Art, No Matter the Medium

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For centuries, and especially during the last one, the question has been raised of ‘What is art?’. The Expressionist movement, started it in the early 20th century, with particular note to the Dadaist movement within it, were some of the first to really explore this question thru art and it’s something that has continued to be explored up to today with the post abstract modern art movement. It’s a fascinating mind think to ponder and define for yourself, as my art teachers have always been firm believers that art is in the eye of the beholder, and therefore can only be defined for that person’s tastes. The question I’m posing today branches off of this with ‘What can be used to make art?’.

For some people there are only a few mediums that are available to one who wants their work to be defined as art: paints, inks, wax, clay, and marble. The invention of Photoshop and it’s subsequent take over of the art world has often remained a strong contention point since its introduction in the late 80s as to whether or not a digital medium can be considered as skillful and praise worthy as working in something like oil paints. As someone whose gone thru formal training in the program I certainly believe it’s worthy of being considered a recognized art medium, but that’s not the program I wanted to show today.

No, today’s artist uses a medium that I highly doubt any artist would’ve thought to try right away; Microsoft Excel.

This video highlights the beautiful digital paintings created by Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi entirely in Excel. The 77-year old burgeoning artist decided he wanted to take up painting after retiring, but didn’t want to spend money on expensive paints or canvas, and decided to try the digital route. Not wanting to pay for an art program either if he could avoid it, he discovered Excel’s graphic abilities one day and started experimenting with them (not just filling cells with colors as some knitters are wont to do to design patterns). It’s truly amazing to see some of his finished work and it definitely makes you ponder the question I mentioned above. Since he only uses already available assets and manipulates them into images; ‘Is it art?’ Only you can define that for yourself.


Customizable DIY Colouring Fabric.

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Hi there Thursday Crafthackers!

This isn’t quite a DIY but it is a neat little piece of info for those of you who are looking to make things that can be coloured. That’s right, fabric that can be coloured – for clutches, pillow cases, shirts… whatever you like. This is more of a step by step for how to order what you need, but I didn’t realize that this could even be done, so I thought I’d share. There’s a full tutorial on Damask Love, but this post will focus on the resources you need to get this fabric to you.

Your first step is to find a design that you like at a place like Creative Market. If you search the term “seamless” it will pull up all kinds of designs that are appropriate for a colouring item. Purchase your design and save it to an easy to find place in your computer.

Next, hop on over to Zazzle (which also has a Canadian site). On this site you can order all kinds of blank things that you can have images printed on. If you’re looking to make a tote or a pillow or clutch, I suggest searching for “twill” to order some plain fabric with your design printed on it. Note that you can also make other custom stuff, so of course, play around! All you have to do is upload the design, and fidget with the scale if you choose. Since the design is seamless, you won’t have to work with edges or things like that.

After you’ve chosen the design and the fabric, just order it and wait for it to arrive. See? Not so much a tutorial but until seeing this I had no idea that I could order colouring fabric (of course you’ll want to use fabric markers for the actual colouring), or that I could customize it, so I thought you guys needed to know too.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan


Color Scheme Assistance

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Taking a break from just posting awesome things or DIYs, I wanted to share another tool for all you artist/artisans out there. When designing a piece, one of the hardest things to do sometimes is color. Now I don’t mean color for something you know or recreating, but picking color from scratch for something new and unique. This can be for anything from a website to a new fantasy creature and it can take hours of slight adjustments to get something the eye sees as ‘right’. Thankfully in this age of the internet, kind people have developed palette designers to help us with this task.

This is a site called Paletton. It’s an easy click and drag way to get you making a color scheme quick and easy. You start with a main color you know you want and then let the program to the work for you, or completely pick out lots of shades and get a fast mock-up of them to see if they work. Great if you have a starting point and just need a little push to get your colors together, but what if picking color schemes is a slog for you? Well I’ve got something for that too. Coolors makes it even easy with randomly generated palettes you can cycle through or explore ones generated by other users.

Both tools are completely free and allow you get the design info you need and get back to work on your beautiful art piece. 🙂


Comparing Heights

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I’ve got a cool little reference tool for everyone today! Now I know this won’t be used for every medium out there, but if you draw or write about people with your art then continue on my friends.

This is a nifty little weblet made by Mr Initial Man called Comparing Heights, that lets you quickly get a visual on what the height differences should look like for characters. While you may have an idea for average heights (6′-5′ range) I find this to be incredibly helpful for fantasy art. Got a 60′ giant? Now you know just how large that would look next to you. Want to know if you fairy is too big? They got you covered. 🙂 I could see this being a fun tool for D&D GMs as well. If you are worried about group shots more, you can compared up to 6 people in this one right here instead. It’s really just a great simple (and free!) tool to help get everything into perspective. ;P


Digitize Your Handwriting

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While this service has been around online for years and years, I’m always amazed by how many people that have never heard of it. So I wanted to share with all you aspiring creative types the super simple, easy and free way to turn your own handwriting into a digital font for your computer. 😀

There are currently 2 sites that I would recommend to do this with, depending on what resources you have on hand and how much time you want to commit. The first is My Script Font. Its process is simple. You print out a guide paper with several boxes on it. In those boxes you write the corresponding letter/symbol it lists. Then you put it into a scanner to turn the paper back to a digital file and load it to their site. You can also name and pick the font file type (TTF if default as it is more universal) when you do, and that’s it! You’ll immediately get a font in your own handwriting to enjoy and use.

Now this company does have a new version of this service, which is the second one I’d recommend for the more serious user called Calligraphr. You use a program instead or printing anything (though you can print it if you prefer) and can tweak your handwriting font to perfection, giving it negative spaces on letter like P and T, or even allowing randomized variances in letters to make it look more like handwriting. Using it for free lets you still make as many fonts as you want, but you can only tweak 1 at a time and have a limit on unique characters; which aren’t used that often really. There is a paid version for $7 a month that gives some extra bonuses, but is really only for those who need their font to do a lot more then the casual user.

What can you do with this awesome new font? Well, anything that involves writing really. Want to have truly unique labels or signage for your products? Use your own handwriting. Add a personal touch to your FAQ page on your website. Replace the font in your comic with your own hand and not have to do any line art clean up for it! You could even use this tool to make custom notebooks or memo pads for yourself/customers. The only limiter is your own imagination really.


Knowing Your Resources – Scaling Images

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Yesterday I talked about programs you can used to do free digital work to your creations. Today I’m continuing the digital side of crafting and taking it a step further to provide a new program and an example of how it can be used to effect your crafts/art. Say you’ve got a great design for a T-shirt you want to make. You’re in love with it and it looks perfect. You go to print it out and start your screen printing process and…crap. You made your design way too small.

What do you do? You spent hours on this design and now when you go to make it bigger it’s likely not going to look as good and isn’t suitable to print. Well, I have your answer. You go take a visit to waifu2x. Not a great name, I know, but here is an example from their site of the change in quality their program provides (you’ll have to click for the larger image to see everything better)

You simply chose the image you want from your files and select the level of customization for upscaling it that you need. While it’s likely not going to be perfect if your image is fully colored and fleshed out, it will expertly upscale and clean just about any image you give it better than most free image editing software. I wouldn’t use it all the time (you should always try and work in high resolution images whenever you make a digital design), but it’s great for those moments when you forgot or were in a rush and have a time crunch to get something finished by. 🙂


Knowing Your Resources – Free Computer Art Programs

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So I hurt my left arm last week and I’m having to take it easy and not crochet (cries forever at all the lost work time) to let the muscles recover from the strain. I’m doing more digital based work instead to keep from just lounging around and playing video games, so I thought I’d share some great art programs that can be used to create digital art on your computer that can all be downloaded at no cost to use. This way you can explore and see what programs work best for you. 🙂

Photoshop CS2 – You’ll have to create a free adobe login first if you don’t have one, but once you log in and go to this link you should be on the agreement page that leads you to the download. It’s all free, but no longer supported by adobe with updates. So if you have a system running newer versions of windows (like windows 10) it probably won’t run.

FireAlpaca – This is a nice simple paint/illustrator tool for Windows or Mac. Still supported and updated as well, while planning to always be free.

GIMP – Another free program that works for Windows, Mac or Linux.

Inkscape – My personal program of choice as a back to photoshop. It’s available to Windows, Linux, Mac and even as the source code; for all the people out there that are much for into programing then I’ll ever be.

As a bonus: CTRL+Paint Is a great resource to teach you how to you digital programs to make art, touch up photos, or do graphic design stuff like make vector based logos.

So get out there and get creative! 😀