December is well upon us, which means Christmas is coming quite soon!

Since ’tis the season, I thought I’d jump on the last-minute gift bandwagon, and share a few of my favourite suggestions of gifts that will bring cheer to more than just the recipient! I love how these folks are using art and design for social change and to empower generations through creativity, so have a look and spread some arty cheer!

Raven & Lily
http://www.ravenandlily.com
 
I recommend: Moroccan Woodcarved Journal ($18) and Wood & Silver Leather Bangles (3 for $18)
These guys are doing a lovely thing, empowering women in Ethiopia and India through design. The women are taught design skills, and the proceeds go towards funding literacy programs for the artisans and their families. All the products sold are hand-made and eco-friendly, and affordable, too! (I bought myself one of these hand-carved wooden journals last month, it’s even prettier in person!)

Eat Art
http://www.eat-art.org

I recommend: Darth Vader – Never Beyond (12×18″ – $30)
“You get the art. The kids get to eat.” I think their slogan says it all. A lovely selection of art and photography to choose from, with each 5×7″ print feeding one child for one month (with bigger sizes feeding more children, hurrah)! (Plus: Darth Vader Art. ‘Nuff Said.)

Sevenly
http://www.sevenly.org

I recommend: Shirt! ($22)
There’s a featured charity each week with a new and beautifully designed shirt to match! Proceeds go to the charity, and you get to gift a lovely shirt. (Each design is only available for a week, so grab ’em while you can!)

Just a quick post to say, if you haven’t already heard, my Kickstarter project for A Lovely Tale has been successfully funded – woo!

It’s been really amazing to hear people’s feedback and excitement about the concept, I really appreciate all your support and help spreading the word. Massive thanks for partnering with me to make this book a reality!

I’m working hard to finish up the content, and then comes the printing and sharing stage. Exciting!

I’ll be finalizing layouts and printing mockups over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for updates on that as well!

I thought I’d post a blog with a bit of a breakdown on how some of the images for A Lovely Tale were made – particularly the CG ones! I’ve also had a few questions about what computer-generated imagery/rendering is, so I am happily here to enlighten you!

To stick with the theme of the house I grew up in that is the backdrop of the series, considering I’m currently in Belfast, I couldn’t physically photograph it myself. The lovely thing about computer-generated imagery is that it not only allows you to recreate things photo-realistically, but also to put an imaginative spin on it. For the house itself, I started with a handful of photos, the architect’s plans, and years of memories.

All those squashed together helped create the digital model, literally recreating the house as I remember it. It’s essentially like sculpting something digitally – using clay or Legos (or whatever other childhood toy you prefer to imagine), then applying textures and adding lights. The rather meticulous process looked something like this:

  

Rendering itself involves the computer software compiling the information from the digital ‘sculpture’, the textures, and the lights, and outputting it as an image. Once rendered, I took the final image into Photoshop to give it the look and feel I imagined, and this resulted in the final composite, below:

There you have it, a short and sweet look at how the process works! If you haven’t already, check out the Kickstarter project, I’d love it if you became a backer – there’s just over a week left!

Here’s a bit of background behind the story of ‘A Lovely Tale‘ and where the idea and inspiration sort of came from.

When I was little we lived in a beautiful Victorian house, it was basically like a giant dollhouse. I suppose it is every little girl’s dream to grow up in an overgrown pink abode with blue shutters and an endless forest, and we briefly lived that fantasy out.

Though, I remember a few days before we were slated to move clear across the country, it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have any photos of the house. When you’re eight, the urgency of this seems massively impressive, like once we moved the house would cease to exist entirely – be sucked into some abyss of nothingness.

I was not okay with this.

My reaction at the time, not having access to a camera of my own, was to break out some pencils and paper and camp out on the driveway while feverishly attempting to draw the house in all its glory. You see, it wasn’t even about the house; it was about the memories and the essence of being there. And I felt the need to create some form of imagery in order to remember and preserve it ‘properly’.

Fade to black and fast-forward a bit over a decade, and there I am again, trying to explain this house that we lived in. I felt like my words couldn’t do it justice, so I once again found the nearest pen and scrap of paper and recreated it the only way I knew how. It’s funny how in that moment of recreation, the details weren’t important, but the story and feeling was.

We may remember with certain detail but we retell with imagination. Slowly, that imagination becomes our reality. What if we had photographs to reflect this imaginative reality?

A Lovely Tale is built on this premise and the story inspired from growing up with the backdrop of the aforementioned house.

Stay tuned for a post about the technical side of the process and how these memories are becoming photographic reality!

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