Are you digitally challenged?
And by digitally challenged, I don’t mean missing a few fingers.
Let’s face it, once you get into realistic coloring, you pretty much have to start using digital stamps.
It’s really hard to fit your big giant Copic Markers into the teeny tiny spaces provided by most clear and cling stamps. Colored pencil people have an easier time squeezing in the color but at a certain point, the confined spaces start to hold you back.
Realistic coloring requires room to color realistically.
Plus, we’re creative people, right?
We want to customize regular digital stamps to look unique and special.
And we dream of creating our own coloring images!
For most of us, the only thing standing between the Copics and our digi dreams is the darned computer!
We buy the laptop or the tablet with the best of intentions, but the bounding boxes don’t work right, the stamp prints off center, and we can’t figure out how to change the stamp lines from black to gray…
No more excuses, no more begging random 13 year olds to help us out!
We’re going to learn this computery stuff, starting now.
Kathy F.S. is our Technology Virtuoso here at Vanilla Arts Company.
Yes, that’s her official title. It says so on her name tag.
I’ve watched Kathy coach people through their various digital stamp conundrums on Facebook and at the last coloring retreat, she had a bunch of people gathered around her learning how to make their own digital stamps in Procreate.
The woman was born to spread techy goodness across the land. That’s why I’ve kidnapped her and held her hostage here until she teaches us something.
By the way folks, the classic can shown here is NOT my artwork!
Kathy created her own digital stamp based on a 1980’s photo reference and then applied concepts she learned in Colored Pencil Plus to color this charming image.
She says that she’s not comfortable drawing and uses digital aids to make the process easier. Kathy traces whenever she can and uses software and apps to resize, remove, or add elements to make the art she envisions.
You can learn to do this too!
New Series: Computers for Colorers
C4C is Kathy’s new Tech Education series. Over the next few months (years? decades?) she’ll be gently coaxing us into the digital age.
Kathy has lots of great topics to cover and I can’t wait to learn alongside of y’all!
Computers for Colorers #1: Glossary
Master your digital demons
By Kathy F.S
Computers have had such an impact on our lives.
However, did you really ever think a computer would come into play in the art of coloring?
While it’s true, to color you simply need paper and colors (markers and/or color pencils in our case), if you have a computer and graphic editing software you can use them in all your projects.
If you are reading this, you have some computer experience. If you are an online student at Vanilla Arts.com then you must know how to download images to your computer and/or mobile device. If you are coloring those images for class, then you have figured out how to print them too.
But if you haven’t done more than that, you are likely to be puzzled by how to do more.
Not only that, the terminology is a language of its own.
That’s why I’m here.
It is my hope that I can help clear the confusion and get you on your way to using your computer technology to supplement your coloring process.
I have used graphics editing software for more than 20 years now.
What I can tell you right off the top is that when software is involved, there are many ways to get to the desired end result.
I will be sharing ways with you that I know will work.
Just keep in mind, it does not necessarily mean it is the best way, the right way, or the only way.
If you do not follow my steps 100% but get the same end result that is fantastic.
It’s impossible for me to cover every combination of software/computer configurations. That is why I will focus on concepts for you.
The screen examples I show will be taken from a Mac (an Apple computer) and the software will be Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019. The reason I chose this software is because it is an industry standard and it’s very affordable for such a robust program.
You can get Photoshop Elements for either PC or Mac from Amazon here (warning, affiliate link). Choose your format, I recommend the digital download rather than the disc because many laptops no longer come with built-in disc drives.
Here are a few things that colorers can do with graphics editing software:
Resize an image to fit your project dimensions
Change the image to a “no line” or disappearing stamp image
Edit an image to add something (like adding a cherry to the side of the plate)
Edit an image to delete something (remove the blue can to color just the slice of pie)
Add text to your image (finally get perfectly centered sentiments or create your own messages!)
Before we start, I thought it would be helpful to give you a glossary of terms that I will be using throughout the upcoming tutorials. This is just a starting point to help get you going.
C4C’s Tech glossary
AirDrop - A feature that lets you easily share images wirelessly between Apple made devices (i.e., iMac, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc.)
DPI - “Dots Per Inch”. Technically means printer dots per inch. This term is often misused usually to mean PPI, which means Pixels Per Inch. So when someone says “I want a photo that is 300 dpi” they really mean 300 ppi.
Graphics Software - Refers to a program that enables you to manipulate images on your computer or tablet. Examples of graphics editing software include Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Affinity Photo, CorelDRAW, Picasa, etc.
Import - Loading an image in a graphics editing software program so that it can be manipulated.
iPad - A wireless touch-screen personal computer normally associated with a Mac (iOS) based operating system as opposed to a tablet which is Windows (P.C. or personal computer) based.
Mask - A way to block out part of an image so that it does not print.
Mouse - A computer mouse is an input device that is most often used with a personal computer. Items on a screen can be moved or selected by pressing the mouse left or right buttons (left click or right click).
No Line Image - An image with a light grey outline that disappears underneath the ink or pencil as you color the image.
Photoshop Elements - A software program used to organize, edit and share photos. Sometimes referred to as PsE, we will use this program to manipulate digital images
Print - A computer command that will allow you to get your on screen document off the computer and onto paper.
Raster Graphics - An image that is composed of pixels (little squares of color), which will lose quality when resized either up or down. Examples of raster images have a file extension such as, but not limited to, .jpeg, .jpg, bmp.
Resize - Changing the dimensions of an image, either enlarging it or shrinking it.
Scanner - Computer hardware that scans documents (images or text) and converts them into a digital (raster) image.
Tablet - A wireless touch screen personal computer normally associated with a Windows based operating system as opposed to the iPad which is Mac based (iOS).
Vector Graphics - An image that is composed of paths that can be resized without losing quality.
Print this Article + Bonus Puzzle:
Subscribe below to receive the PDF version of this first article in Kathy’s multi-part Computers for Colorers series which includes a fun crossword puzzle to test your new vocabulary. This series will become a valuable instruction manual and you’ll want to keep it handy in a binder or notebook.
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Kathy FS is a Vanilla Arts student who enjoys hand-lettering pointed puns, realistic coloring, and getting up early to sleepwalk the dogs. You can follow her on Instagram here.