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:
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"