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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #726: The Importance of a Good Presentation

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-08-2012 12:23 PM 882 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 725: Printers, Patterns and Photoshop Part 726 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 727: One Step at a Time »

While many of us do our crafts for pleasure, there seems to be an equal amount of people that sell our finished items on Etsy or Ebay or somewhere online. Even many of you who don’t sell your items still like to show them off on the many forums that are online. That is part of what social networking is all about and a large part of why we are all here.

As a pattern designer, I also find that there is a great deal of importance on how my designs are presented in my patterns. After all, I could have the best design in the world and if I don’t have a good clear pictures of it, it won’t catch people’s eye and I won’t sell many. It took me a while to understand the importance of presenting good pictures of your projects and how much it can impact sales on both patterns and finished items. After all, if people can’t clearly see what you are offering, why would they want to invest in it?

Because of this, a significant part of designing woodworking and painting patterns is learning at least basic photography skills and also learning at least one basic photography software program in which you can improve and enhance your photographs to give the best presentation of what you have to offer.

This week, I have been working on creating the pattern packets for the two new ornament sets that I recently designed. As with my scroll sawing patterns, I found that providing several step by step photographs in the patterns is extremely helpful in explaining the process. While some may have a lot of experience, there are always people who are new and trying to stretch their limits a bit and having patterns that thoroughly explain the process can be really important in helping them accomplish that. And let’s face it – the more complete the pattern is, the easier it is to follow and the happier the customer will be.

When making painting pattern packets, I like to provide several step by step pictures for each piece. Painting projects usually consist of many layers of color, and while the final piece can appear to be very complex, when broken down layer by layer the process isn’t so intimidating. In fact it is rather easy.

Part of the teaching process that I present in the patterns is to look at the parts of the project, not the whole. While many people can be put off by seeing the final piece, when they see it broken down into steps, it doesn’t look so frightening and they feel like they can accomplish it.

Following is a link to one of the complex paintings that I made a couple of years ago. I don’t offer a pattern for this painting, but I wanted to take step-by-step pictures along the way so that I would have a record of the process:

http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com/painting-home/cheetah-painting

You can see that by showing these small steps, it helps people better understand how we got from point ‘A’ to point ‘Z’. It is much easier when writing instructions to break down the process into smaller and easier to digest pieces of information, and taking several pictures certainly does help.

The trick with presenting a painting pattern in this manner is consistency. It is very important the steps have the same lighting, look and basic formula so that the progressions are easy to see. The problem with this is that if the pictures are taking with different lighting or from different distances or settings, it can change things up and make it difficult for others to follow along and really see the differences in the steps. That is where the scanner comes in handy.

Especially when I am doing smaller items like these ornaments. It makes a wonderful controlled environment that will take consistent images no matter what time of day or if it is sunny or cloudy or whatever. I find it is the best way to document the process for this type of pattern and makes the process of making the patterns go easiest.

My scanner isn’t very fancy. It is a Canon MP480 all in one that I only use for the scanning option. I find that scanning anything over 300 dpi is overkill, as the higher the resolution, the larger the file. Since I am not outputting large poster sized pictures, the 300 dpi is more than adequate for showing detail and the images come up crystal clear. Here is an example of a progression for one of the ornaments:

First I base coated the colors in (blocked in the base colors)

Then I added the shades:

Finally I added the details and line work and final highlights:

When seeing this broken down into these steps, it really helps clarify the process and helps people see that this is something that they can accomplish.

I realize that these are not always necessary for all patterns, but since I am gearing this line of patterns that I am making toward any level of painter, I think it helps even the very beginner to be successful in making the design. Once those basic skills are learned, they can be applied to other projects. Before they know it, it becomes second nature.

I suppose that I wanted to explain this part of my designing process because it naturally adds to the time it takes to create a pattern. When I started out, I only used to document the steps of the process for the projects that I created for the magazine. But I have long ago learned that when I am designing just about any new scroll sawing pattern, I take pictures all along the way whether I am designing for the magazine or not. While I do not use step by step pictures in every single new scroll saw pattern that I create, most of them do have photographs to assist me in explaining the process. Since many people are able to download patterns to view on their computer, it costs nothing to include extra pictures in the patterns, and if there aren’t any, I do offer videos and free articles on the site which explain the processes clearly. It has proven to be a great asset and has also helped by bringing new people into the crafts – both painting and scroll sawing.

I hope this information was helpful to some of you. I have a lot of friends who are looking to design patterns and I think that this is an important part of the process that should be included in many instances in patterns. If there is interest, I can further explain some of the other things that I do with scanning and photography that make a better presentation for your patterns and also for your projects in general. Just let me know if you are interested.

I finished the first set of stocking ornaments yesterday and now I will be on to the packages. I hope to get these on the road by Monday or Tuesday the latest, and that not only includes painting the pieces, but also creating the packets and assembling the 35+ photographs that each pattern will contain. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will make the patterns something that I am really proud of.

For the first time this week the sun is shining and it is nice and warm out. Summer has returned. While it makes it for a nice day, it also makes me want to go outside more! It is easy to stay in and focus when it is cold an rainy out. But now the sun is calling . . . calling . . . calling . . .

Oh heck! I will have my beach time soon. Just not this weekend! I hope you all have a good day today. It’s Friday already. I can smell the bar-b-que already! ;)

Have a great one!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



7 comments so far

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

860 posts in 1606 days


#1 posted 06-08-2012 12:43 PM

One great blog. This is something I struggle on. As I cut a pattern I am in a hurry for the finished product. Sometimes I skip a step and it shows, atleast to me. I work on my projects in small steps trying to keep up with the rest of my responsibilities. Sometimes they are three to four hour time slots, sometimes much less. I need to learn to stay focus over the long term of each project.

A great scroller puts his (her) blade where others dare not to go.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7833 posts in 1641 days


#2 posted 06-08-2012 12:51 PM

That is really common when doing a project that is more involved, Jerrell. I think we all do the same from time to time (hurry to the end!) and many times we regret it. I try to think of each part as a ‘mini-project.’ This way I take small steps and can feel accomplished when I complete each step of the way and not have to wait until the finish line to pat myself on the back. When I get tired, I stop and do something else (unless things are REALLY pressing and I have absolutely no choice!) There are so many creative things I can do, that it is usually easy to switch gears and get away from the saw and onto something else (computer work, making dinner, etc) Sometimes even a small break does wonders.

It is all part of the learning process though. That is part of the fun! Remember to enjoy the journey as much as you do reaching the destination.

Have a wonderful Friday! :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6686 posts in 2701 days


#3 posted 06-08-2012 12:57 PM

Hi Sheila;

It’s funny how for some people it’s so important to do things right. To you, having a pattern, along with step by step instructions, along with 35 photo’s is what’s required to do it right. Any then for others, that is complete overkill. Totally unnecessary.

I have clients tell me they would like a lower cost solution to a project. That it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just try to make it look good. I simply don’t know how to do that. Either we do it 100%, or we don’t do it. There is no middle of the road. I do explain to some clients, doing a quick and dirty fix is a whole different trade, and I just don’t know how to do that. It’s the truth. Some guys can get something done in half the time it takes us to do it, and at half the price. Of course the end result is quite different, and is not a permanant fix, but it will pacify the client.

I actually had a potential client, a doctor, call me. His architect supplied several contractors with a set of drawings for his private residence, which he wanted renovated. All 3 bids, including mine were over $700,000. The doctor wanted to know if I could build something that looked like the drawings, but would only cost $200,000.

To some people, price is everything. I see that on this site. There was a post not long ago, where a shop full of powermatic tools was being sold. The guy was going out of business. One of the posts suggested had this company bought HF tools, they would likely still be in business, since they would have saved so much money on equipment. I wanted to scream when I read that. Do people really believe they make the same quality tools, for 70% less money? Anything above that price point is frivolous, and should be considered a waste of funds?

If this were really the case, you could use a coping saw, intead of you scroll saw. Think of the money you would have saved. Talk about penny wise and pound foolish.

Oh well, I don’t know how I went off on that rant.

I’m going to go fire up some of my over priced tools and get something done. LOL

Have a good day.

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7833 posts in 1641 days


#4 posted 06-08-2012 01:09 PM

Yes, Lee – I hear you loud and clear! I can totally relate to what you said. It makes the difference of being mediocre along with the masses, or having something to offer that is “the best.” If I were going to do my job half-assed, I have no business doing it at all. At least that is how I feel about it.

In the beginning, even Keith asked me why I needed to repaint these pieces. But the first time around, when I was in the process of designing them, I didn’t know how they would come out or which direction I was going in. If I would have taken scans along the way, it would have probably been a huge waste of my time. I tweaked things a bit the second time around and in looking at the two sets, the second one is much better than the first. I am proud to put my name on the pattern and feel really GOOD about it.

Yes, it takes more time and I don’t put out 500 patterns a year, but the ones I do put out are of the quality people have come to expect from me and Keith. Nothing less. THAT will keep our business going and growing in this questionable economic climate. There are lots of free patterns out there for scrolling and painting, but to me it is like comparing apples and oranges. You get what you pay for. Penny wise and pound foolish is a perfect analogy. Quality can’t be skimped on. Period.

Thanks for the story. I am sure others can relate to it too!

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Roger's profile (online now)

Roger

15051 posts in 1525 days


#5 posted 06-09-2012 02:52 AM

Holy moly! That Cheetah came to life.. You are just amazing Sheila! Don’t ever stop

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View Druid's profile

Druid

670 posts in 1517 days


#6 posted 06-09-2012 06:18 AM

I’ve just finished reading your “Importance of a Good Presentation” for the second time, and I’ve made sure that I have saved a Word version for future reference so I can share it with other carvers. That’s a gem of advice that needs to be available to woodworkers who are trying to get their work known. Regardless of whether or not any of us are printing instructions, your method is a very helpful step that all of us can follow just to ensure that we clearly plan and understand each project as we start it. Thanks for sharing it.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7833 posts in 1641 days


#7 posted 06-09-2012 10:29 AM

I am glad it was helpful to you. Sometimes when I seem to take so long to create a pattern, I need to look at myself and evaluate what is taking so much time. One thing that painting has taught me (about many things) is that it is far easier to look at the parts than the finished project. Small steps are easy to comprehend and digest. Looking at everything together can be very overwhelming. Over the years, I have learned to apply this thought process to many other things in my life. You would be amazed at how looking at things in a different way can be helpful. Especially when you are feeling overwhelmed. Thank you for the comments and thank you for the PM too. I appreciate your input a lot and I certainly value you friendship. :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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