Friday, June 28, 2013

Greeting Card Factory as a workaround

As I explained in the video that came with my last post, I have no access to Photoshop this summer.  I don't have the program installed, and I can't even afford $19.95 a month for Adobe's Creative Cloud, which allows its users access to its Creative Suite, of which Photoshop is a part.

So what's someone on a fixed income and with no job to do otherwise?  Use a program designed to, of all things, make greeting cards.

I received Greeting Card Factory as a free bonus program when I purchased my Dell Inspiron 1440 laptop in December 2009.  Of course, it is designed to make homemade cards, but other related items such as envelopes, plain-paper stationery, and even designs for the inside of compact discs, for those few people left who still buy them.  (An example of the last of these, for a mythical B.W. album, is below.)

When the program is opened, the default file is plain-paper, letter-size stationery in portrait orientation.  You can drop a graphic from a file as part of your design, and in fact I've done that all the time in my personal projects.  Once the file is in the programs, one clip leads to a series of options not much unlike Photoshop, including making freeform selections, brushing over parts of the picture, or adding text to the photo.  Although the selection tool is close to Photoshop, it is not an exact duplicate and there are limitations in comparison to Photoshop.  My rendition of the MacKnight Triplets is an example.

The MacKnights have no direct relation to the Barefoot family, but I included them in my second book, My Ideal World.  That was a mini-encyclopedia in which I took wrong answers, misnomers, and other quirks of pop culture life and gave them a new spin.  (Examples: Barenaked Ladies as an all-female pop group; Hootie & the Blowfish as a beach music band, and Marianne Muellerleile as a 1980s sitcom star.)  In this case, I named the young violinists Baylee, Ashlee, and Brandee, "girls' names" that I saw attached to males I read about in various newspapers and magazines.

For the faces - and two of the bodies - I "hired" Brittany MacWilliams, a concert violinist and teacher at the University of Louisville.  The third body, the one in the middle, is that of another violinist/teacher, Barbara Barber.  It is with Barber that I encountered the most issues.

Had this been a real Photoshop file, MacWilliams' face would have fit the rest of the body better, as I could have adjusted the rest of the body with a levels or curves adjustment.  Then I could have made a selection of MacWilliams' upper body, placed it on Barber's, then used clone stamp to take out the "other" violin.  Finally, I would have been able to take a selection of MacWilliams' hair and attached it to one or even both ends of Barber's to match the hairstyles of the other two young women.  All of these are very difficult or impossible to duplicate with Greeting Card Factory, but you can see my best effort above.

Oh, well, at least I got to add some cool bowties to the tops of all of their heads.:)  (Source: American Idol contestant Jermaine Stephens by way of my own R&B singer Brightful Birdsong.)

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