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Friday, April 24, 2009


Newer postcard: Saturday 2009 04 25

Original postcard: Friday 2009 04 24

This week’s Sunday Postcard Art challenge was “Butterflies.” What a wonderful theme! My earlier post is below. I decided to experiment some more with GIMP, because I originally wanted to create a more imaginative postcard than the one I had to settle on due to the learning curve with the new tool. So I have two this week. The background for the newer one is from a poster that I modified significantly. The butterflies are also altered. I used GIMP as well as the tools I’ve been using in the past to create it. Additional information is in my original post…

2009 04 24: I was only able to create a very simple postcard this time, because this week was a new beginning for me. Thanks to Mary, I’m now using GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program, which makes the whole process much simpler for me. (My “pixel” problems should be a thing of the past now.) The tool is very powerful, and it’s free! :-) But I just started using it Sunday April 19, so I have a learning curve, and I had some frustrating moments until I figured out how to make it “do” what the help was saying it could “do” but which it wasn’t. :-(

I decided to make an “Illuminated Manuscript” book page with butterflies as part of the pictures on the page. I started with an Illuminated Manuscript book page (writing only, no pictures) as the background. Then I added butterflies and flowers from artwork by E. A. Seguy. (I modified some of the flowers slightly.)

All of the images are from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Technical notes to myself (I didn’t think I’d have these this time): For some reason, the final postcard, reduced to 4x6 in GIMP then exported as a jpg, had some picture quality problems when I printed it. I then noticed that although Paint said it was 4x6, it was smaller than my other postcards that also say they are 4x6 in Paint. So I took the original sized GIMP jpg export, opened it in Paint, copied it, pasted it as a new image in PhotoPlus, and reduced it to a 4x6. I created a 4x6 image, copy/pasted the 4x6 image into it as a new layer, filled the background to get it to be a true 4x6, then exported that as a jpg. That image result does not appear to have the picture quality problems like the GIMP one did. I repeated that experiment with GIMP, but the final result had the same problem as the original one. So this requires further investigation.

Friday, April 17, 2009


This week’s Sunday Postcard Art challenge was “Pierrot.” I didn’t know who he was so I did a Google search. I used the description I found on wikipedia to come up with my postcard idea. Because I was unfamiliar with him and everything and everyone else associated with him, I didn’t look at any images on the Internet (other than the ones on wikipedia) because I didn’t want my idea to be influenced by anything I saw.

I knew what a harlequin was, I knew what a modern clown looked like, and I knew who Scaramouche was, but I didn’t realize their origins came from here. This challenge was an educational experience for me, which I enjoyed.

My postcard shows Columbine choosing Harlequin, and turning away from Pierrot. I have the moon in there too, because he was “moonstruck” by her. I wanted to put some moon dust raining down on him, to show that, but there wasn’t enough room. All of the clipart is from Clipart ETC. I colored it and made a few minor modifications.

After I decided on my postcard theme and the clipart I would use in it, I did do a search for Harlequin and found this beautiful painting called Harlequin Dance, by Gary Benfield. Pierrot is in it also, but he was so subtle I didn’t see him at first. I know it’s not a postcard, and not part of the challenge, but I thought I would share it anyway. It can be seen on Herndon Fine Art - Limited Editions, Originals, and Sculptures: Gary Benfield Limited Editions. It’s almost all the way down to the bottom of the page. To view the image directly, go here.

Technical notes to myself: Even though I uploaded the BMP file, which didn’t have the “ghost affect”, the website appears to be using a JPG style version of it, which does, just like my original one did until I changed everything to BMPs and processed them that way.

Technical Notes: Pierrot

Technical notes to myself: This latest postcard (Pierrot) gave me a better understanding of the various image processing problems I’ve been having:

1) Do not reduce the size of GIF files using Microsoft Paint (version 5.1). That causes subtle colored “stray pixels” to appear. Do the reduction in there to get the size in inches, but don’t save it. Then reduce it in PhotoPlus, by setting either the width or height to the desired inches value, and let it scale the other one accordingly. The result will be reduced to the size I wanted in Paint, but it will be clean. (The same problem might exist with BMP files.)

2) The “ghost affect” is still a problem and is probably due to the fact that JPG files use a lossy compression algorithm. I don’t think they are WYSIWYG when I’m processing them on a pixel by pixel basis. That’s why it’s not noticeable until I start to overlay images. (Except the clue that it’s there is if I do a test, and try to fill the image, there is a square edge all around the image, that doesn’t fill.) I need to look into what a JPG really is. I also might need to render it as a bitmap before I try to process it. (That might not be the right terminology, but I know what I mean, and I know what I need to look at to do that.)

3) When I “color” a black and white clip art picture, the first color I choose is most dominant, and ends up in places where I don’t want it. This occurs with clip art pictures that have a lot of different gray scale pixels in them. Using the “Black or White” choice as a processing first step might help with this problem, but I only tested it once, and not sufficiently enough to get meaningful test results.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


This week’s Sunday Postcard Art challenge was “Easter.” This was a wonderful theme and I had a lot of fun with it. I ended up making a second postcard because I still had time before the deadline.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 3, 2009

"Swan Lake"

This week’s Sunday Postcard Art challenge was “Swan Lake”. My postcard consists of several layers. One of the tools I use is Serif PhotoPlus Version 6.03. I created the lake water in it using a Gradient Fill with Difference. I added an Art Deco border (that I colored) on top of the water, set to “Overlay.” I added a postcard size rose on top of that, set to “Dodge,” to create the surreal appearance of it floating under the water. The foreground is two swans and a lily pad. While I create all of the layers in PhotoPlus, I export them (in this case, as a background and foreground image) and overlay them using a different program, to create the final postcard image.

FYI: It looks like Serif has a newer version of PhotoPlus on their website: Free Image & Photo Editing Software Download – PhotoPlus SE.

Technical notes to myself: I fixed some of the problems I was having when switching between image manipulation programs and image formats (gif, jpg, bmp). Color resolution loss and colored pixels appearing where they shouldn’t are no longer a problem, but there are still circumstances when they can occur, so I need to be aware of that. I’m also still seeing a “ghost affect” from pixels near the edges of the items I’m “pasting” into the postcard. They should get “whited out” but they’re not (even though they look white). This is an ongoing problem I’m having with jpg files, but the “ghost affect” doesn’t always show up, which is good. (To see the edge affect that’s causing these problems, “fill” the jpg image and observe that there is a square edge all around the image, that doesn’t fill.)