Sunday, May 22, 2016

Picture made with Words Tutorial

In high school the art classes used to do this thing where they make a picture using words, and I decided I wanted to as well. I did this a few years ago and didn't take pictures of the process:

The entire picture is written by me with black sharpies (regular and thin pointed). I did this on an 11"x14" canvas, then framed. I made a few mistakes along the way, but I just made another one for a friend's wedding gift, so now I have pictures of the process.

The original picture, and the final product:

This one is on paper instead of canvas (to save $$$) and 12"x12" because that's as big as regular cardstock comes.

I asked my friend for 3-5 pictures of her and her fiance. I wanted a straight on shot that was fairly close-up (not full body). Pictures with high contrast tend to work best. I asked her for multiple pictures because sometimes the shading just doesn't look right on a certain picture. She gave me 6, and I really could have only made 2 of them work. 

Once you have a few pictures, you need to edit them in photoshop. I used this tutorial to figure out how to make a photo into 3 shades of gray. The tutorial actually tells you how to do the entire picture digitally, but I wanted to do it my hand. 

Basically, you open your photo in photoshop and: "From the Select menu, choose Color Range. From the Select drop-down menu in the Color Range dialog, choose Shadows and click OK. Then, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to copy the selected pixels onto a new layer.  Click back on the Background layer in the Layers panel."

Repeat the above step for "highlights" and "midtones" as well. This step was where I was playing with the shadows and stuff. You can adjust what to select for each layer. You want enough dark tones, but not too many. And enough midtones, but not too much. 

After you have the three layers: "Click the Eye icon next to the Background layer in the Layers panel to hide that layer from view. Click on the midtones layer and from the Edit menu choose Fill. Use 50% Gray, check the Preserve Transparency box, and click OK. Then, activate the shadow layer and use the Fill command again, except this time use Black with Preserve Transparency checked. Repeat for the highlight tones, and fill with White."

This is when you can see what the picture will look like. I did this three times, adjusting what exactly was a "shadow" or "midtone" or "highlight" each time, and ended up with the following 3 pictures.

I thought the first didn't have enough dark tones and had too much highlight. The second and third had a lot of shadow on the male's face, but the girl looked good in both of these. I ended up choosing the second, and then creating a 4th picture where the midtones on his face weren't so large.

I used the above picture to shadow his chin/neck area only. Otherwise I did not reference this picture. 

The entire photoshop experience took me roughly 2 hours. 

Originally I was going to print the picture off and trace it onto a 12"x12" piece of paper. To do this I opened the photo in Excel (weird, I know) by going to Insert-> photo. When you print a photo from Excel it automatically splits it into as many pages as the picture takes up. Word, on the other hand, just cuts off whatever part of the picture doesn't fit on the page. That's why I was using excel. I made the picture large enough in Excel so the humans were 9.75" tall. I thought this would fit the 12" tall paper nicely. (The way that I measure the picture is to insert a shape - I use a box- and make the box the same size as from the top of his head to the bottom of the picture. Then go to the format tab in Excel and it tell you how tall the box is, so you know how tall the top of his head will be.)

I was going to print out the picture, tape the pages together, since it wouldn't fit on one page, then tape that the the back of my cardstock paper and use a flashlight to trace it on. My printer wasn't working, so instead I zoomed to 100% on Excel and just traced it from the computer. 

I traced out all the light/medium/dark sections from the picture (and used the other picture mentioned above for his chin area). 

Once this was traced out, I started writing the text. I used a regular black sharpie for all my "shadow" areas, which were dark. I wrote out The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I started with his hair, then the dark areas on his face, then her hair and her face, etc. I kept track of what areas I did in what order and made a guide of it so that they can actually go through and read the proclamation if they tried to. 

For the hair, I like to write in the direction that the hair is flowing. For all other areas, I just write straight, horizontal lines of text. 

The midtones were made with a fine-point sharpie. I spaced out my letters a a tiny bit, but not much. The light areas I used the fine-point sharpie but spaced out the letters a lot. You don't have to fill in the white areas with any text, but I wanted to because his shirt and arm end without and midtones or shadows on the edges, so without any text in the highlight areas, he would blend right into the plain white background of the paper and we wouldn't know where he ends. 

Here are some close-ups of the text. Sometimes it's hard to read because the letters bleed together, but I tried my best. 

For the title, I went into Microsoft Word and typed the title using Arial font. I traced it onto the paper the same way I traced the photo. To make sure it was centered, I marked on my paper where the exact center line was. In Word, I put an "I" right below the title, and then lined up the "I" with my center line.

To fill in "The Family" I wrote out "THE FAMILY" over and over again with the fine-point sharpie. The fill in "A Proclamation to the World" I wrote out "A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD" over and over again with the fine-point sharpie.

The final product:


The original, for reference:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pinnable Wall Map Tutorial

My mom has traveled quite a lot in her life, so for her birthday/mother's day (they were one day apart this year) I made her a large pinnable wall map.

I followed this tutorial.

The finished map:

This measures roughly 53"x33". It is laminated, but non-laminated works too. I have just heard that non-laminated maps fade after a few years.  

The purchased materials:
-Map (Barnes and Noble or online from Rand McNally)
-Plywood backing (1/8") - cut by Home Depot
-support wood (mine was 1.5"x1.5") - cut by Home Depot
-Foam poster board
-Wood trim for frame
-Hanging hardware

Materials on hand:
-Wood glue
-Wood stain
-Sand Paper
-X-Acto knife
-Wood cutting tool (I used a jigsaw and a circle saw)
-Nail gun with nails
-Hammer and nails

Here is a breakdown of the cost. 

Note: I used a 40% off coupon to purchase the tri-fold foam poster board and the spray adhesive. And the wood I bought was the cheapest I could find and Home Depot. 

Step 1: Take a LONG time to measure out what size wood/framing you need. I miscalculated and ended up having to trim about 1/4" off my support wood so it would be mostly covered by the frame. The frame covers the front and sides, so the width of the framing wood needs to be the same size as the support wood thickness+plywood thickness+foam board thickness. 

I got home depot to cut the plywood to about 1/2" wider on all sides than the map. That was the only piece of wood that was truly square, since I don't have a table saw. 

Then I sanded the plywood to roughen it up so the glue would have something to stick to. I wiped off the excess wood dust. 

Step 2: I started on my wood framing to support the plywood. 

I cut my wood to 45 degree angles using a circle saw, and used a nail gun/regular hammer and nails to attach the frame to the plywood. 

I didn't cut the 45 degree angles perfectly straight, so there was some overhang. I cut the excess framing wood so it lined up with the plywood. In the cases where they plywood overhung, I used spare wood scrap to create shims and fill in the gap.


No overhang.

This is why a table saw would have been handy.

Nailing the plywood to the frame.

It didn't feel sturdy enough, so I made little triangle support pieces.

Sturdy enough for my liking.

Step 3: Then I took my poster board, cut it to size (one side was too short, the other side too long), added material to the side that was too short, and glued it to the plywood with wood glue.

I put the crease side down against the plywood.

The top hangs over the plywood, but there's not enough foam on the right side.

I marked where to cut with a pencil, then cut with an X-Acto knife.

Step 4: Glue the map on with extra strength spray adhesive. MAKE SURE THE MAP IS STRAIGHT AND CENTERED ON ALL SIDES.

All glued.

Step 5: Work on the frame. 

Sand/stain the wood. I had leftover espresso stain, so that's what I used. I rubbed the stain on with a rag, and did not use any polyurethane on top. (Use gloves!)

Dirty nails. This is after scrubbing and scrubbing. I think semi-permanent dirty nails are a right of passage for any crafter. I did not wear gloves.

Cut side frame pieces to size, nail gun these to the support wood material.

Pretty close. I slightly miscalculated.

Be very careful cutting the front framing wood. Cut 45 degree angles at the corners. This is what the viewer sees, so you want it to look good. 

The first 2 pieces done and nailed to the map.

The second 2 pieces of framing were a little trickier. I had to do some sanding/cutting with an X-Acto knife to really get it to fit. Also, since the map was glued on off-centered, I had to try to hide that as much as I could with the frame by slightly off-centering the frame. This caused for some gaps in the frame (it's hard to explain what I did), but unless you look for it you can't tell. 

Step 6: Last, put on the framing hardware. I used a wire and these triangle framing pieces I got from Michael's. The wire could support up to 20lbs, and my map was 12-15ish lbs. 

(Note, the looser the wire is, the more the map hangs away from the wall instead of sitting snug against the wass right up to  the top)

This took me a weekend to make, and if I had been better about measuring and getting true 45 degree angles a lot of time would have been saved. 

Map tacks can be purchased on Amazon for a few dollars. They have short stems instead of the long stems that normal tacks have.