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  1. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - Bonus Videos

    We’ve been progressing through this class fairly well. Once we get to the base pattern, much of the rest is personal interpretation. We’re basically just cleaning up the base pattern and making decisions about what remains and what needs to be removed. This can be intimidating, especially if you are new to the process. So, I put together a 3 part video series as I work the portrait from the base pattern to the finished pattern. Sometimes watching someone else work makes it easier and you can pick up a lot of additional tips. I’ve posted these bonus videos below. You can also download my project file by clicking here. The file is a zipped file of about 5.2 megs. Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy the show! :popcorn:




    • Nov 28, 2012 06:15 PM
    • by Travis
  2. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L8


    Welcome to our final lesson! Up to this point, we should have a pattern that is for the most part finished. All that is left is to make sure it will cut OK. So this lesson, we'll talk about quality control (sounds so corporate, huh?).

    Print and Check
    Whenever I get a pattern to the point where I'm happy with the result, I will print a copy. Make sure you print it the size which you'll be cutting it. It will make checking that much more accurate. Then I'll take a red pen and circle any problem areas that may need attention. Areas like very thin peninsulas that may need thickening. Long peninsulas that may be a little too delicate for cutting may need a bridge to add extra support. Also check for islands. Then go back to your pattern and make the changes. I might do this process 2 or 3 times before I'm done checking.

    Here's a little tip to save yourself some ink. Click the visibility off for all layers except for your white background layer and your pattern layer. Select your pattern layer and turn the opacity down to 30% or so. This will make your pattern into a light gray. This will save you a lot of ink and money. After you're done printing your pattern, bring the opacity back up to 100%.

    Bucket Fill Check
    Remember, the white areas indicate the wood. So if you did the pattern right, everything should be connected with white. Here's a quick way to check for islands. In your tool palette, click the bucket fill tool. Select your pattern layer and click the white area with the bucket fill tool. This will fill all the white areas in with black. Your image should be pretty much black. If you see any white areas, this would indicate islands that are not bridged. Just undo (Ctrl+z) the fill, and bridge the island.

    Marking Your Pattern
    If you intend on distributing your pattern, it is a good idea to mark the pattern with your name. This allows other scrollers to give credit where credit is due, and it also marks the pattern as yours (you now own the copyright to that pattern!). You can easily add text to the pattern by clicking the Text tool in the toolbox (looks like an 'A'). Then click in your image. This will pop up a dialog box where you can add your information. I usually include the title of the pattern, my name, and any additional info like email or website. Remember to check the tool options dialog box for font options. Click the Close button and your text will be placed. Use the move tool to move your text to the final location.

    You may want to share your pattern with the rest of the scrolling community. Many online communities allow you to attach JPG files to posts. Scroll Saw Village has special gallery software where you can upload new patterns. To get your pattern in a JPG format, first save your project (as an XCF file). Then go to File>Save As. This will pop up a dialog box where you can name your file. You can tell GIMP to save the file in two ways. First, you can click the plus sign next to Select File Type (By Extension), and you will be given different file options. Choose JPG and you'll notice your file name will now have the extension ".jpg". The other way to do this is to simply add the .jpg extension to your filename. GIMP is smart enough to know to export the file as a JPG. When you click Save, it will pop up a warning message saying that JPG doesn't support transparencies and will flatten the image. This is OK. Just click Export. You will get another dialog box with compression settings. JPG are compressed files. Just keep the quality at the default of 85 and click Save. You now have a JPG of your pattern.

    Important Note: If you save your project as a .jpg so you can upload it, your project settings will change. So before you close down your program, be sure to save your document again with the .xcf extension. Hopefully GIMP will fix this for future releases so we won't risk losing our work. But until then, we have to be extra careful.

    One Extra Touch
    I often like having a gray pattern with a black outline. For me, it makes it much easier to see and cut. I have created two tutorials that uses another free program, Inkscape, to clean up your pattern. Check them out if you're interested.

    -After your done with your pattern, post them in this thread. It would be interesting to see how different artists approach the same base photograph.

    • Nov 28, 2012 06:03 PM
    • by Travis
  3. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L7


    Welcome to Lesson 7. We're starting to wrap things up a bit. Only one more lesson to go! Last time I left you hanging without teaching you much about taking the base pattern and creating a scroll saw pattern. Instead, I talked about how to use the brushes to clean up the image and we talked about the elements that create a scroll saw pattern. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to give you a chance to experiment with it on your own. And second, there really isn't anything to teach! The fact is, there is no magic formula for creating scroll saw portrait patterns. Much of it relies on your own interpretation. You must decide on what stays and what needs to removed. Since it is all subjective, there's not much direction I could give you in that area. However, this lesson, I'll give you a few tips that I have run across when creating my own patterns. We'll be talking about the facial features.

    Matthew writes the eyes are the windows to the soul. This is really true. I always start on the eyes first because if you don't get the eyes right, the portrait just won't work. I'll also let you in on a trade secret. Professional photographers and cinematographers will often put a light behind or attach a light to the camera. They do this so there is a little reflection of the light in the eyes. Take a look at professional photographs and you'll see a square light source reflected in their eyes. This little glimmer in the eye adds so much life to the portrait, it will really amaze you. The picture of William Shatner was taken by a professional photographer and you'll see the highlight in his eye already. Try taking the paintbrush and blacking out those glimmers. Look at his eyes now. They are dead and shallow. This may be the look you're after if you're doing a portrait of Charles Manson, but for most people, you'll want that glimmer. Even if the original picture does not have the glimmer in the eye, I add it anyway. It may look like a minor detail, but it makes a major difference. I really can't stress this enough. It is very important.

    Lets take a look at eyelids. The upper eyelid is close to the eyebrow which will cast shadow on the lid. The majority of the skin resides in the upper eyelid, which creates a lot of folds and creases. You'll also notice, your eyelashes are much darker and longer on the upper lid. So it stands to reason this is where the majority of your detail will reside.

    The lower eye lid blends into the face much easier. The hairs are much finer and lighter than the upper lid. There is very little detail on the lower eyelid, and many times not necessary to include in the pattern. So depending on how prominent the lower eyelid is in your original picture, you probably need very little, if any detail, here.

    The inside corner of the eyes (tear ducts) really depend on the portrait. Shatner's picture, these areas are fairly distinct, so we've included them with the upper eyelid. Other times, you may want to only hint at the general shape, or exclude it altogether. Much depends on the original picture and how prominent they are.

    Crows feet (wrinkles at the corner of the eye) are a lot of fun to work with and will add a lot to your portrait. This is the character in the eyes. Womens' portraits you may not want to get too carried away, but a hint is always nice. Mens' portraits you have much more liberty and often improves the overall impression of the portrait. Children rarely have these lines, so I'd exclude them as much as possible.

    Bags under the eyes can be tricky. People often have a darker color under their eyes which the software may interpret as shadow. You'll have to decide if you want to include them or not. Usually, if it is just a darker color, I do not include it in the portrait. However, if their are creases or wrinkles and it contributes to the overall character of the face, I will include them.

    The nose can cause some problems. Depending on the portrait, the bridge of the nose tends to blend gradually into the face. Gradual changes like this pose some problems because it is hard to see where the shadows begin and end. Shatner's portrait, there is a distinct shadow that falls from the bridge of the nose and into his right cheek. For this, we'll just clean up the shadow a bit and call it good. Portraits of women, this shadow will play much less of a role. If you put too much shadow on the nose, you may lose the glamor look for a woman's portrait. For children, this shadow is pretty rare as their nose doesn't protrude enough to create a deep shadow.

    The area where the nose meets the upper lip does tend to be abrupt, which will create a lot of shadow lines. This is where we tend to focus our efforts on. Naturally, men you have a lot more latitude to play with shadow. Women portraits, we don't want to add too much detail or we lose the glamor look we're after. Shadows cast by the tip of the nose, creases between the nostril and laugh lines may be placed. Portraits of children, this plays even less of a role. Normally I outline the bottom area of the nose (nostril, side of the nostril and tip of the nose) with slight shadow. Again, your original picture will dictate how much detail needs to be added here.

    For most people, the color or your lips are a different color than the rest of your face. Software may interpret this as shadow and darken it. It is a temptation to darken these area, but you run the risk of making it look like lipstick. Often, I'll bring out the shadow line where the two lips meet. I also might hint at the general shape of the upper lip. There is a shadow that happens under the bottom lip that I'll also darken in. These shadows are usually enough to indicate the shape of the lips without darkening in the lips.

    One would assume that if a person is wearing lipstick, you would darken in the lips. While this is somewhat true, lipstick is glossy when applied. Therefore, it will reflect light and create a highlight. So make sure you include the highlight in the lips. This highlight will convey the lipstick much better and give the lips dimension.

    For children, I'll usually put a line/veining where the two lips meet and another line under the bottom lip. Don't get too carried away with shadow with children.

    The corner of the mouth usually have a bit more shadow. This may be an area where you can create laugh lines as well. You can be more liberal with the laugh lines of men. Women, however, you may only want to put a crease in the corner of the mouth, and one where the nostril meets the cheek. This will only hint at a laugh line without drawing attention to it. Children rarely have laugh lines, but they may have chubby cheeks you can play with.

    Ears are interesting because there is a lot of texture, creases, and shadow to play with. It is easy for us to get carried away here. The trick with working with ears is to remember it is only an ear. Nobody really cares about ears (other than having one). Everybody is more interested in the face. So with the ear, I may hint at an outline of the ear with a line coming from the hair line, and another coming from the neck to outline the earlobe. Remember, the jawline often goes past the earlobe, so I extend the jawline a bit to give the ear a sense of depth. The fold at the top of the ear creates a nice shadow, so I'll usually include that. I'll also include the bump between the jawline and the ear canal with a bit of shadow. Usually, this is enough detail for the ear.

    The hair is the fun part. This is your opportunity to get creative and create some really interesting shapes. This area is the most forgiving, so go crazy and have fun. Create lots of irregular lakes and interesting peninsulas. Be sure to bridge delicate areas so they don't break while sawing. Just have fun.

    Light or white hair can provide a challenge, mostly because there is very little shadow to play with. For these situations, you'll have to hint toward the shape of the hair with minimal detail. Perhaps some veining to indicate outline of the hairline. Or perhaps a few dark spots with some veining to indicate the flow of the hair. You can see the Einstein portrait below, I only hinted at his hair with veining/outlines.

    Bald heads are similar to light/white hair. The only difference is you may have to hint at the shape of the scalp. Veining the outline is probably your best bet. Areas that a person may have hair (by the ears), you can throw in a few shadows there to reinforce the idea they have a bit of hair left over. ;)

    Posted Image

    A Few Notes
    You'll notice that portraits of men may be easier. This is because they tend to have much more shadow and wrinkles you can play with. With men, these interesting imperfections is called "character." Women portraits, you don't have as much latitude. This is because their face tends to be softer, they wear makeup, and if you highlighted every wrinkle on your wife's portrait, you'll be sleeping on the couch! Women portraits we want to add glamor and beauty. It may be completely cultural and a bit sexist, but I find it to be true more often than not. With that said, if the character of the portrait calls for those lines, by all means add it. You certainly wouldn't recognize Mother Theresa without all of her wonderful wrinkles.

    Portraits of children are similar to women in the fact their face is much softer. They don't have many sharp lines or shadows to play with. You'll find their eyes tend to be larger, eyebrows less prominent, noses smoother, and their mouth smaller. They're a tricky one to pull off, but when you do, they're an awesome keepsake.

    A Cool Tip
    I should have covered this in the last video, but I forgot. One trick I always use is to copy the original layer and put it on top. This acts as a photo reference. If I have some question about a section of my base pattern, I can toggle the original picture on and off to see what I'm looking at. It really helps me decide if I should keep that detail, or remove it. Just make sure you're painting on the correct layer while working, or you'll say many bad words after discovering the mistake. ;)

    Take a look at other artist's portrait patterns and look at how they approached the facial features, especially the eyes.
    Continue working on your pattern. Revisit the facial features you had trouble with.

    • Nov 28, 2012 06:04 PM
    • by Travis
  4. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L6


    Welcome back, everybody. This lesson should be an interesting one. Many of you will find the lesson frustrating, but the process exciting. Why frustrating? Well, because I'm not really going to be teaching you how to do anything! What!? What kind of class is this? One thing about creating scroll saw portrait patterns is that it relies heavily on your own interpretation. You'll have to make a lot of judgment calls about what you want to include in the pattern and what you do not. So there really is no right or wrong way to do this. So instead, I'll be showing you how to use the brush tool, and we'll be discussing elements of what make up a scroll saw portrait pattern. Lets begin!

    Working With Brushes
    We're only going to be using only one tool to finish off our portrait pattern. We'll be using the brush tool to paint in the dark areas, and white-out everything else. Start by selecting the brush tool from your toolbox. You'll notice you have brush options that show up below (if not, dock your Tool Options dialog box covered in lesson 3). We have several options, most of which we won't use. The only option we may be interested in is the brush palette flyout window. This is where you choose your brush size. What I prefer to do is open up a Brushes dockable dialog, and dock it next to the tool options. So go to Windows>Dockable Dialogs>Brushes. This gives you easy access to all of the brushes.

    We'll be using two colors to create our pattern; black and white. Black will indicate the areas that need to be cut out. White indicates the remaining wood. We'll be going through our base pattern and using the paint brush to color in the areas we wish to cut with black, and using white to paint out everything else. If you have other colors selected in the foreground/background area, you can reset them to black and white by clicking the tiny icon below the foreground/background selector. The foreground color will always be the color you're painting with. To switch between the foreground and background color, click the arrow above the foreground/background selector to swap the colors. While you are painting your pattern, this is the perfect opportunity to use shortcut keys. Pressing the 'x' button will switch your foreground color with the background color. This way you can work on an area and quickly switch colors without going back to your tool palette.

    Custom Brushes
    You can create your own custom brushes. Although we already have the two brush sizes we need already installed, it is beneficial to look at custom brushes so you can understand them a bit better.

    Make sure your Brushes dialog box is open, then click the flyout menu (triangle to the top right of the dialog box), choose Brushes Menu>New Brush. This will open a Brush Editor dialog box. You'll find an area to name your brush near the top. Below that is a preview pane where you can preview the size and shape of your brush. Below the preview pane, we can choose a brush shape. You can choose circle, square, or diamond. We'll be using the circle shape.

    Then we have a bunch of slider options. Radius indicates the size of the brush. Remember back in math class that radius is the distance from the center to the edge. So a radius of 5 pixels is 10 pixels wide. A radius of 2.5 pixels is 5 pixels wide. I wish they'd measure brush size by overall width, but they don't. So, keep this in mind when choosing your brush size.

    Spikes only refers to the square and diamond shaped brushes. These basically turns the brush into a polygon or a star. I doubt you'd use them in pattern making, but the option is there.

    Hardness refers to the edges of the brush. A soft brush will be solid color in the center, but fade out toward the edge of the brush. These brushes are handy in working with photographs or illustrations. But as pattern makers, we prefer hard edged brushes to create nice crisp lines. So max that out to 1.0.

    Aspect Ratio will squash your brush and Angle will rotate your brush. A squashed circle with an angle will create a really nice calligraphy-style brush.

    Lastly, we have Spacing. I don't really know what this is. I think it refers to the space between the jitters when using the jitter option in the tool options dialog box. We don't need it at any rate. Posted Image

    So what can we take from this window? Three things, really. We want a circular brush so we get consistent brushstrokes throughout the pattern. We want to be working with the correct brush size. We can determine the brush size by looking at the radius and doubling the value. So a brush radius of 1.5 will give us a brush width of 3 pixels. Lastly, look at the hardness of the brush. We want crisp lines, so the brush hardness should be set at 1.0. Keep these three things in mind and you'll do just fine.

    Brush Size
    In lesson 4, I mentioned I like working at 150 pixels per inch when creating my document. The reason I like this size is because I know that a 3 pixel wide brush is about the same size as the kerf of a scroll saw blade. A 5 pixel wide brush is about the size of the kerf of a spiral scroll saw blade (#5 size spiral). Knowing this makes a really nice reference. I prefer using my 5 pixel brush for doing the majority of my work because I know the detail won't be too small for my cutting skills. This will be something you'll have to play around with yourself. An experienced cutter may be comfortable with details made with a 3 pixel brush, whereas a newer scroller may be comfortable with details made with a 7 pixel brush. I'd recommend working with a 5 pixel brush to start out with. You can change later if it doesn't meet your needs. Since the default brush palette already has these brush sizes preset, there is no need to create a custom brush (unless you really want to!).

    If you feel like you don't have the necessary mouse control to do this kind of painting, you can use the dot-to-dot method instead. First, place a dot somewhere on your canvas. Hold down the Shift key and you'll see a straight line that appears from the first dot to your cursor . Click once again and it will create a straight line from the first dot to the second one you just placed. Move your mouse somewhere else while holding down the Shift key and place another dot. Again, another straight line. To make curved lines, just keep your dots closer and they'll appear curved. This is a great way to keep control over your paint brush. I often use freehand painting inc ombination with the dot-to-dot technique.

    Elements of a Pattern
    Patterns rely on basic elements to create a scroll saw portrait. By using a land/water analogy, we can break down the elements into lakes, peninsulas, islands, and bridges. These elements are conceptional and will happen naturally as you develop your pattern. But it is nice to recognize these elements for what they are, especially when you're looking at other artist's patterns. Look how different artists approach these elements. By looking at their approach, you can learn a lot about how to create your own patterns.

    The first thing most people will notice is the lakes, or cut out sections. Because of the extreme contrast between the cut out areas and the wood, this is where most people will look at first. Often lakes will indicate shadow of your subject and where the large majority of your detail resides. Lakes help define the shapes of peninsulas which reinforce the details you're trying to convey. Lakes can be as large or as small as you'd like. If you prefer a pointillism approach to patterns, your lakes will be small. If you prefer the deep shadow look, large lakes are in order. If you like line-art, long and thin lakes is what you need.

    To me, peninsulas are what makes patterns interesting. Just like the landmass, these are the areas that jut out into cut-out voids. I work hard to make these shapes interesting. Long and thin peninsulas are delicate and will certainly impress all of your friends. Unusual shapes add interest. Curved and flowing lines can add energy to the pattern. While lakes are what most gravitate toward, I find peninsulas the most interesting and most subtle of the details.

    The exact opposite of lakes are islands. These are sections of wood surrounded by lakes. This can be a very bad thing when working with scroll saw patterns. If you cut around the island, there is nothing there to hold the island in place and will only fall to your shop floor in a random mess. What makes scroll saw patterns unique is the fact it is completely cut from a single piece of wood. All of the details are magically supported by the surrounding wood. This is not to say you can't use islands in your design. There has been times when I chose to include and island in my pattern (see below). But I would say that 99% of the time, islands are a bad thing to have in your pattern.

    Lastly, bridges are the savior of scroll saw patterns. These are the elements that connect the islands to the motherland and turn them into peninsulas. They can also be used to support delicate areas. If you have a very long peninsula that is at risk of breaking during cutting or handling, you can add a bridge to reinforce that area.


    Starting Your Pattern
    Now that you have a basic understanding of how brushes work, and we understand the elements of a scroll saw pattern, go ahead and start working on your portrait pattern. Be sure to duplicate your photocopy layer first and rename the new layer to 'pattern.' Start by using the 5 pixel paint brush to darken the areas you wish to cut out and white-out the areas you want to remain as wood. Remember that we only want black and white. The gray tones left by our photocopy filter must be converted to black or white by painting. It'll be a little frustrating at first, but the more you do, the easier it becomes. Soon, you'll see your pattern coming to life, and that's where it gets exciting. If you feel that in you're over your head or a bit overwhelmed, don't worry about it. Just play with it right now. Next lesson we'll be talking about the facial features (eyes, nose, mouth, and hair). You'll be able to pick up a few tips with working with these parts. I'll also put together a bonus video demonstrating how I'd go about creating this portrait pattern. This way you can pick up a few tips as I work this pattern from beginning to end. This supplemental demonstration will probably published on Wednesday. But until then, I want you to tackle the pattern on your own. If you have any questions, I'd be glad to help.

    If you want to upload your picture for feedback or questions, choose File>Save As, then save your file with the extension .jpg. It will pop up a message saying that it wants to flatten the image. Click Export, then you'll get a new window about quality. Keep the default at 85 and click Save. You can now attach the .jpg to your post using the attach function in your compose window (blue box below your compose window).

    Important Note: If you save your project as a .jpg so you can upload it, your project settings will change. So before you close down your program, be sure to save your document again with the .xcf extension. Hopefully GIMP will fix this for future releases so we won't risk losing our work. But until then, we have to be extra careful.

    Have fun with it and experiment! That's what pattern making is all about.

    -Start making your pattern. Go as far as you can and really get a feel for it. Your pattern will start taking shape right before your eyes.
    -Ask questions if you get stuck, or ask for feedback. We're here to help.
    -Look through the Pattern Library or pattern archives from other scroll saw communities and look how the artists deal with these pattern elements.

    • Nov 28, 2012 06:05 PM
    • by Travis
  5. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L5

    Welcome to Lesson 5. We're rolling up our sleeves and starting to get into the meat of the class. This time we'll be learning to create a base pattern on which we build our scroll saw pattern. There's a fair amount to cover, so let's get started.

    Understanding Layers
    OK. Before we get started, one more lesson in fundamentals. This is an important one because it is the very cornerstone of using programs like GIMP and Adobe Photoshop. Below, I've attached a GIMP project file which illustrates the concepts I'll be covering. Go ahead and download it and open the file.

    Imagine you're looking down on your desk. What might you see? You'll see the desktop, perhaps a piece of paper, a pencil, your coffee cup, and maybe a used tissue (eww). Consider each item as it's own layer. Each item has it's order. One item is placed upon another (ie, the coffee cup is placed upon the paper, and both are on top of the desk). If you notice on your layer's palette the order of each item. As if you were looking down, the top layer (first) is in front of everything below it. Then the next layer is on top of what's below that and so-on until you reach the desktop. But what if we wanted to reorder the items/layers? Click and drag your layer to whichever layer position you want it to be. You'll notice a dark line appears between two layers. This is where your repositioned layer will reside. So lets take the piece of paper and put it above the coffee cup. Notice now the paper hides the coffee cup and anything else below it. Try bringing the pencil to the top of the cup and paper. You can easily see that we can alter the visibility of layers depending on what layers are above it.

    Next to each layer is an icon that looks like an eye. This toggles the visibility of that layer. Try clicking a few of the eyes and toggle each layer off so none of the layers are visible. You'll notice that all you see is a checkerboard pattern. This basically shows you that these sections are transparent. Toggle the paper layer so that it is visible now. You'll notice you can see the paper just fine, and everything around it is transparent. Each of these layers has a section that is transparent, except for the desk layer, which covers the entire surface.

    One nice thing about layers is that you can manipulate one layer without affecting the other layers. Choose the used tissue layer and resize it (resizing is covered in Lesson 4). Notice it didn't resize anything else except the tissue layer. You can manipulate this layer to your heart's content with filters, color correction, resizing, drawing, etc. No other part of your design will be affected if it isn't apart of that layer! How cool is that? I'm sure you can see the advantage of keeping elements on their own layer.

    Attached File  layers_tut.xcf   1.37MB   117 downloads

    A Tour of the Layer's Palette
    Now that we understand the basics of layers, lets take a look at the Layer's Palette. At the top right corner of the layer's dialog box, you'll see a small triangle. This is the flyout menu we discussed in previous lessons. You'll find several options in here that you may or may not need. Read through them and keep these options in mind. They might come in handy later.

    Below that, you'll find a pulldown menu next called Mode. These are blending modes that creates various effects. We won't be dealing with blending modes in this class, but they are fun to play around with. Feel free to experiment with them.

    Below Mode, we have Opacity. This slider bar goes from 0-100% where you can set the level of transparency of a layer. This is nice if you want to see through one layer to the next for either reference, or to achieve a certain effect.

    Below that is Lock. This could be confusing as we think it might lock a layer from being modified. This is not true. This actually locks the alpha channel. An alpha channel is what defines what is transparent and what is opaque. When you lock an alpha channel for a layer, you're only allowed to modify the object on that layer and not the area around that object. Try locking a layer and grabbing your paint brush and paint around your canvas. You'll notice you can only mark up the object itself, and not the transparent areas around the object.

    Then we have the layers themselves. We already know how to reorder the layers and toggle the visibility of the layers. Next to the eye is a box. Click it and it will show a little chain. This is how you link one object to another object. Click the tissue layer, click the box next to the eye so it becomes a chain. Then select the coffee layer, then choose that linking chain. Grab your move tool and move that object. You'll notice the tissue layer and the coffee cup move as one object because they are linked.

    You can rename a layer by double clicking the layer name and typing in a new name and pressing return. It's a good habit to name your layers so you can see at a glance what you're working on.

    Right clicking on the layer brings up a menu of other options that will become useful too.

    Bottom left corner, we have an icon that looks like a piece of paper. Click that to create a new layer. It will pop up a dialog box with some options. Click OK when you're satisfied with your options and you'll have a new layer.

    The inverse of a new layer is deleting the layer. Bottom right corner, you'll see a trash can icon. Click that button and it will delete your selected layer.

    To the left of the trash icon is an icon that looks like an anchor. This anchors floating layers or selections. I have not found a benefit to this tool yet. If you have a floating layer or selection, just click the New Layer icon instead to anchor the floating layer to the new layer.

    To the left of that is the Duplicate Layer button. It looks like two boxes on top of each other. We'll be using this tool a lot to create duplicate copies (we'll discuss that in the next section).

    And lastly, you have two arrows. One pointing up and one pointing down. This is another way of rearranging your layer order rather than dragging and dropping the layers.


    Using Layers
    I'm sure you can see the benefit of having the layers functions. While they're very powerful when illustrating or doing photo work. But we'll be using layers as a way to back up our work. Before we manipulate our image, we'll duplicate that layer and work on the duplicate instead, thereby retaining the original image. For example. We have our original color image. We want to make that black and white, so we'll duplicate the color image and turn the duplicate into black and white. Next we want to change the brightness/contrast of the black and white image. So we duplicate the black and white image and change the brightness/contrast of our duplicate layer. Woops...we messed up! Well, instead of starting completely over, we can delete the layer we goofed up on and take the previous version of the image and duplicate that and try it again!

    We'll also be using layers as reference material. After we create our base pattern, we'll take a copy of the color image and put it to the top of our layers palette. We'll toggle the visibility of the color image back and forth and we can see how our pattern compares to the original photograph. This is a great way to check our work and help us with the pattern making process.

    Creating Our Base Pattern
    OK. Enough of the fundamental stuff. Let's start designing. Open up your project file that we created last time. You should see two layers in your layers palette. We should have a white background layer, and the picture layer. Our guidelines should also be visible. If you don't see any of these, chances are you saved your document as something other than XCF. If that is the case, I'd go back to the previous lesson and create your document again (saving your file is covered in the written instructions, not in the video). Remember that XCF format retains all of our layer and guideline information.

    Lets rename our original image layer to "original".

    Since we work in black and white anyway, it only makes sense to create our pattern in black and white. Working in black and white will also make seeing the shadows much easier and it will work better with the filters we'll be using in the next sections. So we must remove the color from the image.

    Go ahead and duplicate the original layer and rename it to "bw" (for black and white).

    In the menu across the top, choose Colors>Desaturate. This will pop up a dialog box that gives you 3 options; Lightness, Luminosity, and Average. Click each on of these options and watch what its doing to the image. Find an option that is the most pleasing to your eye. I chose Luminosity because the shadows and highlights seem to be richer and have more depth.

    The next step, we'll play around with the color balance/brightness & contrast. We want the shadows to be a bit darker, but not black. We also want the highlight to be brighter, but not white. The tones in between we want to ramp up so the transition is quicker, thereby giving a bit more contrast in general. There are several ways to do this in the Color menu on the top (color balance, hue/saturation, colorize, brightness/contrast, levels, and curves). I prefer using Curves.

    Duplicate your "bw" layer and rename the new layer to "curves."

    Choose Colors>Curves. This will pop up a dialog box that has a grid with a diagonal line. The lower left corner is your true black, and the upper right corner is your true whites. The diagonal line indicates how the black transitions into the white. Across the bottom, you'll see the gray tones in your image graphed out. Click the diagonal line and drag the center up. You'll notice your image got brighter. Drag it the other way and you'll notice it gets darker. Try moving the lines into various positions and watch what it does to your image. This curve allows us to control the brightness and contrast of our image. Bringing the curve up or down doesn't really accomplish what we want. We don't want to lighten it, nor do we want to darken it. What we want is to darken some of the shadows and lighten some of the highlights, and make the transition between the two levels ramp up quicker, thereby increasing the contrast overall. We can accomplish this by creating an 'S' curve. We can add another node to this line to create an 'S' shape. We want one node about 1/3 up from the bottom and just below the diagonal. The next node is about 1/3 from the top right and above the diagonal (see image below). This creates a really nice contrast to the overall image. Play around with the nodes a bit and find something that looks nice to you. Then press OK when you are happy with the way it looks. Remember, we don't want solid black yet, nor solid white. We want to see the details in the shadows still, as well as in the highlights.


    Now that we have our image looking good, its time to work with some filters. Filters are special effects that can be applied to a layer. There are a lot of filters to play with, so be sure to check them out too. But the filter we're interested in is the Photocopy filter. But before we proceed, lets duplicate our curves layer and rename the new layer to "photocopy."

    Choose Filters>Artistic>Photocopy. This will pop up a dialog box. You'll see a preview pane on the top with a bunch of sliders below. One of the annoying things about GIMP is the preview window is at 100%. You can't zoom out to see how you are affecting your entire image. Hopefully this will be changed in the next version, until then we have to work around this minor annoyance. One thing you can do is resize the window by grabbing the corner and dragging it out. Make this dialog box as large as your screen allows. This way you'll be able to see a bit more of your image in the preview window. Drag the image so you can see his eyes.

    We have 4 slider options; Mask Radius, Sharpness, Percent Black, and Percent White. Play around with these sliders and watch what it does to your image. Are you starting to see the beginnings of a scroll saw pattern? Pretty cool, huh? The Mask Radius is how it calculates which surrounding pixels should be darkened. A higher level will create a darker, thicker line. I like to move the mask radius all the way to the right. The Sharpness is how much detail it will retain. Low sharpness creates blurred lines, whereas high sharpness creates crisp lines. I like having my sharpness all of the way to the right too. Percent Black will indicate how much black will be added to the image. I like to keep this at about .95 or so. Not quite maxed out, but close. Percent White is where you'll find the most control. This will indicate how much of your image will be converted to white. If you max out the white, sure your image is now in black and white, but you also lost a lot important detail in your image. I prefer having some gray tones so I can retain some of the detail in the image. I like having control over which details I think are important are not. In the next lesson, we'll decide which details remain and which details we can do without. So for my Percent White, I set mine at about .6. Pan around the image and take a look at what your image will look like. If you are happy with the results, press OK and the computer will process your filter.

    In the spirit of experimentation, try hiding your newly created photocopy layer and duplicate your curves layer and do this process again with different settings. Do this a few times and choose the one you like best. Whichever ones you don't want, be sure to delete them so we don't get confused later on.


    Well, that's pretty much it! We're getting pretty darn close to a pattern now and you can see it taking shape! Be sure to save your work (remember you want the xcf extention so we save all of our layers). Next lesson we'll be cleaning up this pattern so its cuttable. We'll learn to work with brushes. We'll also discuss bridges, peninsulas, islands, and lakes; the cornerstone of what makes scroll saw patterns unique. This should be fun! I know I can't wait!

    -Play around with layers and be sure to understand how they work.
    -Follow the above steps to create your base pattern.
    -Apply the same techniques to any other picture you're working on along side the class.
    -Experiment with color adjustments and filters and see what they can do.

    • Feb 05, 2015 04:45 PM
    • by Travis
  6. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L4

    Welcome to Lesson 4. This time we get to work with an image! Yay! Well, don't get too excited. We're going to prepare this image so that it is ready for us on the next lesson where we really roll up our sleeves and start the pattern making process. So this lesson is pretty straight forward and will go pretty quick. Besides, I covered a lot on the lasts lesson to keep you plenty busy...LOL.

    This lesson, we'll download our image, prepare our pattern document, layout guidelines, and re-size our image.

    The Image
    I was trying to figure out what portrait I wanted to use in this class. Since we're doing a portrait pattern, I figured you weren't too interested in doing a portrait of my uncle Joe. So I figured a celebrity would have more of a wider appeal and be a bit more interesting. The tricky thing is to find a celebrity picture that doesn't have a lot of copyright restrictions. I guess most celebrity photographers want to make money with their pics. Who knew. Posted Image I turned to WikiMedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons is the media repository for the Wikipedia project. The nice thing about this website is that it lays out the terms of copyright and license. That way we can see if its something we can legally use.

    I ended up finding a nice picture of Captain Kirk...yup, Mr. William Shatner! If we look at the licensing terms, you can see it is released under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 license. Basically it says we're allowed to use this image whichever way we want, as long as the original author is credited and we release our derivative work under the same license. So Jerry Avenaim was kind enough to donate the image for public use under this license. How cool is that?

    Remember me preaching about a high resolution picture? Well, if you look at the full resolution picture of William Shatner (click the image in Wikimedia Commons), you'll notice it is fairly small. While this is not an ideal size, I think it will work well for us. I chose this image because it really has a nice color balance. The contrast and highlights are very nice and the skin tones are even across the picture. You can clearly see all of the detail we'll need to pull a pattern from it. So, despite the fact it is lower-than-ideal resolution, the fact that it has all of these other things going for it will more than compensate for the resolution shortcomings . I'm confident this picture will produce really good results for us. You can download the picture here, or click the image below.


    Creating Our Pattern Document
    Go ahead and open up your downloaded picture into GIMP (File>Open). Here is our picture off Bill. We won't be using this document to design our portrait on. If you look at the size of this image (Image>Canvas Size), you notice it is only 3.4x4.7". This is much too small to cut. Instead, we'll create a new document that is 8x10". I like working in this size because it's easy to find frames for the final cutting. So let's create our new document in which we'll be working our final pattern in.

    Go to File>New and that will pop up a Create A New Image dialog box. This is where we'll set up our document dimensions. There is a template pull-down menu, but they don't offer an 8x10" option. So we'll have to make a custom document. Make sure your units are in inches (pull-down menu next to the Height field. It's pixels by default). Then it's just a matter of typing in our dimensions (8" for the width, 10" for the height).

    Now that we have the height and width set, we have to set the resolution. By default, the resolution is 72 pixels per inch. This is much too small. It makes it hard to get the detail you want out of a pattern. A popular resolution is 300 pixels per inch. This is overkill. It makes too large of a file for what we need. My favorite size is 150 pixels per inch. This seems to be a happy medium. Just enough resolution for me to get the detail I want, but not too much. Plus I know that a 3 pixel brush size is about the width of the kerf of a scroll saw blade. I also know that a 5 pixel brush size is the width of the kerf of a spiral scroll saw blade (#5 spiral). This is a nice point of reference when creating patterns and we'll be discussing brushes in more detail in Lesson 6. But for now, we need to change the default 72 pixels per inch resolution to 150 pixels per inch resolution. Click the + sign next to the Advanced Options. You'll see the X & Y Resolution fields there. Just change them from 72 to 150.

    There are a couple more options under the Advance Options too. The color space will always remain RGB, so keep that at it's default. For the Fill With field, lets choose white. This will create a white document, which is much easier to see and work with. The comments field is unnecessary. Click OK and we have our pattern document set!


    Creating Guidelines
    OK. We now have our pattern document. The size is 8x10". But since we're going to put this into a frame, a little bit of the frame will overlap our cutting. So we should take that into account. I figure if we have a 1/4" margin around our entire design, we should be pretty safe. So to help us to remember to keep that margin, we'll create guidelines. Guidelines are there for reference only. They will never be printed. You can use guidelines for alignment, marking reference points, or as in our case, creating margins. Creating a guideline is easy. You'll notice along the left and top of the screen, you'll see rulers. These rulers will be in inches. If not, change the units to inches in the lower left corner of your screen (covered in Lesson 3). We'll also use the coordinate readings on the lower left corner. So to create a guideline, click into the ruler and drag out toward the center of your pattern. Keep an eye on the coordinates in the lower left corner and drop the guideline at a 1/4" from the edge. Continue doing this across all 4 sides of the document. If you mess up, you can hover over the guideline and it will change to red/pink. Click and drag to reposition the guideline. If you want to delete a guideline, drag the guideline back onto the ruler and it will disappear.

    Copy Our Image to the Pattern Document
    Now that we have out pattern document set up, lets stick our picture in there. Click the picture of Bill to make that window active. In your Layers dockable dialog box (see Lesson 3 if you don't have it), you'll see a layer called Background. You can drag this background layer onto your pattern document and this will copy the layer. Alternatively, you can highlight the layer and press Ctrl+C to copy the background layer to your clipboard. Then click your pattern document and press Ctrl+V to paste the image from your clipboard to your pattern document. Either method works well.

    Resizing Captain Kirk
    In the tool palette, choose the Scale tool (Shift+T unless you reassigned the shortcut). Click on the picture of Shatner and it will pop up a dialog box. You can scale an image in two ways. You can either type in the dimensions in the dialog box, or use the nodes on the picture. Nodes are the little squares at the corners of the picture and in the middle of the edges. Grab one of the corner nodes and drag it around. You'll notice that it will change the aspect ratio and really mess up the image (it gets really skinny or really fat). We want to scale the image equally along the X axis as well as the Y axis. Click the reset button in the Scaling dialog box to undo your previous scaling. You can constrain the aspect ratio in two ways. First, you can click the little linking chain next to the width and height fields. Then you can grab a corner node and the image will scale equally along the X and Y axis. Alternatively, you can hold down the Ctrl key while dragging a corner node. That, too, will scale the image equally along the X and Y axis.

    So continue resizing the image so that Bill fits nicely within your margins of the pattern document. Remember to constrain the aspect ratio while resizing. I have the edge of his hair along the top margin, and each shoulder touching the side margins. You'll notice that his shirt goes beyond the bottom margin. This is OK. His shirt isn't important information, so we'll just leave off any of the shirt that goes beyond the bottom margin. When you're happy with the image, click the Scale button in the dialog box to tell the computer this is the size you want it. The computer will recalculate the image to the size you indicated.


    Saving Your Image
    To save your image, go to File>Save. This will pop up a dialog box. Browse to the folder where you'd like to save your file. At the top of the screen, you'll see a Name field. This is where you name your file. One thing about GIMP that is cool, is you can add whatever extension you want and GIMP is smart enough to save it as that kind of file. So if you called it Shatner.jpg, GIMP will save it as a jpeg image. Since we want a raw file, we'll add the extension as xcf. So your image would be called Shatner.xcf.

    You can also just type in a basic name like "Shatner" in the Name field. Then go down to the pull down box that says "All Images" and choose GIMP XCF image. Then when you press Save, it will add the extension for you. You can also click the + button next to Select by File Type and then choose GIMP XCF image. Either way will work.

    We want to save our image as GIMP XCF image because it holds all of our layers information. This allows us to manipulate individual layers rather than merging down our layers into one. This will be important as we start working on our patterns. We'll cover layers in the next lesson.


    Well, that's it. Now we're ready to start working on our base pattern, which we'll cover in the next lesson. But before you close everything down, make sure you save!

    -Download a copy of the William Shatner picture. Create a new pattern document at 8x10" and create your guidelines. Then re-size your picture to fit within the guidelines.
    -If you are working on another portrait along with the class, do the same process with your other picture.
    -Practice using guidelines and resizing pictures.

    • Nov 28, 2012 06:06 PM
    • by Travis
  7. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L3

    Welcome back, folks. This lesson we're doing a tour of the user interface and talking about customizing our tools. There's a lot to cover, so lets get started.

    When you first launch GIMP, 2 or 3 (or more) windows will open. First you have the main screen. This is the big gray box which holds your picture. A small window will also open with a bunch of icons. This is your Tool Box (If you don't see it, go to Windows>Toolbox). And finally, one or more windows will also open. These are dockable dialog boxes that contain various functions. We'll cover each of these in the sections below.

    One unique thing about GIMP is that it uses floating windows. (GIMP 2.8.6 now offers Single-Window Mode, which is similar to the way most Windows programs operate. You can turn on/off this mode at Windows>Single-Window Mode. For this tutorial, it would be easiest to have it turned off so your screen looks similar to mine.) If you notice, none of the screens maximize to cover your full screen. As PC users, we are use to an application to fill the whole screen. GIMP uses floating windows instead, very similar to the way Mac and Linux systems work. It is a little strange to get use to at first, but once you do, you'll learn to love this way of working. It allows you to move your tools around the screen and make a nice work area. The main window does have an option to maximize the screen, but I don't recommend it. The reason is that if you are working on an image with the main window maximized and you zoom in, all of a sudden your tool box and dialog boxes start covering areas you want to work in. It really messes up your work flow. So, instead, re-size the main window to a size you're comfortable working with that still leaves room for your tool box and dialog boxes.

    Main Screen
    The main screen functions much the same way as any other application. Across the top you'll see the menu (File, Edit, Select, View, etc). This menu holds all of the functions within the program. Whenever I learn a new program, I'll go through the menus and see what options I have. Also note where your options reside and how they are categorized. Once you figure out the organization structure of the program, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding options you need.

    Go ahead an open an image in your main window (File>Open). Once you find an image, you'll notice the picture opens so you can see the entire image. You may want to re-size the window so that you have plenty of room for your toolbox and dialog boxes.

    One of the first things you'll notice, other than your picture, is a ruler that goes across the top and left of your screen. When you move your mouse around the image, you'll see a black triangle that shows you where your mouse is relative to the ruler. In the lower left corner of the window, you'll see the coordinates of your mouse as well. Notice it changes when you move your mouse. These coordinates correspond to the black arrows on the rulers. This is very handy when you're trying to dial in a specific measurement. Next to the coordinates, you'll find a drop-down box. It defaults to pixels (px) when you first launch the program. We won't be using pixels in this class. Instead we'd rather work with inches. So click the drop-down box and choose inches (in). You'll notice the rulers change from pixel measurements to inches measurements. The coordinates also indicate inches. You'll find the ruler pretty handy when scaling images or aligning items. We'll be using the ruler in the next lesson when we create our work area.

    To the right of the measurement drop-down box (lower left), you'll see another drop-down box. This contains percentages of zoom. You can select whichever preset you'd like to see as much or as little detail as you'd like. This is convenient if you want to see the image at 100%. But I usually will use keyboard shortcuts to zoom in and out of the image as I'm working. I'll cover the keyboard shortcuts in the Navigating The Image section below.

    To the right of the zoom drop-down box, you'll see an area that contains text (hover over the image). These are tool-tips associated with whichever tool you have selected in the toolbox. It will give you basic information on how to use that tool.

    One last section on the bottom left corner. Next to the scroll bar, you'll see a box with a dotted outline. This is a painted mask tool. When you click this icon, your image turns red. From here, you can use your paint brush to paint on a mask. A mask is a way to make a selection (we'll cover this in Lesson 5). Using white creates the mask, using black removes the mask. When you're done creating your mask, click the icon again and the red disappears . But in its place, you'll see the selection in which you painted on. Don't worry, we'll explain what this is later and how to use it.

    OK. Lets move over to the bottom right. In the corner, you'll find a triangle made up with dots. This is your window resizing tool. Click and drag the dotted triangle and you can re-size your window. Just above this is a cross with arrows. If you click that, a thumbnail image of your document pops up and you'll see a white box (you have to be zoomed in on your main image). Drag your mouse around this thumbnail and you'll notice you're panning your main image. This is a easy way to navigate your image without zooming back out.

    In the upper left corner, you'll see a little arrow above the side ruler. This is a flyout menu and is basically the same thing as the main menu across the top. Flyout menus are all over the place in GIMP, so be sure to look for them because they offer easier access to many of your options.

    Lastly, lets look at the top of the screen. You'll find a lot of text. The first part is the file name of the document you have open. You may also notice an asterisk before the file name. The asterisk indicates the image has changes made to it, but has not been saved yet. Next to the file name, you see parenthesis. Inside you'll notice it says RGB. This is the color profile of the image. Basically we use Red, Green and Blue to make up our images. We'll be working with RGB exclusively. If you doesn't say RGB, you'll have to change the color profile so that it is RGB (Image>Mode>RGB). Next to RGB, you'll see how many layers your project contains. It really doesn't make much difference. The more layers you have, the larger the file is, but we won't worry about that. It's not that important. Right after the parenthesis, we'll see the resolution of the image. The last couple lessons, we talked about the importance of resolution. The resolution is noted in pixels. Then at the end of all of this is the program name...GIMP.


    Tool Box & Options
    Lets look at the toolbox. As you can imagine, this is the section that holds all of the tools you have available. This can be customized to suite your own needs and we'll cover that in another section. Each icon indicates each tool. If you hold your mouse over the icon, a tool-tip will pop up and let you know what the tool is.

    Below the tools is a box on top of another box. This is your color selectors. By default, the boxes are black and white. The top box is the foreground color, and the bottom box is the background color. You can switch the order of these boxes by clicking the arrow button and the colors will swap places. If you have color in the boxes, you can go back to black and white by clicking the tiny black/white box icon to the bottom left of the color selector. To select a color, click either the foreground or background color. This will pop up a color selector. The foreground color is the color most of your tools will use (paint brush, paint bucket, etc.). Some tools will use both foreground and background color (gradient fill).

    Below all of this is a dockable dialog area. By default, the tool options is docked. Whenever you click a tool, this window will change to offer you additional options for that particular tool. If you don't see the Tool Options dialog box, you can open the dialog box by going to Windows>Dockable-Dialogs>Tool Options. You can dock the dialog box to the tool palette (see Dockable Dialogs below). Take some time and look at the options each tool offers.


    Dockable Dialogs
    Dialog boxes offer options for tools and provide other information. We'll be using several dialog boxes while creating our scroll saw patterns. You can find different dialog boxes under Windows>Dockable Dialogs. Just select the dialog box you wish to open and it will pop up the window. Since having a bunch of dialog boxes open at once will quickly clutter up the screen, GIMP lets you dock the dialog boxes so several windows can reside in one main window. Each docked dialog will be separated by a tab. So selecting one tab will display the options of that particular dialog box. Clicking the next tab will show that dialog box's options, etc. Docking a dialog box is easy. Just select the dialog box name in the window and drag it over to another dialog box. You'll notice a black outline around the information area of the other dialog box. That tells you that you're about to dock the dialog box into another. When you release the mouse button, your dialog box will have it's own tab.

    To remove the dialog box from the dock, grab the dialog box tab icon and drag it outside the containing dialog box. This will create a lone dialog box. You can either dock it to another set of dialog boxes or close it all together.

    You can re-arrange the tabs of a docked dialog box by grabbing the tab icon and drag it over to the top of another tab. This will put you selected tab in front of the tab you just hovered over.

    Another way to add tabs is to select the little triangle flyout menu on each set of dialog boxes. Choose Add Tab and that will give you the same list as Windows>Dockable Dialogs.

    Remember that the section below the tool box is also a dockable area. I like having my brushes dialog box docked into this area.

    Here are some of the dialog boxes I like having open. Tool Options and Brushes are both docked under the toolbar. I like having Layers, Channels, Undo History in it's own dock. You may also want Tools dialog box docked somewhere too for convenience while you're learning (we'll talk about that in the next section)


    Customizing The Tool Box
    Now that we have our dialog boxes customized, let's customize our tool box. As you can see we have a lot of tools at our disposal. As scroll saw pattern makers, we have very specific needs and really don't need all of the tools offered. So instead of having those tools clutter up our toolbox, we can display only the tools we want. To do this, we need to open up the Tools dialog box (Windows>Dockable Dialogs>Tools). To do this, go to Edit>Preferences then select the Toolbox section (Updated for GIMP 2.86). You'll see a list of all of the tools available. Next to each tool is an eye. This controls the visibility of that tool in your tool box. Click a couple and watch your Tool Box. You'll see the tool appear or disappear. This is nice to remove tools you'll never use.

    You can also change the order of the tools by selecting the tool in the Tools dialog box and dragging it up or down. A little line will show you where you're putting the tool in relation to the other tools. Give this a try and watch your tool box. You can immediately see that the tool order changes.

    So go through the tools and choose which ones you prefer. I'd recommend :Rectangle Select, Ellipse Select, Free Select, Fuzzy Select, Scissors, Color Picker, Zoom, Measure, Move, Align, Crop, Rotate, Scale, Flip, Text, Bucket Fill, Blend, Eraser, Clone, Dodge/Burn. We won't use some of these options, but these are the tools that I might use when creating a scroll saw pattern. There are other tools you might want to turn on, namely the color manipulation tools. I don't have them turned on. I'll use the menu at the top of the screen instead. But feel free to turn those on if you want easy access.


    Navigating The Image
    We'll be zooming in and out of the image all of the time. So we'll need to find an easy way to navigate the image. There are a number of ways to do this. You can find the option that works best for you.

    Zooming in and out can be easily be done with the + and - keys. You can use the number pad + and - keys or the ones on the keyboard (remember, the plus on the keyboard is Shift and =). You can also use the magnifying glass in the toolbar. Drag a box around what you want to zoom in, or just click to zoom in incrementally. Holding the Ctrl and clicking will zoom out. You can also use the zoom pull-down menu on the bottom of the screen. I personally like using the roller wheel on my mouse. Ctrl+mouse wheel will either zoom in (roll up) or out (roll down).

    Panning can be done with the scroll bars at the bottom and right of the image. Just drag those around and you'll easily pan the image. The dotted box in the lower right corner will also help you pan the image (see Main Screen section above). Hovering your mouse over the image and pressing the space bar will allow you to pan the image while dragging the mouse. You can use the roller wheel to pan the image up and down. Holding the shift button while using the mouse wheel will pan the image left and right. The method I prefer is using the button on the mouse roller wheel to pan around the image. Just click the button, then drag the mouse to pan the image.

    Keyboard Shortcuts
    Keyboard shortcuts will make your life much easier and the pattern making process go that much quicker. It is much easier to type 'P' to get the paint brush as opposed to moving over to the toolbox and selecting the icon. We'll be working with black and white, so to switch the foreground color with the background color (black and white), we hit the 'X' key. That way we can paint the black areas, then hit 'X' to switch from black to white and paint in the white areas.

    In the tool palette, you can hover over an icon to get tool tip. A the end of the tool-tip, you'll find the shortcut key in bold. Hover over the paintbrush tool and you'll notice that the letter 'P' is the shortcut key. Hover over the other tools. What shortcut keys do you see?

    In the menu, you'll also see shortcut keys assigned to various functions. The shortcut is on the right of the option. For example, look in the Select menu. Next to None you'll see the shortcut as Shift+Ctrl+A. Pressing this combination of keys will deselect your mask from the image.

    You can create custom shortcut keys too. Go to Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts. This will pop up a dialog box that has all of the options within GIMP. Find the function you wish to assign. When you want to assign the shortcut, just click the short cut column next to the function. Then press your combination of keys. If the combination of keys isn't used by any other function, you shortcut key will automatically be saved. If the shortcut keys you chose is being used by another function, it will pop up a warning message asking if you want to reassign the shortcut. You can say yes, or decide to select a different combination of keys.

    Customizing your shortcut keys is very powerful option. I like to have my shortcut keys within reach of my left hand so I can switch between tools/functions with my left hand and still control the mouse with my right hand. This works well for me. Create a work area that works well for you.

    One last note. If you right click on various icons or on the image itself, it often pops up additional options for that tool or section of the program.


    -Browse through the menu options and tool options.
    -Customize your tool box and dialog boxes.
    -Look at the shortcut keys. Reassign them if you prefer.
    -Practice navigating through an image. The better you get at it, the quicker you can work.

    I'm sure you have plenty of questions. Just fire away and I'll do my best to expand on some of these concepts. We're getting there! Next lesson we'll be importing our picture and setting up our work area. Then we're off to the real pattern making. Posted Image

    • Jan 14, 2014 10:01 PM
    • by Travis
  8. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L2

    Welcome to lesson 2. This lesson, we're going to cover three subjects today. The first is different styles of patterns. Then we'll learn what makes a good reference image. Then we finish off the discussion with the wonderful world of copyrights.

    Pattern Styles
    There is a wide variety of styles and each artist chooses their own approach to pattern designing. But if we break it down to very basic styles, I think we might be able to hone it down to 4 basic categories; line art, silhouette, impressionistic, and shadowed.

    Line Art:
    Line art is basically consists of straight or curved lines to indicate form and outline. We normally think of line art as a drawing where the artist will draw lines to indicate the features of the subject. Line art rarely has texture, shading or color.

    When translating line art into a pattern, you must pay attention to continuous lines. Often line art will have outlines and long, connecting lines. This poses a problem for scrollers because we rely on patterns that allow small sections to be supported by the wood. Otherwise, when you cut a continuous line, your design will fall apart. You'll have to find natural breaks within the line to create a bridge that will support each of the sections.

    Two approaches to dealing with line art is to approach the lines with either veining or thickening up the line. Some will treat the lines as a form of veining. Veining is when you use the width of the blade (kerf) to create the lines. This results in very thin and delicate lines. Since veining produces very thin lines, it is often as an accent for another pattern style (ie, silhouette).

    Another way is to thicken the line so it becomes more prominent in the design. This will produce very nice shadow lines which a person can see from a distance. The line is treated as a shape when cutting with a scroll saw. Lines could be irregular with lots of variation of width through the stroke. It could be tightly controlled where the line thickness remains consistent throughout the stroke with a squared off ends. Or it can be a calligraphy style where the line tapers to a point at the end of the stroke.

    Here are a couple examples of line art:
    Posted ImagePosted Image

    A silhouette is an outline of a subject matter without any interior details. Imagine a person on the horizon. You can see their outline, but not their features. You'd be surprised how many things you can recognize with just a silhouette. As such, silhouettes are a popular for pattern making. Not only can you do a traditional silhouette profile, but you can also use silhouettes in other scroll saw projects. Often these are used as decorative accents to a functional item, but they can be used as stand alone designs.

    When using a silhouette, the trick is to get the right angle so you can see enough of the contour to recognize the subject. A 3/4 view of a car may not be as effective as a profile view of a car where you'd be able to recognize the make and model.

    Here are a few examples of silhouettes:
    Posted ImagePosted Image

    The impressionistic or pointillism approach is another popular method of creating scroll saw patterns. This uses many small piercing cuts that make up the picture. This style reminds me of the works of Monet where he would use very small brushstrokes to create his painting. When you're close to the image, it looks like small dabs of paint or dots. But when you step back and look from a distance, the painting comes together to form a picture. This is much the same with this style of scroll saw pattern. When you're looking close, it looks like a random assortment of holes in some wood. It's when you step back is when the picture comes together.

    This style is impressive by the sheer number of piercing cuts, sometimes running into the thousands. It is very time consuming to cut as it requires a lot of pilot holes to be drilled, and blades threaded. It could be argued that this style is easier to design as it doesn't rely on bridging of sections. But in order to do it effectively takes much practice.

    Here are a few examples of Impressionistic patterns:
    Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

    The last style I'd like to mention is the shadowed style. I think this might be the most common form of portrait patterns as it conveys a lot of depth and detail. This style relies on emphasizing the shadows on the subject. The shape of the shadows usually indicate details. This style can be bit tricky as it takes a lot of judgment calls due to the varying degrees of shadow. For example, the area under the chin might have a heavy shadow, whereas the lines on the forehead has light shadow. As an artist, you have to decide if you'll treat those shadows the same. Remember, we're only working in black and white. The nice thing about working in this style, however, is we can use our software filters to help us decide which shadows are important. We can build our pattern from the base pattern into something cut able. This will be the style that we'll be focusing on in this class.

    Here are some examples of shadowed portraits:

    Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

    As I said in the beginning of this lesson, many artists will combine many of these styles to create a portrait. The Einstien portrait below uses both line art and shadowed styles. The Stones characature uses both line art and shadowed style with a touch of impressionism. The Monroe picture is mostly line art (most veining and some thick lines) with shadow accents. The Military picture is mostly impressionism with a hint toward line art with some shadow accents. The bird clock is silhouette with shadow accents. And lastly, the cat is shadowed with impressionistic details.

    Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

    Reference Material
    As scrollers, we often rely on reference material to create our patterns. This may come from a variety of sources. But since we're making portrait patterns, our reference material would typcally come in the form of photographs. So what makes a good photograph? Maybe its easier to talk about what doesn't make a good photograph to better understand what does make a good photograph.

    Small Photos
    Last lesson we talked about resolution. Resolution indicates how many pixels make up the photograph. The more pixels a photo has, the more information and detail it contains. If we use a small photo and enlarge the it, we're only spreading that small amount of information it has over a larger area. We do not gain additional information. So the larger the photograph, the more information it contains. The more information it contains, the more detail we can pull from the photo and put into our patterns. Often the file size is a good indicator of how much information it contains. A file of 8k is very small. Standard digital cameras will take pictures from 1meg (1000k) to 12 megs (12,000k). My camera takes pictures of about 1.2 megs which is more then enough to pull a pattern from.

    I used the Cher thumbnail picture in the video to demonstrate enlarging small pictures into larger areas.

    Grainy/Blurry Photos
    Grainy photographs present the same problems small photos do. Blurry or grainy photos may have enough data in the file, but all of the details are blurred. We're not able to pull detail from that file since no detail really exists. Creating a pattern from a grainy/blurry photo would require a lot of interpretation and "faking it." It can be done if additional reference material is available and you have plenty of anatomy knowledge. But for the most part, unless your a professional artist, grainy and blurry photos are useless. You may run into grainy photos with action shots (sports), or in low light situations.

    I used a photo of Bigfoot as an example of a grainy/blurry photo in the demonstration video.

    Low Light
    Pictures take in low light, especially with digital cameras, can cause a lot of problems. Often, in low light situations, the photo comes out grainy. This is caused by the camera trying to recognize what it's trying to photograph. It will use it's internal programming to equalize the levels of the picture. This will often boost certain colors, increase highlights, and wash out shadows. Basically, it tries to guess what is in the picture. Poorly I might add. Even if the camera does not interpret the picture, it would capture very little information because color and light gets lost in the shadows. If the data is not recorded, there is no way to pull additional information from the photograph.

    While low light photos are not ideal, not all is lost. You may be able to fix the photograph with your software to the point where you can pull the detail you need from the photograph. However, it really depends on the picture quality. So results may vary.

    I used an indoor snapshot of John Goodman for the example in the demonstration video. Notice that the highlights on his face are exaggerated by the flash, whereas the background and black colors are lost in the shadows. Also notice the grainy texture cause by low light photography. However, with a little creativity, we'd still be able to pull a pattern from this photograph.

    Good Photographs
    A good photograph is a file that has good resolution (large file). It isn't grainy, nor blurry and the light levels work well. Good lighting may include heavy shadows, but the difference is that you can still see the details. Good levels would have dark blacks, and bright whites, with a nice gradation between the two extremes. We want to be able to see shadows and highlights equally as well.

    I have two more examples of John Goodman that would make a good photograph. The first is a nice even light across his face. Notice you can still see shadows across his face. The second has heavier shadows and highlights, but they still work well because it has a nice color balance. Details are not lost in the shadows or the highlights.

    We all know what a good photograph looks like. As long as the photo itself looks good enough to put into a frame, chances are it's good enough to pull a pattern from.

    Clipart is really hit and miss. Color clipart doesn't typically have much depth. Since we play with shadows and highlights to create our scroll saw portraits, it would take a lot of creativity to make color clipart work. Black and White clipart usually works better since they too work with shadows and highlights. With a little tweeking, black and white clipart can easily be converted to a scroll saw pattern.

    Printed Material
    Pictures from magazines and newspapers present their own challenges. Not because of picture quality, but rather how they are printed. If you take out a magnifying glass and take a look at a picture, you'll notice it is made up of tiny little dots. Since there are no hard lines, it gets a little tricky to create your base pattern. It can be done with a blur filter to blur those dots into each other before applying other filters. It takes a little fiddling around, but eventually you'll get it.

    I used this webpage from Teacher's Lab to demonstrate in the video how magazine photos are printed.

    OK. Lets talk about the dreaded subject of copyrights. There is a common misconception that you can take any work, change it, and call it your own. This is completely wrong. This is what's called derivative work and is a violation of copyright law. Taking Andy Worhol's Marylin Monroe painting and turning it into a scroll saw pattern is derivative work. Andy Worhol owns that imagery and you're capitalizing on his work and intellectual property. Likewise, if you created a scroll saw pattern and somebody uses that pattern to create a painting, they would be in violation of your rights.

    Another misconception about copyrights is that it needs to be registered with the copyright office to be protected. This is not true. As soon as a creative work is created, you own the copyright. The benifit of registering it with the copyright office is that it becomes easier to prove in court the creation date and nature of the artistic work.

    One last warning. Don't think that just because you're a small guy, you won't get picked on by some nasty lawyers. There have been several instances of scroll saw artists getting into a lot of trouble by using images they didn't have permission to use.

    This is important to keep in mind. We need to respect the rights of our fellow artists. No matter which medium they work in. Here's a few areas of copyright that will interest you.

    Your Photographs
    Obviously, this is the safest route to take. If you took a picture of a tiger at the zoo, you're more than within your rights to create a pattern from that photograph since you own the copyright. It becomes a gray area when dealing with celebrities or people who do not give your permission to take their photo, however. Photographs of other works of art will also pose problems.

    Public Domain
    Public domain refers to intelectual property that isn't owned by anyone. Therefore, you may use these materials in any way you see fit. There are a few ways these materials enter into the public domain. First, the artist specifically releases it into the public domain. Second, a copyright expires. Works are copyrighted for a period of time, after which it is released into the public domain. You can use images of the Mona Lisa because the painting was created in 1503. The copyright has long but expired. And third, many government run agencies have all of their images in the public domain since it was obtained with taxpayer monies. These include the Library of Congress, NASA, and US Fish & Wildlife.

    Creative Commons
    Creative Commons is an organization that encourages distribution of creative works for others to build and expand upon. Their license defines which rights the original artist chooses to wave and which rights the artist chooses to retain. Most of these licenses are very generous and allow other artists to expand them. However, you should check to see how the image is licensed as there are several different license options.

    Royalty Free
    Royalty Free is a confusing term because most assume these images are free. In fact, they are not. Royalty free means that you pay a licensing fee to use these images in any way you wish without paying future royalties.

    Look through our Pattern Library or pattern archives from other scroll saw communities and look at how other artists approach portrait patterns. What are their styles? How do they differ from other patterns? Which pattern styles do you gravitate to (not just subject matter)? Find which style suites you the best.

    If you would like to create a portrait pattern from one of your own photographs to do along side the class, you can start looking now. Remember to keep in mind of what makes a good picture and choose your picture wisely. It will save you a lot of headache later.

    Do you know of any other basic category that we can define?
    What else should we look at when looking for a good picture?
    What other reference material could we use?
    What copyright concerns do you have?

    • Nov 28, 2012 06:09 PM
    • by Travis
  9. Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L1

    Welcome to the GIMP class on creating scroll saw portraits using this great (and free) software. This class will last for 4 weeks with 2 lessons released each week. We will all work with the same image to create a portrait pattern (still to be determined). It makes it easier to troubleshoot problems that arise if we're all on the same page. However, I encourage you to find a picture that you'd like to work on along side of this class.

    Each class will include a video demonstration, as well as written out instructions. You'll also find resource material posted with each lesson. This may include links of interest, or files you may download. I encourage you to ask lots of questions. That's what this class is all about. If you find a technique that works better for you, we'd all love to hear about it. Also, feel free to upload files for evaluation.

    This lesson is pretty much here to lay the groundwork. First lets go over what you can expect from this class:

    • Introduction - Introduction to pattern making and GIMP.
    • What Makes A Good Pattern - We discuss different styles of patterns and look at reference material.
    • User Interface Tour - A quick tour of the program. We'll look at tool pallets and major sections of the program. We also discuss basic navigation through your project.
    • Creating a Workspace - We'll create a workspace and do any of the preliminary tasks before we roll up our sleeves and dig in.
    • The Base Pattern - The meat of the pattern making process. We'll use filters to establish a base pattern for us to work on.
    • Islands, Peninsulas and Lakes - The elements that make up scroll saw patterns. We'll talk about how to handle delicate areas and create unique shapes that form our pattern.
    • Facial Features - We discuss various facial features and a couple tips to bring your portrait to life.
    • Final Touches - We wrap things up by checking our work and learn to export our pattern for distribution.
    Why create your own patterns?
    -There are lots of reasons why you'd want to learn to create your own patterns. First, you will make a pattern that nobody else in this world has. Being able to create something from nothing really gives you a sense of self satisfaction (plus it impresses your friends!)

    -You may want to create a portrait of a loved one. Many people like personalized portraits of their pets or family members. This can be apart of a brag wall, or as a memorial for a loved one who has passed.

    -You'll be able to fulfill requests. Often times you'll find fellow scrollers who do not have the ability to make personalized patterns for themselves. You'll be able to help them out and create a pattern for them. That's just good karma!

    -And lastly, you can make some extra money with these skills. Word of mouth moves fast. Before you know it, you'll have many commission pieces lined up. Offer your services at your next craft show. Nothing wrong with making a few extra bucks doing something you love. If nothing else, it will keep you in sawblades.

    What is GIMP?
    GIMP is a bitmap based graphics program that stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. GNU is a software licensing term that means that anybody can copy, modify, or redistribute this software as long as the same licensing terms remain with the new product. Basically it means it's free!

    GIMP is Open Source Software. A large community comes together and programs this software in their spare time. The source code is available for anybody to download, study, modify or improve. Since a large community programs the software together, no one person actually owns the software. This is why Open Source Software is free.

    There are several advantages to open source software. First, obviously, is the fact it is free. Second, since a large community is programming the software, the program is always advancing and adding new features (assuming the community is active). Lastly, since the software source code is open to scrutiny, it is very unlikely that viruses or other malware can be inserted into the code. Someone will spot it and remove it immediately. So you can feel safe about downloading this great software.

    Bitmaps vs. Vectors
    There are two basic types of graphics out there. There are vector based graphics created by programs like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, and Inkscape. Then there are bitmap or raster graphics like those created by Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photopaint and GIMP.

    Vector based graphics are mathematical representation of an image. Vectors are composed of nodes which define the space in relation to other nodes to create shapes, lines and curves. These complex shapes are then layered upon each other in order to define an image. The advantage of vector graphics is the file size tends to be much smaller. You may enlarge or shrink down a vector graphic without losing quality because the nodes stay within the same relative position to one another. The mathematical formulas recalculate the image based on node information, so there is no information that is lost (or gained) during resizing.

    Bitmaps are a rectangular grid of pixels (blocks of color) used to define a picture. The more pixels that are used in an image, the more information the image contains. This is called resolution. The higher the resolution is, the more detail you can pull from an image. You can enlarge a low resolution graphic. But since a low resolution only has so much information (number of pixels), when you enlarge it, it only spreads that information over a larger area. You do not gain additional detail by enlarging a low resolution graphic. (You can see an example here).

    So why would we want to work with bitmaps? Most graphics you find on the internet, all digital photographs from cameras or scanned pictures, and most any other form of digital graphics are bitmaps. Even vector graphics eventually become bitmap images. Bitmap images are a convenient way to distribute images through digital mediums.

    As scroll saw pattern makers, we often work with photographs. Since photographs are bitmap based graphics, it only makes sense to work in a bitmap graphics program. Bitmaps have the advantage of being modified easily, whereas vector graphics rely on complicated layering techniques and precise positioning of nodes. Using a program like GIMP allows us to change individual pixels with use of various tools. You can easily use a paintbrush to change the color of pixels, or use the eraser tool to remove all pixel color information.

    Downloading GIMP
    You can download a copy of GIMP from http://www.gimp.org. Right in the middle of the screen on the front page you'll see a Download button. Click that and you'll be taken to download page. The easiest way for Windows Users is to select the Installer option. This is a regular executable file that will install the program for you. Mac and Linux users will have to download them from the FTP and Web Mirrors section. (don't download the Source Code as it isn't compiled and won't run on any system. These files are intended for the programmers).

    User Manual
    On the GIMP website, you'll find a section called Documentation. This is the User Manual. Just select the language you prefer and everything is online. Be sure to bookmark this site. I'm sure you'll be referring to it in the future.

    You also have the option of downloading the User Manual. I don't recommend this. First, the file is huge (40+ megs). Second, it's not as up-to-date as the online version. And lastly, I don't know how to install it. It requires complicated stroke commands. While I'm kinda a computer geek, that is waaay above my head. Just stick to the online version. You'll be much happier.

    Other Resources
    GIMP is a popular program. As such, there are a lot of great resources on the internet to help you learn how to use this really cool program. As scroll saw pattern makers, we have very specific needs and probably won't find tutorials we can incorporate directly into our patterns. However, going through these tutorials will help you understand the program better and learn what all of the tools do. Here are a few cool websites you might enjoy.
    • GIMP.org - They have a number of tutorials ranging from beginner to advanced. A great place to start.
    • YouTube - A great place to find video tutorials. Hundreds to choose from. I can spend all day here.
    • 25 GIMP Video Tutorials to Help Get You Started - A blog post from Six Revisions that highlights some really great tutorials.
    • Design Your Own Web - Some nice basic instruction on how to use GIMP
    • Meet The Gimp - A video podcast that uses GIMP to do some really cool stuff. Lots of material here!
    • Google - Lets not forget our good friend, Google.
    Download and install GIMP onto your computer. Play around with it a little.

    • Jul 08, 2014 07:57 PM
    • by Travis
  10. Moving Elements Using GIMP

    Docupton shared a portrait pattern he was working on in this thread. He did an amazing job on it and really captured his subject matter. The only comment I had was the amount of space between the girl and boy. Naturally, he was working from a photo and didn’t have any control over the composition. But in this video, I demonstrate an easy way to close that gap between the two subjects to create a stronger composition.


    • Jun 02, 2015 04:24 PM
    • by Travis

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