Blogging

CG Turns Three!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

turning 3Hello friends, it’s just an ordinary Wednesday for most, but for me today marks three years blogging here at this site. Looking back, I’m rather proud of everything that’s happened to date and very excited for what the future brings. I still find it a bit surreal that this hobby-turned-real job thing happened to little ol’ me.

The first thing I want to say is thank you to all of you who come over to visit with me, who leave such nice comments, and who interact with me via email and on social media. 

I also need to thank all of the DIY and design bloggers and businesses out there who’ve been incredibly supportive, welcoming, and encouraging – you really are such an amazing community and I’m honored to be a part of this online movement to better our lives and homes through good design and a can-do attitude.  And also thank you to my contributors, Courtney, Amanda, Michelle, and Abi – they’ve helped so much with this site!

My second year of blogging brought some fantastic features my way including  partnering with DIY Magazine, working with Matthew Mead for Holiday Magazine, and I also had my home featured in Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Ideas magazine.  Just this week, the blog hit 27 million pageviews, which I still can’t wrap my head around but those are the stats. 

Last month, I partnered with four other bloggers to write the Growing Your Blog Series (links to all five posts are there – it’s a great read) but today, I’d like to offer some words of encouragement and a few thoughts on what I think is the key to a successful DIY blog.

 

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How to Make an Animated .gif (free and easy!)

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

My brother is slowly teaching me the ins and outs of Photoshop Elements and one of the things I asked him to teach me was how to make an animated .gif.  There’s an Animate function there that I’ve learned to use, but it’s always nice to be able to do it for free somewhere else right?  Well, you can.  Rhoda uses Photoscape for editing her images so after I read her post I hopped over to test it out. I liked a lot of the tools available with this free software, but the one that caught my eye was the Animated GIF option.  Note this available only for PC users.  

For those who don’t know, an animated GIF file compiles a number of images as frames displayed successively, kind of like an old flip book movie. It’s a fun tool for play but also useful for making buttons or ads too.  With an animated .gif, you can layer several images on top of one another – look how fun it can be! 

 

fan deck gif

 

To do it easily and for free, you can use the Photoscape software, available here.

 

animated gif option in photoscape

 

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Picnik Aftermath + Making Pinteresting Labels

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I’ve had two cups of coffee so brace yourselves, this is a long post about photo editing, Picnik, and making labels for Pinterest. My friends, Google dropped a bomb on us over the weekend.  Perhaps you’ve heard, but according to their blog, Picnik, one of the best and most user friendly sites for online photo editing is closing on April 19th.

Deep breath people, deep breath.

Truth is, I’m upset like so many and there are hundreds (maybe over a thousand now) of disappointed and angry comments.  Picnik is/was so great for an easy photo tweak, I loved the Collages and Effects, and I used it to quickly make labels for Pinterest with the Basic Shapes tool.  Some of the basic Picnik tools have been moved to a Creative Kit on Google+ but after visiting, it’s really not the same thing. It seems this is Google’s way of forcing people to join their social network by transferring this popular program over to lure people over to Google+.

Hopefully they’ll reconsider, but let’s assume what’s done is done. What are we to do? What about kids who can’t join or those who don’t want to bother with Google+? We Picnik lovers are now mourning and seeking alternatives. What are our choices?

bye bye picnik

I’ve been hunting around for one over the last few days. It basically comes down to a few other online sites, upping your game by purchasing and learning to use Photoshop Elements, or turning to close but free equivalents like GIMP, Splash Up, and Pixlr.  My brother is slowly teaching me the ins and outs of Elements – I’m just amazed at what it can do.  I’m getting more proficient, but there is definitely a learning curve.  Often my eyes glaze over when working with Elements, which is why I’m excited Layla is planning some tutorials in the near future.

For us Picnik fans, sadly, there’s no one program that does exactly everything I or we want to do as quickly and easily as Picnik.  iPiccy is the most Picnik-like it its layout and user friendliness and has some of the same fancy tools we’ve become accustomed to (Clone Tool, Sketch Tool, and also a Painter tool), but lacks the sophisticated Frames, Borders, Collages, Shows, or Stickers (Geometric, Speech Bubbles, etc.) we loved over at Picnik.  iPiccy likes feedback, so feel free to suggest any Picnik like tools to them.

Fotoflexer has a few Photoshop like tools that are available like the ability to use Layers and Scissors (similar to the Lasso tool), Paint Bucket, Pencil, and Eye Dropper.  There are several fun Effects similar to Picnik and it will Beautify (meaning fix wrinkles like Picnik’s Wrinkle Remover) but still not as great as Picnik.  (Thanks Jen for letting me know about this one).

Pixlr Express is another online editor which offers the ability to make some quick adjustments, and also has some fun Effects and Overlays. They have a Teeth Whitening tool like Picnik, but no other Touch Ups or Stickers and a limited amount of Frames.  Photoshop Express Editor is available as well, and while their basic edit functions are superior to most, they have none of the other fabulous Tools, Effects, etc. offered by Picnik.  I’ve always liked Picasa for a basic photo edit, but again, no fancy Tools or Effects.  And then I checked out Pixenate and LunaPic and gave up due to their ads and the fact they seemed to be not very user friendly.  For two other articles offering helpful tips in the wake of Picnik closing, read the SITS girls post on Photo Editing Sites like Picnik and Susan’s article on 9 Photo Editing Alternatives to Picnik.  Also check out Rhoda’s tutorial on using Photoscape!

I also played with three free Photoshop Elements-like programs, they are GIMP, SplashUp and Pixlr.  GIMP requires you download the software, but it also has Layers, and a good toolbox (Paintbrush, Healing, Bucket, etc).  The nice thing about GIMP is once you download it, you can work without an internet connection.  Splash Up’s layout is also similar to Photoshop Elements, it offers Layers and Tools like EyeDropper, Marker, Eraser, etc.  My favorite was Pixlr, simply because it looks and feels the most like Elements and is completely free so you can work on it anywhere you have internet access. My brother and I played around with it a lot over the weekend and he was pretty impressed.

 

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