Are you having a good weekend? We’ve had a lovely one; revelling in the afterglow of Valentine’s Day (a year’s supply of marmalade for him; an amazing vintage Imperial typewriter for me – I can’t stop stroking it..), enjoying a rare glimpse of Spring with brilliant sunshine and mild weather, baking crunchy, syrupy lemon drizzle cake (only crumbs left now, and a vague sense of remorse at our lack of self-control..), and the conversion of a cheerful little corner of Harry’s playroom into a Book Nook… but more on all of that next time.
As promised, this week I’m going to answer a few of the questions I get asked most often about how I design and style both the blog and the projects which feature on it. Fonts, graphics, layouts; it’ll be something of a geek-peek behind the blog for those who are interested. If you simply enjoy the projects and posts themselves (thank you!), then turn a blind eye and join me again next time, but otherwise let’s start by talking about fonts, fonts, glorious fonts….
I love browsing for fonts on the fabulous site dafont.com. There are a myriad of fonts available to download for free, which takes seconds. You can also choose to donate to the author who created each, which I think is a great thing to do, and important for communities like dafont to continue to flourish and offer such loveliness (I’m like a kid in a sweet shop when I browse).
You can find all three of these fonts by simply Googling the name, and will be able to download them all for free for private use from various sites (if you’re thinking of using them for other purposes or commercially, check the licence details; the terms are often different).
The next most common question is about how I make the labels, signs, graphics and photo montages that I use, so let’s tackle that…
I do all of my graphics and montages in – wait for it – Powerpoint (I blush slightly at this revelation; I know it is seen as the slightly stale tool of jaded business execs the world over, but I love it, and more importantly, I know it intimately) … so no sexy Adobe tools and wizardry here. And hence this post, I hasten to add, is just about what I do, rather than what other bloggers would suggest, or what might work best for you.. You can download Powerpoint in a format to suit your computer and have a month’s free trial before you have to commit to buying; worth it if you have the time and motivation to dabble a little and explore.
I work on an iMac desktop and use the in-built iPhoto software for simple photo-editing – usually cropping, and adjusting light (gloom & overcast skies being a perennial British problem), before importing photos into Powerpoint to create montages or add text. Before I had my Mac I downloaded the free Picasa photo-editing software onto my ancient Windows laptop and used that very happily instead. Toys and signs I’ve made for Harry like those below were all created in this way, as were the ‘font’ montages shown above.
For backgrounds and backdrops I tend to take photos of interesting textures, walls, surfaces and so on, and upload these for use in projects. I also use books of art papers like these, often scanning them so I can play with them and use them repeatedly. The one investment I did make last year which I love is in two polypaper photo backdrops from here, one of chalkboard and one of a faux wood-pannelled barn wall (see both below)… the chalkboard in particular I use all the time as it’s so versatile. Often though, I just wander around the house following the light, and shoot against walls and on the wooden floor; it’s simple and instant.
So, no magic; just a little bit of knowledge and a lot of experimentation and practice. If you’re making crafty projects at home and printing out graphics, labels and the like, my final tip would be to purchase and use photo-quality matt inkjet paper (HP make some; I’m sure others do too). This gives a great intensity of colour and the closest approximation to what you actually see on the screen. As a dabbling amateur, I find buying great paper like this is more important – and much cheaper – than buying a world-class printer.
A final word on graphics; most of my pictures and graphics are ‘homemade’, but if you’re in search of general inspiration then Pinterest is a great source; search for free printables or graphics and you’ll often find lists of resources that others have created. One other gem, particularly for those who like vintage ephemera, is the Graphics Fairy, which has a treasure trove of free-to-download goodies.
See you in a few days for more crafting and projects; have a great week, whatever you’re doing…