Saturday, May 23, 2015

WoollyRhino Shows You How To Make A Colorwork Chart Using Stitchboard + GIMP

Using Stitchboard to make a pattern isn't rocket science by any means, but some of you might be curious about how I make all of those free charts I'm always sharing. You might be thinking, "All you do is upload a picture to Stitchboard and then it just spits it out! You don't actually do anything! Loser!"

Wrong. Sit down.

Step 1: Acquire An Image

If you pay attention in Dragon Age II, you'll see that Clan Sabrae has some banners up outside of their camp that have these fantastic horned creature skulls on them. You can also spot these banners in the background of some battlegrounds in Heroes of Dragon Age. For some reason, there are no decent quality images of this on the Internet for my usage and I couldn't just take a screengrab to use because the banners aren't completely flat and this is a disaster. I like horned things. "I want to crochet that," I said. "I'll just draw it myself."

Ta da! Even if you can't draw at all - a crappy sketch will do, I promise. I did this sketch in 45 seconds and it's not symmetrical. It's really about as good as the foldy banners. I like to draw on paper, but it can also be done directly in Photoshop or your preferred editing software. I use GIMP. It's free. I like free. Free is good.

I touched up my sketch, made it solid and made the background white for simplicity. "Touched up" is used loosely. You don't want to make anything black because Stitchboard's grid lines are black. If I'm just making a two-color project then I go with white and dark gray, usually. If you want, you can make it accurate colors (e.g. this horned beast would be white on red).

There's an option for "easy reading" where you can get away with black, but it's hard for me to see if everything looks right and it's also hard to edit after the fact because you end up changing the colors of all of your lines and life gets very hard.

My digitally edited image still looks like crap. But that doesn't matter! You'll see why soon enough.


* Yes, I also sketched one of the Fen'Harel statues from Inquisition. I do have plans for it that might be cool, but I need to simplify the details a little more to make it work.

Step 2: Upload To Stitchboard And Pick Your Stitch

I selected my crappy image above and although I intended to crochet the pattern, I picked Cross Stitch in the stitching category. This depends on your own gauge, the project and a lot of other factors. I went into this planning to make this into a crochet sticker for my backpack. My stitches will be tiny and tight enough that they will actually be very nearly squares. I would go with one of the other options if I were doing a project with more than two colors because my stitches would get taller since I'd be carrying multiple colors in the back.


Step 3: Colors, Stitches, Output

If you'll be using two colors, I recommend limiting the colors to two. You'll be surprised how many mysterious colors Stitchboard will find if you let it use the entire palette. It happens a lot around the edges of shapes. Instead of making your image not-black, you can also attempt to use the color choosing option. I have not had good luck with my attempts to use it. The colors never seem to go in the right places and I have to do editing afterward anyway.

Next, pick your stitches across - this is why I love Stitchboard the most. I can use the same image for multiple projects just by changing this number. I went with 24 because that makes a decently wide crochet sticker using super fine yarn and a size 1 hook. 


Here's a closer look at the output options. I always go with "Pattern on Screen" because I always want to edit the charts after Stitchboard spits them out. The grid options are awesome for large projects, but I don't need any additional grid lines for something that's 24 stitches.


Step 4: More Options! And LET'S SEE MY PATTERN!

None of these options were relevant to my Clan Sabrae horned beast. I don't often use them, but I have played with them to see what they all do. I encourage this as you may have a project in mind that they'll work for. Then click the amazing button at the bottom and omg LET'S SEE IT.


Step 5: My Pattern!

Well, that still doesn't look right, but I now have a nicely sized grid and the basic shape. Even if you don't use a crappy sketch, you will still end up with an imperfect pattern. I've never had Stitchboard spew out a chart that was perfect. I always have to tweak a few squares here and there, sometimes a ton of squares. This will be one of the latter thanks to my crappy sketch. You can click 'Change Setting' to go back to the previous page and dabble with the options or you can click the download button.

Step 5: Making The Chart, For Real

Once your chart is in your possession, open it up in your preferred editing software. GIMP and Photoshop are very similar. I also like to have an original version open as well for reference. In this case, I used the image from the game that I took and not my crappy sketch. My crappy sketch, after all, was just to create a flatter version of the original floppy banner.

Use the Pick Color tool to make sure you've got your two colors as your background and foreground colors and then use the Fill tool to start making changes. It's way easier to make something symmetrical once it has a grid and this is why the crappiness of your sketch is ultimately irrelevant. See my progress screencaps.





And here is the final chart! This entire process took about 40 minutes from start to finish. Sometimes as I'm working on the actual project, I find that something doesn't look right in the yarn and I fix it then I go back and easily edit the chart with the Color Picker and Fill tools again.


Step 6: Use Chart, Make Thing

I made it in pink and white instead of red and white and it's really tall. Eventually, I'll get around to adhering it to my backpack. I'll probably put it on the side somewhere since it's, like, jumbo size and won't fit anywhere else. I could make a smaller version by using a smaller hook. How exciting! Dareth shiral, bitches. And happy belated birthday to Bioware! XOXOX





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