Friday, April 29, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Idea - Custom Notepad

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Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up next week here and I like to give a little something homemade to the teachers to let them know I appreciate all that they do. I wanted to make something useful and personalized and came up with the idea of making a custom notepad. I recently saw a tutorial on Infarrantly Creative for creating your own notepad and knew this was what I wanted to do. I came across these wonderful labels at Lovely Package and felt inspired to create my design with a clean, simple, antique type of feel.

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• Some decorative fonts for your label. I chose Beffle and Rosewood, which are available for free download from and respectively.

• A script font to be used as a faux signature of sorts. I chose Freebooter Script, also available free from

• A basic circle for part of the label

• Some rough lines to age the label (shown enlarged by comparison in the image above)

• A banner. I found this cute antique banner here at ScrapGirls.

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Gather all of your ingredients. Feel free to make adjustments, according to your own tastes. I used Illustrator to draw the circle with black outline. I duplicated that circle and dragged it diagonally down to the right and filled it with black, then sent it to the back. This duplicated the feel of the font that I had chosen and felt in keeping with the banner. Next, I set the type inside the circle the way I wanted it to appear. Once I got this circle done, I imported it into Photoshop to assemble the rest of the design.

In Photoshop, I used a standard brush called Paintbrush Tool Texture Comb and drew some rough lines inside my circle label to rough it up a bit and help it match the banner that I had chosen. I drew and erased and drew and erased some more until I liked the look.

I chose to make my notepad 1/4 sheet of letter-size paper, so I set up my document to be 4.25 x 5.5 inches. I drew the rectangular outline border, then a thick black rectangle on top and a thinner black rectangle on the bottom, to frame the design. I typed "A NOTE FROM" in the border at the top, reversed the text to white, and gave it a little extra letterspacing to spread it out a bit. I placed the banner and dragged the circular nameplate on top. Almost done now! For a final finishing touch, I typed the teacher's first name in a script font and stuck it down near the bottom, as if as a signature.

After my notepad design was complete, I duplicated it 3 more times and placed them 4 to a page on a new letter-size document and printed it out. I printed 20 copies on tan paper, then used my paper cutter to cut them evenly into fourths.

Then, using some Mod Podge, rulers, and binder clips, I followed the tutorial at Infarrantly Creative to make my own notepads. If you would rather not make your own, you can easily take your finished design to FedEx/Kinko's (and maybe other copy shops, but I have used Kinko's and know they do it!) and have them turn it into a notepad for you. The cost is only a couple dollars.

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Here is my final notepad! I'm hoping my daughter's teacher will enjoy this gift and think of how much we appreciate her every time she needs to write a note. I'd love to hear if you decide to make your own notepad!

Designer. Mother of 4.
Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, or see my digital scrapbooking designs at Scrap Girls.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Magnet for Mom

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This was posted in one of the blogs I follow. I love the whimsical letters and the color scheme. My mom's birthday is coming up, and I thought it would be fun to make a magnet with her name on it, to go along with her present.

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I chose several different fonts, all free! Fancy Pants, BP Script, Seaside Resort, Beffle, Tribeca, and Fontleroy Brown.
I also chose a bright spring green, and a selection of delicious sherbet-looking colors. They look like spring! I created a frame using circles and lines and was ready to start my project.

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1. I used Illustrator and typed my mom's name using each of the fonts so I could see which letters I liked best. I mixed them up and played with sizes and arrangement until I liked the way it looked.
2. You can buy printable magnet stock (it has a printable paper side), or you can buy magnets from a craft store and attach them to the back of whatever you create). I chose a standard business card size: 3.5" x 2.
3. I created a frame, it looks more complex than it is...I just created a circle and duplicated it all the way around the edge of my frame. I filled in the center using a box in the same green,  then added a white box, and kept adding features—solid lines, dotted lines, and dots—until I liked the way it looked.
4. I inserted my mom's names, giving each letter a different color. Tip: start with a darker or stronger color, use another strong color in the middle and another at the end. It will keep it more legible, and it will "frame" the word nicely too.
5. I wanted a light peach colored background so I added that, then I was ready to print onto the magnetic sheet!

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And here it is—a magnet to accompany my mom's gift—happy birthday, mom!

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Designer. Typography geek. Entrepreneur.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Animals Design

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Animal groupings in design have been catching my eye lately. Easter seems like the perfect holiday to make some animal-patterned stationery.

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1) A dingbat animal font. I downloaded Pixelfarms Pets from

2) Script style font. I handwrote my own greeting:

(update: just posted as a download here)

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1) In Illustrator, I started by typing out the alphabet in the Pixelfarms Pets font, then converted it to outlines (Type > Create Outlines), then ungrouped the font so I could move the animals around individually.

2) I drew a circle to use as my outline. I then started adding animals into the circle, making some larger and more predominant, and using smaller animals to fill in any gaps.

3) When I was happy with the placement of the animals, I deleted my circle outline.

4) Type in your greeting. I used the cheesy line "Somebunny Loves You."

5) You can print your design out as a greeting cards, or in my case, I printed it out in vellum and used it as a gift tag.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Make a Favicon

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Have you ever wondered how you get the cute little icons next to a URL? They are called favicons and if you don't already have one, you can! This so easy. Use your graphic editing software to create an artboard in a perfect square. The finished size is only 16x16 pixels -that's TINY but you can create a larger file to begin with and shrink it down if you need to.

Create you art! You can do whatever, image, letter, shape, etc. Just remember to keep it simple. Fine details will get lost that small. Once you are happy with your design, save it as a .jpg, .png, or .gif and pop over to  This is such a quick and easy way to create a favicon. Love it!

You don't need to register or login unless you want to keep track of your icons on their site. Just click import image, find your icon and import. Since you designed it as a square you can just keep the dimensions and hit the upload button.

Once your file is uploaded, you will see a simplified pixel version of your icon and the finished product down below. You can edit the individual pixels here if you need to change things a little. Tweak it till you are happy then click the Download Favicon link.  It will save it to your desktop as an .ico file which is the file type need for the browser to display your new icon.

Some blog platforms allow you just to upload the .ico image right to their template. If yours doesn't have a spot for it you'll need to find it a home. So upload this little image to anywhere that will let you link to it via URL such as Photobucket. I just use my webserver.

Once it's living at it's new home you can add it to the html portion of your code. In Blogger, look under the HTML portion of the design panel and look for this code (click to enlarge):

Add the green portion to the code and change it to reflect the URL of your image. Save and refresh and you should see the little icon next to your web address.

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Check out some great examples of favicons from Smashing Magazine.
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