Sunday, June 29, 2014

June's Christmas Challenge card ...

I almost missed this month's 2014 Christmas Challenge card!  June got away from me.

I LOVE this month's image.  Ever since I was a small child, I have loved snow globes.  Some people think of them as kitsch -- but I am quite willing to admit to enjoying kitsch and all its plebeian connotations :-D

Once I realized I had almost missed getting my card made, I discovered another printer problem this month -- almost out of ink.  **sigh**  So, I had to resort to something I am probably not supposed to do -- coloring in the image with a  graphics program and then building the card in a different graphics program.

If I had the new cartridges of ink to replace the empty ones, it would have been oh so much easier to print off the image and hand color it with my colored pencils.  As it turned out, I ended up using PhotoShop Elements 6 to color the image.

In the past, I had a fabulous graphics program -- Micrografx's Picture Publisher 7 -- that I used for everything  (it came free bundled with a scanner I bought at Sam's Club over a decade ago ...)  Using that program and its built-in brushes, I could make anything look like it was truly colored in with pastels or colored pencils.  PhotoShop and PhotoShop Elements use a macro to convert a colored area to look like it was pencil stroked that do not look real, or realistic, to me.  Picture Publisher looked "real."  I am very disappointed that as Microsoft upgrades operating systems I end up losing the ability to use programs that work wonderfully and get stuck using "make do" software.

I ended up laying strokes of color and then using Gaussian Blur to sort of get a decent color;  and added some kind of texture or other filter on top.  I'm not totally happy with the results and will print the image and hand color the rest for my collection of cards.

I love the Challenge because it is allowing me to get ready all year long for the Holiday season instead of panicking at the last minute to get all my cards made, addressed and mailed.  Are you following along with the 2014 Christmas Challenge?  Go to and join in!

There isn't much time to join for June, but it is not impossible!  It is a really fun image this month and easy to color in.  Contact Desiree and get the image -- upload to your blog or email the final card to her and then get the July image.  Or, if you don't want to panic to finish up a card by the end of June, contact Desiree and let her know you want to join starting in July.

Since I could not print off the final colored image ... I put it into my scrapbooking software to build the card.  I use Creative Memories' StoryBook Creator 3 as my digi-scrapping software program.  Creative Memories no longer supports or sells StoryBook Creator, and had upgraded to supporting version 4.0 before their reorganization.  I had loaded version 4 but determined it was not for me at that time and went back to my version 3.  StoryBook Creator was produced by another company for Creative Memories and is now selling it as Panstoria's Artisan software.  I've tried a lot of the digi-scrapping software on the market.  And a lot of digi-scrappers use the Adobe PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements programs. or the free Gimp PhotoShop clone.  However, in my opinion, except for my old Micrografx Picture Publisher 7, StoryBook Creator (aka Artisan from Panstoria) is the absolute best available.  (Though I really can't comment on the color manipulation options available in SBC 4 and Artisan.)

I used a digi-paper and a saying from a Creative Memories' kit called Candy Cane to create the card.  I think, once I have the ink to print the image, I will probably print off this paper and saying in 4x6" panels to use on my finished cards but will print the line image and hand color it -- I'll be happier with both the sky and fence.  I'm just not all that skilled with mouse or pen tablet to draw my lines (for wood texture) where I want them, and it is much easier to layer the various blues for atmospheric perspective in the sky using colored pencils instead of the options in PSE 6.  Besides, if I do it by hand, I can add in a small postage stamp in the letter to Santa :-D

Come and play along -- join in at