Saturday, September 29, 2012

Your First Scrapbook Layout with GIMP - Part 3


If everything is copacetic, your image should look like this right now:


It does?  Great!  That means I must be communicating in a somewhat understandable way, right?  (If the whole thing thus far has been Greek to you, leave me a comment and I'll help you get it squared away.)

Ready to add your picture?

Hopefully you have one at the ready, since that was... uh... your homework from a few posts back.  If you don't, stop now, and go get one.  Get the cutest one you can find, the one that makes you look back at that special day with a tear in your eye and just a twinge of sadness at how fast those little whippersnappers grow.

Or, you know, download something off the net of Ricky Schroeder.  Either way.

I'm planning to use a picture of my own cutie pie--Brandon.  He is now almost fourteen and has mastered the art of arguing his point (probably genetically unavoidable) and backsassing.  I guess I should have seen it coming, since my Mama told me long ago that paybacks would be rough.  He has also, however, mastered the art of being thoughtful and kind, and an A student, and he has a wicked sense of humor, so I still have the tear and the twinge. 

Anyhoo... I digress.

Let's get to adding a picture, shall we?  We'll do that in the same way that we added the letters.  Navigate to the folder on your hard drive where you have said digital memorabilia stored, click on the picture you're planning to use, and drag it onto your Gimp work area.

Once it's there, your image should look like this:


Oh. My. Word, y'all!  Can you stand it?  Doesn't it just bring those sweet memories flooding back?

Sigh.

I could spend all day looking at it, but I won't--out of respect, since you're trying to learn something here and all.

Though it's a darn cute picture, and whoever took it obviously (feel the sarcasm here) has mad photography skills, what I see in this picture that I do NOT want in my finished product is a date stamp.  I mean, it's great that it's there to tell me when this picture was taken (unless I forgot to update the date when I swapped the battery out and then who KNOWS when this might have been taken...), but I really don't want to see the big yellow numbers in my finished product.

So let's do some tweaking.

Cropping

Cropping in Gimp is not, on the surface, as simple in some other programs that are just built for photo editing alone.  But I'm willing to forgive a lot of shortcomings given how many other amazing things Gimp can do.  And I don't need to get super fancy here.  I just want to crop that date stamp off of the bottom.

I would recommend you do something similar to your photo.  Maybe it's a little off center.  Maybe there's a whole lot of blank wall space above someone's head.  Maybe some other person in your family (who shall remain nameless) felt the need to be in the picture and there's a head or arm or hand or foot or whatever other appendage he or she could get in there in the bottom right corner.  Maybe part of your finger was in the way of the lens (this has NEVER happened to me, by the way... ahem).  Whatever it is, pick some top, bottom, right or left area of your photo you want to be outta there.

Got it in your head?  Good.

First things first - let's make sure that we have the picture layer selected in the Layers dialog.  It should already be selected since you just drug it into the image, but it's better to verify before we start cropping.  You should see it listed first in your Layers Dialog and it should be highlighted, like this:


Then let's go to the Toolbox, and click on the Rectangle Select tool.  It's the icon that looks like a dotted rectangle, up in the top, left-hand corner.  See it?


Kinda looks like a TV screen.  And after you've clicked on it, when you hover over your image, you should see your pointer change into what looks like crosshairs, with that TV screen floating just out to the right of it.  That means you're ready to select.

Click and drag anywhere on your image (the big image, not just the picture of your kiddo).  I like to start outside of the picture, so I can make sure I get all of it that I need.  This time, I started with a cropping area like this:


See how it's a little bit above the top of the picture?  And a little bit to the right of the right side?  And a little bit to the left of the left side?  I don't think I want to lose anything from the top or from either side, so that ensures that I won't.  And because I am working on this layer, and only this layer, the cropping I'm doing won't affect anything else on the page, just this picture.  Sweet!

Another beautiful thing about this rectangle select tool is that it's not set in stone.  It's not like some other tools where you have to get it exactly right or start all over.  See the squares in the corners?  If you hover with your mouse in between those squares--top, bottom, left or right--you'll see that a yellow box appears, like this:


And if you click inside that yellow box, hold down your mouse button and drag, you can change the cropping boundary.  You can make endless changes if you want to.  I love that because my eye-hand coordination seems to be slightly less accurate than a two-year-old's, so being able to change things makes all the difference.  Play with it a little.  Move the boundary in and move it back out.  Move it until you're satisfied that what's inside the cropping boundary is what you want.

I moved my boundaries in a little on the left, because I decided that I didn't really need that extra space there.  I moved it in a little on the right, just because I felt like it.  And I moved it down a little on the bottom, because I really want to get as much of that enormous Spiderman backpack in the image as I can.  Now it looks like this:


And I am ready to commit to the crop.  You?  Let's do it!

From the work area menu bar, select Edit and Cut.  There should be a lovely white space now, where the parts of your picture that were inside the cropping boundaries used to be.  Like this:


Does that freak you out a tad?

I know.  It did me too, when I first undertook learning Gimp.  But let me mention a couple of things.

Undo


First of all, Gimp has an awesome feature called Undo.  I LOVE Undo.  I love lots of things, and definitely my husband most, but I mean, I really do--truly, genuinely--LOVE the Undo function.

And?  This is a digital image, that you drug in from the folder where the original is still stored.  So even if you made horrible choices with the picture inside of Gimp, your original is safe and sound.  Isn't that the best news ever?  No need for the Mylanta after a horrendously bad cut, on a photo for which you have no negative, with real scissors (like when I accidentally cut part of my husband's head off in a wedding picture... ack) anymore.

So... right now, if you're totally concerned that something has gone horribly awry in this cropping exercise, you can undo what you did by selecting Edit and Undo Cut from the work area menu bar.  See?  Your picture is back, just like you never cut at all.  Isn't that fabulous?  Even better than the fact that you can Undo one thing, is that you can Undo a whole lotta things.  Gimp has a pretty extensive Undo history.  Check it out by selecting the Edit option from the work area menu bar again.  Now it should say Undo Rectangle Select (don't click on it, just note that it's there).

Cool, yes?  It's keeping track for you!

Anyway, we really do want to cut, and get on with the cropping business, so select Edit again from the work area menu bar, and select the Redo cut option.  Yes, Redo is pretty amazing, too!  And now you should be back to the white space where your picture used to be. 

The next step is to paste the area we cut back into the image.  In order to do that, select Edit from the work area menu bar and hover over the Paste As option.  You should see four options to select from.  There are times when pasting as a New Image is great (if the area you cut will stand alone as its own image), but we want this to be part of the image we're already working in--with the notebook paper, letters, and so on--so select New Layer here--that tells Gimp to paste that picture into the image we're working on, as its own layer.

Your cropped picture should now be pasted into your image, in the upper, left-hand corner, like this:


After the Crop

Points of interest - your rectangle select area is still flashing away, like it's waiting for you to select something else.  There is a big, giant white space where your picture used to be, with some ugly cropped area around it, and the picture you want to use is in the wrong spot.  Let's deal with all of the above.

To get rid of the rectangle select, because we're all done with that, select Select (ha ha) and None from the work area menu bar.  The rectangle and it's little flashy boundaries should  be gone.

Next, we want the white space and leftovers from the picture (imagine the little curly edges that are left over after you cropped your picture with scissors--that's what we have here, just in digital format) to be gone.  Notice in your Layers dialog that you have the layer for your picture still listed, and above it a layer called "Clipboard".  The "Clipboard" layer is the cropped image we just pasted.  The old picture layer, with the original file name, is what we cropped from. 


Presently, the "Clipboard" layer is selected (highlighted) because we just pasted it and it's active.   We definitely don't want to delete that one, since we just went through all of this effort to get it perfect.  To deal instead with the leftovers of our cropping, click on the layer below the "Clipboard" layer--the one with the original file name--to highlight.

Then right-click on that same layer (the picture we cropped from--NOT the "Clipboard" layer) and select Delete Layer from the popup menu.  It should disappear like magic.  And your image should now look like this:


It does?  Awesome!  If it doesn't, or if you have questions, leave me a comment and we'll get you up to speed.

All that's left to do with the picture right now is to move it to the center.  Remember how to do that?  Select (click on) the Move tool from your Toolbox.  It looks like this:

Then click on that picture and drag it to the middle of the image where it should be.  Like this:



Make sure to save your work here.  Select File and Save from the main work area.

And stay tuned.  Next we'll learn how to resize and rotate that picture, so it doesn't look quite so straight up and down.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Your First Scrapbook Layout with GIMP - Part 2

When we left off, you had just added the notebook paper layer to your first digital scrapbooking layout with GIMP.  Are you ready for more?

Please, please, please... if you find that you're struggling with any part of this, leave me a comment.  I really do want you to come out the other side of this knowing how to use these tools well!

Let's play with our alpha next.  I generally like to work on my page from the outside in.  No specific reason, but that seems to work best for me.  Go back to the folder where you extracted your School Days files and open the Alpha folder.  Under that folder, you should see two more folders--one entitled Letters and one entitled Numbers.

The Letters folder contains... um, right... letters.  And the Numbers folder contains... you guessed it, all of the numbers (plus a couple of brackets and an ampersand).

Back to Gimp.  Your file, with the single notebook paper layer, should look like this:


Notice the file name at the top, now that you've saved it.

Let's add the words "School Days" (spelled out, so "S-C-H-O-O-L-D-A-Y-S) to our notebook paper, using the alpha set.   Open the "Letters" folder.  It's best to have the folder and the Gimp work area open at the same time on your Desktop, so that you can drag the items you want directly from the folder to the work area.  I like to have them open side by side like this:

Then just click on the letter you need and drag it to the work area.  Start with "S", click and drag.  Once it's in the work area, your file should look like this:


In your Layers dialog, you should now see both layers, with the S.png layer listed first and the Notebook_Paper.png layer listed second, like this:


Re-Ordering Layers

The fact that the S.png layer is listed first means it is on top of the Notebook_Paper.png layer.  If you picture that in your head, the way it would be if you were working with a physical piece of notebook paper and an alpha cutout, the S would be sitting on top of the piece of paper. 

You can change the order of the layers anytime you'd like by clicking on a layer and dragging it.  In our current file, let's say you actually wanted the Notebook_Paper.png layer to be first on the list (top of the pile if you were working with an actual piece of paper).  In the Layers Dialog, click on the Notebook_Paper.png and drag it above the S.png layer.

Did you notice in your work area that the letter "S" is no longer visible? That's because you put the Notebook_Paper.png on top.  The "S" is still there, but it's underneath.  Make sense?

Let's go ahead and move the S.png layer back to the top, because that's really where it should be. 

Just wanted to give you a little illustration of how layers work.

Remember in a prior post when I talked about the value of layers and how they enable you to move things independently of each other?  Now is the time to really see how that works.

The Move Tool


In your Toolbox, the default tool selection (meaning that's the tool that is already highlighted for you when you open Gimp) is the Move tool.  It looks like this: 


You'll notice at the bottom of your Toolbox, there is a panel that's linked to the Move tool.  It looks like this:


The default selection for the Move panel (if you hover over the icons you can see what each is for) is to move layers (the red box icon is for moving a selection and the one to the right of that, the one that looks a little bit like a telescope, is to move paths--neither of these are options we'll use for awhile).

The default selection under Tool Toggle is "Pick a layer or guide".  That means that you point, click and move whichever layer you want to.  The other option, which can be handy (especially if something is not visible), is "Move the active layer."  That enables you to move whichever layer you've selected in the Layers dialog.

For now we want to leave all selections at the default.

Let's use the Move tool to move our "S" up to the top and left of the page.  Click on the "S" and drag it to the top and left.

Did you notice when you hovered over the "S" that you saw a four-way arrow?  You see this shape when the mouse is hovering over the active layer--the one that's highlighted in the Layers dialog. When the mouse is hovering over a non-active layer, it looks like a small hand.   You can click and drag active or inactive layers, it's just helpful to know which one is active.

Did you also notice when you clicked on it that the dotted line around the "S" (dotted line represents the layer boundary) turned solid?  As long as you hold down the mouse button, it remains solid, and that's your indicator that you have the right layer.

Once you've moved the "S", your page should look like this:


Good so far?  If yes, yay!  If not, stop and leave me a comment.  We'll get you back on track.

Let's add some more letters.  Just click on each letter from the Letters folder and drag it onto the work area.  Start with "C", then "H", then "O".   No need to move them just yet, just click and drag.

Now that you have the "C", "H" and "O" on the work area, your file should look like this:


Weird, right?  You can only see the "O".  But if you look at the Layers dialog, you see that all of the letters are listed there, like this:


Hmmm... anyone know why that is? 

Yep, you guessed it.  It's because the letters are on top of each other.  They're all there, but it's like they're stacked neatly in a little pile and all you can see is the "O" because that one's on top.

So we just need to move them around.  We'll use the same method we used to move the "S".  We'll click and drag, starting with the "O", making sure that the Move tool is highlighted in the Toolbox before we go all move-crazy.  After you've gone all move-crazy, your image should look like this:


Now, we need another "O" and we have two ways to do that.  We can drag the "O" over from the Letters folder like we did before and move it where we want it, but we can also just duplicate the "O" we already have.  For the sake of illustration and because duplicating layers is an extremely useful capability, let's duplicate the "O" we already have.

In the Layers dialog, single-click on the O.png layer to highlight it, like this:


Then right-click and from the pop-up menu, select "Duplicate Layer".

Weird again, right?  Nothing noticeable happened, except that now you see "O.png copy" in the Layers dialog.  Must mean that the "O" is there somewhere, but where?  It's actually in the same exact place as the "O" before it, just on top of it.  So if you hover over it with your mouse, click and drag to the right, you'll see that you do, indeed, have an exact replica of the "O" you dragged in from the Letters folder.

Cool, yes?

At this point, your image should look like this:


Let's add the rest of our letters--the "L" for "SCHOOL" and each letter of DAYS.  Click and drag, just like you did previously, then move them to where you want them.  I'm going to put the word DAYS down at the bottom, slightly to the right.

When you get finished, your image should look similar to this:


Save your work by selecting File and Save from the work area menu bar.

Good to go?

If not, leave me a comment and let me know.

If you are, leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the experience so far.  And then hang in for the next one.  We'll look at cropping your photo.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Your First Scrapbook Layout with GIMP - Part 1

So you've downloaded the kit, right?  You have it readily accessible, and you have the picture of your good-lookin' kiddo somewhere you can find it, yes?  If you haven't downloaded it yet, do it now, right here.

And GIMP is installed and ready to roll?  If not, get it now, right here.

If you already have them both, then we're ready to go!

On your desktop, double-click on the Wilber icon to launch GIMP.   Wilber looks like this:


When it opens (it takes a little while, it uses a lot of memory), this is what you should see:


GIMP Work Area


You should also have a Toolbox window open to the left of the work area that looks like this:

 
GIMP Toolbox
and a Layers dialog to the right that looks like this:

Layers Dialog

Is that what you see?

If so, excellent!  If not, leave me a comment and we'll try to work it out.

First things first.  Let's open our background paper in GIMP.

To do that, take the following steps:
  1. Navigate to the folder where you stored the free School Days kit.  Mine is located in C:\Users\Stephanie\Downloads\.  
  2. If you haven't already extracted the files (because the package was a zip file), you can do that now.  
    • Right-click on the zip file and select Extract All.
    • The Extract dialog should, by default, create a folder with the same name as the file (School Days), under your current path (so for me it would be C:\Users\Stephanie\Downloads\School Days).
    • Click the Extract button.
  3. If you have already extracted the files (or once you have extracted the files), find the file named "Notebook_Paper.png".
  4. Click on the file and drag it into the GIMP work area.
This is what you should see now in the work area:


And in the Layers dialog, this:




A couple of quick notes:

Dots Per Inch

You'll notice that the work area has some information across the top.  The name of the file, version number, the fact that it was imported, and some additional numbers--in this case, 3600x3600.  This is the size of your image in pixels, dpi, or dots per inch.

Dots per inch is a big deal in the digital world, because it is the resolution of your image that enables you to have it printed crisply and clearly without pixelation, a fancy word for the way images start to look grainy or like they're filled with little boxes, rather than being a clean representation of the image itself.

A good standard for resolution on digital images is 300 dpi.   Also standard in the scrapbooking community is a page size of 12 inches by 12 inches.  So if we do a little math, a page that is 12 inches wide, at 300 dpi, would be 3600 dots (or pixels) wide.  And since the page is square, it is also then 3600 dots (or pixels) high.  Thus, the 3600x3600 notation at the top of the page.

Layers Dialog

Remember we talked about layers here?  This dialog is where you can really see layering at work.  In the picture above, you only have one layer shown, because so far we've only added the notebook paper.  We'll look at this dialog in more depth when we've added some additional elements.

But let's check out a few things while we have it open.  See the eye to the left of the Notebook_Paper.png?


That tells us that the Notebook_Paper.png layer is visible right now.

If you click on the eye, it will make the layer invisible.  Give it a try.  Notice in the work area how you only see a checkerboard-filled area when the eye is not showing?  That checkerboard-filled area is GIMP's blank slate.  I don't use the visibility function often, but it can definitely come in handy.

Another option that I do use with some regularity is the Opacity slider. 

This option is awesome when you want something to be see-through to some degree.  Go ahead and try it.  Make sure you've clicked the eye again so that the Notebook_Paper.png layer is visible.  Change the opacity of the layer by clicking the down-arrow to the right of the 100.0 on the slider.  Reduce it to 80%.  Do you notice the checkerboard-filled area showing through a little?  Reduce it to 60%, 40% and 20% and note the differences.

Changing opacity is particularly useful for making digital vellum (we'll talk about that in a post down the road) and for making text appear softer on the page.

Use the up-arrow to the right of slider to return opacity on the Notebook_Paper.png to 100%.


Now that we've had a brief look at GIMP and we have one layer added to our image, let's save our work.

To do that, select File and Save from the Menu Bar in the main work area.

Navigate to where you want to store this file.  I have a folder on my hard drive called "Scrappin" and I store my scrapbooking pages there by date.  I also have a naming convention for them, so that I know which page is which.  This file, for example, I would title Brandon_Kindergarten_FirstDay_082004.  That way I know which kiddo is involved, what the occasion is, and what month and year the event was. 

You don't have to do it that way, I just find that it's easier to find things later.

I'm storing my file here:
C:\Scrappin\2004\Brandon_Kindergarten_FirstDay_082004.xcf.

The .xcf extension is the default for GIMP.   You'll want to keep that extension for now.

Ready to move on?  In Part 2 we'll work with letters, learn more about the Layers dialog, and explore the Move tool!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Free Download - The Kit to Get You Started

If you're like me, you're much more of a "learn by doing" kind of person.  I love tutorials, but only if I can follow along on my own. If I just have to read or watch, the chances of me getting the hang of it are slim.

So... you'll need to have all of the pieces handy for the first, simple project we're going to undertake.

That project?  Looks like this:


Except in yours, you'll obviously have a picture of your own cute kiddo (he IS pretty cute, isn't he?), or grandkiddo, or the neighbor's kiddo, or your best friend's kiddo, or any other kiddo you want.  You could even download a picture of Ricky Schroeder back in the Silver Spoons days... he was pretty cute then--dating myself, I know.

And?  Because I rock (or whatever), and so that you can do as I do and learn in a hands on way, I've put together a free kit that you can download.  It comes with a background paper, staple, frame, ribbon, a vellum quote, and an alpha set.  Yay!

Download it here.

Your homework before the tutorials begin in earnest (limited time here, people... only a day or two) is to get the kit downloaded to somewhere easily accessible on your computer, and hunt down the digital picture you want to use for this project--jpg, bmp, png or similar format. 

Your other homework?  Leave me a comment and let me know you're following along.  Because I love to know who's reading and learning!  I might also be a tiny bit of a comment junkie.  Tiny.  Small.  Itty bitty.  Or not. 

And pinky swear that if you have questions (there really are NOT any stupid ones) or comments or thoughts on how to do things more efficiently, you will comment and share with the rest of us.  Deal?

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's the Deal With Layers, Anyway?

I'm assuming at this point that you've downloaded GIMP to your computer and you're all ready to get started.  True?

If you haven't, go do it now!  Get it right here.

If you're working on a Windows box, make sure you get the package that says, "Installer for Windows XP SP3 or later".

Download the .exe file and install like you would any other program.  Keep the defaults, click Next, Next, Next, Next (and however many more Nexts there are) and Finish.

If you did it correctly, Wilber, the GIMP mascot--the dog/fox/mouse-looking guy with a paintbrush sticking out of his mouth--should be hanging around on your desktop as an icon.

If you're having trouble, leave me a comment and we'll see what we can do.

Alrighty then... once you have GIMP installed, we should jump right in, yes?  I know, if you're like me at all, you're chomping at the bit to see what all the fuss is about.  And we will.

But first things first.  We should understand what makes GIMP different.

Are you ready?  I always sort of feel like this should be in Marquee lights:

GIMP has LAYERING.  (Did you hear the angels sing just then?)

I think there are a bunch of folks out there who are completely freaked out about this layering business.  And I understand.  I was a little nervous, and it was a little foreign, and kinda bizarre, when I started, too.  But layering?  Y'all!  It's the best thing since sliced bread!

Let me see if I can explain it in a way that really makes sense.

Layering is what allows you to move everything around separately on your page.  Do you remember how it was in your paper scrappin' days?  Let's say you were doing a page for your youngest kiddo's first day of Kindergarten.  You might have had the following:

  • a 12" x 12" background paper
  • a round scalloped frame
  • the photo you loved most of the special day--you know, the one with the backpack that was bigger than he was?
  • a vellum rectangle with a quote about growing up, or school, or how great kids are, or something
  • an alpha set that spelled out S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Z-E (or S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Y-S if you were an English major, like I was and misspellings make you crazy)
Can you picture it?  You know how you laid out all of those things on that one background paper?  Then moved them around, and moved them around, and moved them around some more?  Maybe the frame started on the left side of the page and then you thought, "Wow, that would look so much better on the right," and over to the right it went?  Along with the photo that was underneath it?

And then you had S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Z-E (or D-A-Y-S) spelled out in a straight line across the top?  But then you thought it might look better if it were arched, so you adjusted the S a little and followed with the rest of the letters up and over like a rainbow?  Then looked at it and decided it was better if the whole darned thing went down the left side of the page instead? 

The vellum might have started out to the right of the frame, but when you moved the frame over, the vellum  needed to go to the left.  And then when you moved your words down the left-hand side, the vellum needed to be below the frame.

Remember?

Remember how you could move and adjust, and move and adjust, and move and adjust?  Each piece individually?  Right up until the time that you used some glue dots to nail those suckers down.

Layers... they're the magic that allows you to keep each piece free from the others.  They are, in the digital world, what lets you move (or rotate, or delete, or recolor, or resize) the frame separately from the vellum--what keeps each letter of the word S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Z-E (just the S, for example) from being tied to the rest.

Layers mean freedom (forever) from glue dots and that, y'all, is the best news EVER!

Next... Some GIMP basics and your first page layout.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Meet My Friend, The GIMP

First things first, right?

It would be hard to go down the road of digital scrapbooking at all without the proper tools.  I looked at a ton of them after my disastrous scrapbooking weekend.  There are scads of them out there.  Some aren't expensive, some are.  Some appear to be inexpensive, but  really get you on the printing side of things.

I worked at first on the Photo site of a big box retailer who shall remain unnamed.  I uploaded a billion tons of photos and organized them all, looked through all of the different digital framing options I had, and settled on doing a photo book for my Grandad for this birthday.  The process, though thoroughly enjoyable from a "Walkin' Down Memory Lane" perspective, was tedious... and painful.  I finished it and he was very pleased (which was really the end goal), but the experience left me hunting for something better.

I looked at other photo-centric sites and came away with the same taste in my mouth.

But, like I mentioned, when I stumbled across The Shabby Princess, I realized that there was a whole digital world out there that functioned just like paper, except totally NOT.  When I saw her kits and downloaded them and imagined all of the pages I could make, I was ready to devour every ounce of knowledge she had to offer.  Except that all of her tutorials were for Photoshop.

And I didn't have Photoshop.

And I have four people who live under my roof who are under the age of 18, which means that every extra cent I have goes for things like 75 Hot Pockets and 60 boxes of cereal a week; fundraiser after fundraiser after fundraiser; new shoes every fourth Tuesday since every. blessed. one. of. them is undergoing a growth spurt--a really long one; extracurricular sports fees; braces... you know.  I have three pennies I found under the seat cushion on the couch when I was looking for someone's lost (insert lost item here).  And that's just all.  So Photoshop was (and is still) not in my future.

Surely there was something else.

Enter The GIMP--The GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Downloadable, so it met my instant gratification requirements.  Free, so it was totally within my budget.  And?  Pretty close to Photoshop--at least that's what the brochure said.

So I went for it.

If you want to come along on the ride, and do it on the cheap--because you also have 400 4 children and you're in the same financial boat I am, you can be friends with The Gimp, too.  Get it right here.

If you're working on a Windows box, make sure you get the package that says, "Installer for Windows XP SP3 or later".

Download the .exe file and install like you would any other program.  Keep the defaults, click Next, Next, Next, Next (and however many more Nexts there are) and Finish.

If you did it correctly, there should be a nice little icon on your Desktop--of Wilber, the GIMP mascot, with a paintbrush sticking out of his mouth.

And this is where your beautiful friendship begins.

Next?  Let's talk layers...




Saturday, September 22, 2012

Paper Scrappin' Got You Down? Go Digital!

So you want to scrapbook, but the 8 billion papers, ribbons, eyelets, scissors, punches, adhesive and elements you need is overwhelming.  Maybe the collecting of such lovely things isn't overwhelming, but the thought of cutting your precious pictures and getting it wrong gives you hives.  Maybe cutting your pics isn't the problem, but planning a layout takes hour upon painful hour and you still don't have it right when you're done.

I can relate.

I love scrapbooking.  Love it.  L.O.V.E. it!  I could easily spend a gazillion hours making fabulous pages that highlight all of the things my favorite people have been doing since birth (or last week, or whatever).  But I stink at it when I have to lay my hands on it and apply glue.

At the last scrappin' weekend I attended with my best girlfriends, I worked diligently (I mean it, peeps... diligently) to complete some pages from a Christmas trip we took to visit my sister-in-law.  Over the course of the week, those many talented ladies completed page upon beautiful, wonderful, gorgeous page... dripping with flowers and pearls and journaling spots and cute sequins and eyelets and ribbon, displayed in hotel room windows for all to see.

I?  Completed one.

And I wasn't particularly in love with it.  Not in love with it enough to put it in the window, for sure.

There was just something about moving the paper around, and getting the cuts just right, and being creative enough (outside of my mind) to make a masterpiece happen, that did not work for me.  Perhaps it has something to do with my left-brained thinking... or the fact that I'm a teeny-tiny bit of a control freak...  Ahem.

Whatever it was, I threw down my scrapbooking tools that day, gave my scissors and papers and eyelets and ribbon and pre-cut frames and silk flowers and punches and everything else I'd been collecting to my daughters, and vowed to give it up.

Forever.

Just not my thing.

And I kept my vow... for a little while.  Soon, my girlfriends went on another scrapbooking retreat and I stayed at home, telling myself that the vacuuming and toilet scrubbing I was doing was MUCH more productive anyway.

But somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought that I still needed to do something with the 5 billion pictures that were taking up space on my computer.  Surely I would be a failure as a mother/wife/friend if I didn't collect them in some organized way to give to my peeps when they/we were older.  My sister-in-law's memory books were legendary, part of EVERY. SINGLE. EVENT. known to mankind--weddings, graduations, Christmases, Birthdays... sigh.  Maybe I would just have to tell them all it wasn't going to happen.

Then?  I stumbled upon digi-scrapping... I kid y'all not, the very moment I laid eyes on this kind of scrapbooking the Heavens opened and the angels sang.  A light from above shone down on me and, right in between the Hallelujah Chorus and Amazing Grace, I was back in the scrapbooking game.

My first foray into the digital scrapbooking world was courtesy of The Shabby Princess.  There on her site were 80 tons of amazing digital scrapbooking kits that tickled the "I'm not so creative all by myself" fancy in me and got me started.  More than the creative tickling, I found that many, many, many of her adorably cute and uber-sophisticated kits were FREE!  Talk about tickling my fancy!  If there's anything I'm more of than left-brained, it would have to be a fan of FREE.

So, I downloaded... and downloaded... and downloaded some more.  And I scoured the internet, because that's just how I roll on these things.  If there's something to be learned, until we can do it Matrix-style where someone just plugs that module in, I can figure it out from the internet!

Gimp and I got to know each other.  At first, we weren't really buddies.  Learning was tough.  There were some tutorials, but not enough to keep the frustration factor to a minimum.  I was pretty determined, though.  So I worked with it, and worked with it, and worked with it.  And we became friends, The Gimp and I.  Pretty good friends, actually.

Shortly, I followed up with a tight-knit relationship with Inkscape.  And I started to make pages I was proud of, memories captured in ones and zeros that looked like they were physical, memories that I could print 57,000 times if I wanted, memories that I could rearrange to my heart's content, no glue involved.

So... that's how I got here.  I've been doing digi-scrapping ever since and it's working for me.  I'm a convert.  Thought you might be struggling with the same things I was and since I know all about layering and how to use the text feature so you can actually see the text you're using, where to download crazy awesome fonts, and how to recolor, resize and draw cute stuff... all without money or right-brained super-creativity, I thought I'd share.

In one place.

Welcome to Mia Marie.

Tutorials coming...