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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Not A Creature Was Stirring

Well, maybe just one or two.

Have you noticed all the "Christmas in July" sales that just passed? Some stores even ran sales they called "Black Friday" sales. I'm definitely not a fan of what has become known as "Christmas creep," but it is the time to be thinking of the holidays for those of us who create Christmas designs. I have several ideas I'd like to get done, but will kick off with the design I used for my own holiday cards last year.

"Christmas Mice" artistically edited photo, painterly watercolor effect

As I've mentioned before on this blog, our family keeps pet mice (they're such sweeties!). I wanted to feature them on our Christmas card, so I sewed a little stocking for them then snapped picture after picture as they played around it. Mice are incredibly difficult to photograph because they move quickly and often. I think it was a Christmas miracle that I was able to get even one shot where both of them were still and posed with the stocking.

"Christmas Mice" original photo

 I also photographed some bunched up silky material to use as a background. I didn't want to put this down for the mice to play on thinking they might chew or soil it.

Fabric background

Using Photoshop, I cut out the picture of the mice and pasted it onto the fabric. I also cut out the shadows and pasted them on as well, but only used them as a guide to darken that section of the fabric image.

"Christmas Mice" composite before editing
Next, I started applying filters, including going over the entire image with the Impressionist Brush Tool. This tool is found in the toolbox after selecting the brush tool, and is symbolized by a brush surrounded by a swirl. This brush take the pixels that are already there and rearranges them into a pattern of paint strokes that give the picture an Impressionistic appearance. Once it's been selected, there are other parameters that may be set, first size, opacity and blending mode. Under the Advanced button are choices of stroke style, area (how much space around the brush is impacted) and tolerance (how similar in color pixels need to be before the brush will change them).

It's a good idea to record the settings you use so you duplicate a look that turns out to your liking...advice born from the regret of not doing so with this piece.

"Christmas Mice" is now available through Zazzle on greeting cards, address labels, wrapping paper and a number of other products. The inside of the cards read "Christmas... The perfect time to delight in the little things." (However, as all of these products are customizable, this may be removed or changed to anything you like.) Many thanks to our dear Squiggle and Griswalda!

"Christmas Mice" Greeting Card "Christmas Mice" Puzzle artistically edited photo, painterly watercolor effect
"Christmas Mice" address label artistically edited photo, painterly watercolor effect
"Christmas Mice" Wrapping Paper artistically edited photo, painterly watercolor effect

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