The personal touch

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The personal touch

Handcrafting greeting cards and gifts for 
the holidays lend that extra value

By (ARAcontent)

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Published: Fri 25 Nov 2011, 9:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:02 AM

Nothing says how much you value a person more than a personalised handcrafted card or gift. And making your own can be far easier on your budget than buying from the store. So consider putting your creative skills to the test this year.

No need to be a computer guru

First, assess your computer’s capabilities and obtain the right software. The more RAM (amount of memory) the computer has the better, according to Keld Bangsberg, academic director in Media Arts & Animation at The Art Institute of Portland in Oregon. This will allow you to store many photos and video files, which take up room in your hard drive. “Machines with a minimum of 4 GB are recommended. You don’t need a high-end machine to accomplish good work, but having a machine that doesn’t fight against you is helpful.”

For software, Ric Peterson, The Art Institute of Seattle academic director in Photography and Video Production, recommends Adobe products, which he says are the “industry standard”. Consumers should be able to find a wide range of new software these days for photo and video-editing, particularly on Apple platforms.

Plan the project for success

For crafty projects such as greeting cards or a memory album, try to go beyond just selecting the right photos. Add special touches that represent your family, your interests, where you live, favourite vacations or beloved pets. This can include scanned images of your childs artwork, a postcard, famous quotes or poems.

Bangsberg also recommends thinking about foundational elements such as colour and what kind of mood the colour conveys. “Ask yourself: are you working within a colour palette that is compatible, or are the colours disjointed, and don’t match?” he adds.

When tackling video, the best way to get started, according to Peterson, is to map out a small storyboard to plan out the shots.

Another aspect to consider is how you frame your scenes — you can use close-ups to focus the attention and perhaps heighten the moment, or use broad vistas, where the camera is farther away.

Learn to ‘release’ creativity

For most novices, learning how to release your creativity may be the most difficult challenge.

“Practice is the most surefire way to getting better in any creative endeavour,” says Bangsberg. “First, find a

simple way to get your ideas recorded. Don’t expect perfection on your first try; it’s all about capturing the inspiration when it strikes.”

Norton Young, department director in Advertising and Graphic Design at The Art Institute of Portland, agrees. He recommends carrying a small journal so you can write down anything that is a trigger such as words, colour combinations, or objects that you can work off of later.

To spark ideas and concepts, also try changing up your routine. Young explained that we tend to rely on what we know, which can be a creative block and that the best approach is to put yourself in a new frame of mind. He offers a few tips (see box) on how to get your creative juices flowing.

Get the best out

· Put yourself in an unfamiliar situation or place.

· Observe objects around you and think about two items that do not normally go together and how to make them one concept.

· Read different magazines and watch television shows you normally do not view.

· Try new foods or listen to different music genres. “Looking for inspiration in areas you are not used to seeing is the key,” adds Young. \

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