Customize your electronics with Studio 300

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Create a custom look using vinyl.

These days our electronics are always close at hand. We take them everywhere and use them for everything from work to play. With such an abundance of devices in use you may want yours to stand out.

There are many ways to customize the look of your device: laptop skins or decals, customized cases, and more. The wide range of choices makes it difficult to decide. Or you may not get exactly what you want. At Studio 300 there are a few ways to easily customize your own device.

The Studio 300 KNK Zing Computerized Cutter allows you to cut vinyl into the design of your choice. These can easily be applied to your devices and will last a long time.

Another quick and easy way to customize your cell phone is to buy a clear case and then design an insert. You can change these up whenever you wish to update the look. You  create the design and print it using the different paper stocks available at Studio 300. (Examples below).

Ready to get started? Studio 300 has two upcoming classes that can teach you how to use the tools and software to create your own designs.

Vinyl Design & Computer Cutting Basics
Thursday, July 13, 7 p.m.
Create and cut custom designs that can be applied to different surfaces.

Photoshop 101
Tuesday, July 25, 6:30 p.m.
Learn essential Photoshop tools and basic techniques.

The next time you feel like supporting your favorite band, game, sports team or just want to create something that represents YOU, visit Studio 300 and take advantage of all the tools and software available to you.

Maker Faire Highlights

On Saturday, March 11, Fountaindale hosted our first Maker Faire. The event had huge support from our community and featured a bevy of activities including Spaghetti Bridge Building. Check out the highlight video below. And head to our Flickr page for even more pictures.

Stock photos

Sunflower isolated on white

The popular GraphicStock.com recently added 10,000 stock photos to their already extensive library of stock media. Fountaindale Public Library cardholders get free access to this stock media in Studio 300. Having access to royalty-free stock photos is often requested by our patrons, and we are happy to offer these additional choices. You can browse the media available at GraphicStock, but you can only download the images in Studio 300.

If you need video stock footage and royalty-free music, check out the other sites we provide: VideoBlocks and AudioBlocks.

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300 in 300 – 004

Join us for the latest 300 Seconds in Studio 300 podcast where we discuss what’s new in the Fountaindale Public Library media creation space. Jeffrey sits down with three Studio 300 staff members – Adriana, Anna, and Ryan – to talk about upcoming April 2015 programs including the Foto Forum photography club. Got five minutes? Give this podcast a listen!

Fixing Pixelated Printing Problems

Why is it that a picture that looks nice on your computer screen doesn’t look as nice when you print it? This degradation will happen if the resolution of the picture is lower than the size you want to print. Here are some tips to help prevent these kinds of printing disappointments.

Before you print a picture, check out its original size. To do this save your picture to the computer, right click on it, then click on “Properties” if using a PC or “Get Info” if on a Mac. See the pictures below:

imagepropertiesMacGETINFO

For PC users, click on the “Details” tab and scroll down to “Image”. For Mac users, click on the “More Info” arrow. See below:

imagesizeMACscreensize

In both cases, the Width and Height of the image displays. In the examples above, the PC image (left) is 480 pixels for width and 359 for height — or 480 x 359. The Mac example shows 1243 x 902.

Two variables for printing are image Pixel size and the Dots Per Inch (DPI) of the printer which for most printers is 300. Using the formula:

Pixel Width / DPI
Pixel Height / DPI

yields the maximum width and height of your image (in inches). For example, if you want to print a poster-sized image with 18″ x 24″ dimensions, the formula says that your image needs to be 5400 pixels x 7200 pixels — a rather high resolution. It is acceptable to scale down an image but scaling up will result in a distorted, pixelated print. In short, always use higher resolution images when printing.

Wonderful Font Resources

dafontOne distinctive and yet often overlooked way to transform, update, and change the look, feel, and mood of a project is the font you select. Media creation software usually includes dozens of classic and popular typefaces. But when ‘Times New Roman’ or ‘Garamond’ just won’t do, turn to these resources for finding, building, downloading, and then using new and exciting fonts.

  • Dafont.com is a user submission-based font resource with thousands of free fonts ready to download at the click of a mouse. Its friendly design lets you instantly dive into the seemingly endless sea of fonts. They have themed categories to narrow down your search and a ‘New Fonts’ area that lets you see the latest submissions.   You can even submit and preview your own custom text in each font which is a good way to help you select the perfect font for your project. Each font has its own usage permissions, set by the owner/submitter, so take note of any restriction as you download and use them.
  • 1001freefonts works similarly, but gives you a different selection of fonts along with the ability to ‘pin’ your favorites. This lets you browse for hours (don’t say we didn’t warn you!), choose the ones you like, and recall all the pinned fonts when you’re finished.
  • Know the look of the font you need, but can’t remember its name? Or maybe you have a small sampling, but still are unsure? Identifont has a database of popularly used and recognized fonts and some more obscure choices. Search by name, by looking at similar fonts, by publisher or designer, or use their unique quiz method to narrow your choices.
  • Whatthefont is ideal for times when you have a graphic sampling (jpeg, gif, png, etc.) but can’t identify the font. This often happens with logos. Its easy upload process scans, separates letters/symbols, and finds the font that fits closest to your submission.  whatthefontTheir database will find the best match and will give you a list of alternatives and links to where you can purchase and/or download each typeface or font family.  Of course there are some restrictions to the file you choose to upload, however Whatthefont is surprisingly accurate.

New at Lynda.com

lynda_logo3r-d_144xMake a commitment in 2014 to learn new digital media creation and storytelling tools. Studio 300 can help. We have books, classes, and staff to assist.

You also might consider using Lynda.com (watch the Lynda.com story here). This unique training website teaches the latest software, creative, and business skills through high-quality online instructional videos featuring recognized industry experts.

You can access the vast Lynda.com library free exclusively from Studio 300. Browse the site to see what’s available to help you today. Some new topics just released include:

Get in the Mix with Logic Pro

  • Learn 23 advanced Logic Pro music mixing techniques as two engineers perform actual audio adjustments inside Logic. This includes files you can download and use inside Logic for hands-on learning.

Teacher Tips

  • Shows you how to stay up to date with the latest educational technology and classroom management techniques.

Creative DSLR Video Techniques

  • Focuses on the video capabilities of DSLR cameras. (There are videos available about DSLR photography, too.)

Business skills

  • Explore a wide range of business skills for developing your career,

Image Formats

file4411234628810What is the ideal file format for your completed images? First, decide the purpose of your image. Are you posting it to the web? Printing it? Does it need to be large or small? Is detail and line quality important? Here are some suggestions about formats you might use for a given purpose.

JPEG

Works best for color photographs where keeping the file size small is important. It does not work very well for text and large blocks of color that have precise lines as it will cause some blur. There are three ways to save a JPEG: Baseline (Standard), Baseline Optimized, and Progressive. Baseline (Standard) is recognized by all web browsers while Baseline Optimized has better color and compression but will not work on earlier web browsers. Progressive on web pages loads immediately but starts out blocky then clears up as the upload progresses.

PNG

Use this format when you need smaller file sizes and transparency. It was developed for a replacement for GIF.

TIFF

This large file type has no quality loss and also has transparency support. Due to its larger size it is not the best option for web graphics.

GIF

This simple format works best for black and white line images. It only does 256 colors but it does support very simple animations. It works well for buttons and charts.

Unsure how to proceed? Ask us in Studio 300 and we’ll help you optimize your image saving.

Maker-Breaker Bot

DSC00264 During the holiday season, it is a time for selflessness and caring. A time for being thankful for what we have in our lives. One thing that Studio 300 is thankful for is when our 3D printer works. Although you may see several fun and interesting items made from the 3D printer in Studio 300, what you don’t hear is the back story about the making of these unique plastic creations.

Sometimes the printing doesn’t go quite as planned:

ToplessTardisVaderDSC00281

From clogged extruders, tangled plastic, failed designs, and general havoc – the MakerBot 3D printer can be a stubborn machine. Our solution? Patience and occasionally leaving it some flowers and chocolates while whispering soothing words of encouragement (just kidding).  But when it all goes well, the results are often amazing.

Want to learn more about 3D printing? Check out this new book and plan to attend one of our classes.

Meanwhile, here is a time lapse video of our Makerbot in action videotaped by one of our patrons this past summer.

Panoramic Pictures

A2400Panoramic pictures are fun and easy to take.  With a little practice, you can get spectacular results.  Best of all, you don’t need any special equipment:  just a camera, tripod, and your imagination.  Here are a few tips on taking panoramic pictures:

  • Use the camera’s panoramic setting (if it has it)
  • Use a tripod
  • Overlap pictures 50% for the best results
  • Try to shoot with the sun behind you
  • Shoot at least 4 to 5 pictures

Once you shoot those 4 to 5 pictures, they will need to be “stitched” together using special software.  Most cameras come with stitching software or it can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s site.  The software is easy to use; just a few clicks and you’re done.

These pictures were created using the Canon A2400, available for 3-day checkout from Studio 300. The second image is the “stitched” together, single panoramic photo.

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Behind Fountaindale Library

Panoramic shots are great for indoors too.  Here’s the temporary Studio 300 home with individual pictures followed by the completed panoramic version.

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Studio 300