Photography and Radial Gradients

There we photo of iriswere, cameras pressed to our faces, crouched over a clay pot of Impatients, and giggling like a couple of school girls. Hubby and I were across the lake visiting my friend and fellow artist/photographer and her family at their cabin for the evening. While the other grown-ups were doing what grown-ups do, we were experimenting with our various lenses and tele extenders. I’ve been looking for something that will give me the capability to photograph flowers and other small things for a fraction of the cost of a macro lens. We left the potted flowers and continued our informal photography session, searching the yard for a flower here, a bug there…. anything tiny that caught our attention.  I laughed as I saw my friend prone on the ground, her green and white sundress camouflaging her into the surroundings, with her face pressed into the camera an inch above the ground.  She had discovered minute wild flowers growing at the edge of the cabin’s foundation.  As I chuckled to see this young woman exploring nature with the wonder of a child, I fully understood her appreciation for the beauty found in these tiny creations. I decided I must take the time to do this more often!

illustration of camera

Photographing living things not only gives me beautiful photos to enjoy, it also inspires me to draw.  Photography has taught me to really look at what I see, and this helps me when I am creating an illustration.  One of the things that I have learned is how lighting affects color. Gradients are often used in drawing to illustrate this. I’ve been experimenting more with gradients in Inkscape after watching a great tutorial at the Little Web Hut.  If you’d like to practice this, I have placed a tutorial here that will walk you through the use of radial gradients to draw an illustration of a camera lens like the one shown here.

Happy drawing!


The Open Clipart Library… and Celebrating Freedom

Photo of beach with American FlagSince it’s Independence Day here in the good ‘ole U.S. of A, and we’re celebrating freedom, I thought I’d mention some free stuff.  Anyone who’s been following my blog knows I love Inkscape, which of course is free.  There is also another freebie out there that I want to make sure you know about.  If you haven’t used the Open Clipart Library yet, it’s time to check it out.  Not only is the clipart free, but it is in the Public Domain, meaning you are free to use it however you like. People like me, contribute vector clipart to the library just for the fun of it so that others can use it.  I like to see all the cool things that people think to draw.  Because they are all vector illustrations, the clipart can be opened and edited as SVGs if you are interested in doing that.  Or…. they can be downloaded as PNGs to use online…. or anywhere else you’d like.  Those of you that like to draw might have fun contributing like I do.  (You can see what I’ve uploaded by clicking here.  My username is Laurianne.)

The Open Clipart Library occasionally has contests as well.  I like contests because they are a challenge and they motivate me to work at improving my drawing skills.  I recently entered a contest to create a logo for the Doudou Linux project.  Doudou Linux is an OS for kids that is definitely worth looking at if you have kidos…. and yup, it’s free.  I am super excited that two of my entries for the contest ended up in the top 10!  The developers will now narrow it down to 3, and then will choose the winner.  There are some really talented artists that contribute to the site, so I don’t expect I’ll win… but I figure it’s worth a try.

I’d really like to know what you think about the Open Clipart Library.  Please leave a comment and let me know if you’ve used it, and if so how.  Do you download, contribute, or what?

Note:  The picture above was created using two photos I took this weekend. The technique I used was similar to that in my tutorial titled “Using Inkscape’s Clip Feature to Edit a Photo”.  After setting the clip, I layered the flag photo on top and reduced the opacity.  The frame is just a rectangle sent to the bottom.  I then layered the text on the top and grouped the whole thing. Give it a try if you like and let me know how it turned out!

Happy drawing!


Gradients, Alignment, and cool stuff like that… More Keys to using Inkscape

One of the keys to making things look a little more realistic when drawing in Inkscape is using Gradients. Gradients add dimension to your drawing and the appearance of more natural lighting. (I have much to learn when it comes to using this function effectively, and I plan to explore it further… so stay tuned!)  I use simple Gradients frequently in my drawings to “spruce them up” a bit. Take a look at the image below and you’ll see that I’ve added a Gradient layer to each of the keys.

illustration of keys hanging on hook

Click here to see my latest tutorial. It will take you step by step through the process of drawing an image of a key. In addition to applying Gradients, you’ll practice using the Alignment feature, which is something I use A LOT!

Happy drawing!


Independence Day

drawing of boy with american flagHere in the U.S.A. we are celebrating a very special holiday this weekend.  It is our Independence Day…. a time to celebrate our families, our nation, and our freedoms.  It’s also a time to reflect on the sacrifice others have given so that we can have these freedoms.

In honor of this special holiday, the little guy in this Inkscape drawing is waving his flag proudly.

It took me awhile to create the star portion of the flag.  I used the Align and Distribute box to space them, but it was pretty time consuming.  Then I decided to try Tiled Clones.  I remembered reading a tutorial for this on the Inkscape Cutting Design forum.  I wasn’t able to locate the tutorial I thought I’d seen, but did remember enough to figure it out on my own. Later today I’ll post a short tutorial to show how I did it.

Happy Drawing…. and for my fellow Americans…. Happy 4th of July!