Monthly Archives: August 2012

Try a #10 Greeting Card for Panorama Images

Angela Sharkey

Wondering what to do with your auto-stitched and panorama photos? Bookmarks aren’t the only game in town. Long rectangles, either vertical or horizontal, transform into attractive greeting cards when presented on a #10 business sized greeting card. That’s what Angela Sharkey, former Featured Artist, did recently with some of her latest paintings. Rather than try to make the oblong shapes work on an A7, A6, or A2, more traditional greeting card shapes, Sharkey opted for the less commonly used #10 size.


To set up your card in a Photoshop or other raster-oriented software, create a new document that is 10 inches wide by 8.75 inches in height. A document this size will accommodate the trim marks needed to accurately cut the card to size. If you want your image to bleed; that is, print all the way to the trimmed edge, it is important to extend your image beyond the trim marks by .125-inch. The bleed setting is represented here by the red line. The actual card trims to 9.25-inches wide by 8-inches in height. The trim is represented by the black line. A #10 card folds at the halfway, or 4-inch mark, represented here by the cyan (blue) line. All of these lines (including the black trim marks that fall at the four corners of the black trim line) are non-printing and part of the template. Simply redraw onto a printing layer the eight trim marks shown at the four corners.

 InDesign or Illustrator

If you use Adobe’s InDesign or Illustrator, set up a new document that is 9.25 inches wides and 8 inches in height. If your image will bleed, in the document setup options, create a bleed of .125 inch. Once the page is set up, drag a guide from the ruler to the 4-inch mark on the vertical ruler to indicate where the card will fold. To print, export your file to a print resolution .pdf with crop marks and you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

Angela Sharkey is the curator of the Mel Sembler Gallery in the U.S. Embassy, Rome, Italy. View more of Angela’s art here.

Not Another Green Marble Background?

For a designer, creating a new look for a green marble background is like bringing out the old bell-bottoms and believing they look as cool as they did in 1969.

Filling a “simple” request can be not-so-simple if you make a lot of blind starts, like spending an hour hunting down an old CD filled with stock marble images, just to find they are in an outdated graphic format.

A second blind start—searching stock images—another hour easily wasted as I realized, why not create an original image? Not only can it be easy, but the price is right. We refurbished our kitchen a few years back, and while out searching for the right granite counter top, I took plenty of photographs of the various granite and marbles, but none were green. Take them into Photoshop, and with a couple of well placed clicks I was able to turn my images into perfectly suitable green marble backgrounds.

gold marble

This is the original photograph of the marble.

green marble

By applying levels to increase the image’s contrast, and then applying a hue and saturation effect, the result is this rich, green marble-like background.

There are only two steps to go from the original photograph of the gold marble to the green. First, I created an adjustment layer for “levels” to increase the image contrast. The adjustment layers are forgiving in that they allow you to manipulate the data at any time without destroying any of the original pixel information.

The second step is to create and adjustment layer for “hue and saturation.” There are three areas that can be changed within the H&S palette, but before changing anything, click on the “colorize” button. This extracts all the color from the image, assigning a default hue to all the pixels, while maintaining their original values.  Next, the hue slider cycles through the “rainbow” — ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) — stop at the desired green hue. The saturation slider adds or subtracts color, and finally the bottom slider lightens or darkens the values.

Of course, to achieve the desired result might require additional steps, depending on the nature of the original image. You might want to add additional layers of color, transparency, contrast, and texture to create a unique effect.

If you want to create a library of backgrounds and textures, do it yourself. Textures exist everywhere, and for every photograph you take, you can manipulate it in an infinite number of ways.

With today’s image editing programs, you don’t have to mortgage your home or rent out your kids to afford amazing software. I’m currently experimenting with an app called Pixelmator, a $15 Photoshop wannabe, and after half an hour of playing (and they call it work), I can say it’s certainly worth the investment. In fact, I’d recommend Pixelmator to any of my beginning design students who have a newer Mac, but can’t afford Photoshop. This app works on my iMac, now that I’ve upgraded to Lion, but Pixelmator will work with OS10.6 or later. With a little coaxing, I could be persuaded to show and tell more about this cool app, Pixelmator.