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December 2012

December 2012 -- Stars



  • Artist Spotlight:
    Interview with Ellen Million aka The Boss
  • Behind the Art:
    Stars: A Walkthrough


  • Stars
  • Parting Gift -- A Marker Walkthrough
  • Tubes - Let Your Art Star in Digital Crafting
  • The End is Near
  • Stardancer Walk-through: A Traditional/Digital Mixed Media Approach


  • Poem: Revontulet (Fox Fire)

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  • Tubes - Let Your Art Star in Digital Crafting
    by Tori Beveridge

    Many artists have been approached by digital crafters to use their art as tubes for use in tagging and other digital crafts, or know fellow artists who are licensed with companies who sell tubes.

    What is digital crafting? What are tubes? Why would someone want to use your art to craft with, and why would you permit the use of your art for this?

    Digital crafting started with Paint Shop Pro, which is a cheaper alternative to Photoshop. Many people who bought Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop discovered crafts that they could do digitally. These crafts include creating signatures and tags, email Stationery, avatars/icons, Facebook covers, etc.

    The digital crafters were nicknamed PSPers after their preferred program, Paint Shop Pro.

    The term, tube, comes from Corel Paint Shop Pro program's Picture Tube Tool. These picture tubes are basically clipart and are used like colorful brushes or stamps.

    When a digital crafter talks about a tube, however, they are not talking about the clipart in the Tube Tool, they are talking about a piece of art in which the background has been removed around the central figure(s).

    PSPers wanted more options to use in their hobby of signature tagging and discovered that they could remove the background from beautiful artwork to leave a central figure on a transparent background, which could then be applied, not through the Tube tool, but as a separate layer, a psp or psd layer in their digital crafts. As the PSPers started to use art, they quickly learned about copyright laws and that they cannot use art without the artists' permission. Artists became bombarded with letters asking for permission to use their art. Terms of Use pages sprung up on artists' websites. It wasn't long before a few artists in conjunction with lawyers and savvy business people created the first Tube Store and began to license art for use as tubes. Tubes were then sold to the crafters, who were given a license to use the art according to set terms of use.

    Since then, many tube stores have emerged and many artists license their art through them to be used in digital crafts. The licensing companies have strict terms of use and issue a license number to all customers, which must appear on everything the crafters make, along with the artist's copyright information. Licensed images usually may not exceed 72 dpi or measure more than 500-600 pixels on the longest side, although there are exceptions. Everything made must be for personal, not for profit, use only. The artists are paid a percentage of each tube sale.

    You do not have to go through a licensing company to sell your art as tubes. You could tube it yourself and sell it in your own store. To do so, you'll need to know how to tube. I've written a Tubing Tutorial to get you started. It's written using Paint Shop Pro because that is the program I use to tube my art. I have included links to two different tutorials using Photoshop at the end of this article for those of you who would prefer to use Photoshop.

    Be warned, tubing takes a lot of patience and time. It isn't something that can be rushed, especially if you are working with a very detailed piece of art with lots of details such as hair, fur or feathers.

    Tubing Tutorial

    Open your image. Go to your layer palette. Promote background layer. It will now be named raster 1. You can change the name of this layer if you like, to Tube.

    For a simple background image like this select your magic wand tool. Make sure Feather is set to 2 and anti alias is checked.

    Click the background and you'll see the marching ants appear.

    Hit Delete and the background disappears. The main image will be left sitting on a white and gray checkerboard. Everywhere you see the checkerboard is transparent.

    Go to Selections at the top and in the drop down menu, choose Select None.

    File -- Save as psd layer. Enter a name for the tube. As you continue, save often.

    It's looking good but it's not finished. If you look closely, not all the background has been removed. To be able to see the leftovers more clearly, we'll add a layer underneath the Tube layer.

    To do this: Go to Layers in the top menu and choose Add Raster Layer from the menu. Name this layer, background. In your layer palette, pull the new layer below the tube layer. Go to your flood fill tool and choose a color that is not in your artwork and click the layer to fill it with the color.

    Click on your Tube layer again to make it the working layer. Have a close look at the image. My signature is still on the image and there is still some background between her face and her hand and between the laces and her boots.

    Let's remove my signature and these areas of background using the Freehand Selection or lasso tool. Set the tool to Point to Point. Feather is still 2 and anti alias is still checked.

    Let's do the easy part first, my signature. Draw a shape with the tool around my name, by clicking the mouse in a line around my name.

    Double click when you come back to the point you started and you have selected the area you have outlined as seen by the marching ants. Hit your delete button and then go to Selections, select none. My signature is gone.

    Using the lasso in this way is how you would remove the background of an image where the background is more complex and detailed.

    Let's finish tubing by moving up to the face. Zoom in (scroll) to 300% to 400%, and choose a place to start.

    Click with your mouse and draw out the area you want to remove by clicking around the edge of it. Make your points close together (click a lot). This is very fine and detailed work. If you make a mistake, simply undo (ctrl z) and start again. Remember to double click at the end. Hit Delete and Selections -- Select none. Then move on to the next area and repeat, until all the background is removed.

    Work slowly and carefully and pay attention to detail. If you are working in areas with very fine details such as strands of hair, set your feather to 0 for those areas.

    When you are finished, change the color of the background and check the image again.

    Sometimes little areas or pixels which didn't show on one background color will show on a different one. Change the background to black, and to white as well, to make sure that there are no stray pixels of background and that the edges are smooth.

    When you're satisfied, copy the tube and paste to a new image to remove the excess area from around the image.

    Add your copyright text as a separate layer, using the text tool. To write the copyright symbol, hold down the alt key while you type 0169 on your number pad. Follow it with your name and whatever else you want to add.

    You're ready to resize. Tubes are commonly sized anywhere between 500 to 700 pixels on the longest side. Never resize by more than 1/2 the size of the image at a time. Go to Image in the top menu and choose Resize. Make the desired changes to size. The Resample button should be checked and you should use Smart Size.

    You may sharpen the tube after resizing if you feel it needs it by going to Adjust in the top menu and choose Sharpness from the drop down menu and Sharpen.

    Final save. Go to File - Save As - Enter your title and save as a psd.

    Congratulations! You have created a tube of your art, ready for sale to digital crafters to make beautiful signatures, tags, email stationeries, websets and other creations.

    Time for the big question: Why would you want to license your art for sale as a tubed image for use in digital crafting?

    The digital crafting community is very large. The exposure of your art to this community will bring you more fans and potential customers. You can make added income through sales of your tubed images.


    Digital crafters will be using what they make with your tubed art in emails, tutorials, forums, blogs, groups and social sites. They create truly beautiful tags, web sets and stationery, which will showcase your art.

    Tutorial writers, who use your tubed art in their tutorials, will have their readers wanting both to see, and use your art, resulting in more fans and more sales.

    Your copyright, which includes your name and website url is always on everything made with your tubed art. This puts your art, your name, your website information, in front of many people every day without you having to do anything. It's marketing genius!

    When PSPers see art they like, they go and research the artist. They will browse galleries and stores and they will buy from the artists they like; definitely buying more tubes and also buying prints, magnets, stickers and other products.

    All in all, these are some very good reasons, to allow your art to star in digital crafting.

    Photoshop Tubing Tutorials:

    Tags, Tutorial & Stationery:


    Rose Red/Strawberry Fields IM Stationery

    Rose Red/Strawberry Fields Tag and Tutorial

    Tori Beveridge primarily works digitally using various programs, painting techniques and mixed media, including 3D renders, painted elements and photography to create worlds where you can let yourself believe in fairies, walk with angels and frolic with imagination.

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