Thursday, March 26, 2009

Photo cookies - the basics!

People are always asking me to do a video on photo cookies, and I've been putting it off. It isn't that the process is complicated, but perhaps I'm just trying to explain it in too difficult a way due to the programs I use. So, here's the basic thing:

Adobe Photoshop
I use Adobe Photoshop for my tweaking my images. If you don't have that program, you will still need a competent photo editing program. For example, I have found that my printer prints the photo cookies darker than they appear on screen. I have had to lighten the original photo up to 50% just to get it to look right when it printed out.

Sometimes I will receive a color photo that has yellowed with time. I don't mean turned sepia. I just mean that the colors have faded out some. Photoshop has an autocolor function that when applied automatically corrects the photo back to its original colors. It's really wonderful.

I like to go the extra mile with photos that need a little help - either getting rid of scratches or dust speckles. I honestly don't do that for the client so much as I do it for me - I enjoy the challenge of photo restoration!

Sometimes too the client will sent a photo that they scanned at a really high resolution - so it's absolutely enormous. I then have to resize it and save it at a smaller size even before I can lay it out in...

Adobe Illustrator

I use Illustrator for laying out my photos. It has a grid function, and with that you can precisely lay out your photos and know how to resize them. When I say resize, I don't mean in the same way you would in Photoshop. For example, on an icing sheet that is 8-1/2 x11 (also called a 1/4 sheet or "quarter sheet" since it is a one fourth the size of a sheet cake pan), I know that I have a 1/2" unprintable border all the way around (on the sheets from Kopykake), leaving my printable area only 7-1/2" x 10". I want to make the most of my printable space. I might have a 3x5 cookie, but how many 3x5 cookie images can I get on the sheet? well, you could say 3, but there's a lot of wasted icing sheet that way. Instead, resize your image (you can keep the proportions by holding down the shift key as you drag a corner in and out to make the photo either larger or smaller), and think of having two images side by side that are no more than 3.75" wide - that way you can get 8 on a page. Remember that your cookie will have an icing border.

So my dilemma becomes, how do I do a video on photo cookies and explain the intricacies of all this? If I had Camtasia, perhaps I could show it on the screen what I am doing, but I don't. This is why I haven't made a photo cookies demo. The actual printing of the photos and the application to the cookies is the easy part! You just cut the photos apart, remove them from their backing (some fun tricks for getting that accomplished), and then you apply them to the wet icing, which in my case means royal icing.

Because the photo absorbs the moisture from the icing, it must be allowed to dry thoroughly, and I give my photo cookies 24 hours to dry. once the icing outside of the picture forms a crust, you can go ahead an pipe on your border, and then the border and the photo can be drying simultaneously.

If the photo is not completely dry (it can fool you!), and then you try to wrap it, any residual moisture will eventually cause it to stick to the wrapping...and it will peel up... not necessarily the entire photo, but it's not a good look for the final product no matter how much comes up.

I hope this helps with a few questions on photo cookies and will tide you over until I can actually get a video made.

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