3 Steps For a Successful Fabric Portrait

Portrait in fabric of the head and shoulders of a man.

Do you want to try doing a fabric portrait?

You know how hard it can be to get started on a new project or a new technique. There is often a sort of paralysis that takes hold because you don’t know where to start. 

The answer is to have a guide that will get the process started with clear, detailed instructions.

This guide is being offered to you free of charge and details the first 3 steps you need to take when creating a portrait.

I want to thank you for your interest in my work and offer you this chance to learn more.

You can find the guide in my Facebook group – Fabric Faces. Just click here to receive this free guide.  I hope to see you there!

Enlarging and Printing a Photo at Home – the MAC Version

Enlarging and Printing a Photo at Home – the MAC Version

 

 

A number of people asked me about enlarging and printing a photo at home with a MAC computer after I posted on this blog about this process on a PC.

I think that I have found a way!

The first step is using a photo program called Photoscape X which is a free download. I tried the Windows version and assume that the MAC version is very similar. I feel that I can say this having watched several videos on this program (MAC version) on YouTube.

Here is what you need to do to resize a photo in Photoscape X: 

Resizing

  1. Open your photo in Photoscape X in the Editor.
  2. Choose Edit – Resize. Depending on what measurement system you use you may want to change the sizing to inches from the default millimeters.
  3. Change the size of your photo to your desired size. Click Apply.
  4. Save your photo to the original folder. Rename the file if you don’t want to overwrite your original photo!

Printing

There are at least 2 options:

Posterazor 

This is program is a free download. 

It allows you to save your photo as a PDF which can be printed on multiple pages.

Split Print

Go to the MAC App Store and look for Split Print.

The app costs $8.49. It allows you to print an enlarged photo over multiple pages on your home computer.

Comments welcome!  I would love to hear from MAC users about whether this process works for them! 

Enlarging a Photo and Printing it at Home

Resizing your Photo or Drawing and Printing it at Home. A Solution!

Have you wondered about enlarging a picture to print on multiple pages at home?

The Problem – Printing a Large Photo on a Home Printer

One of the big issues when teaching a portraits workshop is finding a way for students to be able to easily resize and print their photos.

I have suggested a variety of options such as Block Poster (not really accurate enough for what we want to do), taking the photo to a printing shop or Staples. Or using a program such as Rapid Resizer.

I resize photos all the time for my portraits and have been using Rapid Resizer to enlarge and print them.  This is a great program and I will continue to use it.  But I wanted to find a simpler, cost-effective solution for my students!

The Solution – MS Paint

Recently I was at a Fibre Art Network Conference and had a wonderful time catching up with other members. A big part of the conference is sharing expertise. 

Terry Aske mentioned that she uses a program called Microsoft Paint for enlarging and printing her patterns. Paint is a program that comes preinstalled on Windows computers.

Eureka! Problem solved!

 Terry was kind enough to send me the instructions that she gives to her students. I have taken them and added detail and photos to make it super easy to follow along.

Step by Step Instructions – for Enlarging a Photo in Paint and Printing it on your Own Printer

The program Paint is found under:

 Start Menu: All Programs: Accessories in Windows 2007
and under Windows Accessories in 2010
.

The icon looks like this:

Paint palette and paint brush

  1. Open your photo in Paint by clicking on the file icon arrow in the upper left and choosing “Open”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  2. Browse to where your photo is located on your computer, select the photo and then click “Open”.

  3. Open “Properties” by clicking on the file icon (in the upper left corner) and selecting “Properties” to see the current size of your photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Click on the circle next to “Inches“. It should be black.

5.  Note the size of the photo shown in the boxes. The key measurement for portraits is the height. If this is changed the rest of the photo will be resized accordingly.

Close Properties.

Paint - properties

Properties screen

 

 

The Process for Resizing your Photo

6. Determine what size you want your full-size photo or drawing to be and thus how much you need to enlarge the photo (percentage). The current size of your photo is 100%.

So if your photo is currently 6”H and you want it to be 18”H, you would set the percentage increase at 300% (18 divided by 6 =3) and 3 x 100, so the photo would be enlarged by 300%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Next click the file icon again and select “Print” – “Page Setup”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Check that the “Orientation” is set in the correct direction – either Portrait or Landscape.

9. Find “Scaling” in the lower right and then click on “Adjust to” and enter the percentage for enlarging. Click OK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The orientation for the above photo should be set to “portrait”.

Choose “Adjust To”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Printing

10. Click on the file icon and select “Print” – “Print Preview”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Look at the enlarged photo or drawing and check that it isn’t too pixelated to use. You can also see how many pages will print by counting the pages that you view (click on the down arrow repeatedly).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. To print: select “Print” and choose the size of paper that you want to use (letter or legal). You can usually find this setting under “Preferences” and then click on Print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assembling the Photo

13. Lay out the printed pages and number them in the order that you want them.

14. Trim the borders, allowing some overlap for the adjacent page(s) and tape them together in order.

I have presented here a simple way to enlarge and print your photos or patterns at home on your own printer. I would love to hear what you think about this idea and what solutions that you may have found.  Leave a reply below!

I look forward to hearing from you!

New Online Fabric Portraits Workshop

I am very excited to announce the launch of my new fabric portraits online workshop called Facial Expressions.

Me relieved that the end is in sight.

The prep has been crazy! There is a huge amount to learn when setting up an online course. Most of the learning is how to use the technology involved. There were many days when I wanted to pull all my hair out!

But now I am ready for the launch. Finally!! I am looking for people to be part of my Workshop Launch Team. These special people will take the workshop and provide me with feedback on how I can fine tune the content.

If you are interested, check it out here on my Online Workshops Page.

 

 

Correcting your Mistakes 101 – A Rescue Operation

Mistakes happen! Have you worked on a project for a long time only to find out that there is a major flaw?? This was my experience recently.

The Problem

First of all, I had been letting other aspects of my business take precedence over making art. My wakeup call came when I was talking to my hairdresser the other day. She asked again how I was doing with my hockey boys. I was a little embarrassed to have to say “not much”. I decided right there and then that I would get the last pieces of fabric in place starting that day.  It only took me 2 hours and it was complete! I was elated!! 

With the assistance of my husband, I carefully took my “boys” off the design wall. My experience with having this piece on the design wall for a long time is that humidity and Steam a Seam II Lite don’t go well together. A story for another day! 

As a result, I had to make sure that all the fabric pieces were back in place before I fused all the applique. A long time later it was done. It felt so good!! I had the design complete!

I hung the piece back on the design wall and moved my work table so that I could take a good long look at it. That was when I realized to my horror that one of the 3 boys had a distinct lean to one side!!! One of those “yikes” mistakes. I was devastated. All that work and now it was ruined. 

Three boys in vintage hockey uniforms. Boy on the right is leaning to the side.

The hockey boys. Look at the guy on the right!

Of course, I did the only thing that made sense. I ranted and raved and cried a few tears. I didn’t even want to look at it.  Over the next few days, I kept going back to take a look and see if it was really as awful as I imagined. Some days I almost convinced myself that it was OK. Other days I was more realistic. 

The Solution

A few days ago I decided that it was time to stop thinking about it and to try and do something about fixing it.  It couldn’t remain as it was. I had decided on a rescue plan. 

The decision was to cut from the top of the background right down to the toe of the skate. I was hoping that I could pivot the boy on the right over to the left without distorting anything.  A very deep breath and I started!

I started by cutting the background fabric above and to the right of the boy’s head. I then cut carefully along the line of his hair on the left side, down along the edge of his sleeve and the rest of this clothes and down to the toe of the skate. Managing to loosen the fabric pieces, at the elbow and the hand where the two boys overlapped (see below), made it easier to cut them apart at that point.  I wanted to cut as close to the figure as possible without nicking any of the edges.

Detail of overlap of sleeves and mitt/hand.

Detail of overlap of sleeves and mitt/hand.

Once I had the boy on the right mostly cut out, I pivoted him towards the boy in the middle so that they overlapped more. I had to cut away parts of the mitt to avoid shadowing and decided that the boy in the middle should have his elbow on top, not underneath as originally planned, which entailed more very careful cutting.

Then I had to adjust the shadow at the elbow of the jersey, for the boy in the middle, by adding some lighter fabric, as now his arm was on top. I used white Elmer’s glue applied in tiny dots to hold the repositioned section in its new position.

The Result

It worked!! I am pleased with the result and learned that the hand-dyed fabric that I used for the sky blends beautifully when cut. My hope is that the quilting will help to hide the cut in the fabric.

Here is the after photo. Much improved.

Three boys in hockey uniforms standing straight. Mistake corrected.

Adjustments made!

I am so glad that I got up the courage to correct this piece. As a result, I have learned that making a mistake is not necessarily the end of a piece. If you give yourself time to get some emotional distance from the problem and you open your mind to the possibility of rescue, amazing things can happen. Mistakes can be corrected.

Have you ever made a mistake or mistakes in a piece that you loved? What did you do about it?  I would love to hear about your experiences! 

Choosing a Photograph for a Fabric Portrait

When teaching a fabric portrait workshop, the question I get asked most often is “How can I know that I am choosing a good photograph to use for my portrait?” Choosing a photograph can be an easy process by paying attention to the following tips.

5 features to pay attention to when selecting a photo.  Use these tips for a stress-free experience!

1. Head and shoulders photo

For someone starting out doing fabric portraits, it is best to start with a photo that shows only the head and shoulders of a subject. This generally means that the photographer got closer to their subject and that you have a  clearer, larger image to use. This also means that it will be a manageable size for a first attempt. 

Head and shoulders photo

2. The lighting is balanced

You want a photo that shows good light and dark areas (contrast) like this one:

head and shoulders photo of a man.

My good looking husband!

Lighting Not Balanced

If the face of the person is too light, it will be hard to distinguish the planes of the face and will make it very difficult to create a pattern for the portrait. Here you can see that the detail on the light side of the face is lost. 

 

Photo overexposed

On the other hand, if the lighting is inadequate, the face will be all dark and it will again be hard to distinguish the correct values and the details of the features.

 

 

3. Copyright free

You want to be sure that you have the right to use the photograph that you choose. 

The person in the photo has some say in how the photo is used and the photographer may hold the copyright for the photo, particularly if it is one taken of a famous person.

It is always best to ask for permission to use a photo and to get that permission stated in writing (emails are OK).

There are a number of free image sites that provide copyright free photos. Just be sure to check their rules of use.

Some sites for free photos are: 

https://pixabay.com/ 

https://unsplash.com/

https://www.pexels.com/

 

4. Have a good quality photo – size and quality matter

Since you will be enlarging the photo for your fabric portrait. it is a good idea to choose a good quality photo in the beginning.

The best size to have is no smaller than 6″ x 8″ (15cm x 20cm), taking in to account tip #1 above. Small photos with a number of people in them generally do not enlarge well for a portrait.

As well, blurry photos make it difficult to accurately determine the outlines of the features and without this critical element, the resulting portrait will look distorted.

Woman holding a small child - too blurry for a good fabric portrait

 

5. Choose a photo for a fabric portrait that tells a story

Choose a photo that intrigues you. You will find it more interesting to work on the portrait if it tells a story.

I choose my photos because of the expression on a face, the clothes and or/the stance of the person. The combination of these elements adds to the portrait.

A lady wearing a lacy gown.

You may want to create a portrait of a grandchild. Do you have a photo that shows them doing something memorable?

If the photo is of a parent or spouse, is there one that shows them as you most like to think of them? 

Does it tell a story or create a mood?

 

To receive my complete guide and checklist with these and more tips for choosing a good photograph for your fabric portrait, sign up for my newsletter.


 

 

 

 

How to Create Facial Expressions in Portraits

How do you come up with the best facial expressions in a portrait?

Here is a new way of creating faces that will make it easier for you to get a good likeness in your portrait.

In the past, I traced the contours of the faces from the enlarged photos and then determined the values. I proceeded from there by creating the face out of fabric. I found that I wasn’t always totally happy with the results, particularly if I had too large a section of highlight.

Photo showing the tracing of a boy's facial expressions.

Tracing of boy’s face

New Method for Faces

So, what to do? I started in the same way by tracing the face, but then photocopied and printed the traced image, so that I had a copy that I could alter without changing the original.

 

Photo showing the photocopied tracing of a face (facial Expressions) that has been adjusted for the values.

Photocopied and adjusted.

I shaded in the face based on the values that I wanted and then checked to see whether I liked the result. You can see the numbers that I use for referencing the different values. The only problem with this method is that the photocopy doesn’t erase like a pencil drawing would. You can see the White Out that I used to remove some of the lines.

This is the second face that I did with this method:

A boy's face (facial expressions) showing the shading for a portrait.

Boy’s face 2

Once I have what I think is the best result, I lay the tracing, as seen above, back over the photocopy and adjust the lines on my original tracing. I use this traced image for the placement of the fabric pieces.

The Finished Face

And here is the result in fabric:

Boy's face recreated in fabric.

Boy’s face recreated in fabric.

I really like this method as I readily notice any odd lines, or shapes, and can double check the values that I have selected before I start cutting up the fabric.

These boy’s faces were difficult to create. The original photo had all the boys looking into the sun and their eyes were all squinty and the faces were somewhat overexposed. This is the time when a good book on sketching comes in handy. I am currently using “The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets – Easy Techniques for Drawing People, Animals and More” by Carrie Stuart Parks & Rick Parks. It has really clear visuals for sketching and is a great reference for facial expressions.

Comments

What do you think of this method? Do you sketch your pictures first? What is your favorite reference book?

 

Solo Show Update

Read about the latest news on my art work, and an update on my solo show at the Portage & District Arts Centre in Portage la Prairie, MB held in April/May of this year.

Fred

The first portrait is a man standing in the doorway of an old building. Is it his home or is it his workshop? He is dressed in his finest clothes, which must have fit him well as a younger man, but now hang on his body. In spite of this, he displays a quiet pride and shows off his prized gold pocket watch.

Fred

Fred

I experimented with hand-dyed cheesecloth to give the effect of weedy ground, and strips of hand-dyed facial wipes for the weeds. Have you ever tried these type of materials in your work?

 

The Dandy

The next portrait was based on a picture of a young man who looked very much the dandy, so that became the name of this one. He looks very self assured and definitely has attitude. Don’t you just love the buttons on his shoes!?

The Dandy

The Dandy

It was interesting doing his face, as the shadow of the hat made everything black in the photo; with no detail. I needed to lighten the shadow and redraw the eye.

Then I ran in to another issue. I created one leg of his pants only to find that if I went with the dark shadow, as per the photo, it looked as though he was wearing a jacket and pants, not a suit, so the leg of his pants was redone.

 

Ed

The third portrait was a commission from a colleague. The photo chosen was a portrait of her husband to be completed for a birthday present. The photo she chose was one of her husband in the early 1940’s in his Air Force uniform. I sourced an original cap badge, the flash for his jacket and the uniform button to dimension to the portrait. Many thanks to Marway Militaria here in Winnipeg for their help finding these items! The hat was done with trapunto on one side to add the tilt to the hat.

Ed

Ed

 

My Solo Show

Here are some photos from the show. The first photo was taken just after the show was hung. The rest of the photos are from the Opening Night.

Pre-show

The show has been hung!

Opening-night---Ed_Willy-and-her-sister-(web)

Opening Night and the Show Banner

Wall of the gallery showing The Dandy.

Inspecting “The Dandy”

Opening-night5-(web)

Opening Night Crowd at my solo show

Opening-night6-(web)

Getting up close.

The gallery was great on PR so I had several interviews on local radio stations and a write up in two newspapers.  The evening started off with my talk about my journey as an artist, followd by a question and answer period. I invited friends and people interested in my work and we had a wonderful turnout with lots of great discussions.

Have you completed any new work recently? Do you show your work? Where do you show your work – group exhibits, quilt shows or ???

 

Snow Dyeing Fun

Snow dyeing is a very fun process. A friend and I decided to play with snow dyeing, while there was still some snow. We are having a very mild winter!

When you snow dye, you put your soda ash soaked fabric (wrung out) on a grate in a pan. We scrunched up our fabrics to get maximum mottling. The next step is to add a pile of snow on top, covering the fabric. Sprinkle dye powder over the top of the snow, and wait. Once the snow has all melted, usually overnight, you can rinse the pieces of the excess dye and see what patterns and colours will be revealed.

Here are some of the results of our snow dyeing:

val-hand-dye5

This one was twisted up and put in the bottom of the pan, under the grate. So it was dyed by the snow melting and the dye going in to the bottom of the pan. Wonderful!

snow dyed with Raspberry and Grape dyes

 

On this piece I used a combination of Raspberry and Grape dyes and not a lot of snow.

val-hand-dye3

These two pieces were from the same batch. I layered the pieces and instead of dye powder used dye solution on the snow. I used red, yellow and green dyes Resulting in a lovely peachy colour.

 

val-hand-dye4

This piece of fabric turned out to be a cotton/polyester blend. It created a delicate heathery texture to the colour, as the polyester fibres in the fabric didn’t take the dye.

val-hand-dye6

This blue got a few dark marks as it was left to get too dry and the dye concentrated at the top of the folds.  Interesting texture though.

Have you tried snow dyeing? What results did you get?

The Boys in Blue

Usually, the phrase “the boys in blue” makes you think of policemen. Not here! In this case, it is two men in vintage navy blue bathing suits enjoying the sunshine and the beach. I love the old style bathing suits!

Two men in vintage bathing costumes, standing on the beach. Commercial and hand-dyed cotton, paint. Valerie Wilson 2015

Men in vintage bathing suits. Commercial and hand-dyed cotton, paint. Valerie Wilson 2015

This quilt with the two men in vintage bathing suits, will make a great companion piece for “The Bather” that is currently being exhibited at the World Quilt Show.

The Bather

Can you imagine having had to wear one of these suits? And especially since they were usually made of wool! Wool makes me itch!

Anyway, back to the two guys.

What intrigued me about these guys was the differences between them. One fellow is tall and muscular looking, and has wonderful curly hair, while the other man is a little flabby looking with slicked back hair. They both looked as though they were having fun, however.

Here is the original photo:

Two men in vintage bathing suits standing on a beach.

 

I had a few problems with the one fellow’s hand, as he must have moved as the photo was taken, and it blurred that part of the photo. I referenced a number of drawing books and had my husband modeling that posture, so that I could see what the hand should look like and what size it should be. I think that it turned out well.

The other issue I had was that they are looking in to the sun, and squinting, and all you can see was black slits where the eyes should be. I thought initially that I would just use a dark fabric there, but found in the end that I really wanted to be able to see their eyes. So back to the drawing books, and many sketches later, they could see!

Detail of eyes

Detail of eyes

A further issue was that I wanted it to have it look as though they has sand on their feet. How to achieve this effect? I even considered gluing some real sand on! Beads I felt would be too much and take to long to attach. Finally, I decided to try paint. I used some fabric paint and tested first on a scrap of fabric. With much trepidation, I decided that I had the effect that I wanted and that I should now add the paint to the quilt. Very nervously, I carefully added the paint to their feet and it worked! I was so pleased!

Sand on feet

Sand on feet

Now I am having a problem naming this piece. Friends have helped with suggestions for names, but so far, nothing has felt right. What is the one man listening for? Did someone call their names, or say something humorous? What would you title this piece with these two men in vintage bathing suits? What do you think? Can you help with a name? Suggestions welcome!