Monday, October 31, 2011

Quick and dirty halloween costume

"Mommy...mommy, I want to be a leopard for Halloween...."

"Yikes..." that was my first reaction. She wants long gloves, mask and shoe cover in Leopard prints. I have no clue how to do it.... She said "please... please... puh leeezzz". I told her I will try to make it but no promise.

We went to a craft store and looked for Leopard prints she likes. We found a suede type fabric with sparkles on it and it's on sale. We bought 2 ft fabric costs around $3.50 with coupon.

I found this quick way to make glove in you tube.

So, I brave myself making a pair of gloves.... a long gloves to be exact.

Then the next one is mask. She wants leopard ear and mask.... I searched on the interenet and found how to make a hat on youtube and modify it from there,

This is how my pattern looks like. I add the cat ear on top and add 4" on the bottom for the mask.
Then, I make a cut for the nose and eyes and the mask.

Of course, I have to add a tail, just like in my previous blog on how to make cat's tail. She then wears black tops and bottom and the new leopard costume.

It took me about 3 hours total to work on it. If I could make it better, I'd make the ears stiffer.
I saw similar outfit at Walmart, that comes with ear head band, tail and gloves for $15. I could have gotten that one and safe time.

But I think that 3 hours worth spending... (so I can share my experience with you).
Just like Mastercard ads...

Fabric for Halloween costume, $3.50
Time spent searching for how to... 2 hours
Time spent making costumes... 3 hours.
The feelings... priceless...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Watermarking on Corel Paint Shop Pro X3

Now... you have made the silhouette like in my past project and would like to post it on the internet. If you are really concern that someone may copy your picture for personal use, you may want to watermark your work.

First, is to create your own watermarking. You can write anything. I write mine "Copyright Bigib". Open new file, I chose 300x200 pixels, color transparent, RGB 8 bits channel, OK.
Click Text tool (A on a box), choose your font, size and create as vector. Since I will be putting the watermark on a black surface, I chose white background (color of the letter) and null foreground (color for the letter outline).

To add a keyboard short cut copyright symbol, use alt+0169. For registered symbol use alt+0174, for trademark symbol, use alt+0153. I then add the wording "Bigib". When you are happy with the wording, click apply (green check mark on the palette). You then can move the writing to the center or anywhere you like it.

Then file, save as PSP image. You are now ready to watermark your picture. Open the picture file you want to add watermarking. Zoom in or out so you can see both images.

Go to image, watermarking, visible watermarking. A new window till open up. You can browse and chose the new image you just made. You also have the opportunity to set the opaque, emboss, size and even placement. I want to place mine in the center.

And then save the final picture as jpg. Now you can upload to the internet. The watermarking helps deter someone from using your image.

There is also an option where you can track your image, which is using image, watermarking, embedded watermark that would take you to Digimarc. This is a service you need to subscribe.
For me, I think I'm happy with the visible watermarking.
Happy trying...

Monday, October 17, 2011

How to make silhouette with Corel Paint Shop Pro X3

You have a nice picture and you want to make a silhouette? I learned that making silhouette is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4.

1. Using a program called Paint Shop Pro by Corel Draw, choose a picture you want to make a silhouette. I chose a giraffe picture I took when visited Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Open the file. Using a magic wand, I traced her. If it's not showing, view, palettes, tool option from the menu. Hold the shift key if you want to include the picture, hold ctrl key if you want to exclude the picture.

2. Choose selection, invert. You are telling Paint Shop to choose the background, not the subject. Choose material (on the right hand side or choose view, palettes, material) and using a dropper, choose the far right color (white). Right click your mouse. It will change the color to white. Then edit, clear.
You will have a giraffe with white background.

3. Choose, selection, invert. You are telling Paint Shop to choose the subject. I want to change the giraffe color to black. On the right hand side, choose material. Bring your mouse the bottom very far left and right click your mouse. This will choose the color black. Edit, clear.
This will make the giraffe looks black.

4. Subject is almost perfect. I use marker tool to darken the area that is imperfect. When you are happy, select the subject using select tool, copy special, copy merge, paste as new image and save the file. You just make your own silhouette project.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Buying a house of your dream

We recently moved and needed to buy a house. I thought I share my experience in house hunting. Whether this is your first time buyer or not, it may be a good idea to learn it again.

First, what you have to do is to set some money aside for your new house. If you don't have cash to pay the house in full, you need a mortgage. A pre-qualifications from your lender is recommended so you know how much house you can buy. Current conventional 30 years mortgage interest is around 4%. To avoid Private Mortgage Insurance, you need to put 20% down. Depending on the city where the house is located, closing costs could ranged from $2500 - $5000. Lenders may required you to put 2 month reserves for taxes and insurance. If you are looking to buy a $300,000 house, you will probably need about $68,000.

If you don't have that much money, there is an option to get an FHA home loans that only requires to put 3.5% down, which significantly reduce the money to set aside around $10, 5000 plus closing costs, earnest money and other reserves.

If you are a first time home buyers, you may qualify for some first time home buyers credits if you purchased your house by July 2011. Please check with IRS publications.

As I was searching for houses, other than regular sale houses, there are HUD houses available for sale. Unlike regular sales houses that sold by the house owner, HUD houses is sold by Federal Agencies.

If you do want to buy a HUD homes, you need a real estate brokers. Referrals from friends or internet directory for realtors is a good start. I suggest you do your own interview to choose the one that fits with your work style. Some brokers needs a contract, some don't. Most brokers will provide you list of houses according to your parameters, shows the houses, do a comparative market analysis (CMA), write and submit a contract, negotiate on your behalf, help with house inspection and do the closing., or are some of real estate search engines you can use. Other than house listing, some provides lists of realtors, information about neighborhood, advice, etc. I found out that Zillow are not always accurate with the newest house listings.

After the contract is accepted, the next step would be a house inspection. House inspector helps find major flaws in the house. Some brokers have worked with house inspectors in the past. It's a good idea to choose home inspectors you are comfortable with.

If the house looks fine, then you will come to the closing, sign the paperwork and you are a new home owners. Congratulations...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall colors in Colorado

Fall colors in Colorado is quite different than the one we experienced in Wisconsin. Since there are not too many red wood trees grows in the area, there are not too many red colors during Fall.

There are a lot of Aspen trees that turns yellow in clusters. You will find patches of yellow colors between green evergreen colors. The kids love to see something new. They think it looks more like cheese on top of broccoli.

If you live in Denver area, the best place to go is Kenosha Pass on hwy 285, south west of Denver. It takes only about 1.5 hours to get there, worth a day trip. Colorado Trail passes Kenosha Pass.

If you like natural (less groomed) camping area, this is the place to go. Some fees required to camp in the area.

The trail is pretty wide that would fit about one car wide or ATV. I met a local hikers who has hikes several times in the area. I was caught in the rain with them while waiting in line for a pit stop. They said there is always afternoon showers, at around 3-4 that would last about 1/2 hour.
So, if you plan to hike, don't forget to bring poncos or rain coat. Have fun hiking...