Okay, I’m enthusiastic about coloring books. And, I’ll admit I’ve been carried away by the success of my “Bold and Easy Coloring Pages” series.
This series has wider lines that are easier to see if someone has a vision challenge. And, in most cases, the coloring areas are larger. That makes them easier to color by anyone with dexterity issues like arthritis or difficulty holding a coloring pencil, marker, or crazy.
(The cover at right shows the most complex coloring design in this book.)
They’re ideal for special education teachers, seniors with some disabilities, and anyone who wants a book that’s easier to see and has bigger areas to color.
But… last week, in my enthusiasm, I accidentally uploaded the wrong interior for “Bold and Easy Coloring Pages 4.” And, besides having designs I hadn’t planned to include in the final edition, one page actually had an error on it.
The word “embarrassed” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I made the discovery.
Fortunately, I found it so quickly, only one person had bought the book. (The book now selling at Amazon is the correct one.)
If you’re that one person who bought it, please contact me and tell me: What country you purchased it in, when you bought it, and how much you paid.
In return, I’ll send you an Amazon gift certificate so you can replace that book, and buy another one of my coloring books (or anything else you’d like to use the certificate for).
Okay, I’m so hooked on coloring books, I may need a support group soon. (I am kidding. I can’t imagine wanting to be pried away from my art… ever!)
My latest is Lovely Designs 1 (now out of print), and it’s a little different from my previous books. In addition to the 26 coloring pages (printed on one side of each page), I’ve included six “DIY” (do it yourself) pages.
When I draw my coloring pages, I don’t sketch anything ahead of time. Instead, I go right to work with a large pen or brush-style marker. I make broad, sweeping strokes to indicate the main areas of the design.
Next, I scan those drawings, so I can clean them up a little in Photoshop. That’s partly to erase any truly impossible lines I’d included. However, it’s even more useful to get a fresh look at the art… in a different scale (small), and in a different context (on my monitor).
It’s similar to how I used to explain my online diary, back when people thought that was weird. (Long before “blogging” became a trend.)
I used to explain how much easier it was to see what I was doing well — and not-so-well — in my life. On the computer monitor, it was like reading someone else’s story, not my own. (That may not be easy to understand, but — in those days — people weren’t so deeply enmeshed in social media and in each other’s lives. So, to read a “story” online was like reading a news story or diary by someone else altogether.)
Anyway, after I tweak my initial drawing, I print it so I can add embellishments and details, by hand.
Six of those un-embellished scans became part of Lovely Designs 1, along with three illustrated pages explaining how I embellish them… in case anyone else wants to try their hand at this kind of art, but needs a “head start” to gain more confidence.
Also, Lovely Designs 1 contains two mandalas and two repeating patterns based on the same drawings.
For my left-handed friends, I’ve also created a left-hand edition of Lovely Designs 1. (I’m trying to do this with most of my coloring books. In my opinion, nothing about art should be inconvenient, ever. That includes having to reach across a coloring book, just to color the picture.) That’s its cover, on the right. (See the double-L logo at the lower right side of the cover, indicating a left-hand edition.)
Many people — perhaps most people online today — don’t know how copyright laws work.
I know no one who deliberately breaks copyright laws.
But yes… some people believe that anything online is okay to borrow, at least for personal or one-time use.
After all, everyone else is doing that, so it must be legal… right?
Umm, no. Really. No.
I’M NOT A LAWYER
I’m not an attorney. My interpretations of the law are my own opinions, not legal advice.
Also, even judges don’t seem to agree on copyright law. How harshly you’re treated, if caught, can vary from one courtroom to the next.
WHY I CARE
I’m an artist. Since the mid-1990s, when I created my first website — gosh, was that really over 20 years ago? — my own images have been stolen.
The tragedy is, I usually give permission when someone asks, first. I was thrilled when one of my original photos was used for a record album cover. But, the band asked permission.
I go directly to the webmaster when I find someone using one of my illustrations illegally. Most people quickly (and apologetically) remove the image from their websites.
However, a few balk. They insist they bought the image from someone else, as part of a package, so they think the image is in the public domain now.
Or they found the image at Flickr. Or something.
That’s when I contact the person’s website hosting service. Usually, the hosting service shuts down every website that person has. They’re banned.
Nobody’s happy, and it didn’t have to conclude that way.
I’ve written several popular articles about copyright, the “three stroke” myth, and how copyright law affects artists. Some of that information may apply to you. My original article is at http://aisling.net/copyright-and-the-three-stroke-rule/ , along with several other copyright-related articles.
I also teach artists, including photographers, how to protect their images so they can prove they’re the original creators of the respective works.
It’s a simple technique: I remove about 1/2 inch on at least two sides of the original image, before I post it online. When the hosting service asks me to prove it’s my original graphic, I can show them the larger version that has never appeared online. So far, that’s always worked.
Maybe you shrug off copyright laws. If you don’t know anyone who’s been caught “borrowing” images, and you haven’t felt the anguish of seeing your own work stolen, maybe it’s no big deal.
However, if you’re breaking the law, it’s only a matter of time until you’re caught.
Today, software can identify images being used illegally online. Art museums use this technology to protect their images, online.
Just like Google Image Search, the specialized software recognizes distinctive elements in original graphics and scours the Internet looking for any matches.
Once you’re caught by someone who has deep pockets or an attorney with whiplash mentality… heaven help you.
You’re playing a dangerous game if you’re using photos or artwork without permission.
USE LEGAL IMAGES INSTEAD
There is no reason to use illegal images in any product, including website design.
There are many great, public domain images online. Pre-1923 images are generally (but not always) safe to use. You can find them online; Wikipedia often features gorgeous public domain images by famous artists such as John William Waterhouse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_William_Waterhouse
Those are just some of many great resources for free, completely legal, royalty-free images. (Remember: The images are still copyrighted. You’re simply given permission to use the images without paying a fee.)
Stock.xchng was one of my favorites. No matter what the name of the site is now, if the option is offered: be sure to search with “Restricted OK” set to “NO.” http://www.sxc.hu/
Morgue File (not what it sounds like), also called MFile, is another great resource. Like Stock.xchng, be sure to check the licensing terms for each image. http://www.morguefile.com/
Most free, royalty-free websites also offer higher-quality images for a fee. The fee can be as low as $1 with unlimited use rights, and that often depends on the size of the image you want (for online or print use) and whether you’ll be reproducing it on tee-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
Or, if you found an image — like one of mine — through an image scraper or photo-sharing site, it’s easy to double-check the owner (and the rights to that image).
Browser plugins like Search by Image for Google make it right-click easy.
Then, ask the owner for permission to use the image in your project. Many of us are happy to say yes.
The best idea of all? Take your own photos. Practice makes perfect (or at least good enough), you don’t need to get a photography degree… though you could. And, once you’re comfortable with your camera, consider adding your photos to sites like iStockPhoto.com and earn money from them.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve been using images without permission. 99% of the people I teach or consult for have no idea they’ve been doing anything wrong. This includes respected artists including photographers and illustrators.
What’s important is to use legal images as much as you can, starting right away. The Internet is always changing, and copyright law is becoming a far greater issue across the online community.
Besides, there is no reason to copy others’ graphics without permission. There are many wonderful, free resources for great images. Use them instead.
This is a freebie for anyone who’s interested. No strings attached!
I’m having such fun sending out free, artsy/creative postcards to people, I’m creating new ones and sending them — at random — in batches of 20 – 100 per week.
The original (orange & purplish, “Your year to create!”) cards are gone now.
I’ve sent a small (20-or-so) batch of b&w cards about making art with what you have, no matter where you are. Those are no longer available.
My next 100 cards were glossy, printed postcards, and they include a mountain scene and a quotation about beauty. Not signed or numbered, they were a “test run” with a different postcard design. All of them have been sent now, too.
I will create more, spontaneous b&w cards and send them on whim, as well. They’re not signed or numbered… just fun!
Starting with the August 2010 postcards, the artwork is generally my own.
To receive free artsy/creative cards in the mail, scroll down and use the form below. No charge, no strings attached, and I don’t share addresses with anyone else.
Really, this is just one of those fun things that I like to do.
If you were a subscriber and didn’t receive your postcard, please use the paid subscribers’ form to update your mailing address.
Anyway, I have about 30 postcards left from the batch I had printed. I want to send them out, too. (Update: Remember, those have all been mailed now.)
In fact, I want to do this with every zine or gift-y, artsy item that I publish:
In addition to mailing to my subscribers’ list, I’ll draw names at random from the freebies list. When someone receives that month’s postcard, it’ll be like receiving a treat. They’ll have a free, 30-day pass to something cool and exclusive.
Some of the postcards will be a signed & numbered artsy something, in itself.
And, the info on the postcard will lead the person to the hidden location of whatever-it-is. (It may be a riddle or a mystery to solve, to figure out the download location. I want this to be a game, sometimes, but not too difficult.)
If you’d like to be part of the freebie pool of names/addresses, send your name & snailmail/postal address to me, using the form below. (It’s okay if you’re not in the U.S. I’ll choose a few non-US addresses each time, too.)
The first 30 (or so) will receive my current postcard, which is simply the “confirm your mailing address” card I’ve been sending. (You will NOT need to confirm your address.)
After that, you’ll be in the regular drawing for access to… well, I’m not sure what, yet.
If this works out, I may turn the subscription area into something that new people can subscribe to. Let’s see how this first step goes. This has to be fun!
Some people were confused about my earlier call for addresses from former, paid subscribers. If you were NOT a paid subscriber — someone who signed up for a year of paper zines, probably in the 1990s — and you sent me your name + address during my earlier call, you do need to resend it with this form.
This is my personal journal entry about this artist trading card:
After a research trip to New Orleans, the mood and style of the French Quarter are still fresh in my mind.
The background is my photo (taken from Royal Street, at Pirate’s Alley) from our recent trip. The woman’s face is the Mona Lisa; I love how different she looks in various contexts. The crow on the New Orleans’ cemetery monument is from my January 2005 visit.
Layered over that, I placed a very subtle–mostly transparent–watch image from a 19th century Sears Roebuck catalogue. And, at the lower front, I altered a photo of tree roots from a Stratham, New Hampshire nature center.
The font for all text on the card is Casablanca Antique.
The original of this digital art included ten different layers, more than half of them partially transparent, to get these effects.
To print this card, right click on this link and save the image to your hard drive, and then print it at home. The original image is 3″ x 5″ at 300 dpi. (This is a larger file than I usually post, a little over 1MB.)
You can print the art as a small poster (at 150 dpi) if you like, or at its intended size of 3″ x 5″, or you could scale it down to a more traditional ATC size of 2.5″ x 3.5″.
I retain the copyright on this image, of course, but you can freely print it for your own non-commercial use, as long as you don’t alter it beyond rescaling the size.
This is another in my series of daily, one-hour ATCs. This is my journal entry about creating this card.
For some reason, I was in an Edgar Allan Poe mood this morning.
When I was little, the very first TV show that I can recall seeing was “The Fall of the House of Usher” on PBS, a dramatization of the Edgar Allan Poe story.
(I must have been about four years old at the time. I’m sure that it made an impression that is today reflected in my love of gothic art and ghostly themes.)
The background is a page from the 1817 Farmer’s Almanac. I own an original copy, and I’d scanned it for my clipart CDs (see below).
Next, I added a public domain image of Edgar Allan Poe, found online and altered to suit this card. I had used this image in my Edgar Allan Poe Shrine several years ago. The raven on his shoulder is art from that shrine as well.
Over his torso, I placed one of my 205 Eerie Images from a New Orleans cemetery. When I first saw this falling-apart grave, I thought of the Poe tale. As I made this art card, adding this Poe-like image seemed like a logical step. Of course, I changed the Hue and increased the Saturation; the latter by about 90%.
To get the cemetery photo to appear only in the black areas of Poe’s clothing, I selected Poe’s torso with the rectangular tool, and made a copy of it. After pasting that to a different window and removing the background, I increased the contrast of the clothing so that it was sharply black and white. I cut out the black areas and pasted them as another layer on the positioned over the existing Poe clothing.
With the Selected areas still outlined, I switched layers so that I was working with the cemetery image. I inverted the selection and cut out (removed) areas of the picture that covered white portions of Poe’s clothing.
Then, I flattened the image.
Finally, I added the word, “Nevermore,” from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and added a drop shadow to the text.
The finished image is 3″ x 5″ and you can print it at 150 dpi. Right-click on this link and save the image to your hard drive. Then, print it at 150 dpi if you’d like it in the original 3″ x 5″ size.
(Of course, you can reduce the card to the more standard ATC size of 2.5″ x 3.5″ and improve the resolution as well. I’m accustomed to trading art cards in Red Dog Scott’s swaps, and they’re often 3″ x 5″.)
This art is copyrighted, but you can print it freely for your personal use, as long as you don’t alter the design of the card.
Scanned pages of the 1817 Farmer’s Almanac (This image is old enough to be in the public domain.)
The “Nevermore” font is Black Adder, and the title/artist lines on the card are in Century Schoolbook.
The idea for this started with an illustration in Photoshop Secrets of the Pros showing an eerie, monochromatic image by Joen Asmussen. The clouds in the sky of that image inspired me to try a similar effect, using some of my own graphics.
I started with a public domain photo of a solar eclipse, courtesy of PDPhoto.org.
On top of that, I placed part of a cemetery photo from New Orleans. (I’ve been there on vacation, so I had a lot of pictures to select among.)
Next, I changed the color of the eclipse and increased the saturation.
Then, I cropped the cemetery photo to fit, and adjusted the color to compliment the eclipse.
After that, I added a drop shadow to that layer.
To place the (public domain photo) woman, I used Adobe Photoshop’s lasso tool to isolate her and then pasted her image onto the ATC. (The flowers in her photo perfectly matched the placement of a cemetery urn.)
I erased the superfluous areas of her picture, and created a duplicate copy of her image.
I positioned both of the images of the woman, one on top of the other. I made the top layer transparent, to about 28%.
On the lower layer, I desaturated the picture, reduced contrast, and then made it transparent enough for the background to show through.
With that completed, I began working on the top layer by first adjusting color and contrast to suit the background; after that, I reduced saturation for a vintage effect. Then, I tweaked the transparency of this layer and her other layer, below, until I achieved the balance that I wanted.
The font is Whiffy, a free font which I selected after trying to mix another font with Ruben (a “Disney’s Haunted Mansion” style font) without success.
As usual, this ATC is copyrighted, but you can download and print a full-size 3″ x 5″ card (at 150 dpi), here.