Well, that part is over…

Heavens! I cannot believe it. I have finally finished writing my Studio V6 tutorial. It really is huge. It is about 760 pages of written material plus indexes etc. At one stage I did wonder if I was ever going to get it finished. But now that the written tutorial is finished I feel quite a Lose Weight Exercise of my shoulders – nowhere else, mind you – but just off my shoulders. It will probably make me look a little lop-sided with Lose Weight Exercise off my shoulders, don’t you think? Oh dear – maybe I am going a little gaga making jokes like that! Maybe I need a holiday!

And speaking of holidays – I am off to the Gold Coast of Australia  next week with Philip for 8 days of sun and fun. He is taking me for my birthday….We are hiring bicycles (of course!!) and a car (for those more intensive shopping expeditions!). That will be fun. Especially after the cold weather that we are experiencing here in New Zealand at the moment. I might even get a chance to catch up with my friend Lyn Kenny from Kennys Kreations. I am sure most of you know her and her beautiful quilting and embroidery designs.  Hopefully she will have time to visit me – but I do know that she has a lot of things on her mind at the moment with all the excitement of her daughter Christine’s engagement.

When I return from Australia I will be starting the Studio video tutorials for the next version. I have been loathe to start the videos until I was confident that the Embird guys (the Balaras) had finished making visual changes to Studio. It is all very well when they make changes and I am doing the written tutorial as I can go back and make the changes to my written document.(Grumpily, I might add 🙂 ) But if they make changes and I have done the videos then I have to delete all the videos and start again. Not something that I really want to do, I can assure you. It has happened in the past and I have learnt the hard way not to make the videos until everything is “hunky dory”….

Font Engine and Embird text in Studio has some really great new features – one being that you do not have to start all over with the lettering if you change your mind. You can actually edit the text by selecting the text object and going to Edit Text Letters. Of course this means that you can change the font style in seconds if you do not like the first style that you chose. And you can type the first letter of a font style in the Font drop down box and Studio will zoom straight to that font – which saves you from scrolling through all the fonts that you have listed. There is so much more good stuff to come.

Now – did you know this? I am the only person (to my knowledge) in the English speaking world that does full written and video tutorials for all the Embird programs? Lots of people do small tutorials and lessons etc but I can lay claim to be being the only one who does them for all of the Embird programs. I know that’s “blowing my own trumpet” but I reckon that I am allowed to today seeing that I have just finished writing the Studio V6 tutorial!!  I am doing back-flips! Well – in my mind I am anyway – I don’t think that I could physically do back-flips…..

Now here are a couple of photos from a weekend we had at the family holiday home a few weeks ago.

I never seem to be able to get my two grandsons to look at the camera at the same time.

And then there was the photo I took of the view. Check out the lower left hand side. Look who is just appearing into the photo frame? He was climbing up a sand bank and I was standing near the top of it. I did not see Henry until I looked that the photos later. 🙂 Aren’t grandchildren lovely?

Until next time……

Oops – glitch after glitch…

At the moment my focus has been on my new Studio tutorial and yesterday I think I spoke too soon when I said that the new beta was looking good! I was wrong! Mine certainly doesn’t look that good after playing with it for a bit.

It can be extremely frustrating when you find an error in the program as you are never quite sure if it is something that you have done or it is a genuine error. Sometimes it can be a conflict with other software or even your computer – or even operator error. When I find a glitch I tend to close the program and start it again – and then try and replicate what I did just to be certain that it’s not me that has made a mistake.

Fortunately for the beta testers we do have a Yahoo group where you can report anything you find and then ask any of the other testers if they will check it on their computers as well. The errors that I have found (so far) I have reported to the group and these errors have also been discovered by some of the testers as well. In a way, that’s good news as it’s not just me.

But don’t hang your hat on a quick release of this program just yet! Not being a programmer I am not sure how long these problems will take to rectify.

Now – just for a change – on a Sfumato note – remember that the better quality and the clearer the image the better the result will be in Sfumato.Images and photos can be tweaked in programs such as iPhoto (for Mac users) and Picasso (Microsoft) or Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

When using photos or images in Sfumato you should not make your design (Hoop size setting) in Sfumato either too large or too small. Too small and the details in a design are hard for Sfumato to interpret and too large and Sfumato will take an age to generate the stitches.

I probably prefer a design size around 5×7 inches.

Interestingly enough I had a lady write to me the other day and ask my advice as to which photo embroidery program to use and the differences between them. She had seen some beautiful photo embroideries on a web-site and wanted to know which program had been used to create them. I looked at the web-site and saw that both PE Design Photo-Stitch had been used as well as Sfumato. To show this lady the difference between the two programs I did a very quick design in both programs (I teach for both programs) so that she could compare. Its not perfect, remember, as I just did it quickly…….

Here are the results.

This is the result from PE Design Photo-Stitch.

Photo-Stitch was quite quick and user-friendly as it semi guided you through the process. There is a choice of density, colors, color charts and more.The design generated the stitches very quickly. Photo-Stitch creates a scribbled typed effect to the stitching.

This is the result from Sfumato.

Sfumato was slower to use if you are not familiar with the program – but if you are familiar then there are far more choices as far as density, pattern and angle of fills are concerned. You can increase or decrease the density in a variety of areas and in the colors. Lots of choices and with knowledge of the program you can create fantastic designs. However if the design is on the large side then Sfumato is a little slow to generate the stitches. But as a plus for Sfumato the program gives you a far greater choice of the colors that are used in the design due to their masking command.

Here is the original photo that I took with my camera. The color differences between the two designs are just those that I chose when working on the image in each program and is not to be seen as a difference in the two programs. It was purely my color selections.

In the end I think it’s a personal choice as to which program you use – if you have them both or are considering any of them. It depends on the look that you wish to achieve.

I was equally happy with both programs for this image. What do you think?

Ouch that hurt

Well that is the polite version of what I said when I burnt myself on a lightbulb on my collar-bone!! Collarbone! How did you manage to burn yourself on your collarbone with a lightbulb, I hear you ask. Well – as with everything , there is a always a story behind it. I don’t like lamp shades on bed-side lights much as they cut down the light so I had removed the lampshade in order to be able to read better. Then, the other day our fast speed internet and phone was not working so I called Vodafone to report the error and they had me do a series of on-site checks for the phone etc before they would send out a service-man. Our internet connection is plugged in at floor level behind the bed-side cabinet. Of course it is very dark down behind the cabinet at 7pm in the evening so I turned on the bed-side lamp in order to see the modem and the connections. The Vodafone person asked me to pull out the connections at the wall and as I leant over the cabinet to get to the cords I accidentally rested on the lightbulb with my collarbone. Ouch! Words were said!

Here’s a photo of my collar-bone when the scar was almost healed.It was originally a circular burn – the perfect round shape of a light bulb top. And it hurt……

However the good news is that my internet is now fixed and life carries on. Oh, how we rely on the internet. Isn’t that a fact!

Talking about things that hurt – I was speaking to a good friend of mine the other day who is a top digitizer. She is quite upset as she has discovered that there are quite a lot of people sharing her and her daughters designs. She works very hard to create the designs – her daughter relies on her sales for a living – and for them to find that designs are being shared on any scale is very hurtful. Not only are her designs being shared but so is the work of  many other well known designers  So I ask you – please – if you know of this happening please do not participate or be involved and discourage others from doing so as well.

Think of the sharing like this – Imagine of you owned the local store where you currently purchase your everyday necessities. In this recession you are only just making ends meet – as many people are. Then one day a great group of people swarm into your store and steal as many things as they can carry. You cannot stop them from stealing the goods as they greatly outnumber you with their size and their power. But you are outraged and really upset as they have taken away your livelihood. This is repeated day after day until you – as the store owner – has no option but to close the doors of your store.

This is what is happening to our designers. They are closing their doors because of  sharing or – in regular terms – stealing. We wouldn’t do it to our local store owner – or any store owner for that matter , but why I wonder, does it seem okay to some people to take designs, software or tutorials from the internet?

Personally, I would hate for the designers to give up creating designs for us all to purchase. When I first began playing around with embroidery and purchased my  first embroidery machine – a Janome 9000 and the Scansoft software – I really struggled to understand what I was doing and how to use the software to create designs. Any designs that were for sale on the internet were few and far between and not even particularly good quality.And if you wanted to learn how to use a software program – forget it!! There was so little help available that it wasn’t even funny. You either taught yourself or you just bought designs on pre-programmed cards or downloaded free ones from sites like Ann the Gran.

Since those days a great many wonderful digitizers have arrived on the internet – as well as folk that write tutorials, of course 🙂 – and the embroidery designs today are generally of a wonderful standard – and so cheap to buy. Look at sites such as Secrets of Embroidery and Embroidery Library (to name a couple) and you will find high quality designs at really reasonable prices. And the choice is amazing. And help to learn software programs is everywhere. I don’t want to go back to the days with no help available for anyone and limited choices of designs either – but it will happen in time if we don’t treat our digitisers with respect and honesty.

I am not usually a “soap-box” person but it has really bothered me to see a good friend ripped off in such a way.Let’s be fair to others and respect the fact that designers etc have to make a living too.

Okay – I am now off my soap-box.

And the latest news on Embird is that we have just downloaded the latest beta and are testing it once more. I have a feeling that this might be the last beta version of Embird as it feels as if everything in it is pretty much ready to go. But don’t get too excited as I have been known to be wrong ( just ask my hubby 🙂 ) but something about this version just feels right. My tutorial is almost finished (thank goodness) and then there’s just the videos to go. (Just!! – I say!!) I now have to also go back through the tutorial once more and change a number of screenshots due to additions to the program – but I am used to doing that as I have done it a number of times already. You will love the new auto-outline feature, I am sure. The program will be worth the wait.

BTW, I invite any comments so if you wish to have your say on this blog posting or any of my others then feel free to do so.

A day out on the town – well almost!

As a great number of you know I live in Auckland, New Zealand. Apart from being a very keen Embird fan I also greatly enjoy my sport. In December 2009 I “ran” the Honolulu Marathon with my family after training for a whole year. When I was training some days were good and some not so good – like running is -but I stuck at it and finally got my goal – the Finishers T-Shirt!  The only disappointment for me was that I was 59 1/2 years old so could not enter as a 60 year old.

Now I have retired from any event that has an “athon” at the end of the name. But that’s not to say that I am not doing anything. I have a new love – cycling! After a trip to the Netherlands last year – where we road every day for approximately 50kms a day – I have discovered a love of old fashioned bikes. You know the ones – the type that we used to ride to school. We sat upright and just pedalled. It is so easy compared to those bikes where you bend over and ride. And anyway I hate lycra tights. I am definitely of the “anti-lycra” brigade.

Recently, on a beautiful autumn day my hubby suggested that to have a break from the Studio tutorial, that we go and explore the Waitakere City (where I live) bicycle trails.  What fun we had! I was only expecting to ride about 10kms down to our motorway (freeway) and back. But when we got to the motorway Philip suggested that we carry on and ride down the side of the motorway on the cycleway. Of course it is fenced off from the traffic by a 10 foot high mesh fence. So, I agreed and we rode to a motorway overhead bridge at Point Chevalier.

I expected to turn around and go back from there but he said “let’s ride down and look at the new cycle way extension that was opened last week”. Not to be a party pooper I agreed. But I did think that by the time I got home again it was going to be quite a distance. Ah – but what fun. The trip from the overhead bridge went down the side of a Golf Course and alongside the motorway (still). It gave me a great sense of freedom to be riding along on a bicycle watching all those people cooped up in their cars.

We got to the end of the cycleway and stopped for a breather, a drink – and a photo to prove that we had been there. In the background of the photo is our Sky Tower which is in Auckland City.

Then we hopped onto our bikes and rode home again. The trip was about 40kms long and it was a really beautiful Autumn day.  All in all we had to ride on a “real road” for about 1 km. A big bouquet to the Cycle Paths and the Cycle Trails in both Auckland and Waitakere City. A fabulous and so safe day out. I really enjoyed my day and had a wonderful time cycling along with Philip.

Then it was back to my Studio tutorial – with ever so slightly creaky legs the next day.

They say that you learn something new every day!

Well, that is certainly true today. It just goes to show that no matter how long you have a program or how many times you use it  there is always something that pops up every now and then and you find yourself saying “I didn’t know you could do that”. Now that’s not saying that you all didn’t know this already or even that this could have been in the program for ages – but to me – I have just discovered it.
Today – while still plodding through my Studio Version 6 tutorial – I discovered that I could go to the Color Box in Studio and drag and drop one color from the Color Box onto another color and replace that color with the one I had moved – in effect creating two colors in the same shade.

Now – you might ask – why would I want to do that?

Here’s what I was doing when I found this out. I was writing a new lesson for my tutorial (and there are many new lessons written) and I wanted to add outlines to the dress that I was digitising.

I wanted the outlines to be in the same color tones as the dress but just a tad darker so that the outlines would stand out. If you double click on a color in the Color Box and the Color screen opens you can change that existing color  to a different color.

However if you do this  then all objects that have been created in the existing Studio color will change to that new color. I didn’t want that to happen as I wanted to retain the original color but add another color in the same tones – but just a little darker so that the outline would match but just be a wee bit darker.

So now I have two colors exactly the same in the Color Box. By double clicking on one of them I get the Colors screen. Then if I move the slider on the right side up or down the Color shade I can increase or decrease the tone of that color. I made mine darker and clicked OK. Then in the Studio Color Box I had two colors in the same tonings but one was a little darker than the other. I then repeated this for as many colors as I wanted.

I used one of the new colors by dragging it onto my outlines and the original color remained in the dress.



All you need to do now is go to Design on the Menu Bar and choose Save Color Palette As.

Save it in your preferred folder. When you wish to use it again just go to Design/Load Color Palette and it will appear in Studio ready to use.

Now go on – tell me that you have known this for ages!! Oh well, it was something that I had not used before. I haven’t always been too concerned about personalising my own colors so this could be why it has taken me so long to getting around to using this feature. As needs must, eh?

The good news is that there is lot’s of other new things to come in Studio as well. And the outlines are pure magic!

Good night…..