Category Archives for "Technique"

Mar 22

Vector Watercolor

Vector-Watercolor-Joy 1

After working for so many years in Photoshop the one thing I still haven’t grown accustomed to in Illustrator is the tightness of paths. I’ve tried so many techniques to make the paths look more painterly by using masks, filters, and shapes that mimic the rough and painterly surface I’m trying to achieve, but all in all I find ai limiting for some of those types of projects. It’s frustrating and I often find myself wanting to switch back over to psd for those jobs. Then I see artists truly mastering the painterly look in Illustrator, and getting the easy scaleability ai offers, and I’m inspired to keep trying.  

Flash forward – I have been trying to come up with a good vector watercolor technique for a project I’m working on and I came across this one and I wanted to share it with you.  It’s by John Sullivan of Pixel Moshpit and It’s fantastic.  I also purchased his brush and symbol pack, which I highly recommend.  I’m still working on my technique but for now I’m enjoying the process. Hopefully this will help those of you out there like me who are wanting to have the benefit of vector flexibility with a watercolor look! Have fun :0)

Pixel Moshpit 

Happy Painting!




Jan 15

A Cure for the New Year’s Artist Block

Inspiration-KPDIf you’re like me, every January I am fired up to get the new year started but find myself feeling a little sluggish creatively (I blame it on the sugar). It’s frustrating and always seems to take me a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things. To help me get my mojo moving (and I do this throughout the year as these little blocks occur) I’ve adopted a habit of surfing my  favorite freebie tutorial sites and randomly picking a project/technique to learn. This year I am working on challenging myself with some vintage script and lettering looks. While I was looking up fun exercises I came across a resource that I never knew existed – the New York Public Library Digital Collections! I am SO incredibly inspired by it and wanted to make sure to share the link with you! These images are all public domain so you can have fun with these worry-free!

NYPL Collections


Another place for amazing eye-candy inspiration is the Library of Congress WPA website “Works Projects Administration” (originally the “Works Progress Administration”) where you can find a collection of posters created to promote the various supported WPA programs. The inspiration you will get here is limitless! Enjoy the ride – be warned, however, it’s a bit of a time suck because going through the WPA and the New York Public Library files is addicting.

WPA Posters


Last, here are links to a couple of my favorite tutorial sites:

Digital Arts Online

Design Cuts

Happy Inspiration my friends!


Mar 12

Link Love – Need some amazing Fonts or Graphics?

I can’t say enough about my new obsession – Design Cuts, a UK based group of graphics gurus offering up technique tutorials, inspiration, and crazy good deals on designer packages of fonts, patterns, brushes, etc… It’s like Disneyland for artists!  

I have been looking for new fonts lately and came across their current deal 22 Best Selling Gorgeous Fonts (only a few more days left to purchase this bundle). The fonts are amazing and all have a single user license upon purchase to use commercially! Even better is the INSANE price! This bundle alone has a value of $1,651, but you can get it for …..

….. (wait for it) …..


I’m not kidding!  That’s how Design Cuts works!  Check it out for yourself.


Also, I want to give my new friends over at Retro Vectors and Retro Picts some link love! These two websites contain a collection of professionally prepared and organized royalty free graphics and photos that I was introduced to via Design Cuts. If you’re ever needing an image or photo to enhance a project – this is the place to go! It is so fantastic what they offer, and all for free!  Gotta love that!  That being said, because the amazing folks at Retro Vectors/Picts are working artists as well, their time is valuable so don’t forget to donate to their “Tip Jar”.  It’s wonderful what they do!


Wishing you loads of happy creating!



Dec 01

It’s an Indigo Christmas!


Over the summer I was reading Issue 22 of my favorite magazine, Uppercase, and became utterly entranced with Indigo dyeing and I set out to learn as much as I could.  Lucky for me there have been many centuries of experts sharing their wealth of knowledge, and modern-day masters who are kind enough to post videos online. At this stage of my learning I am at the skill level of a kindergartner, but on my bucket list now is to become skilled at the art of the Shibori technique (see video at the end of this post!).  Even though I’m definitely an Indigo novice, I had a blast making Christmas gifts this year (SPOILER ALERT – to my family and friends reading this post).

There is so much to learn about dyeing with Indigo,  and I don’t want to bore you with too much detail, but below are some tips I picked up through my experience. Hopefully they help you out too:


* Allow 2 full days in a row to dye (you can’t rush Indigo dyeing). There is a lot of prep and set up involved and for best results you want to make sure you’re not rushed.

* Plan to dye a lot of pieces.  You’re going to have a huge Vat of dye to work with and once you get going you’re not going to want to stop. Also, make sure that you prewash everything you plan to dye (don’t cheat on this step – the desired end result really depends on working with clean and sizing-free fabric).

* Read cover to cover the information booklet and instructions/tips paperwork provided in the Indigo dye kit.  I must confess that I often skim or overlook small print paperwork, but in this case I didn’t and I’m SO grateful for that! There is so much valuable information to learn and tips on how to avoid huge messes or mistakes.

* Find a corner of your yard or an  open area to work in (if possible don’t do your dyeing inside your house).  I watched one tutorial from a woman who lives in an apartment and did her dyeing in her bathtub.  That is definitely possible, but I am afraid the dye would permanently stain my tub, so if possible do your dyeing outside.  Also, take the time to fully set up your work areas before you dive into actually dying. Set up a table for a tying area and tarps on the ground where you plan to do your dyeing. I also set up my camping clothesline across the back of my yard to hang all the pieces to oxidize. SIDE NOTE: The clothesline I used is now stained and I think I’m going to have to purchase a new one before we go camping again so I don’t have any indigo residual getting on our clothing. Nothing will go to waste, however, because I plan to store this clothesline, as well as the clothespins used, for the next time I dye with Indigo.

* Don’t use the gloves the kit provides (they’re too thin and tear easily) – I had the blue finger for a week to attest to that! A lot of the tutorials I watched on YouTube showed people using heavy duty gloves, but I actually found them cumbersome – especially if I needed to tie a section while the fabric was partially dyed.  What I found worked best was to buy a box of latex standard gloves and layer two to three gloves on each hand.  It allowed me dexterity in tying but also provided the protection from the dye.

* After your pieces are oxidized I left them outside for 24 hours before rinsing them with water and washing them.  Plan to launder your pieces at least 4x times to insure you get all the excess dye out.  No one likes to receive a gift that runs color the first time they wash it.  


For more info, follow the links here for 

where to order the best Natural Indigo Kit,


to read the instruction manual and learn about the amazing history behind the art of Indigo.

Check out this video on the Shibori Technique (love it!)

[youtube BYivyVj5IvQ nolink]

Jul 25

Techie Tip – Getting Rid of Tiling Artifact Lines in ai

This may be Kindergarten level Adobe Illustrator for most of my designer friends, but I wanted to share with you a tip I finally learned about how to fix the problem of annoying tiling artifact lines showing up in my exports from Adobe Illustrator.  I hope this helps at least one other person, because it has been driving me crazy and taking me a really long time to google the right words to search out the fix.  

Here goes …


Tiling Artifacts are the faint little lines that show up in Illustrator files that have been put into pattern. The way you know that the line is not an error in your repeat and just a resolution issue is to zoom in and out and if the line vanishes and reappears you know it’s just a resolution issue and not an alignment problem with your pattern.  If you are printing your pattern layout directly from Illustrator you shouldn’t have a problem with these lines showing up.  However, if you export the image to a TIFF, JPEG, PNG, etc.. these lines will sometimes transfer over to your export.  It’s annoying, but here’s the fix.

Filing-Artifacts-Repair-1 Export  your patterned art board as you normally would:  File > Export (make sure to click “Use Artboards” so you have the export size of your image right).


Here’s the key part:  The default Anti-aliasing option is “Type Optimized (Hinted)”, but you want to click on “Art Optimized (Supersampling)”.  Filing-Artifacts-Repair-3

That’s it!  How easy is that?!  I am so grateful to finally know the answer to this annoying mystery.  Filing-Artifacts-Repair-4



I want to send a big shout out and thank you to Laura Coyle and her awesome tutorials for helping me get to the bottom of this problem! Check out her courses and free tutorials on her “Illustrator-ing” website HERE.  

Mar 06

A Shout Out to the AMAZING Sharon Steuer!

I have a love/hate relationship with vector paths.  I’ve adopted a snobbish view of their ‘vector-y-ness’ that over the years has given me permission to not advance in my skill of working with them.  But NO MORE!  2014 is the year of the path for me and I’ve been diving deep into ways I can create the painterly look I’m striving for in my art, but with all the benefits of easy editability and scale adjustments that working in paths allows.  I have a long journey ahead of me but I’m making great strides already and the person I found to lead me on my quest is Sharon Steuer.  

Her latest book, The Adobe Illustrator WOW, is opening my eyes to all that is possible in working in Adobe Ilustrator. She also has a fantastic way of taking out the fear and insecurity many of us pixel lovers have when it comes to those pesky path behaviors. Her style and approach is unassuming and I can’t say enough about the quality of her instruction and how this book is really teaching me to push through my fear barrier and embrace this technology. In addition, Sharon has some amazing courses on – both for illustrator and photoshop. She is a triple threat because she also is an established traditional artist as well and she approaches her instruction from that perspective.  It’s a win/win all the way around and I wanted to be sure to not only give her a shout out (I want to encourage her to keep writing her fantastic books), but also to encourage those of you who are like me and prefer pencils, brushes, pens, and pixels over paths, to go and seek out Sharon’s book and courses.  


Feb 04

Textures from Italy

Italy-TextureI’m working on textures these days and thanks to some amazing photos my uber talented brother in law, Bruce, took, I am enjoying the sights of Italy.  Above are just a few pics I wanted to share.  

                            Cobblestone Photo KPD-Cobblestone-texture

I’m BIG on cobblestones at the moment.  Unfortunately my Los Angeles suburb doesn’t have a lot of cobblestoned streets to admire, so these images are taking me on little vacation. Check out the texture brush I made from the referenced photo on the left.  Feel free to grab the brush image and try it yourself in ps or ai.  

Alla Prossima!

Jan 02

DIY Fun: Etched Cocoa Jar

KPD-DIY-etched-Cocoa-Jar In my zeal for etching this past Holiday Season I made this cute Cocoa Jar to give as a gift. I absolutely loved how it turned out so I thought I’d share a tutorial with you in case you’re interested in trying it too.  It is really easy to do, I promise! 



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