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How to Make Digital Fabric Prints

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The one thing I’ve been asked time and again since showing off my pictures is how I do the vintage fabric illustrations like these:

They’re super-easy to do, so I thought I’d show you all how.

We’ll start with a distinctly tatty 70s T-shirt with an amazing nautical print:

I love this T-shirt which was a hand-me-down from my then-flatmate in 1999. It’s mis-shapen now and has teeny little holes dotted all over it… it’s about time it got recycled into something else. But the good thing about this project is that it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do with your T-shirt (or curtain or pillow case or whatever) is stick it in your scanner.

So, one scanned bit of fabric:

Now all you have to do is draw on it. This can be done is MS Paint or any other basic drawing package, but I use Photoshop; unless you’re absolutely confident of your ability to draw well first time, the layers in Photoshop are invaluable.

Create a new layer and draw your image on it. I actually prefer to draw my image on several layers, one piled on top of the other, as it allows me to move different bits of the image around and delete or filter just one part at a time. For this image, I used one layer for the boat, one for the body and one for the head.

You could also draw a stick figure on a separate layer to use as a guide, then delete it when you’re done. I don’t often do this because my illustrations are scrappy, but it can be useful if you want nice, tidy lines!

Happy with your drawing now? Good.

In the layers palette, hold down CTRL and select all the different parts of your drawing (not the fabric background), then right click and select “Merge Layers”. This will leave you with one solid line drawing.

Colour your drawing in using the Paint Bucket tool.

I still wasn’t completely happy with this one; the background was a little too sharp for the dreamy effect I was trying to create. I selected the fabric background layer and applied a radial blur filter at a very low setting:

Still on the fabric background layer, I then used the gradient tool set at 20% opacity to add a sky blue corner. And that’s it – from tatty old T-shirt to illustrated print:

Hanging Prints!

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When I was given the chance to have my very own, very first, very last minute exhibition at Kilau, I leapt at it! Because so much of my photography this year has been prompted by our joint projects, I asked Lola if she would like to fill one wall with work of her own… and she said yes.

So yesterday we spent two hours hanging our work!

Instead of using frames, we opted to hang our prints by pegging them to bits of ribbon. The end result was pretty pleasing – reminiscent of darkrooms or of fluttery washing drying on a line.

Hanging the first couple of prints was terrifying, half expecting the staff to all start pointing and laughing at our attempts to pass ourselves off as artists!

But they didn’t.

Kilau’s a lovely laidback place; the only restrictions on us were to remember it’s a family venue and not to use velcro! We were even allowed to draw on the walls – and we found clues to old exhibitions still lurking on them, too.

And before we knew it… we were done!

(I should point out, we’re not responsible for the ace lightshades!)

Time to head home and rest up for the opening night!

(photos of me by Lola)

Lola’s Party, Cellar 35

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Saturday night was Lola‘s birthday party at Cellar 35 on Rosemount Viaduct.

Having always had to compete with Christmas for festive attention, she had never made a fuss of her birthday before; this year, a few of her friends talked her into having a proper celebration – and it turned out to be a wonderful night!

Here I am with the birthday girl:

It was a snowy night, so we were all glammed up in kneehigh boots and wellies:

Sue made cute little lactose-free cupcakes:

And Lola went snap happy with her camera:

The venue is this tiny little basement, kitted out like a bohemian slacker’s living room. Here are a few shots I took on the night:

And one from Steve:

 

The Creature Curiosity Project

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This is such a sweet idea! The Creature Curiosity Project is asking illustrators to design half of a creature; the other half will be drawn by children at workshops throughout the UK.

I might just have to dig out my crayons and give this a go!

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