Saturday, March 8, 2014

Uncharted territory

Today I'll be talking about a different kind of creating.  I've had no time to physically make anything because I've been writing the instructions for the brick stitch hands-on project I've been talking a lot about over the last few months.

When I was writing the Quadrille tutorial and discussed everything that goes into it, I said that I prefer to take photographs of each step and annotate them like this one:

That works great when you're only printing 10-20 at a time, but for the Loose Bead Society, we'll be printing well over 100 copies, and full-color copies are expensive.  Hands-on instructions for the society use charts, so charts I had to make.

My first chart-making experience was a few years ago when we did a cross-weave bracelet.  I used Paint (Steve laughs at me whenever I use Microsoft Paint, but I'm very comfortable with it), and it was very simple to do.  Unfortunately I needed more complex capabilities, so Paint was out.

A lot of designers use Word for their charts, so I tried that first.  I was able to get the first drawing done, but then I wanted to label the tail thread.  I could not find a way to add text to the drawing!  That seemed very weird.  I must be missing something, but I looked and looked.  If anyone knows how, please leave me a comment.

Kathy told me that she did her last diagram in Serif's DrawPlus Starter Edition.  It's free, so I figured I had nothing to lose.  After about a half an hour of fumbling around with the pen tool to try to get nice curved thread lines, Steve did what I wanted to do in about 5 seconds.  I did not take that very well.  He has been using this kind of "vector" graphics program for decades (yes, decades) and in those same decades I was manipulating graphics pixel-by-pixel in MS Paint.  And here I thought I was graphics savvy.

Here's my/our first diagram:

Steve was all set to draw my charts for me (because he would be quicker and because of my Fibromyalgia-fueled frustration level), but after a day or so of me ruminating about it (and sleeping a lot) I wanted to give it another go.  It went much smoother, and I was able to make all of the charts myself.  Yay!

One thing I didn't like about DrawPlus is that sometimes when I exported a graphic in a GIF format, there was shading inside the circles.  It didn't happen with every drawing or even every time I exported the same drawing.  I got around it by exporting to a JPG format.  I know it's because the insides of the circles aren't transparent, but there really should have been some consistency.  Since it's disconcerting to see diagrams on a purple background, I'm using the JPG version, which has no transparency.

The other thing to keep in mind if using DrawPlus is that sometimes the settings change for no reason.  If I'm drawing a line using the pen tool, I'd like the settings to stay what they were for the last one.  Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't.  It was the same with the DPI setting for exporting the graphics to GIF or JPG.  A few times it changed from 300 to the default, which was 96.

Here's another diagram:

And here's the last one, which is one of my favorites:

To see all the charts in between for how to make the earrings I've been showing you, you'll have to come to the LBS program!  (There's a $5 kit fee for guests, which is an excellent deal considering all you'll get.)

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