standard I like to keep in my work and in that first moment I see the gentle curve of my drawing fail miserably, I know it’s time to break out the scanner. I have moved on from throwing the mouse/pen across the desk. The thought of flipping the desk still needs to be beat down though.

In my opinion, the sketch feature in Adobe Illustrator is a great place to start for many of my projects and ideas. I can get them digitized quickly and without too much fuss. If I’m approaching something for a client, I tend to use my scanner and Wacom tablet. The fine, editable line is still my preferred product. The sketch tool makes a shape with more points than I often want to work with.

Hand-drawn elements

Resolution Matters

For all of my print projects, I stick to the industry standard of 300dpi. When I need to get drawings scanned for working files, I will use 600dpi. Some might think it’s overkill. In my experience with vectorizing hand-drawn art, the pencil drawings I work from can lose detail in the scan. If I used an eraser, I can guarantee there will be some ghosting of lines. Even after a quick trip through Photoshop to increase the contrast, things may not be as clear as I would like.

Format

Quick, high-resolution scans that I can open and save as PSD files are good for most things. For that involved project containing multiple layers, I’ll always output as TIFF files. TIFF files can hold more information from a scan and stay lossless if I want to make multiple versions depending on need. Some printer/scanners don’t have to create TIFF files, so you might have to rely on scanning software.

I work on a Mac and found I prefer the Image Capture app over the vendor software. I like to make all of my adjustments in Photoshop and all the bells and whistles found in those OEM (Original Equipment Manufactures) are usually geared for the casual user. VueScan is an excellent paid software option if you are looking for scanning photos over hand-drawn art.

I realize most of you will have your own process. Mine has change over the years. After reading other artist detail their workflow, I like to look at how I do things and see if I can improve. When my Canon scanner failed, I found myself comparing new models; that forced me into a new direction. When I updated my OS, I found other problems and created a new workaround. Life happens in my studio. So does spilling my coffee on two hours of work, but that’s another tale. I’ll probably call that “How to not spill coffee on your clients proof”.