Archive | December 2011

Creating new Shapes

Photoshop Shapes.

I must admit – I’m a bit proud of myself. Photoshop has got loads of shapes, and there are also loads and loads of shapes on the net which you can download for free. But I wanted to be able to make my own shapes, and so I spent the whole morning trying to do that. It took me some hours and some time watching various tutorials on YouTube, and then I knew how to do it. Of course, the hearts which you can see above, are original photoshop shapes. But the flowers aren’t – they are my first shapes.

I did the flower in Inkscape, because in Inkscape you can use the pen tool far easier than you (at least me) can do it in Photoshop. But then there is one problem: how to get them from Inkscape into Photoshop? With Illustrator and photoshop it is very easy: You just copy and past the shape. But Photoshop does not do that with Inkscape. Grrr! What to do?

After some hours of trail and error and watching YouTube tutorials I was successful. In case anybody of you is interested in the way of doing it, here is the solution:

  1. Open the inkscape file. Save it as eps.
  2. Open a new photoshop file. Place the eps.
  3. Take the magic eraser and delete all white space.
  4. Select the item which you want to become a shape.
  5. Colour it black.
  6. Go to paths and click “create work path”
  7. Save as shape.
  8. That’s it!



Hearts pattern. Created with photoshop, December 2011, Ulla Hennig

For a few days I’ve been having a “photoshop shapes” phase. With shapes in Photoshop you can create very nice vector patterns. Photoshop provides a lot of shapes (among them the heart, as it is used in the pattern above). You can however create additional shapes with the pen tool, as I did in the above example as well. I had to get used to doing it in a slightly different way than in my vector program, Inkscape.

The pattern above is a work in progress. I’m not altogether sure about the colours, and I am also not quite decided whether to add two additional triangles on the lower side of the big heart. The important thing here is that I learnt how to do it.

And I learnt another thing: That it can be quite interesting to sit down and draw patterns with pencil and paper, and come back to photoshop and try to create them digitally. Actually I’ve got some scribbles which I’d like to convert to a digital pattern…

Merry Christmas!

Less than two days, and it will be Christmas Eve. Here in Germany, gifts are given on Christmas Eve (The German word for it is “Heiligabend” – the Holy Evening/Night.). The shops close at 2pm, and usually you can see many people rushing through the stores in order to get last minute presents. The 25th and the 26th are holidays, and the shops have closed.

Whereas last year we had loads of snow in Berlin, this year the weather is rather mild. On the one side there’s something beautiful in the earth being covered by snow on a Christmas night, but on the other hand here in Berlin the snow very quickly becomes muddy and sloshy, and when it is below freezing point you’ll get the streets and boardwalks covered with ice. Last December we had many people who slipped and broke arms and legs, and that’s something I am not very keen on. So on the whole I prefer the current mild weather.

I wish you, my dear readers, a Merry Christmas wherever you may be. Have a great time with your families, relax, enjoy the company of your dear ones!

Exotic blossom

Exotic blossom. Digital painting. Ulla Hennig, December 2011

This is nothing but an exercise with my graphic tablet – just in order to practice using various brushes, the smudge tool and drawing lines with the pen.

The Kindle

Two days ago I gave myself a very early Christmas present and bought the new Kindle. I have been following discussions and reports about e-readers for quite a while. I am a “heavy” reader, and I devour my books very fast. That doesn’t matter as long as I drag my books into my flat like a wolf drags its prey into its lair and read them at home. From time to time I have to go through my shelves and weed them out in order to get room for new books.

But: My reading speed is a problem when I go on holidays. I take one book with me on the way to my destination and come back with at least two or three because otherwise I would have been terrribly bored in the time between.

I also like to spend some time in nice cafés, drinking a cup of capucchino or latte macchiato and having a read. In this case I have to take one of my bigger handbags, simply to be able to carry the book I am reading.

So I could not resist when I passed a shop on Friday which sells the Kindle for 99 Euro. I took it home with me and on Saturday I charged the battery – which took a shorter time than I expected. Now I had to register with Amazon. I have internet access at home, but no Wi-Fi. So on Sunday I had to look for a place with Wi-Fi. I found one. As the 99 Euro Kindle has got no touchscreen the registration was a bit time consuming but in the end I successfully registered and downloaded a sample of an e-book.

I read the first chapter of the sample, and I can say that I was drawn into the story in the same way as with a “normal” book. I am glad that I bought the Kindle, and I am looking forward to further e-reading.

Drawing with Pens

As some of you may know, I’ve registered with Drawing  Tutorials Online at the beginning of November. I’ve done one landscape drawn with pencils in the meantime, and a few done with pens. If you are a follower of this blog you will have seen them because I am presenting my drawings here on this blog as well.

It seems that I have found my favorite drawing tool. It is the pen – be it a ballpoint pen or one of those “fineliners” normally used in technical drawing. Because today the last of my pen drawings – a poppy – got a quite good critique over at Drawing Online Tutorials. Of course I am happy (who wouldn’t be?) but the important thing is: I know what to focus on. There are differences between how you draw with pencils and how you do it with a pen, and it will be a challenge to find out how to “translate” pencil drawings and pencil drawing tutorials into pen drawings. I am definitely looking forward to it!

My experiences with Time Scheduling

For the last two weeks I scheduled my activities on the weekend, beginning with Friday after work and ending with Sunday. That is, I divided my free time up into blocks – for my creative activities, for blogging, for doing my shopping, for doing my household chores and for leisure activities.

Here are my experiences

  1. Time is limited. That sounds banal, but before that I always thought “Wow, now comes the weekend and I’ll have loads of time.” At the end of the weekend I was disappointed how fast the time went and how many things I could not do. Now, with going through the day, hour for hour, I realized that time was limited.
  2. Focus, focus, focus! I now focus on household chores on my Saturday mornings, and I really have the feeling that I can get a lot of things done between 11 and 1.30 pm. No internet after breakfast, like I had been doing many weekends and then suddenly noticed that the time had come to get something to eat, and then: who wants to swipe floors after lunch?
  3. Leisure time is necessary! Well, there is a difference between photoshopping and blogging and reading a history novel. I noticed that I had spent many weeks without looking into a fiction book or a journal, and I missed that. Now I schedule my reading time and enjoy it very much.
  4. There is always an exception to the rule. I must admit that I don’t always follow the schedules. But I do this consciously, and I know the consequences, and I am not disappointed afterwards.

Mind you, I am not saying that everybody has to schedule his or her free time. I am only describing why it has become necessary for me!


Purple Spirals

Purple spirals. Inkscape. Ulla Hennig, December 2011

I did this quite some days ago, in between coming home from work and doing some household chores. I used the design on Zazzle as well. Just now I tried to change it a bit, tried to move the spirals around, to resize them and to change the colours. Nothing worked. This makes me think about the way I create art – sometimes I just play around for a quarter of an hour and voila – I’ve got something I am mostly satisfied with. Sometimes I have a vague idea and try to put it into practice – with no satisfying result so ever. Hmph.


Leaves. Digital painting. Ulla Hennig December 2011

It took a while but now I am really having fun with the tablet. I think that doing quite a lot of traditional drawings made it easier for me to handle the tablet, and I am fascinated by the way I can change the colour, erase lines, mix colours and so on.

Trees talking to each other

Trees talking to each other. Watercolour painting, December 2011

For a long time watercolours and me weren’t good friends. Or, to say it clearer: I was afraid of them, afraid of not being able to “control” them. Somehow however I changed my mind a bit during the last weeks, and this resulted in buying a nice little Schmincke watercolour set with pans.

And then yesterday, I suddenly felt the desire to try them out. I had no image in my mind and thus no pencil sketch. I just dipped my brush into the colour brown and drew it across the paper, being curious where all this might end. Then there was a tree, and it definitely looked lonesome, so I added another one and tried to make them look like talking to each other.

For three quarters of an hour I disappeared into the world of watercolours, listening to the radio, but also not listening. I felt a deep sense of suspense and relaxation at the same time. And I definitely will continue to explore this foreign world and make it my own!