Subtle Patterns for Websites

Subtle Patterns has a collection of free high quality patterns for website backgrounds. The patterns are mostly monochromatic but you can add your own color overlay in Photoshop as desired. The best feature of this site: click the Preview button on any pattern and the pattern will test live—filling the page.

Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition at Nucleus Gallery

Yes, I am a Harry Potter fan. I saw this Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition at the Nucleus Art Gallery and couldn't help choosing my favorite pieces.

I Open at the Close

Whomping Willow

J'ai Deux Amours (painting of Luna)

Hermione Reading

Dreaming Cow Yogurt Packaging

I like the simplicity, elegance and cute illustrations on this Dreaming Cow Yogurt packaging. And I absolutely love the "new zealand style artisan yogurt" text font (which What the Font tells me is Coquette).

How to Generate a QR Code

If you don't know what QR code or if you've seen these around but don't know what they were called, here is a good description from wiki:

A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera telephones. ... The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data.

Here's how to generate a QR code:

  1. Open your web browser and navigate to your favorite QR code generating website. This free QR code generating site from Kerem Erkan came highly recommended. The better sites will allow you to create the file in vector .eps format—definitely preferred!

  2. Select a Code Action which will most likely be "Browse to a Website" but there's a whole drop down menu of options.

  3. Select Code Type: QR Code

  4. Select Output Type: Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) (vector data is preferred because it's crisp at any size)

  5. I left the defaults for the rest. URL Shortening: None, Error Correction Level: Low, Block Size in Pixels: 10, Margin Size in Blocks: 1, Foreground Color: #000000, Background Color: #FFFFFF, Transparent boxes unchecked

  6. Click the Generate Code button and the file will automatically begin downloading

  7. Insert the code into your Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator document. QR codes will be hard to read at sizes smaller than .59 inches (15 mm). A good standard QR code size is around 1 inch or 25-30 mm.

My Work: Purple Dandelion Card

This purple dandelion card art has been in my imagination for a long time. I finally put mouse to canvas.

Photoshop Smart Object Stacking

There's always another layer to discover in Photoshop! I hadn't used Smart Object stacking before and was recently introduced to it at a conference. The stacking modes have mysterious terms like Entrophy, Kurtosis and Summation (Read Adobe's technical explanation of stacking modes here).

Some of the practical applications of Smart Object stacking:

  • If you take multiple photos of the same road or fountain and then use stacking mode Median, you can remove moving objects like cars and people (layers must be aligned first)

  • If you take photos of the same room with different light sources use the stacking mode Maximum to combine the light of all of these sources (layers must be aligned first)

How to use Smart Object stacking:

  1. Open a new document in Photoshop. Drag in at least 2 images. Select the images in the Layers panel, right click and Convert to Smart Object.

  2. Select Layer > Smart Objects > Stack Mode and choose a stacking mode.

  3. If you don't like the results, repeat the previous step to choose another option. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a keyboard shortcut or simpler way to access these options but you could always create custom keyboard shortcuts if you end up using this feature a lot.

I had fun playing around with these 2 photos and different stack modes as a creativity tool to see the different results.

Stacking mode: Summation

Stacking mode: Range

Stacking mode: Maximum

Note: Once something is converted to a Smart Object there is no way to ungroup it (at least that I could find in my research) and release all of the original layers (the way you can ungroup layers). To get back to the original contents, open the Smart Object and drag all the layers back into your document. Then delete the Smart Object.