Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gifts from Caterina and a Light Tent

Caterina was so kind to make these items for my Victorian house. A pair of men's slippers, books with pages, an envelope of tiny postcards and crocheted potholders which will be the perfect colors for the kitchen. I am in awe of her tiny crochet! Thank you, Caterina!

With the darker months of the year quickly approaching, I decided that I should no longer rely on my bay window as my photo studio. For the cost of some foam core and full spectrum light bulbs, here is my economical solution - a homemade light tent. I can't wait to hear Hubby's reaction when he goes downstairs to the bar in the "man cave" and sees my new studio sitting on top!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2011 Chicago International Workshops

I thought that you might enjoy viewing a sample of the upcoming workshops to be offered at the 2011 Chicago International Show. The prototypes for the workshops were unveiled this weekend at the Chicago Fall Show (where I also found several things which I will post about at a later time).

Sorry for the bad pictures, they were taken with my camera phone.

No. 11 Bond Street, Whitledge-Burgess

Little Girl's Bed, Judee Williamson

Fun with Faux Finishes, Carol Sherry

Vintage Feather Tree, Laura Montgomery

Versailles, Jo Bevilacqua

Vintage Wine Rack, Andy Bevilacqua

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making High Quality Printables

Some tips to prevent your printables from being fuzzy:

Image quality
There are 2 main reasons why pictures turn out fuzzy: 1) printer and paper quality and 2) resolution. Resolution is the easiest (and least expensive!) of those things to change. This is done in your photo editing software (Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, GIMP, etc.).

If you want to figure out why the pictures you print from the web always turn out blurry, it probably has to do with resolution.
What is resolution?
Resolution is the number of pixels (dots of color) in your picture. Think of resolution like the thread count in sheets. A higher thread count means that the fibers are closer together, resulting in a smoother surface and better quality sheets. Resolution works in a similar manner: a higher pixel count means that the dots of color are closer together, resulting in a clearer image.

For making printables, you want a minimum resolution of 300 pixels per inch (118 pixels per centimeter). Fewer pixels will result in a blurry printout. More than 300 or 118 pixels will not be perceptible to the human eye due to the limitations of typical desktop printers.

Pictures on websites are typically 72 pixels per inch instead of the 300 pixels that you require for printing.

How to Change Resolution
This is done in a photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, GIMP, etc. This cannot be accomplished in Microsoft Word or other text editing software. If you don't have photo editing software, you may wish to download a free, 30 day trial. If you are using a Mac, you may download the trial here. GIMP is free without a trial.

Here are the directions to change resolution in Adobe Photoshop Elements (most photo editing software has a similar setup):
From the menu at the top of your screen, choose Image — Resize — Image Size. A window like this will appear:

Under "Document Size" You will change the "Resolution" to "300" pixels/inch or 118 pixels/cm.

The "Constrain Proportions" box should be checked by default.

For now, keep the "Resample Image" box unchecked.

You can see that when you type in a new number for the resolution, the width and height changes. If you type in a new width or height, the resolution will change.

Now, let's say that we have a picture that is 2 inches wide with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. We want to make it 1 inch wide and keep the same resolution. Notice that if we try to change the resolution in the window, the width will change according to how many pixels are being spread out in those 2 inches (think about thread count in sheets). In order to make the change, we have to check the "Resample Image" box. Enter "1" in the "Width" box. Enter "300" pixels/inch or "118" pixels/cm in the "Resolution" box. Done!

You can always make it smaller, but you can't make it bigger.
This is a frustrating fact about pixels and an area of confusion to many people. I'll try to break this down into a more creative way of thinking about the process:

Imagine that pixels are little dots of watercolor paint on paper. If you stretch out the watercolor paint by adding water, you'll see a blurry area of paint because the pigments are now diluted over a larger area. This is similar to what happens when you add more resolution to a picture than it originally had.

For example, if you find a picture of a book cover on a website that you want to print out for your miniature setting, make sure that when you open it in your photo editing software, it has 1 of 2 things:
1) A resolution of 300 pixels/inch or 118 pixels/cm or more and is at least the size that you want your final print to be.

2) A width and height large enough so that when the picture is made to your desired size, the resolution will not go below 300 pixels per inch (remember resolution is proportionate to width and height).

Working with Pictures From the Web
First—I can't stress this enough — make sure that if you are using the pictures you find on the web for commercial purposes, the pictures are in the public domain.

Second, open up the picture in your photo editing software and check the resolution and the size using the guidelines above. If the picture is too small (and in most cases it is) just remember that the final result will be a bit blurry. The amount of blur will depend upon how few pixels it has. Typically graphics on websites are 72 pixels per inch. This is due to the resolution of a typical computer monitor. More than 72 pixels per inch is unnecessary because most computer monitors cannot show more than that.

Most printable websites that I have visited do not offer their graphics in a high resolution format. The authors may have put a lot of work into their beautiful designs, but the printables are blurry when printed. Hopefully, we can spread the word to our fellow miniaturists out there — 300 pixels per inch, please!

  • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch or 118 pixels/cm
  • You can always make it smaller, but you can never make it bigger
  • Don't use Microsoft Word or other text editing programs to change your photo sizes. Instead, download free photo editing software.
Read previous posts about Photoshop with tutorials to get you started.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or leave a comment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Collaborating with Oiseau deNim

As many of you know from my profile, when I'm not creating miniatures, I am a freelance graphic designer. My specialty is packaging design (boxes, bags, cans, etc.).  When Peiwen of Oiseau deNim contacted me about doing box designs and a logo for her work with polymer clay foods, I readily accepted the invitation. Not only have we come up with some fun items, but we've developed a friendship as well.

Please take a look at what Peiwen has sent me. Her work is breathtaking. I feel honored to not only have her pieces in my collection, but to call her my friend.

I call this Breakfast with Peiwen. It makes me imagine that we are dining together al fresco in beautiful France! My camera cannot capture the detail in her work. These items are simply stunning! I think I will have to create a new garden room to accommodate them.

The logos and cake box are from our collaboration. Peiwen lives in France and much of her work is inspired by French cuisine. "Oiseau" in French means "bird". She wanted to capture the meaning of her business name and the whimsical, feminine appeal of her work in her logo. Many of her boxes have lace designs; therefore she wished to include lace in her logo as well.

This is the mouth-watering Passion Fruit Macaroon Charlotte. It fits nicely into the box that she requested from me. Notice how the handles form an "O" like "Oiseau". That is typical of Peiwen's attention to detail! She added the pretty floral motif to the box.

Thank you, Peiwen, for your beautiful gifts and for allowing me the opportunity to work and play with you!

The passion fruit macaroon charlottes are currently available for purchase from Oiseau deNim's Etsy shop.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Source for Printable American Newspapers

The Library of Congress Digital Collections website is a great resource for printables. If you're looking for an old newspaper for your attic or historical setting, try their Chronicaling America newspaper database. You'll find downloadable, high resolution pictures of front and inside pages of American newspapers from 1860 - 1922. These are in the public domain.

To make your newspapers look old, try Nikki's tips on aging paper on her blog, Miniature Question and Answer. Or, if you'd like some practice with Photoshop, try my step-by-step tutorial on aging newspapers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gift for Caterina (Le Minis Di Cockerina)

I've been happily creating geraniums to help Caterina fill her tree trunk planter. She has really done a nice job of making the planter look like its full size counterpart!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fixing Page Scaling on Printables

Printouts can vary in size if they are made from different computers; this affects the scale of the printables. It can happen because of page sizes (A4-size European pages are slightly smaller than American letter-size pages) and the difference in print settings.

To help ensure that the printouts you make from this blog are in 1:12 scale, I'm implementing a new measuring system that is combined with my logo. When you print items from this blog, you may measure the dimensions of the true2scale logo on your printout for comparison. You may also wish to make them larger or smaller, depending upon your needs.

The bread pan and the pie plate printables have been updated with the logo. Please let me know if you have problems or suggestions to make it easier for you to print items from this blog in scale.

Printable Pie Plate Fix

If you have downloaded and tried to use my pie plate printable, you've probably noticed that the sides don't quite fit around the bottom so nicely. I am sorry if this has caused problems for anyone.

Here is the correct version: For the best print quality, download the pdf.

The template on the original post has been updated in case anyone has it bookmarked.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gift for Eve (After Dark)

I'm a fan of Evie's miniature food creations. Her beautiful work can be seen at After Dark Miniatures or her Etsy shop. When she contacted me for a swap, I happily agreed. I hope that she likes the bunny box, basket and jar of honey. They were fun to make!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gift from Maria (Il Cucchiaino Magico)

Look at the pretty items that Maria from Il Cucchiaino Magico has sent me! They are souvenirs from fair Verona and the infamous Romeo and Juliet. The book is so perfectly made; it is printed throughout with lovely illustrations and the binding is perfect. It even feels like a real book! The little box is packed full of pretty postcards and the CD case even has a CD inside! Perhaps the enclosed letter to Juliet will inspire me to make a wish...maybe to finish some of my miniature projects! :)  Thank you Maria!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gift from Oiseau deNim

If you aren't familiar with Peiwen at Oiseau deNim, you really should pop over to her blog or her Etsy site. Not only is she an amazing miniature food artist, but a really wonderful person as well! Here is what sweet Peiwen has sent to me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Swap with Ira (Merry Jingle)

I eagerly agreed to do a garden-theme swap with Ira at Merry Jingle. I was utterly surprised when she sent me these fabulous things for my captain's study. Just look at the wonderful items that Ira has assembled! There are so many maps; the captain will be one man who will never need to ask for directions! I can see that a lot of effort and thought went into this swap. Thank you, Ira!

And here are the hostas and geraniums that Ira has requested.  I am a fan of succulents, so I included a misfit mug of hens and chicks (just like I have in my own garden). I hope that all of these items will fit nicely into her Toscana garden.