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My life right now…


…with my fingertips glued, mostly, to the keyboard…

OR…

Why I’ve been going on and on and on and on about my graphic designs (for now) …

To Do List (CC)You folks who have been following my blog for a while know that I’ve gone through periods where I talked about dance and nothing but dance.

Then there were long periods where I talked about loosing weight, eating healthy and getting fit and pretty much nothing else.

In fact, there have been periods where just about any and every topic under the sun became the “topic dee jur” for several “jurs” where I talked about that thing a LOT… and nothing else but that for a while.  (my friends from France just probably had a heart attack at my butchering of their native tongue.  Sorry guys.  🙂

Why do you get stuck on the same topic for a while?  I hear the teeming multitudes (all fourteen of you) asking…????

Because well, I blog about my life.  And whatever is going on in my life at that moment.  And I’ve been working a LOT on these designs lately trying to get as many as possible online and ready for people to buy in time for the Christmas Season.

AND because I see the end of my 401k (on which I’ve been living) coming to an end in Feb,

AND sales from these designs are one possible replacement for that money and a way to remain self-employed, 

AND I hurt my left arm / shoulder about two months ago and it still hurts and working on the computer (and these designs) is something I can do that doesn’t make the arm/shoulder hurt worse

AND THOSE things, dearest readers, are topics for another blog post.  The topic “de jur” is:

How was that for wicked teasing?  Hmmm? (One must confess that I’m grinning like a bad boy at the moment)  Watch for an update on those other tantalizing tidbits later…

But I digress.  I do that you know…  😉

My latest design

I love booksYou fine folks reading this…

(didcha catch my witty pun?) look to the right at the design…  Get it?  *snort* *giggle*

I started off with “reading” in the sentence.  ROFL [slapping knee and grinning foolishly]  And my design  *guaff* *snort* *giggle*  is about BOOKS!  Woot!

I crack my self up sometimes….  See what happens when I do a blog entry with only three sips of coffee in me?  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  😉

Anyway…  long time readers of this blog may recall that I have a Masters Degree in Library Science.  And, until early last year, I worked as a Librarian.

I love to read.  Well, duh.  LOL

So here is a design with that in mind:   “I love books”  / “I ♥ books”

Since this is just the fourth post in this new series, here is a reminder about the format.  Each post will have three parts:

  1. A large image of the new design
  2. A bit of background on how the design came about (just below)
  3. A few of my favorite products with the new design (just below that)

I hope you are enjoying the “back story” on the designs as I create them.

Even if you don’t visit the store and do some shopping, please hit the share and like buttons so that others can find out about my designs.  Thanks!

Background on my latest design:

One of the things that I knew early on was that I actually have very little drawing skill.  I mean I have a good size chunk of creative talent, all modesty aside, but the mechanical skills involved in picking up a pencil or paintbrush are things that I just do not have in my toolbox.

I can envision what I want but I lack the skill to actually produce it in a traditional “artistic” sense.  Thankfully graphic design doesn’t really require 100% creation from a blank page, or in this case a blank screen.

You can build upon the works of others.  So part of what I do is look for photos or clip art which is CC 3.0 BY, CC 3.0 BY-SA, or Public Domain. (If you want to read more about it what those letters mean, check out the first article in this series)

I love books

I love books – original photo. Licensed under CC 3.0 BY jamarmstrong on flickr.com

I start with an idea, which is mine.  All mine, then I start scouring the Internet for images which are kinda sorta what I want and with work and modification in a graphics program will fit the idea I have in mind.

I wanted to do a “I love books” design.  And I found this photo.  I really loved the warmth of the colors but there were several problems from the standpoint of a “graphic” for shirts, mugs etc.  Here’s what I did to turn it into a more workable design:

  • Square fits more products than rectangle designs and are easier to work with
    — So I added extra background to the top and bottom
    — I smudged and blended the extra bits so they looked like part of the original photo
  • When using text in a design “Level” is best
    — so I rotated the image to level out the pages of the books
  • Clarity and focus are important
    — meaning that elements which muddle the picture have to be removed, so the red bookmark ribbon was removed
    — and since the “heart” created by the pages is definitely the focal point of the photo, I moved the book over, cropped one side, added borders on the sides (like I did for the top and bottom), smudged and blended so it looked like part of the original photo.
  • The letter "I" with a color gradient matching the original photo.

    The letter “I” with a color gradient matching the original photo.

    Big is better
    — (getcher mind outta tha gutter!)  *ahem*  Go ahead.  Laugh.  Get it out of your system.  *sigh*  Moving on… The small text in the original photo was removed
    — I looked for a “dramatic” font online (one which had commercial permission)
    — I then used the MAC Text Edit program to create a black version of the font; I did a screen grab to convert the “text” into “graphics” and imported the “I” and “books” into GIMP, the program I use for working on my designs.
    — I then reversed the colors making the text white and the background black.  I deleted the white, making it transparent.
    — Then, and here’s the cool part…  I pasted the now, transparent text onto the photo, moved it around until parts of the warm yellows and reds and golds showed through and when I found a spot I liked, I then took another screen shot, got rid of the “black” background, making it transparent, leaving the text in glowing warm colors which matched the photo.  Tah-Dah!
    — Then it was just a case of moving the text around until I liked the positioning.  Woot!

For the record, I am quite proud of myself.  Why?…  I hear the teeming masses (all three of you) asking…?

I love books 400x400 small TORNBecause, dearest readers, I had to LEARN to do all that flippin stuff.  Fiddlin’ and Finagalin’ with Fotos ain’t like makin’ coffee!   Sheesh!  Can we say “learning curve?”  OMG!  No wonder graphic designers / computer geeks get paid so much!   For the record, understanding layers for me was the hardest part.  It is finally starting to click but only in the most basic sense.

An-Knee-Ways….  I’ve come a long way.  And it is all self-taught.  Just little ole me (and lots of very helpful YouTube videos) learning how to do it.  And I’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible.  *grin*

In all seriousness, what makes me so proud of this design is that I had this picture in my head.  And the final design came out very much like what I had in mind.  Woot!

My favorite products with the new design…

As a reminder, since this is only the fourth announcement of designs using this new “standardized format”…  I’ll share with you a few of the products from the first batch on which I think the new design looks awesome.   If you want to see all the products with this design, then click on one of the many links scattered through this post and hop on over to the store…  Cheers!

Read the rest of this entry

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100% Me — From Start to Finish


The Language of Dance

Language of Dance (c2013 TxCowboyDancer Designs)

Language of Dance (c2013 TxCowboyDancer Designs)

This is my design.  100% mine.  From start to Finish.  I did this!  Woot!  Uh-Huh!  [doing that circle in the air thing]  Doing my happy chair dance.  Who da manz!?  I iz!

Ok, ok.  Seriously folks this design is all mine.

Since this is only the third in this new series, here is a reminder about the format.  Each post will have three parts:

  1. A large image of the new design (like the one to the right)
  2. A bit of background on how the design came about (just below)
  3. A few of my favorite products with the new design (just below that)

I hope you are enjoying the “back story” on the designs as I create them.

Even if you don’t visit the store and do some shopping, please hit the share and like buttons so that others can find out about my designs.  Thanks!

Background on my latest design:

The idea for Language of Dance on my "brainstorming" list of design ideas.

The idea for Language of Dance on my “brainstorming” list of design ideas.

Way back when I first had the idea of creating designs for t-shirts, mugs, etc I sat down at my computer and came up with, literally, 14 printed 8 1/2 x 11 pages, double and single spaced…  quotes, quips, sayings, and design ideas.

Yes, dear readers, all nine of you who are reading this, without my usual dramatic embelishments, I can TRUTHFULLY say there is a fourteen page document on my desk right in front of me as I speak and on page ten there is this idea.

So… this was one of the very first “ideas” I had.  I had seen shirts with the word “Dance” in English written in different Fonts and different sizes arranged in a mosaic kind of pattern but I had never seen that done with multiple languages.

This is also one of the very first designs I ever created.  I actually used a word processor to do the design because of the large amount of text.  Using a graphics program really wasn’t working.

I used an online translation program to look up words from languages around the world. I basically just went down the list of languages and grabbed any that “looked cool” or that slightly resembled “Dance” in English.   I tried to choose colors from across the spectrum.  And them when I was done, I started cutting and pasting them into a shape that I liked.

Then I did a screen grab to convert the “text” into a graphic.   I then imported the graphic into a graphics editing program and fiddled with the twiddly bits and Tah-Dah…  I had my first design.

Stressed man pulling hair [CC]And then I fell promptly on my face.  I discovered that designing for t-shirts and mugs is a not an easy process and of all the designs I could have chosen for a “first” effort, doing something like this was NOT a good choice.  There are lots of problems with it from a design standpoint.  The wide range of colors means that it really looks best on a white background but putting a white background on white products is problematic.  And when creating the design I gave no thought to the size of the design area on the products onto which the design would go.

The upshot was that I eventually just threw my hands into the air in frustration and started moved on to something simpler.  And this design languished on the sidelines: even though I had created a few products; even though I had announced this design before (with the earlier) versions of it.

But now, after months of practice and learning more about graphics editing than I ever thought I’d know, I was ready to tackle it again.  Start from scratch and do it up right.  If you compare the “idea” photo to the “finished” design you can see that the idea is basically the same but the arrangement is far different, in order to accommodate the constraints required by the products on zazzle.

Cowboy smiley 110x110And I’m pretty happy with the results.

As with all my designs, it seems as if as soon as I finish, I get an idea for variations to the design.  So watch for future versions working with this concept.

My favorite products with the new design…

Sometimes when I finish with a design and load it onto the products I feel like “Grumpy Cat” who doesn’t like anything.  Because, well to be honest, they just don’t look as good as I had envisioned.

But then, sometimes, when I load a design I just go “WOW.”  This particular design has quite a few “Wows.”   I hope you enjoy them and if you do, help me out by clicking those like and share buttons.  Here are my favorites from the first batch:  (and no… the hunk does NOT come with the shirt… alas plus he might not even be legal!  *GASP* We shall assume that he’s of college age—you dirty minded… …of course I could be externalizing again…. but I digress  *sigh*)

Read the rest of this entry

Coffee Kitty is NOT a Morning Cat… Uhmmm… Person


Given how sleep deprived I am this morning…

Coffee Kitty is NOT a Morning Person

c2013 TxCowboyDancer Designs

…this design is somehow very appropriate.

Since this is only the second in this new series, here is a reminder about the format.  Each post will have three parts:

  1. A large image of the new design (like the one to the right)
  2. A bit of background on how the design came about (just below)
  3. A few of my favorite products with the new design (just below that)

I hope you are enjoying the “back story” on the designs as I create them.

Even if you don’t visit the store and do some shopping, please hit the share and like buttons so that others can find out about my designs.  Thanks!

Background on my latest design:

I don’t remember where I first saw this cat.  I think it was either on Facebook or maybe it popped up in a Google search.  I’ve slept since then…  😉

Following the trail back to the source of the image lead me to a website called Deviant Art;  a site I had never visited before.  Wow, talk about a different part of the Interwebz!  LOL

I Need Coffee Original sketch by (by YTCyberPunk)

This was the image that I first saw… I Need Coffee Original sketch by (by YTCyberPunk)

If you’ve never heard of Deviant Art, check it out.  It is a lot of fun, but a lot of, well, deviant, in a good “artistic” way.  Basically it is a place for artists and photographers to hang out and share their work, comment and critique, and take a peek at what other artists and photographers are doing.

Some of the work on the site is jaw dropping amazing.  Some of it is amusing.  Some of it, quite frankly, is awful.  Not awful in the sense of lack of inspiration or effort but in execution—sorta baby works by artists who still have “training wheels” on their paint brushes or mouses.  Mice?  Miceses?

Whatever you call more than one computer mouse.  But hey, art is in the eye of the beholder, and all of it is fun.  Think “coffee house” in Soho with local artists works on the wall, and you get the idea… only without the coffee and it is on the Internet instead of in New York… but anyhoo…

Hmmm… coffee must be on my brain this morning…  Slllllluuuuuurrrrrrrrpppppp….  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh….

You know you are truly hooked when you are only a third of the way through your first cup of coffee and there is NO WAY the caffeine  can actually be hitting your system yet, but your body reacts physiologically to the mere promise of more caffeine hitting the blood stream soon. *SIGH*

I Need Coffee (by YTCyberPunk) Ink Version

I Need Coffee (by YTCyberPunk) Cleaned up Ink Version

But I digress..   I do that you know…

So… on the Deviant Art website, has a way for visitors to purchase a digital copy of the artwork for their personal non-commercial use like putting it on a computer desktop as the background.  Or printing it off and framing it and hanging it on the wall.

But I didn’t want the image for personal use.  I wanted to edit the design and I wanted to sell the design on products like t-shirts and coffee mugs.  So, having never done this before, I said “what the hey” and took a chance.  I emailed the artist and asked her if she’d consider selling me the commercial rights to her drawing, including the right to edit the drawing and add captions.

It turns out that the “drawing” was just a doodle she had done during class and that she’d never actually ever sold one of her works before and was very flattered that I liked her drawing.

Since we were both “babes in the woods” so to speak, we talked it through, making the contract up as we went.  We eventually agreed that she retain copyright on the original drawing and that I would have copyright on any modifications based on her drawing.

I sent her a payment and in exchange I got a cleaned up copy of the drawing from her and the commercial rights to print the modified versions on  t-shirts etc.  Coolness!  My first official bizness KNEE-go-she-Ayh-SHUN! Woot!

Storyline showing development of the design

Storyline showing development of the design as I edited it

When I got the cleaned up “pen and ink” version, I decided that actually liked the original “messy” pencil version better.

So working with both the original “messy” file and the ink “clean” version, I took a bit of this and a bit of that and did a lot of clean up and editing of the “messy” version.

I added color to it a little at a time.  I did some MORE clean up, adjusted proportions, shortened the height of the steam, and eventually after several hours of work with a graphics program…

Tah-Dah.  I had a design I liked and that was ready to go onto products.

My favorite version is the cream colored cat.  But I am playing around with the colors and will at some point in the future have a black and white version and a grey scale version as well.  Watch for those.  🙂

Or I might change the color of the coffee cup or I might use the ink version.  Who knows.  But I’ll have to have more coffee first.  LOL

I just LOVE the expression on this cat’s face.  Especially since it is so close and contrasts so nicely with the big “smiley” face on the mug!  Woot!

My favorite products with the new design…

I had a LOT of fun coming up with captions for the bumper stickers and mugs, etc for this design.  I’m a coffee drinker and NOT a morning person AT ALL so this is a topic near and dear to my caffeinated heart. Read the rest of this entry

Announcing the start of a regular series here on my blog…


A new series…

American grunge flag

Image licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 BY

…where I announce the new designs appearing in my Zazzle Store.

Each time a post comes out it will have:

  • A large image of the new design (like the one to the right)
  • A bit of background on how the design came about (just below)
  • A few of my favorite products with the new design (just below that)

I’ll make these announcements when the first batch of products are ready for viewing.   Much later, months later, if I add a second batch of products using the same design, then I’ll make a second announcement for the same design.

Right now on my store I’m trying to get a LOT of new designs up fast because I need sales.

My 401k, which I’ve been living on since I lost my job last year is about to run out of money.  I have until Feb 1st, the date of the last 401k check to replace that income with something else.

Selling products on Zazzle is one of a dozen different things I’m trying.  So if you see something you like, then I really appreciate you buying the product.  If you don’t have the cash I would appreciate it if you hit those share and like buttons.  The more word gets spread about my store and the products there the more likely that someone will buy something.

Background on my latest design:
American Grunge Flag

Sleeveless T-shirt with American Grunge Flag available at TxCowboyDancer Designs

Sleeveless T-shirt with American Grunge Flag available at TxCowboyDancer Designs

The whole “grunge” thing seems to be a theme in T-shirt design right now.  It is the modern version of what Andy Warhol was doing with his “Pop Art” back in the day.

Some grunge art that I’ve seen is pretty good and a lot of it is just commercial wanna-be’s who are out to make a quick buck off of a trend.

I really like this design.  When I saw it after paging through literally hundreds of boring, mundane mind-numbing run-of-the-mill BLAH-ness on a graphics website..  (Is “blah-ness” a word?  If it isn’t it should be)

But I digress.  I do that you know…  So I’m looking through all these truly Snooze worthy images and  I hit the “next” button and went

“Wow!”

Literally.  Aloud.  And then I went

YES! when I saw that the design was listed as CC 3.0.  (more about that later after the “more” button)

This design to me has a “rebel” feel while still being patriotic.  With the running drips of paint it is almost as if it is graffiti.  Think 1960’s and civil protest and civic involvement and well, it just rocks as a design on top of all that!  Woot!

My favorite products with the new design…

In complete honesty, when working on a new “design” for my Zazzle Store, I stick a new graphic on a lot of stuff and sometimes it looks, well, “ok,” in my humble opinion, (I delete the truly awful stuff) but let’s face it, the “just ok” stuff ain’t rockin’ my world.

But sometimes..  Wow!  it is awesome the design just “fits” the product and the result is kinda cool.  Those are the ones that I’m sharing here:

 

However… I also realize that there are a lot of different tastes out there on the Interwebz and one person’s “rockin it” is another person’s “ho hum.

So, these are the ones I like… but hey you may like some of the other stuff so click on one of the multitude of links in this article.  Didja catch that tongue in cheek humor?  I said “click on a link and conveniently provided the aforementioned link.  Ooopps!  I did it again.  *grin*  I crack myself up sometimes.

Ok, folks here is where the typical post in this series will end.  See, not too bad and the “typical post” will be even shorter because the format is now established.  Woot!  For those who want to read more on the whole Zazzle thing and copyright and other “behind the curtain” stuff, then clicky-clicky the More button.

Read the rest of this entry

Thoughts on blogging, noses, unmentionables, wallowing and starting over…


What to write?

OMG! You're blogging about THAT? ©2012One of the problems with writing a blog is that people actually do read it.

In my case, not a lot of people, about six of you including my mom.  Ok, ok, there’s more than six but my little blog reaches only a few hundred folks, not a few hundred thousand.  But that’s enough to count.  LOL

And it is enough so that I, like any blogger, have to decide just how much detail to include from my personal life.

Ok…  I’ll give you a moment to process that.

Give it a bit… think about ALL of the things you do on a daily basis.  Now think about all the things which you do that you DON’T talk about in polite company.

Just for the sake of being obvious, and to indulge in a moment of juvenile regression, here are some examples of normal routine ordinary things which we all do, but usually don’t talk about or in this case, things we usually don’t blog about…

  • …how many times we go potty in a day.  The nature and quality of the products eliminated from the system during the potty process.
  • …whether or not we really wash our hands after going potty.
  • …how many times we insert our fingers into our noses. The nature and quality of the *ahem* product of finger insertion.
  • …how many times we scratch *ahem* unmentionables located in places usually covered by clothing while in public.
  • …and other such random acts of physiological grossness and impoliteness

Ask yourself:

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