Friday, June 29, 2012

The Luggage's License Plate

Since The Luggage will have wheels, it is appropriate to give it a license plate. I found an image of an Oregon plate with only two numbers on it that were not overlapping the land areas. It wasn't too hard to create that part using GIMP's clone tool, making sure the water shades matched, and changing the expiration year was pretty simple too.

Next I decided the plate needed a frame with custom wording on it. I found a frame image and blanked out some type in the middle. Then I had to look up how to make everything in the middle and the edges transparent. Once I got that, the edges of the transparent areas were a bit ragged, so I took some time with the eraser tool with the image blown up to 800 percent.

The next step was to cover up the existing words on the frame using the clone tool, again relatively simple, then adding my own words, getting the size and centering right.

I had to resize both images so when I put the license plate layer behind the frame layer, they would match up all right. That was a bit tricky and took some experimenting.

Next was printing, which turned into a real learning experience. To get better quality and also have the plate printed on something a bit better than plain paper, I decided to use photo paper. I put the paper in properly, but I could not get the file to print on anything but 8.5" x 11" paper. Also, the photo paper kept jamming. Eventually I looked at the printer manual, something I'd found while lifting the printer to get into the back to fish out a piece of photo paper.

It turned out the only thing the manual said for printing photos was to do it from an SD card like the one that goes in my camera. So I put the card in the computer slot and copied the file. I thought it was the right size, but it kept coming out too large even when the paper didn't jam or get stalled so half the paper remained white and the other part had only some of the image. After a lot of attempts, I finally realized I needed an image a lot smaller than I'd originally thought it would be and placed on a canvas size of 4 wide by 6 inches deep. The image itself had to be rotated 90 degrees because the photo paper only fits in the printer one way - portrait style instead of landscape.

Eventually I got the whole plate and frame image on one piece of photo paper. It took 16 tries with the printer - 11 partial images and 4 blank jammed pieces of photo paper.

Looking at it, you can probably see that the frame overlaps the plate a bit. I considered changing the size so it didn't, but then I realized I've seen a lot of real plates with frames where the frame covers edges a bit too much.

Someone with real experience with an image program like GIMP probably could've whipped something like this out in an hour or less. It's taken me closer to four hours, simply because much of the time I was doing stuff I've either never done or only do occasionally.

Just now I realized the weather is playing more tricks. The forecast called for showers early today. There were none here. Then the kids in the pool stopped screaming for a little bit and I realized I was hearing the faint sound of raindrops. I clicked on the Intellicast metro radar and saw that there was indeed a shower. Since The Luggage is still out on the deck drying - it's still a little tacky in spots - I got out my golf umbrella that I bought for extra shade at Faerieworlds '09 - the really hot year - and put it over The Luggage with a bit of moving TL itself. Of course, then the rain stopped and a breeze came up, knocking the umbrella off the porch. In order to get it, I had to go out my door and walk all the way around the building. I put it back and tied a rope to keep it from blowing away again

Finally, I realized the numerals and letters on a Crater Lake plate are supposed to be white, not the dark blue I'd originally used. I'd already flattened the image because .jpg files can't be saved in layers. Trying to just change the color left ragged blue edges all around, so I put another layer over the image and matched the font and size as best I could. There's a little bit of blue around the edges, but you do have to look closely. I think it makes the white type stand out a bit since it's mostly on a light blue background. Strictly speaking, there should be a CA beside the larger type with the C over the A, but GIMP doesn't allow for type condensing (if it does, I haven't discovered it), so it's not there. Probably nobody will notice.

I'd also saved an image of a slow-moving vehicle triangle which you may have seen on pictures of Amish buggies. That was quick to do in GIMP - no real manipulation required except a bit of resizing. It took three tries to print, though. It turns out that this "Photosmart" printer is really bad at printing photos on photo paper. Oh well, it was cheap when I bought it and I rarely print out photos.

No comments: