Back Home From Sailing Adventures!

Been having a great time on our sailboat, but because it is hurricane season, we parked the boat in a safe location and flew home for the summer.  That is a good thing since I have been having withdrawals from my longarm and other art supplies.

I took up photography while we were on the boat, so I wanted to show you a slideshow of few of my favorite images:

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Now I need a good way to organize and stow all the 1,000’s of images I took.  Luckily, my good friends, The Pixeladies, are having an eClass starting soon on organizing all your images using Photoshop Elements.  I am going to take it, and I hope you will join me in this class.  Stay tuned, I will tell you more in tomorrow’s post!

Hugs, Carla

Digital Designing Process

Hello, I thought I would give you a sneak peek into how I come up with designs that I plan to turn into machine quilting designs on my Tablet PC.

I open Photoshop Elements and create a new document.  I just start sketching freehand style and erase any designs that seem not to work.  I do not worry about the lines if they are wobbly at this point, since I know I will redraw and edit lines later on in this digital format.

If I am designing a small wholecloth design, often I will just draw a section of the quilt, then copy, paste and flip to make a square shape.  I love to work digitally.

carlamotif1Here is my quick sketch design, with color added just for fun:

 

Now it is time to redraw and edit the design.  I know that the center is rather boring, so will adjust that.  I will also edit some other lines, too.   Sometimes, I will redraw a design multiple times, until it flows for me.

 

 

cbelegascrolltropHere is what my first edit looks like.  Again, I added color just for fun:

At this point, I can edit further, or pull out individual elements that could make nice simpler designs all on their own.  These designs can later become part of a larger set of designs.

 

Breaking down the larger design into smaller designs also allows me to play with the idea of creating matching borders, sashings, corners, etc.  Here is an example of a smaller design from the larger quilt design: scroll border panto

Anyhow, this gives you a general idea for how I work.  I plan to redraw these designs and fine tune the stitch path for commercial application.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment.  Happy Quilting!  Carla

Buying a Discontinued New Tablet PC- For Artists

As mentioned in my last post, it was time to buy a new tablet, so I decided to follow my own advice and pick up a brand new, yet discontinued, tablet PC for a fraction of the price.  The model I selected was offered on a reputable website, but would save me quite a bit of money in the end.  I needed a new Tablet PC to run all my design software, like Photoshop Elements, Illustrator, and Art & Stitch.

lenovo-tp-x230-n2c2bhv-laptop-tablet3The model I purchased was a Lenovo Thinkpad x230, which I purchased from B&H Photo brand new for only between $600-659.  It is currently offered now for $634 US here.

I want to let blog readers know my first impressions and how my purchase has worked out so far.

The package shipped promptly from B&H, and arrived just fine in a brand new box.  This was indeed a brand new machine and not a refurbished one.  I opened the box and then proceeded to set up my machine and install all my software.  This notebook does not have a CD/DVD player, but I just used my portable one that connects to the computer with a USB plug to install all my software.

Once I had Photoshop Elements 13 installed, it was time to try it out.  Sure enough, it worked perfectly!   It has similar specs to my last Tablet PC, the Fujitsu T902, but I paid less than 1/3rd the cost.

The pros:  Lenovo x230 is a fine tablet and comes highly rated by other artists.  The price was right.  Tablet works as advertised.

The cons:  The keyboard set up takes some getting used to, but I added a mouse for ease of web surfing and clicking.  The Wacom digitizer and pen are a bit different than previous Tablet PCs, it seems to have some pressure functionality.  It will take some time to get used to the new set up.  This machine was released a few years ago, and is now discontinued.

All in all, I am very happy with my new tablet, and love that I spent less than $660 US. I think this is an excellent value for what you get. I can now start drawing and designing once again!

Let me know if you have any questions.  Hugs, Carla

 

 

New Tablet PC Purchase!

t901_twist_antenna_stylusThis post is for all the students and blog readers who write me about wanting a Tablet PC.  As mentioned in my post (seen below) my current Tablet PC, a very pricey Fujitsu T902 purchased about 3 years ago for about $2000 US, had the power cord disconnect.  It was not very robust a machine, as the cracks on the case reveal.  I decided it was time to get a new Tablet PC, so I started my research.

TCHICK copyo date, over the last 10 years, I have owned 3 Tablet PC Convertibles, which means they act as either a  PC laptop or notebook, and also have tablet functionality to allow me to draw on the Wacom digitizer monitor screen for art purposes.  My first one was the best, a Toshiba Portege, however, Toshiba stopped making Tablet PC Convertibles awhile back.  My second tablet PC was an HP Touchsmart tm2, but it never lived up to my Toshiba Portege.  It finally bit the dust during my AU trip and has been long discontinued.  I then purchased the Fujitsu T902, however, it is now out of action due to Ethan tripping over my power cord and disconnecting it.  I plan to get this repaired so the Fujitsu becomes my backup Tablet PC.

The last few years have seen rapid changes in the Tablet industry, and is very confusing to most people, even tech savvy readers.  I knew I wanted a Tablet PC, with enough system memory so it would run my favorite design/drawing programs like Photoshop Elements, Adobe Illustrator, and Art&Stitch digitizing software.  The digitizer needs to be by Wacom, mainly due to the better performance and precision.  This ruled out buying Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, which instead has a digitizer called N-Trig.  I also wanted an Intel Processor, and my Operating System (OS) could be anything between 7-8.1, since Windows 10 isn’t out yet.

www.carlabarrett.com

I looked at all the current offerings, and trust me, there wasn’t all that many offerings which met my art and design needs.  I could have spent anywhere between $1-3K, but then decided to try something that I recommend to students in my Tablet Design classes.  That is to buy a slightly older, discontinued, highly rated,Tablet Convertible PC for a fraction of the original price.

So I went for it!!  The Tablet PC Convertible I bought has all the specs that my Fujitsu T902 had, but instead is a fraction of the price at $659 US.  I purchased a new, discontinued Lenovo Thinkpad x230.   Since I bought it from a reputable retailer, if I do not like it, I can easily return it.

Watch for my upcoming review.  It is supposed to ship to me in a few days.  Free shipping, even.  If this works out, I will have an affordable option to recommend for students.  🙂  Hugs from Carla

Happy New Year!

Home now after 3 trips in 3 months!  October, I was in Australia.  Went sailing in November in the British Virgin Islands.  December was spent spending quality holiday time with my Dad and Doris in Missouri.  I am a bit traveled out, I do say!

Example of Digital Quilt drawn in Photoshop Elements

Example of Digital Quilt drawn in Photoshop Elements

In the meantime, the power cord on my Fujitsu tablet PC was detached by accident by a cute little boy named Ethan.  That means for the first time in over 10 years, I am without a tablet.  Do I hear a gasp?  🙂  So now I am on the hunt for a replacement tablet PC, and I need to have my Fujitsu repaired, too.   Promise to write a post about my research for those interested in this subject once I look at all current offerings.

10waystabletOnce my Tablet PC is replaced, I plan to announce another Quilt Whisper design class.  I may even hold a brand new class, too.  Stay tuned as I will announce it here, on FaceBook, and through my mailing list.  If you are not one my mailing list, please write a comment indicating you wish to be added.  I promise to never share your email with anyone AND will not send out junk mail to you.

Here’s to a wonderful and creative 2015!!  Hugs, Carla

Around the World Blog Hop- My Turn!

I was invited to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop by two amazing fiber, art quilt and digital artists, The Pixeladies, also known individually as Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki.   Years ago, I was asked to do the quilting on one of their art quilt projects, and through this collaboration, we became friends.  Recently, I visited their studio and got to see all their stunning works in progress.  If you are unfamiliar with their incredible work, and art quilts created with fabric text, click now to visit their gallery page.

The format for the Around the World Blog Hop is a series of questions that I answer, so here we go:

What are you working on right now?  I tend to work on multiple projects at the same time.  On any given day, you will find me machine quilting in my studio, then working on my Tablet PC laptop drawing and designing, and finally, working on a freeform beading or crochet project.  So, in that spirit, here is what I am working on currently:

Quilting by Carla Barrett

Quilting by Carla Barrett

Machine Quilting- I recently borrowed back the above quilt (previously quilted a few months ago, titled Bold Beauty),  to share with students in Australia. The picture above shows you the back of the quilt. This quilt has won many awards in Montana for the owner, Teddie Egeline, including Best of Show and Judges Choice at the Montana State Fair.  Anyway, while in AU, I noticed a couple of places that need fixing, specifically, color repair of some white marking pen oops previously discussed in a post here.

whitemarkI realized that to be more archival, I should have heat set the repair.  So now I will go back over the lines with several shades of Inktense pigment pencils and once dry, heat set them.  After this repair, I plan to work on 2 quilts- one by applique artist Jill Rixman, and also one by my friend, Doug Hodder.

 

freeforminprogFreeform Beading and Freeform Crochet- Currently, I have two different projects in progress, though both are freeform.

The first one is a freeform beaded purse, so I am working on the freeform peyote embellishment.  I have just started to bead a 18mm Swarovski crystal, which will be a focal point element of this project.  My color palette is magenta, purple and blue.

My current freeform crochet project is a bit different from my usual freeform crochet work.  I like the combination of my random freeform combined with some more traditional freeform scrumbles, so I decided to take a Craftsy Freeform Crochet class with the talented Myra Wood to learn her process.  Below is a picture of my class homework so far.  These are “scrumbles” in progress as I learn her technique.

Scrumbles in Progress

Scrumbles in Progress

How does your work differ from others of its genre?  With regards to my machine quilting work, I plan out my quilting lines using a Tablet PC laptop in Photoshop Elements.  This allows me ease of editing and planning, communicating effectively with collaborators, as well as provide me with a road map to follow during the quilting process.  I also will design a special motif, border or fill to use on each quilt using a digitizing software called Art & Stitch.  I also will use my tablet to draw a quilting cartoon from time to time, too.  See more what you can do with a Tablet in this post here.

10waystabletHow does your creative process work?    As mentioned earlier, I use my Tablet PC to sketch out machine quilting designs (like the example above).  I also use my Tablet PC to create custom quilting designs that I can then stitch out on a quilt.  My process is as follows:

Copyright 2014 Carla Barrett

Copyright 2014 Carla Barrett

First, I draw with my stylist on my Tablet PC monitor in Photoshop Elements.  Once I like the design, I will import my design into Adobe Illustrator and  Art&Stitch digitizing software, converting the artwork from a raster drawing to vector artwork.

On the left is a custom design drawn for Teddie Egeline’s quilt, Bold Beauty.  This is a screenshot taken of the finished vector art.

In Art&Stitch, I finish editing the art, adding stitches and saving it in a computerized quilting format that my system can read- which for my Intelliquilter is “.iqp.”   The design is next imported to my machine and then I further manipulate the design to fit my border.  Here is a screenshot from my Intelliquilter tablet showing you how I used this design to create an interesting custom border:

iqpdesign

I love to leave spaces for freemotion quilting because I love the look of freehand work.  The curlycues in the image above will be filled with my freehand feathers.  Once quilted out and the freehand work added, the finished design and border looks like this:

carladesignboldbeauty

I also used my Scroll-Heart Design in other areas on the quilt, too:

scrollhearttri

If you have any questions about my process, I would be happy to answer them.  Just leave your question in a comment, below.  If you would like to know more about buying a Tablet, I do have a 4 part series on purchasing a Tablet for artwork here.  If you would like to know more about working and creating with Art & Stitch software, please see this post.

Before I close, I would like to nominate a very talented machine quilting artist for this Around the World Blog Hop:

Judi Madsen, quilting artist, author, teacher and designer.  During my teaching trip to AU earlier this month, I met Judi a couple of times as my class was ending and hers was due to begin.  Her freehand machine quilting work is young, vibrant, and has a modern vibe.  Be sure to visit  Green Fairy Quilts blog to see Judi’s stunning work.

Take care, Carla

Tablet Info For Quilters- Part 3

Carla Note- This is Part 3 of a Tablet Buying and Information series for quilters and creative people.  To begin at Post 1, please click here

tabletdecisionsToday, we.will continue with more factors to consider when purchasing a Tablet for creative application.  Part 1 covered the Operating System (OS), and Part 2 covered such areas as budget, use, size,  and the software you plan to use with the tablet.

Today, I plan to help you wade through some of Technical Specs- such as your Processor, Memory, Storage, Battery, and digitizer/screen needs.  I will explaining some of the details so you understand what to look for when comparing one tablet to another.

What Processor Will Meet Your Needs?

inteli7Without complicating this topic, know that the majority of Tablet PC  options have Intel inside, to re-use their old motto.  Look for Intel Core i3, i5 and i7.   i7 will be the most expensive and i3 will cost less.   All will be appropriate to meet your processor needs and have excellent performance.   I do want to mention that a family member works for Intel, but aside from this, Intel’s processors are the best choice when purchasing a Tablet PC.

Some Tablet PC’s have Intel’s Atom processors, however, the Tablet PC with Atom processors typically have 2 GB of system memory, which imho, is not enough to handle the heavy workload of large programs.  This is important to know if you plan to use larger sized programs like Photoshop.  More about this topic below.

In the Android Tablet field, the two main competitors are ARM and Intel.  Both will meet your needs.    Apple’s processor used in their iPad models are done internally, they have high quality processors.

What are Your Memory Needs?

I will simplify memory into 2 areas- system memory and storage:

System memory-  The quick definition of system memory is this is your local, high speed, temporary memory the CPU uses like a scratch pad.  Often referred to as RAM (random access memory).

What system memory should you look for in a tablet PC?  I recommend 8 Gigabyte (GB) or higher.   If all you can afford is 4GB,  know you may have some slowing and performance issues, especially with larger programs.  4 GB will certainly work, however, If it is in your budget, go for 8GB or larger.

Storage–  Most Tablet PCs have a Solid-state Drive (SSD)  for their memory storage capacity.  The reason for this is that SSD’s are less prone to physical shock, and quieter than traditional hard disk drives. The SSD  will boot your system, store your programs and your personal files.    When shopping for a tablet, look for the SSD tech spec, it typically will be between 64 GB and 1 Terabyte (T).

External Hard Disc Drive (HDD) for added storage

External Hard Disc Drive (HDD) for added storage

If you are looking at a Tablet PC, I recommend 256 GB or higher, if it is in your budget.  If not, another option is to add external storage by purchasing an external hard disc drive (HDD), these days you can pick up 2T of HDD for $120 US or less.  By the way, external SSD are very pricey for a lot less GB storage.  I recommend an external HDD  to also back up your Tablet PC, too.

For an Android or iPad tablet, storage is still very important.  If buying an iPad or Android tablet, purchase the largest memory your budget will allow.  Nothing is more frustrating then to run out of storage capacity on your iPad, which happened to me.

How Important is Battery Life to You? 

The expected battery life of a tablet is certainly important, especially if you plan to work and travel with your tablet.  No one wants to be in the middle of a special project and lose power, or be watching a movie, only to run out of battery power.

You will see a wide variety of battery performance in the tablet market.  If a long battery life is important to you, then be sure to look at battery performance during your comparison.  This applies for all types of tablets sold.

Does Your Tablet Need to Have any special Input/outputs?

USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

You will want to consider if you need to have any special slots, ports or other input/output on your Tablet.  Most of us use the USB 2.0 port and thumb drive to move files around, hook up peripheral devices, and other basic tasks.  Many Tablet Slates, including the Surface Pro 2, do not come with this port.  Instead, they only have USB 3.0, however,  the good news is that USB 3.0 are backwards compatible, which means you can still use your older USB 2.0 with them.

VGA slot used for older model projectors

VGA slot used for older model projectors

I was helping out a quilting teacher to choose a new tablet, and I knew she needed a VGA slot on her tablet so she could hook up her projector for classroom applications.  This did limit her selection a bit, but in the end we were able to locate a Tablet PC Convertible that met her needs.  So remember to consider what slots or ports you cannot live without, and then look at the technical sheet of any tablet you are considering.

Another tip on this subject.  If the Tablet of your dreams does not have the slot or port you need, try searching to see if an adapter or docking station is available.

Will You Be Using The Tablet Inside or Outside?

Anti-glare screen protector

Anti-glare screen protector

Your display screen may or may not have special anti-glare properties, so if this is important to you, look for a tablet with this feature, otherwise, know you can purchase a Screen display protector with anti-glare features and add it after your purchase.

Pen/Finger Input Preferences?

Behind or in front of the display will be your active digitizer.  I won’t go into the details for how this technology works, but know that your active digitizer will require the use of a special pen to interact with the display and draw.

The two main digitizers available are manufactured by Wacom and N- Trig.  Wacom is used by the majority of Tablet companies, and would be my first choice.  Some Wacom digitizers have touchscreen capability, too.

N-Trig is a newer, smaller company, and in comparison tests, they do not rate as high as Wacom.

Touchscreen

Touchscreen

In addition to the active digitizer, many Tablet PCs and all the Android and iPads also have touchscreen capability, also called a passive digitizer.   Touchscreen in tablets started when the iPad was released, and now you will find it in ultrabooks, monitors and other computing applications.  What is Touchscreen?  It is where you use your fingertouch to control what you see on your display.

If you have never seen a touchscreen tablet or computer, my advice would be to visit a computer retailer in person to try it out.  You may love it or feel you can live without it.  This feature is personal preference.  Once again,  Wacom and N-Trg are the two largest companies manufacturing touchscreens, and I recommend Wacom.

What type of pen do you prefer?

Tablets are pen enabled devices, and most come with a stylist pen or offer it as an add-on purchase.   What is important to know is that in tablets sold,  Wacom digitizer pens do not work on N-Trig digitizers and vice versa.   Also, if you own a Wacom plug in device (such as Bamboo, Graphire, Intuos or [most] Cintiq), their specialized pens will not work with Tablet PC Wacom digitizers.

However, since 2002, any pen made for a Wacom Tablet PC digitizer will work on another Wacom Tablet PC digitizer.  This is helpful if you happen to own several Tablet PC with Wacom digitizer and often misplace your pen, like I often do.  I use both a HP and Toshiba pen on my Fujitsu with no problem.

Bamboo Feel Carbon

Bamboo Feel Carbon

I do recommend pens for tablet drawing, so my advice is to buy a Tablet PC with Wacom digitizer, and also order at least 2 pens.  More, if you misplace them like me.  🙂  Every tablet PC manufacturer will have their own pen for their brand, plus Wacom makes 2 compatible pens- a Bamboo Feel  ($39 US) and the Bamboo Feel Carbon (79.95 US).  Both links have a helpful list of compatible Tablet PCs.

Adonit Jot Touch 4 for iPads

Adonit Jot Touch 4 for iPads

I also recommend pens for drawing with both Android and iPad tablets.  Right now, the best pen for drawing with your iPad is the Adonit Jot Touch 4, priced at $89 US.   In the Android market, some tablets ship with pens and some don’t.  For this reason, I recommend purchasing a pen if your tablet doesn’t come with one.  Just ensure that the pen is compatible with your Android tablet before you purchase.

By Now…

… you should know what features you desire in a Tablet.  You are bound to have questions, so if you do, please leave me a comment.  I want you to shop around and make an informed decision as to what is the right Tablet for you.

To help you buy a Tablets if you are on a tight budget, the next post in this series will provide you with several options for budget tablet buying.

Take care, Carla