Sunday, September 30, 2012

Digi Stamps 101

I have been wanting for some time to do a blog post where I can point new users who ask questions about using Digital stamps etc.
I know there are great how to’s and vids all over the internet-but people still have questions and I have long had a repertoire of vague answers that even I found unsatisfying-like try GIMP…a program I know little or nothing about save for hearsay from friends and designers who use it.
I am a Photoshop kinda fella however I draw all my digis by hand with a -005 Pima Micron pen on Seth Cole Vellum Artists Sketch paper-#62 multi-media made in the USA (as a matter of fact made in California not too far from where I live-I sketch in pencil then ink then use a kneaded eraser to lose the pencils lines-I scan at 300dpi or better greyscale and import the jpeg file into CS5 Photoshop where I do clean up, digital corrections etc.
I save my original cleaned up files in several places for safety-reduce the file and watermark it for an ETSY sample and list it for sale.
That is the cliff notes version of how a digi is created-it can take a day or two to design one image and on a good day I can sometimes draw a couple of simpler images.
Once they go out to the crafters and designers who use them many resize their images (or edit them using a number of programs I have never heard of but resize and flip I believe often in WORD.
Karen McIntyre shares the following info about editing programs:
There are 4 programs I use, three are free:
Open Office Draw
and I use Hallmark Card Studio to actually print from. With that you simply open an image, pull the box around to where you want it, pull the corners to re-size, etc. That program makes it so easy a baby could use it!

Gimp now has a version for MAC as well as PC which is also free.
Karen continues:
I used for a long time (and still do) for darkening or cleaning up digi stamps because I had downloaded Gimp a few years ago and thought it looked too complicated. I have been learning to use gimp more the past month and it's not as hard as it looked at first. If I have a question on how to do something I simply Google it and the answer comes up either on someone's site or blog or the forums for each program. Like "how do I make transparent png backgrounds in gimp" - it was quite easy once I saw it explained.

A lot of people use Word too, they just open the image and can resize to print.
All those programs let you flip an image also.
One of the selling points of DIGIS over hard stamps is the versatility of sizes and the ability to flip the image so having a program able to do that is very important.
Helen Cullem of my EDT suggests:
The program I like to use to print digi's is "My Craft Studio" I was lucky to get this when it was a free program. If I am combining images, I use Gimp to transform to png format and then MCS allows the placement and resizing of each image without having to fiddle about with layers.
PNG may be a better format in which to save DIGIS over JPEGS or GIFS it is my understanding that JPEGS degrade slightly each time they are opened-perhaps someone will comment on this below?
Suzi McKenzie had this to say:
I use Photoshop if I'm creating a scene with more than one image. Other than that I use the printing software that came bundled with my printer, and I'll print either 2 or 4 images to a sheet of A4 depending on what size card/project I'm making
Many designers find Photoshop cumbersome when it comes to layers whereas I find layers to be my best friend especially when I’m editing or augmenting an image-like any program being familiar with it makes it a useful tool and I always tell people to PLAY with Photoshop.
Adobe has produced a boon for crafters called PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS also referred to as BABY Photoshop-I have seen it on sale at Big Box stores for under $50.00usd (as oppose to as much as several hundreds of dollars for the full PS program.
Nataliya Simpson, also of my EDT had a unique program she uses:
I'm using Serif Digital Scrapbook Artist for all my digi, and best part about it - IT"S FREE.
Hazel Thompson-EDT member:
I use Microsoft digital image software for my images but it’s very old. It lets me size up the image to what I want, also lets me crop pages if there are lots of images on a sheet. Can't get the hang of gimp.
A number of other EDT members use the same program Helen uses.
Pauline of my EDT wrote this about WORD:
For printing my images, I import them into MSW Word. I don't have anything like Photoshop .. Although I have downloaded Gimp and I'm pretty sure I have My Craft Studio on a disc somewhere. I've tried to use Gimp, but will need quite some time to get used to how it works. I use png images when I can, particularly if I am layering (I don't know much about file formats etc.).

I simply import the image file into a blank Word document, and change its text wrap setting too 'square' so that I can drag the image anywhere round the page. I can resize it to whatever size I need. If the image has a white background, I can set it to transparent, although it will remove the white colour from the image as well. I can add text sentiments if I need to.

As to paper-I must include a caveat: Many of my EDT members are in the UK-Nataliya in Canada, Monique in the Netherlands, Pauline, Australia and a scattering in the USA:
Suzi McKenzie:
.I'm lucky enough to have a paper mill here in Aberdeen, and find that they have a brilliant white paper/cardstock for printing and colouring digis on; called Diamond White, it's my favourite so far. Occasionally I’ll print onto Kraft paper too, that works nicely with coloured pencils. I've just got a new printer so haven't had a chance yet to see how it handles watercolour paper, that's on my things to do list
Both Hazel and Helen agreed on this paper.
Elaine Lienhart the corner stone member of my EDT:
I print my images on Neenah Smooth White paper
I have tried printing and then colouring on several types of paper-luckily my printer will handle my Seth Cole paper just fine-I also like various presentation papers from HP.
Hazel also added the following:
I've used the Diamond white stuff too from same paper mill :). I find I like Neenah Card best, I like how it blends with my pens. Staples do a good paper called text and graphics paper that comes in 2 different gsm weights. Quite like it too.
Office Max also makes a good heavier weight, brilliant white paper that is inexpensive and prints nice and crisp.
From Linda Simpson:
I use the same graphics programme as Helen Elite from My Craft Studio to resize all my digi’s. I like to print on a variety of different card and papers. My favourites are Neenah, Stampography Card, Rymans. I also like to play around with different textured paper and card such as watercolour and linen. It all depends on what I am making at the time.
Karen McIntyre:
My favorite paper to use for stamping and printing digis is Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 80lb. They also have 120lb but I don't think my printer could take that, it would be too stiff.
it’s great with Copics and also takes pencil well. I use a combo of both, or sometimes Copics alone.

Copic markers and Prismacolour pencils stand out as the favorites amongst my team for colouring.
There are several other brands including watercolour pencils etc. that also were mentioned but COPICS by far came in first.
I am amazed when a designer can make the Copics looks fresh and alive not muddy or heavy-a lot of why I picked the ladies on my EDT had to do with how they handled shading their images.
I personally like Prismacolour pencils and actually prefer them to more posh brands like Derwent.
I also asked people for tips and one of the most interesting came from DEE MORAN a longtime friend and fellow papercrafter who does wonderful work-she coloured many of the early samples of my images when I started doing Digis and as a matter of fact is THE PERSON who suggested I do Digis in the first place (thanks Dee).
Dee suggests colouring on a glass cutting board-when you think about it that’s a great idea-nothing smoother and less likely to “texturize” your colouring than a glass surface-I have seen safety glass cutting boards in fairly large sizes on sale at discount home shops (like Home Goods in California a division of T J MAXX).
Dee also has this to say to new digi users:
Be careful...............they are addicting. I find I use the digi's more and more. My rubber stamps aren't getting the use they should be. The digi's are so nice because you don't have to have a lot of room for storage and the prices are so good that you can afford more images to play with. You can make them as small or as large as you want to as well which is great. Much more versatility in the digi's.
From Monique:
I think you will be horrified if you hear the paper I print on is just normal printer paper LOL. It's a lot thinner than cardstock or watercolour paper so you have to colour carefully as in don't get the paper wet. Don't know if it will work with copics or other markers, but I use pencil and odorless turpentine and paper stump. (I guess I’m a bit of a low budget crafter, because I don't use copics or Derwent pencils, I colour with the cheepo pencils you buy in the toy store 36 pencils for 8 euros)
I want to thank all the ladies who contributed to this informal survey and request for information-now I hope YOU will contribute as well and be a part of helping out a newbie, beginner or even more seasoned crafter and digi user!

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