My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1126: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-08-2013 11:34 AM 1986 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1125: On to Making Pattern Packets Part 1126 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1127: Finishing up Writing and a Great Woodworking Project »

I got quite a bit of work done on the new pattern packets for the Halloween ornaments and keys yesterday. However, I do see that finishing up will take another day (or two) to do and now I am looking at perhaps Monday or even Tuesday for getting things on to the site. I had ideally wanted to have them available by the weekend, but as usual I underestimated the time it would take to do so in my mind and it turns out to be a much longer process than first anticipated. So what else is new?

I enjoy making new patterns packets a great deal. I look each of them as an opportunity to perhaps teach a new skill to someone who may have had experience with that type of creating previously. I try my best to keep things simple and break the steps down in a way so that even someone new can completely understand the process. I like to include lots of photos in my patterns – especially in the painting patterns and that takes a little more time.

I am extremely grateful for all the technical advances we have had in our own computers over the past several years. When I first started my business in the late 90’s I had attempted to offer some painting patterns, but they were difficult to produce on my own. The color photography needed to clarify things was simply not cost-effective, as was the printing. I remember many times having to set up lights and take film to the one hour processing only to be disappointed with the results. I had little skill with photo editing as well, and it was pretty much a ‘what you see is what you get’ situation when taking photos. Rarely did they depict clearly the color or process that I needed to display in my patterns to get my point across.

But now with digital photography and wonderful photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, just about anyone can make pictures look great. Over the course of years, I have used Photoshop to a point where I can do a decent edit on a photo and transform it from this:

To this:

It not only makes a huge difference in the overall presentation of the project, but also helps a great deal when trying to illustrate different techniques. This is especially true in creating the painting patterns, as it is important that the subtle techniques and color changes can be seen clearly.

For the two new sets of ornaments (the keys and the petite ornaments) that I am working on, I took progressive scans of the pieces as I painted them. I like scanning for these step-by-step pictures because I can be absolutely sure that the environment is consistent and that everything starts off at the same point from the scanner. I find it is more difficult to do step by step painting patterns, where color consistency is important, by shooting the pictures with a camera, as there are too many outside influences that can interfere with taking camera shots such as distance and lighting and it makes it hard to keep a level playing field. While I am forced to use a camera when I paint larger pieces, I try to use the scanner whenever possible for these types of pictures.

But even scanning leaves some things to be desired, and a trip through Photoshop is needed to make the pictures true in color cleaned up for the pattern. Here is a raw scan of one of the steps:

And after some work in Photoshop:

The differences may seem subtle, but they are very important – especially when it comes to painting. It also adds to the overall presentation of the pattern and project to have things looking clean and neat. Removing the background on most of the pictures is essential to achieving a professional looking pattern, I believe.

I didn’t always do this, but as I learn more and see the results I find that it really adds to the project. While I only use a very small percentage of Photoshop’s capabilities, I think that it does wonders for my patterns and makes a huge difference to my customers and their understanding of the process that I am trying to convey. This is true with my woodworking patterns as well. While the delicate color differences may not be as important as they are in the painting patterns, illustrating techniques certainly is. Especially to those who are newer and just learning.

For the two painting pattern packets that I am creating, most of the ornaments have at least three progressive scans. That equals 72 photos that have to be cropped, color corrected and edited. I am about half way through after working until mid-day yesterday. Keith came home and wanted me to take a run to Digby and Annapolis Royal with him. He needed to drop off some more pens at the store in Digby and replenish the stock. His pens are selling slowly, but they are selling. It isn’t a source of income he can count on, but a nice extra bit now and again.

It was a beautiful day here in Nova Scotia. Autumn is definitely nearing. It was bright and sunny and crisp out and while I intended to keep on working on the patterns, I couldn’t resist the invitation to join him for the drive up the coast. I was glad I did, as we had few day trips this year and soon we will both be putting our summer cars in storage and in for the winter.

We had a lovely dinner at a little pub in Annapolis Royal. They have the best food there this side of the province and they are very reasonable as well. It was a very nice afternoon and evening and I am glad that I went.

Today I will finish the photo editing for the patterns as well as begin writing the instructions. Once the photos are done it is fairly easy to reiterate the painting process. It all just takes a little bit of time.

I am sure there are faster ways to do packets, but this way works best for me. Most of my painting patterns are about 15 pages or more in length. To some that may seem excessive, but I truly feel that having quality pictures of the process is imperative to making a good pattern. I have had a great deal of positive feedback regarding them and it shows me that even though it may be a bit more work initially, it is worth it. Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I am quality over quantity anyway.

I hope you all have a great Sunday. As the sun came up this morning, it appears to be a cloudy and cool day. Typical fall. I think I made a good choice yesterday taking a nice drive in the sun. We have to seize the moments as they are presented.

Happy Sunday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

6 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


11405 posts in 3170 days

#1 posted 09-08-2013 12:12 PM

Good mornig Sheila. Photo editing is both a blessing and a curse. Have you tried Batch editing your scans? I would think it would be a great time saver. Especially if you are doing the exact same editting to each image. When I learned about (Auto) Levels and batch editing, it was one of those light bulb moments! Carpe diem!

-- God bless, Candy

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4250 days

#2 posted 09-08-2013 12:22 PM

Because I wind up totally removing the background and things like that, batch editing doesn’t work well. The other factor is if I use any type of Neon highlighting, which I often do on brightly painted pieces, it tends to not read correctly on the scanner. Following is an example:

The Skeleton was washed in a Neon Green after the crackle finish was painted. There was little evidence of green in the initial scan:

After “finding” the green tones using Photoshop, the color looks nearly exactly as the real piece:

For some reason, the scanner doesn’t ‘like’ certain specialty paints and I have to go pick the colors out in Photoshop. I think it is the way the paint reflects the light back that is an issue.

Every piece has its own criteria, and even if the process is similar in editing the set, they are still unique and need to be done individually in order to get the best results. However, starting with the scan gives the best continuity for me, as I don’t have the space to set up a place to photograph things where I can leave everything in place for the duration of the painting process, which takes many days.

Sometimes there is just no getting around putting in the time. Maybe as I get better at Photoshop I will find more short cuts.

I hope you have a great day today. Thanks as always for your thoughts and input. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 3403 days

#3 posted 09-08-2013 04:23 PM

Good morning Sheila. I love Photoshop for not only photo editing but also using the filters to change a photograph into an art form. I haven’t found any photo editing program to beat it. You have certainly mastered the program!

Your trip to Annapolis Royal reminded me of the day Jim and I were in Bear River to meet a friend for lunch and we went to Annapolis from there via the back roads. A beautiful drive and Annapolis Royal is a neat place full of interesting history.
A sunny day here in BC and a definite workshop day.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4250 days

#4 posted 09-08-2013 08:52 PM

Good afternoon, Anna!
I am far from an expert in Photoshop! I know so little of the vast program that I don’t even think I scratched the surface. But I do what needs to be done and the pictures are definitely better after I am finished with them! I am very lucky that we have the technology that we do.

We had our rain today, but the sun is trying to break through this evening. Yesterday was lovely though and I am glad I got out for a bit. I wish I would have mentioned that little pub in Annapolis. You guys would have loved it. It is truly one of my favorite places to eat here.

Have a good day yourself. I finally finished my article for Creative Woodworks and Crafts and I can concentrate on writing up my two pattern packets. Then on to more scrolling . . . :)

Happy Sunday! Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4134 days

#5 posted 09-10-2013 12:45 AM

Your skulls are always so kool.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4250 days

#6 posted 09-10-2013 12:49 AM

Thanks, Roger! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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