Monday, August 15, 2011

Going Digital with Paper Quilling

My name is Nicole, with CoCo’s Creations on Etsy. I make paper quilled embellishments for card making, scrap-booking, etc. For the last few years I have been wanting to go digital with my quilled embellishments to be able to expand to digital scrap-bookers. I have heard from many people that they love the look of paper quilled items, but they don’t like the bulk and thickness when using the items for scrap-booking.

So, I finally decided it was time for me to get going on making my items digital. I set forth to “roll out” my new digital products for my Christmas in July Sale.

Last January I got a Mac computer for my birthday, and I was given a version of Photoshop CS3. I had no idea how to use a Mac or how to use CS3. With help from a huge Photoshop Manual and friends who know Photoshop, I was able to use trial and error to figure it out.

My first dilemma, what is the best way to get the image into the computer? I tried scanning the image into the computer. The image was too straight on that every time I tried to erase the background, it erased parts of my object, because the paper is so thin. So, I tried taking photos with my camera. Seemed to work, but the lighting wasn’t right. I decided I needed a “photo light box” for my photos. The photos taken in the light box, using a small tripod to keep the camera still, were much better.

My next question was, what is the best way to erase the whole background from such an intricate item? I tried the lasso and the magnetic lasso, that was too difficult. I knew there had to be an easier way. I tried the magic wand, eraser, color range, extracting, etc. I think at this point, depending on what you are doing, and what you want for your finished product, these all work. You just have to find what works best for you. For me, the magic wand was the best.

The last question, and I am still trying to figure this one out, what color paper background to use depending on the color of the quilled item? A white snowflake cannot be photographed on a white background because there needs to be a contrast of color to be able to delete the background. Black is too dark to photograph a white snowflake, any light color reflects off the white quilled item, and anything other than a dark brown doesn’t work. I still can’t figure out how to photograph my snowflakes with the silver/gold edges with a background to actually work. But, my last findings with these, might work better being scanned.

Currently, I have finished 2 digital sets of Christmas items. Eventually, anything offered in my shop will also be offered digitally! Through trial and error, anything is possible!


Quilly Nilly said...

I think you did a fantastic job separating them from their background, I know how time consuming it can be.

MuMu said...

Fantastic article! Getting a decent picture of quilling is hard enough, but then you have to completely take out the background! Yikes!

CoCosCreations said...

Thanks guys!

Thought you'd all like to know what I've been up to;)

chillin with Quillin said...

That is awsome, I've worked with backgrounds and its not so easy, good job!!

Philippa said...

Hi Nicole, have you ever thought about working with digital quilling elements to create your embellishments? That way, there's no need to scan, photograph or erase backgrounds - it's all done 'virtually' on screen. If you're interested in 'quilling digitally', please visit my site at: