Acrylic Pour Painting!

So I am going to write up a tutorial thingy for doing your own acrylic pour painting! The idea here is to do this with your kiddos and just have fun and come back to the chatter and share what you’ve created, whether or not you’re interested in the custom baby wrap spot or not. But for those of you interested in the custom spot then this is a chance to be the inspiration behind your own customized piece, which could be really special, I think.

Now, you can find some really awesome videos on YouTube on how to do this type of painting, and they are super fun to watch. However, the thing I found trouble with while I was trying to figure out how to accomplish this was figuring out all the supplies I needed. Everyone used different things and often in the videos supplies are quickly glossed over and they get right to pouring. So I’m hoping this just breaks it all down for you and makes this as easy as possible, that way you guys can get right to painting!!

First lets talk supplies! I was able to find everything I needed by visiting Walmart and Home Depot. Of course you can supplement in some things but here’s exactly what I’ve been using:

1

Home Depot

-Plastic drop cloth (could instead use trash bags or lots of newspaper, etc.)

-Flood Floetrol (~$6 for a big ole bottle)

-Silicone drops, optional (~$3)

Walmart

-Rubber gloves, I always bring these out but hardly ever actually put them on lol, but for the kiddos maybe!

-Wooden craft sticks, for mixing

-Apple Barrel brand acrylic paints, these little bottles are only 50 cents each and come in sooo many colors

-Plastic cups

-Stretched canvas or canvas panel, however the Walmart panels have all warped while drying so maybe just stick to the 3D stretched canvases

-Not seen here, paper towels/wet wipes!

-Also not seen here, some kind of acrylic paint sealer to keep your paintings nice after they dry:)

Next, my process! I first line the table with my plastic drop cloth and jump right into mixing my colors, each individual color gets a cup. I used a lot of colors this time but you can use more or less, there’s no right or wrong way to do this! Just have to experiment and see what you end up liking more. I am not precise at all when I mix, but I have been mixing about 1 part acrylic paint to 1 part floetrol, so ~equal parts.

2

Blend those well! And then I kinda “scoop” up some paint onto the craft stick and watch how quickly the paint slides off. You want it nice and flowy, not thick! I add a little water to each color to thin it out some more.

3

Then you get a clean cup or two (I used two this time) and start pouring in your colors, a little at a time in layers to make the cups you actually pour onto your canvas.

4

Once your pour cups are ready you can either pour them right onto the canvas or you can try whats called a flip cup pour. I did one of each for this tutorial, starting with the flip cup. You flip your canvas over and have it against the top rim of your cup and while applying pressure flip the canvas and cup over together to get this:

5

Looks cool right?? Then lift it up!

6

After lifting I used my other pour cup to pour around the center pour blob.

7

You want to have enough paint on there for a good amount to fall of the sides while you tilt and slide it around, covering the whole canvas. So that’s what you do next, pick up the painting and tilt it to move the paint around and cover your canvas! It’s so cool to see how much it starts to change!

8

I ended up propping my canvas up on a small ziplock plastic container, off the table a bit, while the paint settled and excess continued to flow off the sides. Then, if you want the “cells,” here is where you’ll sprinkle on your silicone drops. I used a lot of this one, oops!

9

So cool!! And then there you have it! Just gotta put it up in a safe place to let this baby dry (give it a good 2-3 days) and then spray/paint on an acrylic sealer and you’re an artist:D

If you want to watch some videos to get that live action visual just search YouTube for “acrylic pour” and there are a ton, all amazing! Also, while I am no professional acrylic paint artist, I am happy to answer any questions or offer help where needed. Thanks for reading and I cannot wait to see what you all come up with.

10

Thanks for reading!!

-Sam

Advertisements

DIY Pennant Banner

Image

Owen’s birthday is in 2 months, so today I finally started working on some birthday party planning! We have known for awhile that we want to do a Lorax themed party, which makes picking out the decorations, plates, and whatnots needed for the party pretty straight forward. The Lorax is a furry bright orange talking animal thing, with a bright yellow mustache. So the main colors are orange and yellow. If you have ever seen the movie its actually really visually stimulating, bright awesome colors throughout the whole thing.

But anyways, in my search to buy already made decorations I found that pricing is ridiculous, not to mention I couldn’t find anything in store that fit my color scheme. A plain solid orange pennant banner is $3.00 plus tax from Party City. That is boring… No thank you. Custom pennant banners from Etsy.com are anywhere from $8.00 to $25.00+! Okay, no.

Well, at Micheal’s they have open stock paper (1’x1′) for a quarter a sheet in every color and design EVER. I went with that. I bought 8 sheets ($2.00 TOTAL) and was able to make two 6 foot long banners. So, if you have a birthday party you are planning for coming up, or do birthday pictures, cake smashes, really anything that could use a little pennant banner touch… Keep reading.

What you need:

1. Open stock paper. Like I said, I bought 8 sheets of Michael’s 12″ by 12″ paper. It was with all the scrapbooking stuff and took up a whole side of the isle because there are THAT MANY colors and designs. If you are planning to hang the banners up against the wall you can go for really any of them, double or single sided. If you are hanging it from the ceiling or out in the open, you should stick to the double sided sheets.

2. Scissors.

3. Pencil or pen. Pencil is safer, no ink blotches. Learned that lesson.

4. Hole puncher. These are also at Michael’s, I have the super cheap one. I think it is normally $4, but they always have a 40% off digital coupon on their website you can to drop that even more;)

5. Ribbon or string.

6. Tape (optional).

7. A ruler.

I like to do my pennants 5″ x 7″ and I can get 4 out of each sheet at that size. So I line my ruler (well, my tape measure because we don’t have an actual ruler) with the corner of the sheet and across the top put a little mark at 2.5″, 5″, 7.5″ and at 10″. That measures out the length of two pennants and their centers. Next I measure down the page and make a mark at 7″… Not going to go too far in depth here, I’m sure you get where I’m going lol. If your sheets are one sided, do the marking on the back white side, just in case.

Image

Image

Once the first three pennants are outlined, cut them out! To save time and sanity I will stack up two or three sheets and cut them at the same time. Then you will still have room left for one more along the side. Here I just take one of thepennant that are already cut out and trace it.Image

Next, hole punch the top corners of the pennants. Again, here I stack up to 4 pennants, that’s about as many sheets my dinky hole puncher can take without having a seizure.Image

And now it’s time to string/ribbon them together! I measure out 10 feet of ribbon, because I like the slack at the ends to tie to whatever. I’m probably going to use these in Owen’s cake smash photos, so I will need to tie them to my backdrop stand. Get them all strung on, and then I like to tape the end pennants to the ribbon. It stores a little nicer without them all sliding out of the center.Image

Image

And once I got through all my pennants I ended up with 2 banners that measure out to be roughly 6 feet long, considering the overlapping corners.Image

And of course I had to try them out for some photos!:D

blogboard

Easy as that, and so affordable!

Cake Smash Editing

I am sure this is going to turn out harder to explain than I want, but I am going to try this anyway. You saw the set up, you know what you need to get the cute, messy, cake smash pictures. But if you want them to look REALLY nice, then you are going to need to spend a little time on them after the shoot is over. Honestly, I think this is where photographers can get away with charging so much money. Once you have your camera settings and lighting figured out, it only takes maybe 15 minutes to take these pictures. Post processing, on the other hand, can take 15 min PER PHOTO! Now that I am comfortable with Lightroom and Photoshop it doesn’t take that long anymore, but it is still a good amount of time and work. If you have the patience for this, it can really be worth it.

It is probably best to start at the beginning with this tutorial, so camera settings! For pretty much the whole shoot I left my camera set at ISO 800, 50mm, f2.5, 1/400s (shutter speed changed a little here and there) and shot in RAW format for the highest quality and detail capture. It was (of course) a little cloudy so my lighting wasn’t ideal and that pushed my ISO up to 800, which I don’t particularly like. It left the pictures grainier than I prefer, but hey I worked with what I had! I underexposed the entire shoot so that I could get the shutter speed up to 1/400s. Most of you reading probably know how hard it is to get a one year old to sit still. If my shutter was any slower the pictures would have been blurry so I underexposed, knowing I could fix the exposure in Lightroom. Fixing exposer issues is easier than fixing a blurry picture… Mostly because you can’t really fix a blurry picture. If you saw my last post, with all the pretty edited pictures, this next picture might be shocking;) Here is the example photo I am going to use throughout the tutorial, straight out of my camera it looked like this:

SOOC (1 of 1)It is very dark, grainy, not really that pretty, besides Summer looking adorable. There is definitely much to be desired, so take it to Lightroom. Lightroom actually comes with a set of General Presets that can sometimes be a helpful start. I usually use Auto Tone and Medium Contrast Curve on my pictures and then make adjustments from there. Once I had it looking nice my LR settings were: Exposure +1.05, Contrast -15, Highlights -6, Shadows +37, Whites +24, Blacks -12, Clarity +10, Vibrance +15, Medium Contrast Curve, Sharpening 25, and Luminance 20 (to help with the graininess). With those setting I then had this:

Lightroom (1 of 1)Ahhh, much better! Now, you can’t just take those adjustment settings and throw them on any picture, the adjustments will be different for different photos. That is there just to give you an idea. And that is all I do in Lightroom! You can crop and make other adjustments in LR, but from here I like to take my pictures to Photoshop for the rest of the work. First off, it needs to be cropped, as you can see the backdrop stand and my baby gates in the right side of the photo! In this step I also did a slight color adjustment because Summer was looking a little yellow (added blue). Here:

1cropandcolorI wanted to keep the cake centered, and even though you can see that dark reflection bottom right, I didn’t want to close in on her anymore. That dark corner is easily edited out. Use the rectangular marquee tool to select an area of the background that matches what you want the darker spot to be. Copy and paste, and then drag that pasted piece to the bottom corner (or wherever you need it). Flatten image. Next I used the heal brush to smooth out the visible outer edge of the plexiglass. I used the background just above the edge as my sample, and painted with a hard brush (not too much bigger than the visible edge) over the edge. Do one side at a time and resample when you switch sides. Now we have this:

2cloneandhealIt is subtle and looks a little cleaner, easy work for a nice effect. And now it looks pretty great! I make simple, unnecessary adjustments from here but I will explain those too;) I’m not going to lie, I use some Photoshop Actions created by others and that is what I did in my next step. I am specifically using an action set called The Picture Perfect Mega Set, by Paint the Moon. There are lots of sets that basically do all of the same things, but this set is my favorite. You can do eye pops, skin smoothing, color adjustments, and so on. They are kind of expensive though, so if you are interested in free action sets let me know and I can help you find some good ones. So I used an action to brighten and smooth her skin just a tad, and to lightly highlight her hair.

3skinandhairAnd then last I just added some final touches: increased sharpness, increased brightness juuuuuust a tad, and same for the contrast. Final product:

4sharpenbcViola! And questions, again let me know. Hope this helps!

(Considering making a video tutorial for anyone who thinks that would be easier to follow along with…)

DIY Cake Smash!

Image

This post is really for anyone out there wanting to save some money and do their baby’s first birthday pictures themselves! That being said, I am really trying to look out for my November BBC and IG mamas who have babies turning one in the next couple months;) If you didn’t read my last blog post, I recommend you do. A lot of the set up for this cake smash is actually really similar, but I will do some recapping too.

First off, what is a cake smash photoshoot? The basic idea is to celebrate your child’s first year by giving them their first taste of CAKE while taking beautiful pictures of it! Some probably think this is silly, and yeah maybe it is, but its also adorable and creates lasting memories you will love. 

Here’s what you will need for this:

1. Backdrop stand. In my last post I shared a link to the one my fiance made for me. It is made out of PVC pipe and cost about $20. Very useful, and you can easily store it for later use!

2. Backdrop. I have recently discovered seamless paper. For $25 I got a roll that is 52″ wide and it is 107′ long! So it is going to last awhile, even with cutting the bottom few feet off that were covered in frosting handprints lol. There are endless color choices, for this session I used “coral.” In my last post I told you that you could use even a sheet for the backdrop and that is still true. A $7 sheet from Walmart could be clipped to your backdrop stand. You could even tape it up on the wall if you don’t want to invest in a stand. (The seamless paper saved me a lot of effort in post processing, as there weren’t all the wrinkles and folds to try editing out!)

3. Decorations (Optional). I made a pennant banner out of scrapbook paper and ribbon, and we also had a bouquet of balloons. I wouldn’t go too crazy, you want the focus to be on the baby and the cake!

4. Plexiglass sheet. I used this again to help keep the paper from getting wrinkled under Summers wiggly butt. Plus, I like the reflection!

5. Camera.

6. Good lighting. I prefer natural light to flash. So again I set up next to our big glass sliding door in our kitchen. 

6. A soon-to-be one-year-old. Summer’s mom volunteered her to go first!

8. A cake!

Here are a couple pull back shots of my set up! The first is the set up for a couple pre-cake photos, and the second is how I set up for the cake shots:

Image

Image(In the end I actually pulled the pennant banner down more, because that high they weren’t making it into the photos!)

After a little editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, here are examples of the photos I got with those set-ups:

ImageImageImageNow, for some tips!

You are going to need backup. That means dad or a friend needs to be there so you can focus on taking LOTS of pictures, and your backup helper can focus on snatching up the squirmy baby and placing them back with the cake. And just in case your baby doesn’t seem to interested, they can also be there to help them with that first taste, etc.

Keep shooting. I took about 200 pictures of Summer and ended up with about 15 really good pictures.

Take before and after pictures of the cake. Take pictures from different angles. Take distanced photos, up close photos. Change up the focus, instead of just focusing on her face, focus on the cake, messy fingers, toes and tummies! Take pictures of the grumpy faces too, they can be just as cute!

Have a bath ready. This IS going to get messy. Somehow I even had pink frosting on my own face.

Image

 

Of course, these wouldn’t look nearly as nice without a little help from Photoshop. Up next I am planning a DETAILED Photoshop editing tutorial specifically around cake smash photos. So watch for it!

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope I helped out with your own at-home, DIY cake smash shoot. If you have any questions, leave me a comment:)

Image

 

 

 

DIY At Home Studio (Plus Editing Tips!)

Okay here it is guys!

I believe that everyday is just another day to capture more memories, as most of you probably already know from my endless photo posts. I LOVE having my candid shots of my son doing his own thing, playing with toys, trying a new food for the first time, etc. But, sometimes its nice to have some of those really cute studio-looking pictures too, right? And I don’t know about you but I’m not about to chuck out a couple hundred dollars to Target Photo Studio when I can do them myself! Now, its not free to get pictures like this but it is relatively cheap considering what it can end up costing for you to go out and get them “professionally” done.

Image

So let’s go ahead and start off with the needed supplies:

1. A camera. I have A NikonD3100, but really even before that I managed to get similar photos (much lower quality of course) with my iPhone 5 camera. In addition to the D3100 I also have a 50mm f1.8 lens. I could go into why that lens and that camera but that is enough for a whole other post another day. Basically, it has better focusing capabilities and I can shoot in lower lighting (like indoors).

2. A backdrop. There are so many cheap options… In these photos I used a $7 black bed sheet from Walmart. Yeah, really that simple. You can spend $75 on a black muslin photography backdrop if you want, or I have heard seamless paper rolls are relatively cheap and work well. All I know is they aren’t sold in store and I don’t have to patience the wait on shipping!

3. A backdrop stand. This really depends on how creative you can get. My fiance built my backdrop stand out of PVC pipe. This is the one we did: http://www.dandelionsonthewall.com/2012/04/diy-photography-backdrop-stand-pvc-pipe.html It was about $20 to make and I have used it many times already. Totally worth it, and then it breaks down for easy storage. Honestly, you could tape the sheet up to the wall if you wanted…

4. Optional: Acrylic sheet. That is what creates that reflection across the bottom of these photos. Mostly I needed something to keep my floordrops (most of which I use sheets for) from crumpling up underneath my squirmy 8 month old boy. This was also about $20 at Home Depot.

5. An adorable subject. I prefer my son.

6. Photoshop or a similar editing program. That’s what I use to edit my photos, it’s what I know and what I am comfortable with.

Image

I took these in my kitchen with our big sliding glass door behind me and slightly left, so that I could get some good natural light in the pictures. I don’t like using flash because of the harsh shadows it can cast amongst other reasons. Still I had to crank my ISO setting up to 800 and bring my aperture settings up to f2.0 to get the shutter speed fast enough (to avoid blurry pictures) without letting the photos be too under-exposed (dark).

Looking at my set-up, there are a lot of imperfections and I am totally okay with that because Photoshop and I are very best friends. I got my sheet set up on my backdrop stand, laid down my acrylic sheet, gave Owen a cookie, set him down in the middle of the sheet on the floor, and grabbed my camera.

Right out of my camera this is what I ended up with:

Image

If you will notice, there is lint and hair (thanks Bentley) all over the black sheet, under the acrylic sheet, not to mention the wrinkles you can clearly see across the back… Yeah, not too attractive. Plus that ugly white line the back of the acrylic sheet leaves across the middle of the photo. Oh well! Photoshop! If you don’t know Photoshop, this part won’t make much sense to you (but hey, I am open to any questions you might have, just leave a comment or shoot me an email!).

First thing I like to do are all the touch-ups and cropping. Using the spot healing brush I smooth out that white line across the middle, the wrinkles, the lint, the hair… And I also used the patch tool to clean up those stains you may or may not have noticed on Owen’s shirt (blueberry applesauce for breakfast). Then I cropped the picture to put Owen more centered. After all that I ended up with this:Image

Already looks so much better! Next I wanted to smooth out the background a bit. If you are familiar with layering and layer masks, this should make perfect sense… If not Google can lead you to many great layer and layer masks tutorials, that’s how I learned! So I first duplicated the background layer and then applied some blurring effect to it (I like the look of the Gaussian Blur best). Using a mask layer I removed the blur only from Owen so he stays nice and sharp and the background looks much smoother. I also darkened it a little using a new layer, filling it all in with black, taking opacity down to 50%, and again used a layer mask to erase the fill background from Owen (and his reflection). This is what I got at that point:

Image

Then I like to draw a little attention to his eyes and pull out the highlights in his hair. Also, applying a little skin softening effect can look really nice. To pull of these effects I actually use Photoshop Actions. If you don’t know what they are… They are awesome. Any questions let me know; if you want to try any of mine, let me know. On this I used the PTM Picture Perfect Actions “Creamy and Smooth Skin” and “Hair and Eye Highlighter.” Subtle but nice:

Image

And you can totally leave it at that if you want. I added a very soft color adjustment and cranked up the sharpness for my final product:

Image

Image

Might be too much work for some, but I love it! Once you are used to PS and all the tools, something like this can take just a couple minutes to edit. And there are SO many looks you can get with this set up. For example, our 4th of July picture was done the same way, in the same spot, edited the same! Just with a white $7 bed sheet from Walmart HA!

Image

I am pretty sure I will end up using a similar setup for Owen’s cake smash pictures! I want to get some really good ones that I can use on his birthday invitations… Should be fun.

Thanks for reading guys and I hope this helped some of you out!

Image

A New Lens for Mother’s Day

While I have the time I wanted to go ahead and share with you that I got a new lens yesterday for an early Mother’s Day gift! It’s only my first Mother’s Day and man, this year’s gift is going to be a hard one to beat (lenses cost a LOT of money). But, I am super excited, I’ve been talking about how much I’ve wanted this lens since I got my new camera for my birthday. I own a NikonD3100, no not the GREATEST DSLR around but it does its job and I love it, plus it’s red and cute. So, Brock got me the lens I’ve been asking for and it is the Nikon 50mm f1.8 and it is AWESOME! The kit lens is like 18-55mm f3.5 and this new one is so much cooler, at least for portraits which I enjoy most of all. How can I not, having the cutest little boy ever?

I was very excited once I had the lens home, so of course I had practice right away. Brock still had a few hours before he was off work so of course I grabbed Owen, stuck him in his Bumbo, and headed to the backyard. It was late afternoon so it was nice and shaded out there, but still nice and bright! Now, Owen is a 6 month old little boy and he LOVES to be outside, the only problem is he is constantly turning his head back and forth trying to soak everything in… Which makes it hard to get a really nicely focused shot. Still got one though;) And I stuck in the histogram stats in there for those who might be curious about the settings.

ISO400 50mm f2.0 1/1250s

The wider aperture capabilities of this new lens is so cool… I think I will be neglecting that kit lens for awhile. Anyways, after Brock got off work I thought a trip to the park would be not only a great opportunity for some more practice but it was a pretty nice day and we could all use some fresh air. The park and community center up the way from us is really nice and has a lot of open grassy area, so once we got there we picked a nice grassy spot under the shade of a big tree and I started snapping away. There was no need to make these overly posed so Brock and Owen just did their thing and played, while I got to know my new lens:) Oh my  gosh, these two are way too adorable… Here’s a few of my favorites (click for the full image):
Brock and Owen

Finally Doing It!

I’ve been wanting to finally start up a blog for awhile now! Actually even before I had my son, Owen, the idea of having a blog was intriguing… But now more than ever I have reason to kind of document my life in … Continue reading