Monday, July 17, 2006

Look What Kim Made Me!



If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know how much I just love "blinkies". So, I just had to show all of you this. Kim Banks who is a forum friend of mine and the owner of Craftisan DeSigns made this for me out of the blue. Isn't it adorable? I just love it, Kim. Thank you so very much. That was so sweet of you.

Kim is a VERY talented crafter and graphic artist. She, like most of us, is a self-taught crafter and is extremely good at whatever she has tried. At Craftisan DeSigns she makes the most beautiful custom designed wood signs. You really need to see them for yourself.

According to Kim, "Craftisan DeSigns offers individually handcrafted woodcrafts and unique wood signs that will make perfect gifts for your family and friends. You will find a unique selection of wood signs and woodcrafts at our store usually in a variety of styles including rustic, country, whimsical, and primitive. We have a unique selection of items to compliment your home decor or to give as gifts. Our specialty is to create wood signs with quotes and sayings that invite you to smile, laugh out loud or ponder life."

At her "Craftisans DeSigns Graphics" shop she makes custom designed graphics as well as some predesigned graphics. If you need custom designed graphics I hope you pay Kim a visit.

Thanks, again, Kim for my new blinkie. I just love it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I Just Love Microsoft Publisher!

I just love my Microsoft Publisher program! There are probably a lot of techies out there who would cringe at what I just said, but "I love my Microsoft Publisher" software program. Why? because I can do so many, many things with it. For a small business doll pattern designer it is THE best and MOST versatile program out there.

What can I do, you wonder?

Well, with Publisher I can create both my Linda Walsh Originals website and my Linda Walsh Originals Dolls website. Both were created by Publisher and then published to the web via FTP to my hosting company.

When I need to update either website I go into my Publisher file for that particular website, update it for the changes I need, and then re-publish the updates via FTP to my hosting company. Total control over my website is within my hands. I don't have to wait for a programmer to update my website for me.

What else can I do? Well, I can create ALL of the typical business paperwork supplies, such as: business cards, calendars, letterhead, email, fax cover, shipping labels, return address labels, envelopes, postcards, thank-you cards, greeting cards, invitations, etc. I can create billing statements, weekly records, expense reports, inventory lists, invoices, refunds, statements, product lists, purchase orders, even gift certificates.

I can create all of my business promotional brochures and save them in a format to print at a commercial printer or take to another computer. Or, I can create and print a multi-page brochure, tri-fold brochure, informational flyer or brochure, special offer flyer, etc. myself. I can create my own magazine advertisements in a format that can be used by publishers. I can even create a multi-page catalog or brochure that I can covert to an E-Catalog or E-Brochure.

For example, my Linda Walsh Originals 2006 E-Brochure .PDF file was created by Microsoft Publisher.

I can create a print Newsletter and then covert it to an E-Newsletter or email it as an attachment. I can even create a Word document or import one into a publisher file.

And, best of all, I can create my doll pattern product, both print form and e-pattern form. With a program that versatile how could you not love it?

I take the pictures of my dolls, massage them a little with Microsoft Picture It or Adobe Photoshop and them insert them into my Microsoft Publisher cover file. I can them create a .jpeg picture of just the front cover to use on any website or, in my case for use on Froogle.com.

With Microsoft Publisher I can create my complete doll pattern which includes the following:

The front cover includes a digital picture of the pattern, the Pattern #, doll size, doll’s name, and doll description.

The back page lists all of the supplies needed to make the doll, including where each of the supplies is used (listed in the parenthesis). It also includes our company information, copyrights, and legal information concerning the use of our pattern.

The instruction sheet lists in detail the sewing instructions, additional pieces to be cut, and the instructions for putting the doll together from start to finish. The instruction sheets follow the diagrams from beginning to end and include many references to the diagrams pages. The instruction sheet also references each pattern piece by its name and each pattern piece edge by its label.

The diagrams pages are hand drawn picture examples of putting the doll together from start to finish and show you how the doll should look step by step. They follow the instruction sheets from beginning to end.

The pattern sheets are all full size page sheets. All of the pattern pieces are named and indicate the number of pieces to cut. The edges of all the pattern pieces are labeled as to edge placement and what sewing is to be done with that edge. If the edge is to be sewn to another pattern piece then the edge contains the name of that specific pattern piece. The fold lines, sew lines, and cutting lines are all indicated as well.

The steps for creating a doll pattern in Microsoft Publisher are really very easy. First, in Publisher I create a file for my doll pattern cover, front and back. Second, I import my written instructions from the Word document I used into my Publisher doll pattern file. Third, once I've scanned my diagrams and pattern piece sheets into my computer I insert them into my Publisher doll pattern file. Finally, once everything is contained within one doll pattern Publisher file I create my .pdf file using the Adobe Printer command from Publisher. My print pattern can be printed from my complete Publisher doll pattern file or my e-pattern can be created from my complete Publisher doll pattern file.

There are just so many things I can do as a small business owner with Microsoft Publisher. There may be other programs out there that are better. I wouldn't know. I've been using Microsoft Publisher since it first came out (20+ years, maybe?) and have had no reason to switch. It's easy to use, it's versatile, it handles ALL my small business needs, and, creatively, I enjoy using it. What could be better than that?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yikes! My E-Pattern Files Are HUGE!


If you create E-patterns then you know that file size is very IMPORTANT. Especially if you are going to send your e-patterns as email attachments or if you're going to upload them to a craft pattern website or instant pattern download website.

You have to keep your e-pattern files to a minimum. But, how do you do that? The pictures are usually HUGE and the scanned sheets are usually HUGE. Even if you scan them in black & white. So, what do you do?

Well, you have to reduce the size of the pictures and scanned images either by adjusting the resolution, pixels or actual physical size of the image. There is no hard and fast formula for this. My results have been based upon trial and error.

Here's what I do for my pictures. First I use a picture program to crop and clean-up all your images. I have all of my pattern pictures saved on my computer as .jpg files of various sizes. I keep a master copy of the original picture in it's original HUGE size and then I use Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Picture It! to reduce the size of my images down to whatever size I may need.

Most picture programs will allow you to reduce the size of your image either by resolution, pixels, or physical size. I prefer using pixels for most of my pattern pictures and inches for small pictures to display on the side of my blogs. I have found through trial and error that 300 to 350 pixels is a good size for most applications.

For example, let's say my original doll picture is 1276x1671 pixels and 453kb in size. I would reduce this picture to around 300 to 350 pixels, depending upon the picture I want, to say 284x371 pixels or 17.1kb for my E-Pattern cover picture. Just by doing this I've reduced the size of the picture from 453kb to 17.1kb without really destroying the quality of the picture.

For this same picture starting out at 1276x1671 pixels and 453kb if I'm going to send it to another website (say for a craft show booth) I'd probably keep the picture around 300-350 pixels, too. I would reduce this picture to around 300 to 350, depending upon the picture I want, to 284x371 pixels or 17.1kb for displaying on another website and to 137x180 pixels or 8.56kb for a 1 inch size picture.

If I'm sending the picture to another website for say, a home page display ad, they usually want a picture around 150 pixels. So, I'd reduce my original image down to 150x150 pixels or so and save it under another name.

If I want to show some of my product images on the sidebar of my blog then I'd reduce the pictures to about 1 inch. This equates to about 150 pixels. Might be a little more or a little less, depending on the picture. Adobe Photoshop allows you to reduce by pixels or by inch. For this application I prefer inch.

Each time I want to reduce the size of the picture I start with the original picture, reduce the size, and then save the reduced copy under a different name.

I'm always getting off track, aren't I? Back to the E-Patterns. If you're scanning in whole pages (i.e. 8 1/2 x 11 size) then you will need to cut the pixel size of your 8 1/2 x 11 inch picture in 1/2 or even 1/3 or your .pdf file will be way too big. My 8 1/2 x 11 inch scanned in b/w images that I use for my doll patterns pattern piece sheets and diagrams are usually 2529x3300 pixels and 1.0mb in file size(color images would be a lot more).

I always crop and clean-up my scanned b/w image first using a picture program and then reduce my b/w in half down to 1265x1650 pixels or less. This drastically reduces the size of the image down to around 250kb. Since you're going to insert this into whatever program is creating your .pdf file you want to start out with the least amount of file size as possible. Around 1265x1650 pixels would be the least amount you would want to reduce any images that were drawn by a heavy pencil and scanned in. If you go over your pencil drawn pattern piece sheets and diagrams with a black marker then you can reduce these in half again down to 633x825 pixels. I wouldn't go any lower than that or your .pdf E-Patterns will be hard to read.

Once you have everything reduced in size then you would want to import them into whatever software you are going to use to create your E-Pattern. I do everything in Microsoft Publisher so its easier for me to use that. I'm sure there are lots of software programs out there that would produce something similar.

Once I have my doll pattern completely in Publisher I compress the file which reduces the resolution of any of the pages to around 200 in resolution. This reduces the file size even further. Here is where the original quality of the scanned image comes into play. If the image is too light to start off then you will have a problem reading the E-Pattern or the image will be blurry. That is why a lot of hand-drawn sheets are traced over with a black marker.

I try to keep all of my E-Pattern between 500kb to 900kb. My largest E-Pattern is 22 pages but only 1.08mb in file size due to all of the above mentioned adjustments. My smallest E-Pattern is 8 pages and 437kb in file size.

The key to keeping the size of your E-Patterns down is to reduce the size of your images, diagrams and pattern sheets down to a manageable size. You can do this without destroying the quality of your picture or E-Pattern.