Operation: Something To Crow About

Ever have one of those days when you look back and wonder how you got everything done on the must do list?  How about two days in a row of that?  Three?  Well, I can honestly say the last FOUR days have been one for the ages.  It is fairly late on Sunday and about the first time I’ve been able to sit for a few minutes not to mention reliving my college years sleep cycle.  I’ll leave out the details for now since the last four days have been filled with upcoming blog topics, but for a short summary the real journey began after work on Thursday with hauling water and working on decorations.  Friday morning began with decorations and doing my best to get stuff ready for Saturday without tiring myself too much and avoiding injury at all cost.  Friday night was spent running a half marathon in a cemetery (until midnight)  followed by Saturday morning early rise to spend ALL day setting up the haunted trail for the cookout that night.  Up early again to haul everything back out of the woods during the day and then finding out Project Auuuunnold was going to go into a new phase tomorrow morning requiring me to spend all night prepping for that.  Of course, a big thanks goes to Linda as well otherwise this would have been pretty much a non-starter.  The good news is it’s done and there’s plenty of time for sleep and recovery!

Since Halloween is officially coming up later this week, figured I’d pay tribute to one of my favorite past times – that’s right, the annual pumpkin carving (and the images were already processed which helps out when trying to get a quick post out).  Thought you might be interested in the process I use for my pumpkin carvings.  I tried to take a number of pictures during the process to help show the different stages.  In fact, there are so many pictures in this post I’ll likely let them do the talking and go light on the text. … and we’re off..

The first step in the process is to figure out the theme.  Every once in awhile I have a subject already picked out, but more often it is usually a night spent parading through pages after pages of Google Images.  This process can get a little dark and be warned you might stumble upon some images that just might be emotionally scarring.  Search terms such as demon, haunted, warlock, devil, gothic, horror, vampire and … ummm yea, I’ve taken “terror” off my search list for obvious reasons.  Each one of those words will produce a very healthy (err. better word..  large) collection of images.  Your goal is to find one with a lot of contrast that works in a 3 color palette.  I usually download a number of images and then proceed to do test palette reductions to see which one works the best.

This year’s winner was…

I actually found it under the gothic category.  As a big fan of The Crow this seemed like a perfect fit.  Before going further, always heed any copyright issues.  The site AllBackgrounds.com listed these images as free but just in case, all rights to this images remain with the original owner – my use is personal only and no revenue is generated off the resultant pattern or carved pumpkin.  With that out of the way, the next phase is to convert the image down to a 3 color palette.  This takes a lot of trial and error and recommend only reducing the colors a little at a time to make sure the conversion thresholds work with the image you are trying to produce.  Paint Shop Pro is my go to tool due to the relatively simple menus (still using version 7 before they went off and tried to compete with Adobe).  Save often and be prepared to backtrack if you lose a feature.  The following shot was pretty far along in the reduction process.  Notice how crisp the lines ended up (thanks to  some quick zooming in and pixel correcting where necessary) which is perfect for the end pattern which maintains the desired effect.

At this point I start the more creative aspect of the project.  Basically you have to zoom in and hand correct any dithering that still remains and add any “pumpkin nuances” that are required.  These little features are needed to generate a pattern that can actually be carved and once cut will help extend the life of the end product.  I am absolutely fed up with all the sites on the internet offering up free patterns that DO NOT WORK!   These fakes are easily noticed once you know what to look for ..and/or if you’ve blown a few pumpkins like I have in the past.  Look for areas that are not cut out – if you see a cut that make their way all the way around it .. bad pattern!  Trust me, you will start noticing the fakes now – they are generally produced on a graphics program, converted to the proper colors and slapped up on the website as a freebie patter (really irks me).  Do you notice any of the features I added below….

Hit the Jump to see how the pattern turns out!

Continue reading Operation: Something To Crow About