October Process – Part 1

My “design” career began by accident when a marketer I followed offered a course on how to design print-on-demand mugs. To say I was enamored with creating these mugs was an understatement.

I was in design heaven! Except it was the wrong heaven. Though I have a natural sense of design, I had no clue what types of designs I was supposed to be creating, and no audience in mind for whom I was supposed to be creating them.

Plus . . . I had a limited number of fonts to use and no idea where to procure more. What I did have was access to a couple of apps that gave you a selection of fancy graphic fonts to use. What you see immediately below is one of my first results.

Talk about something you’d see in a souvenir shop!

Since then, I’ve acquired more fonts, manage a good part of the time to ignore my over-thinking ego, and have learned the rudiments of Photoshop. I’ve also accepted that, though I would love to create my designs from a sketch or idea with which I’ve come up, my inner artist has her own process that delivers better outcomes.

This blog post is about that process. It was used to re-create the above quote in a way that produced something I think is much better.

  • Part 1 – Selecting the Image, and Getting it Ready
  • Part 2 – Appropriate Colors, Textures, Background, and Size
  • Part 3 – Finish the Design

Selecting the Image

For those of us living in the Northeast of the U.S.A., October is a special month as the trees flaunt their autumn colors. Though they do herald an oncoming winter, most of us are glad we live where the Octobers are so beautiful.

Because of that, I wanted to create a suitable design that could be used both on a mug and as a digital resource download in my new Etsy store JaJiLu Digital. I imagined a few leaves or even a branch of colorful leaves and for the quote, I knew I wanted an easy to read, casual script.

Though my drawing skills are improving, it would have taken forever for me to work something up with which I would be satisfied. Plus, there is always the time/value/cost consideration, so it was off to Pixabay to find a suitable image.

When you search in Pixabay for autumn leaves the site gives you 188 pages from which to choose! And it was easy to see that one of the
clichés of autumn in the northeast is using maple leaves in your images.

I admit having succumbed to that cliché in the beginning and coming up with designs that were also worthy of a souvenir shop. With that said, below is the one design that I kept because of the way the leaves were used. It was probably due to the influence of my inner artist and may reflect when I first started listening to her.

For the quote though, I was really hoping to find something that would excite my interest that did not contain maple leaves. Now I’m not crazy enough to go through each and every one of the 188 pages, but I’ll usually go through the first 25. Fortunately, it only took looking through 13 pages to find the image that resonated. Unfortunately, it had a background that was unsuitable for my purposes.

I think you’ll be surprised at the color of the leaves when seen against a more neutral background.

In selecting this image, my fingers were crossed that a simple application of the Photoshop Magic Eraser would remove the background in one click of the button.

It didn’t.

Getting the Image Ready

With the background unable to be easily removed, my choices were two: 1) go find another image, or 2) get rid of the background manually.

I don’t think I considered option 1 for more than a few seconds before I was cropping the image, making the screen 3 times as large and going after the background with the Background Eraser

The first image is the result after cropping, and second one is after manually erasing the background, and the third is a screenshot of the enlarged screen where you can see the pixelated background that looks as though I did an excellent job erasing the background.

Cropped image with background intact. no sizing changes made.
Leaves are larger, but overall image is narrower. Note at the bottom the amount of color still left to be erased . . . or as happened . . . cropped off.
The darker pixels are those that did not get completely erased, but more about them in Part 2.

This is the end of Part 1. There are probably easier ways of removing a background in Photoshop, but I haven’t yet learned them or learned them well enough to put them to use easily.

But that’s what process is – using what you know to create an outcome that you like. It may not be the best way of doing, but what is more important?

When you get excited about an idea, you have to make a decision – go with what you know or use the opportunity to improve your skills along the way.

Patience is a virtue and it comes in very handy when you’re in the creative process. Yet, on the other hand, when the need to create is energizing you and pushing you forward . . . then giving yourself over to it and seeing where it takes you? Well, there’s nothing else like it regardless of what methods you use.

And speaking of methods, Part 2 may surprise you with what I used to create the next phase of the design.

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