Archive of ‘Design & Technology’ category

How to Make Vector Silhouettes from a Photo

| Design & Technology

Tutorial on how to make a photo into a vector silhouette image.

Tutorial on how to make a photo into a vector silhouette image.

How to Make Vector Silhouettes from a Photo – Silhouettes are always a nice touch in any composition and they’re actually really easy to create from a photo.  To clarify for everyone, vector images are images that will scale to any size without losing their sharpness and clarity – some people refer to them as clipart.  Make sure that you choose a photo that doesn’t have a busy background and has a significant contrast between the item you want to convert into a silhouette and the background behind it. I’m using this tranquil heron photo I took this summer on a foggy day at the beach.  I use this trick often in my work as a graphic designer and thought this would be a great design tip to share.

This tutorial requires a high resolution photo, photo editing software (I use Photoshop CS6) and Adobe Illustrator (CS6).

  1. Open your selected photo into Photoshop or some sort of photo editing software. Our goal is to make the photo have as much contrast as possible without totally distorting the image. There are a few different ways to accomplish this task and I’ll show you two different methods. Feel free to use what you’re comfortable with.Heron Photo before
  2. METHOD 1: Go to IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > LEVELS. Grab the tiny triangular input sliders and slide them around until you have a very light background and a dark image that will become the silhouette. Generally that means that you’ll move the sliders on the left slightly towards the right, the middle slider will go very slightly to the left and the right slider will move in to the left quite a bit. You’ll have to eyeball this a bit and see what looks best. The goal here is to make the background as light as possible without washing out any black while making the dark areas darker.Levels
  3. METHOD 2: Go to IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST. Move both sliders to the right until you achieve your desired outcome (high contrast without washing out the image you want to become the silhouette).Adjustment ControlsContrast
  4. Once you’re satisfied with the colour settings, crop your page to select the part of the image you want for your design.  Save your image.
  5. Open Illustrator and open your photo. Select your photo using the SELECTION tool (black arrow) and you’ll notice that in the properties bar at the top, a LIVE TRACE  button will appear (or IMAGE TRACE depending on which version of Illustrator you have). Click on the LIVE TRACE or IMAGE TRACE button. (If you’re not super happy with the results, you can click on the white arrow to the left of the IMAGE TRACE button and play around with the various settings – I find the Black and White Logo setting can work well too). Once you’ve clicked the  LIVE TRACE or IMAGE TRACE button you’ll notice that it now says EXPAND.  With your image still selected, click on the EXPAND button.Trace
  6. With the image selected, right click your mouse and toggle down to UNGROUP and click on it. Now, click on a white area of the drawing so that it’s selected and then go to SELECT > SAME > FILL COLOUR and all the white in your image will be selected, hit the DELETE button. Your goal here is to get rid of all the white sections of your image.Ungroup
  7. Select all the black items on the canvas, right click your mouse and toggle down and click on group. Now your sketch is all grouped together. (Don’t bother with this step if you’d like to move the various elements of the image around on the page or modify them individually).
  8. At this point you can get creative, add colour and use the vector on top of backgrounds, photos, etc. Use your silhouette to create or enhance your very own work or art.

I created this printable page for the tutorial and you’re welcome to download and print it. Download here.

Click to download this free printable quote.

Click to download this free printable quote.


15 iPhone Tips and Tricks for iOS 7 You Need to Know

| Design & Technology

15 of the Best Tips and Tricks you should know for the iPhone

15 iPhone Tips and Tricks for iOS 7 You Need to Know

15 iPhone Tips and Tricks for iOS 7 You Need to Know – I’ve said it before, I love tech toys and gadgets – especially my iPhone and iPad. Recently I’ve learned a few new and very useful tricks about my iPhone that I didn’t know about and with the launch of Apple’s new operating system iOS 7 I thought it would be fun to discuss some new things you may not of heard about yet.

iPhone Tip #1: How to change Siri to a man’s voice

Looking for a man who hangs on your every word and who can answer all your questions?  Well, now you can give Siri a man’s voice. Simply go to Settings > General > Siri > Voice Gender.

iPhone Tip #2: How to multitask 

Who in this day and age doesn’t multitask.  I have to say this has always been a pet peeve of mine with the iPhone – I always got so frustrated turning off an app to open another.  Now you don’t have to, just double click the home button and you’ll be able to scroll through all your apps and see the last screen view you had of that app.  Another cool aspect of this multitasking feature is that you can close any apps that you don’t need in your list just by swiping them up.  This is great if you have tons of apps that you don’t use that often.Multitasking

iPhone Tip #3: New built-in ringtones

Seriously, does everyone use the Marimba ringtone?  Every time I’m in a store and hear the Marimba I see a dozen people all stop, reach in their purses or pockets and check their phones… its pretty funny actually. iOS 7 has given us a better ringtone selection and some really nice ones – great for using as alarm tones too.  You’ll find them in the same place as always: Settings > Sounds > Ringtones.  Oh and for all you die-hard Marimba folks out there don’t despair, you ringtone is still there under the “Classic” ringtone section.

iPhone Tip #4: New dynamic backgrounds

Now I just love these new backgrounds.  This is a new kind of wallpaper that brings very subtly designed backgrounds to life with slow and calming animation. These new backgrounds are called “Dynamic  Wallpaper”. Currently there are only a handful of designs to choose from but I’m sure Apple has great ideas for future designs.  To find dynamic backgrounds open up Settings > Brightness & Wallpaper > Tap on the wallpaper section > Tap on Dynamic > Select you wallpaper.Dynamic Wallpaper

iPhone Tip #5: New built-in vibrations or create your own

This is a fun new change I never even considered.  Now you can change your vibration to one of seven choices or you can create your own custom vibration.  To find this go to Settings > Sounds > Ringtones > Vibration (top of page).343

iPhone Tip #6: How to block callers

Where was this app last year when I was getting 3 calls a day from the same company trying to sell me something.  Now it’s easy to block spammers and marketers.  To block annoying calls or texts tap on the info circle next to the phone number you want blocked, and then scroll down the page until the very bottom and click on “Block this caller”.

iPhone Tip #7: Zoom while in video mode

Every time I used my video on my iPhone I would try in vain to zoom in but of course this feature didn’t exist until now. Finally Apple has listened to us. In video mode you’ll see a white slider bar.  Just slide you finger across the bar in order to zoom in while you’re recording your video… yeah!

iPhone Tip #8: How to turn your iPhone into a flashlight

Having trouble finding your keys in your purse at night?  Did the power go out in your house?  In one swipe you can turn your iPhone into a flashlight.  Open the control center by swiping the screen from the bottom upwards. The first icon on the bottom left is your flashlight – just tap the icon to turn it on and tap again to turn the light off.  You’ll also notice a few other easy access icons on the bottom of the control center including your timer/alarm/stopwatch/world clock, calculator and your camera.319

iPhone Tip #9: Use your compass as a level

Well isn’t this a fun little extra.  I know I could have used this new feature a few times lately. The iPhone compass got a complete redesign with iOS 7 which also includes this great new level. To use the level open the compass app and then swipe to the right. You’ll know you’ve achieve a perfect level when the circles overlap and/or the screen turns green.

iPhone Tip  #10: How to take a screenshot

This isn’t anything new but a great tip none the less. I have to admit I just learned this from a cashier at Michael’s a few weeks ago (BONUS TIP… this is perfect for their mobile coupons that expire after one use).  Simply hold down the power button and the home button (the indented button at the bottom of the phone) at the same time and the screen will flash and the screenshot will be stored in your photo album.

iPhone Tip #11: How to lock iPhone screen orientation

Who doesn’t check their iPhone in bed… I know I do.  Don’t you hate it when you’ve just gotten all cozy on your side and then the iPhone screen changes orientation and you can’t read it without lifting your head up. This is the perfect scenario to use the iPhone lock screen orientation trick.  This trick is another oldie but a goodie although now you’ll find it in a different spot with the iOS 7 operating system.  Swipe your screen from the bottom up and you’ll see it on the top right of the control center.331

iPhone Tip #12: Multiple pages in apps folders

This isn’t really mind-blowing but it’s a nice addition all the same.  Up until now you could only put 12 apps in any one folder.  Now thanks to the multiple page feature whenever you have more than 9 apps in a folder it automatically makes a new page in the same folder. The little dots at the bottom of the open folder tell you if there are multiple pages or not.

iPhone Tip #13: Activation lock

The thing you dreaded most just happened, you lost your phone – what now?  Apple has kindly added a great new feature to make your iDevices more secure. Activation lock makes it difficult for anyone else to use or steal your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and protects the device from allowing anyone to turn off your “Find my iPhone” setting, erase or reactivate your device.

iPhone Tip #14: Notes with Siri

I’ve used the Notes utility on my iPhone right from my very first 3G. It’s basic and easy and that’s probably why I use it.  Now you can use Siri to make your notes for you.  Just turn on Siri and say (for example) “Make a note called Grocery List”, Siri will tell me that the note has been made and then I can activate Siri again and say “add cheese, milk, eggs, onions, carrots, and potatoes” and the note will continue.  You can get Siri back to the note again any time by saying “add milk to my grocery list note”. Finally, when you’re ready to retrieve your grocery list you just need to say to Siri “show me my grocery list note’. How great is that!Siri Notes

iPhone Tip #15: Reminders with Siri

This is definitely one of my favorite tips especially with my horrible memory.  You can use Siri to automate and schedule reminders for you. Even more exciting is that you can use Siri for location-based reminders. What does that mean?  So let’s say that you’re dropping you child off at school and you just realized you need to take the chicken out to thaw for dinner.  All you need to say to Siri  is “remind me to take the chicken out when I get home”.  Now, as soon as you get home your iPhone detects your location and you’ll receive an alert to take the chicken out to thaw. This all works thanks to the magic of location services (make sure you have it turned on). You’re phone automatically sends you the reminder… wow, that one knocks my socks off. One thing to note, you need to have your address listed in your contacts for this to work but don’t worry, Siri will prompt you to key it in if it isn’t already listed. This works for any location as long as you have the correct address.


Since I updated my iPhone to the new operating system my old wallpaper looked too busy.  I created a softer, visually pleasing wallpaper that works well with the iOS 7 theme (see the first photo of this post to see what it looks like with all the icons).  I like the aqua/teal color but I knew that wouldn’t appeal to everyone so I made it in 4 other colors as well. For those of you who like floral designs I’ve created a series with swirls and curves too.  Click here to download your 10 free iPhone 5 wallpapers.

Download 10 Free iPhone 5 Backgrounds.

Download 10 Free iPhone 5 Backgrounds in 5 different color sets.


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Thanks for reading!

~ Jamey



Watercolor iPhone Template

| Design & Technology

Free iPhone case template. Just print, cut out and add to your case.

Free iPhone case template. Just print, cut out and add to your iPhone case.

Way back in March I created a template for a clear iPhone cover – see post here.  I loved how it turned out and I’ve been using these designs this entire time but as you know from my other posts, I get bored pretty easily so I decided to change it up with a new template this time.

This summer I’ve been playing around a bit with watercolor.  It’s still a lot more challenging than I thought it would be but I’m really enjoying this new medium. At this point I’m just testing color saturation and flow but I thought these fun little samples would make cute designs for my newest iPhone case template. All you need is a see through cover to use these templates.

Just print and then cut out.  I used an xacto knife with a swivel blade for the little hole where the camera is and it worked really well. Please note this design is for the iPhone 5 although with some minor trimming you could also use for the iPhone 4.

Download template here.

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How To Photograph People Jumping

| Design & Technology, Kids Fun, Outdoors

Tips for taking jumping photographs.

Tips for taking jumping photographs.

How To Photograph People Jumping – Who doesn’t love summer days spent frolicking on the beach.  More than half of our time during the summer is spent camping at our RV on the beach.  That means a lot of time hanging out enjoying the sand, sun and waves. During the past few summer’s there I’ve taken many, many photos, especially of my daughter.  I love capturing all the moments of childhood – digging, burying, throwing, riding, running and my favourite, jumping.

People are often too scared or intimidated to shoot high action jumping photos but there are a few tricks that can help you capture the moment. Most camera’s these days have all you need to take these super fun photos.

Choose your scene

Make sure you have a simple background. Usually something that isn’t too busy so that the jumper will stand out. Also make sure you aren’t taking the photo directly into the sun – always try to get the sun behind you if possible.

Get up close and personal

The closer you can get to the person jumping, the more dramatic the photo will be and the more detail you’ll be able to capture. Often times taking the photo in portrait format (or up and down) helps make the jumper stand out better – remember to leave room at the top of your photo so that the head doesn’t get cut off.

Go low, low, low

The most dramatic and energetic jumps are photographed when the photographer is lower than the jumper. It helps to kneel, crouch or lay on the ground when taking these photos.

Study your camera

If you have a DSLR camera, use a high shutter speed if possible – if you’re not sure just keep on automatic.  If you’re using a point and shoot, test how quickly your camera actually takes the photo after you push down the shutter button.  Many point and shoots have a bit of a lag so make sure you account for this minor timing adjustment.  You can also use the sports or motion setting  if your camera comes with that setting.


Have the person stand right where you’ll be taking the photo and pre-focus your camera by pressing the shutter button halfway down to prepare for the shot.


Count “1-2-3-jump” to help get the timing right for taking the photo. You may have to do this a few times to coordinate with your jumper. Remember that you want to snap the shot at the peak of the jump.

Shoot, shoot and shoot some more

The beauty of the digital camera’s is that you can take as many photos as your memory card can handle and you can delete on the spot, so take as many photos as you can… well, until your jumper runs out of steam anyway.

These quick tips will help you take great jumping photos

These quick tips will help you take great jumping photos


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