LCC XI

Wow. I just realized that it has been almost an entire month since we wrote anything on here. Oops. There’s been too much exciting stuff going on. Filming for the Enumclaw movie is TOMORROW (YAY!)and the deadline for LCC is rapidly descending on us. There’s too much to write about! Aahhhhhh!

I’ll just skip to the most exciting thing happening right now.

Those of you who are Facebook friends with Rachel, Max, or Micah probably already are aware of what has been happening, but for those of you who don’t know, we are very happy to announce that filming for LCC XI has begun!

31089_115919201774186_8117639_nLCC stands for Lightsaber Choreography Contest. It’s a yearly, international contest for major Star Wars geeks who like making movies or swinging swords around. Or both. *glances in Max’s direction* Seriously though, there are some really awesome films made every year for for this contest and it’s a great place for any Star Wars fan or someone who wants to study fight choreography. While many of the entries are set up as Star Wars fanfilms, the purpose of the contest is to judge the choreography. The movies don’t have to take place in the Star Wars universe, be especially high quality, or even have to have saber effects. It all comes down to the choreography.

Max (with Micah) has entered LCC for three years in a row now. He won second place with his film The Fight Inside two years ago (LCC IX), and third place last year (LCC X) with Prevail. Also last year, Phillip and Josiah made Round 1 Infinity and got an honorable mention from the judges.

VIOLENCE WARNING: These are fight videos with mortal injuries. There is no blood but they could be slightly disturbing.

This year is LCC XI and we are all super duper stoked to be collaborating on one entry.

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Trying on their costumes all together. Phillip and Lizzy weren’t finished with their’s yet.

After several weeks of choreography, screen-writing, costume designing,  prop making, and location scouting, we finally all tromped down to the location and started filming. It’s been going kind of slow. This year, there’s dialogue involved which is something that none of us have really done before. We’re still figuring out everything and learning a whole bunch in the process.

We had all decided that it would be better to work in the morning because in the afternoon, the sun would be shinning directly down on us (making the heat unbearable for our actors in their heavy costumes) and the lighting wouldn’t be as good. During this time of year in Washington, the sun rises at about 4:30 AM. That means that if we want to be out there and filming before it gets too hot, we have to get up real early. Don’t know about all you folks, but I like sleep. I generally get up at about 8:00. Getting up at 5:00 for three days in a row was a totally new experience. We usually actually started filming at about 7:30.

Tuesday:

It was pretty slow. We were still trying to figure out exactly what we were doing, this being the first time that we’ve actually all done production together (unless you count the short test videos for Evasion). We made some good progress though and started to get more  of a feel of what the final film should look like. We wrapped up at about 11:00 cause the sun started coming out above the trees, ruining the lighting.

Josiah, the sound guy. Micah, the camera guy. And Annie, the do-whatever-needed-to-be-done-gal

Josiah, the sound guy. Micah, the camera guy. And Annie, the Assistant Director

The cast with finished costumes carrying stuff down to the location.

The cast with finished costumes carrying stuff down to the location.

Wednesday:

– wake up at 5:00 AM.

– Eat breakfast

– Lizzy and Phillip get their hair done by Rachel

– load the car

– get everyone in the car

– drive and meet Swets at trailhead

– Walk down trailhead to location

– Set up shop, getting camera and mic ready

– start filming

– keep filming

– take a quick snack break

– more filming

– filming

– Have your actors act while you capture their performance with a camera and microphone.

– filming

– hurriedly filming the last shots because the sun is steadily encroaching on your location space.

– wrap up

– walk back to the car

– yack with friends about all things you were trying really hard not to waste time on set with

– say good bye

– go home

Thursday:

      See Wednesday 🙂

As droll as I make it sound, I had tons and tons of fun. Being with my siblings and friends as we work hard to create something cool together is probably my favorite part of making movies. It wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without all of us together, giving ideas, being silly, being willing to do it over and over and over and over again until we get it right, and just being ourselves.

Phillip and Max getting into 'character'.

Phillip and Max getting into ‘character’.

We won’t be filming for LCC again for at least another week. We’re all gonna be super busy on set of the Enumclaw movie, and then we’re all gonna be exhausted for a few days after that. Won’t have too much time to recover though. The deadline for LCC is Sept. 8th. We really need to get a move on.

A couple last things:

Firstly, I’m gonna ask everybody in our group to write a blogpost about LCC, so be on the look out for cool posts about costumes, props, production, post-production and anything else that we might feel the need to write about.

Secondly, since we have been quite bad about keeping this blog updated recently, I’m gonna hopefully make up for it by allowing you guys to see these two stills from the film. I hope they make you as excited to see the final thing as I am.

Max_LCC-XI

 

Lizzy_LCC-XI

And that’s the way the camera rolls,

Annie


How To: Build a Camera Dolly/Slider

Hello everyone! Since today is Monday, I had this bright idea to do a blogpost. :D. This week I’ll be showing you how to build a camera dolly/slider. I got the idea from this video.

The dolly/slider is nice because you can do a smooth rolling shot to the side to side, forward and back. In most cases when you try to do that by hand, it turns out shaky and doesn’t look good.

There will be 2 sections to build. #1 is the camera roller and #2 is the dolly track.

~Camera Roller~

Parts for roller.

4 ~ Rollerblade wheels.
4 ~ 3/4″ PVC plugs (1/4″ hole drilled through the ends).
4 ~ 1/4″ bolts, 2″ long (if your wheel bearing doesn’t have a spacer use 5/16″ instead).
4 ~ 1/4″ nuts (or 5/16″ nuts if the above bolt is also 5/16″).
4 ~ Lock Washers.
4 ~ 1/4″ Washers.
3 ~ 3/4″ PVC “T” joints.
2 ~ 3/4″ PVC pipe 2″ long.
1 ~ 2 1/2″ long bolt.
1 ~ Big washer.
1 ~ Quick connector (I used this).

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~Wheel section assembly~

 Get one each of the following: wheel, 2″ bolt, PVC plug, nut, locking washer.

Assemble it like the following pictures and tighten it down. Do the same for the last 3 remaining wheels.

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Note: You might need to grind the sides of the wheels so they can fit into the shelf railing so there is no risk of getting caught up on the sides.

~Main Frame assembly~

Get 1 “T” connector, the 2 1/2″ bolt, big washer and your choice of a connector.
Drill a hole in the bottom of the “T” and assemble like below.

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Now get the other two “T” connectors and the two 2″ PVC lengths.
Attach like in the picture below.

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Then attach the wheel sections together.

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Now, since that is finished, we’ll move on to the………..

~Dolly Track~

Note: Measure how wide the camera roller is and when you assemble the dolly, try to keep it that width. But since the roller is semi adjustable, you don’t have to be exact.

Parts for track.

Cutting board or some kind of thicker plastic.
4 ~ 1/4″ countersink screws 1 1/4″ long.
4 ~ 1/4″ nuts.
Magnetic tape or very thin strips of wood.
4 ~ 1″ PVC elbow joints.
2 ~ 1″ PVC pipe 3-4″ long.
Shelf rail (Enough for 2 ~ 35″ lengths). Something like this

Sorry, don’t have a picture of all the parts before assembly, oops. 😦

~Dolly Assembly~

Get two of the elbow joints and one 3-4″ pipe. Attach the elbows to the the pipe. Repeat for the other one.

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Now get the shelf rail and attach the two end pieces on. I had to wrap tape around the ends of the rail so the PVC would fit tight.

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Drill 4 evenly spaced holes in the middle of the rails (for the brace-plate). Countersink the holes so the screws don’t stick up.

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Cut the plastic board to the desired width and length and drill 4 holes that are in line with the holes on the rails.
Get the 4 screws and nuts, thread it through the rails and board and tighten down.
If you want, drill a hole in the middle of the bottom plate so you can attach it to a tripod.

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In order for the roller to run smoothly back and forth, you’ll need to put something down in the rails. I got 2 pieces of wood (1/8″ thick and width of the rails), fit the the wood into the rails.
I painted it black since black is awesome. But you can do any color, even pink. 😛

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I cut off the ends of the bolts so they aren’t so long.

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AND IT’S DONE!!!

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Here is a test video I did.

~Conclusion and thoughts~

I used two 48″ shelf rails but found they are too long and it gets unsteady when the dolly nears the end. That’s why I said to use two 35″ rails. It doesn’t HAVE to be 35″, I just feel like it would be a good middle ground.

Since the dolly can twist around, periodically you will have to set it on a flat surface and press down to flatten it.

I don’t feel the parts that are holding the quick connector are the best, so if you find a way that is better..thumbs up!

Hope you all enjoyed reading this post and as always, we’d love to hear you comments! ~ Micah Swet

And that’s the way ice is frozen.


ZOMBIEEEEEES!!!

Howdydody y’all?!

We’ve been crazy busy around here, but we managed to squeak in some fun when our good friends, the Lamas, were here for the extended 4th of July weekend. Needless to say, silliness ensued.

Without further ado, I can announce the filming of…

*ahem*

The Great and Awesome Zombie Hunters

II

If you haven’t seen the first one, go check it out here. You probably shouldn’t watch it at night. You might wake up the neighbors with your uproarious laughter. *Content Warning: One character has a cigar (made from paper, not real), and guns are shot (no blood or wounds)*

Here are some behind-the-scenes pics from our day of shooting. (If you click on a picture a bigger slideshow will show up… just FYI.) 😉

Anyway, be on the lookout for awesomeness and zombiehunterness coming to your computer screens sometime in the near future.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.


Location Update and a New Test Film

Hello everybody!

So last week Rachel, Phillip, Annie, Micah, and I took another trip to our location (Josiah and Lizzy were down in Oregon and couldn’t join us, we missed them 😦 ). Our purpose was to figure out exactly where the events in the script should play out. We needed a fork in the road, a covered area in the woods, and an open area without  a lot of underbrush; we found everything we needed! *happy dance* I’m really liking the look of the place, the view is great and you can see the mountains.

Pic

Another reason we went there was to film a sniper test; one of the characters in the script carries a sniper rifle and I wanted to see if I could pull off a good sniper effect.

This was the result:

Warning: this video contains some violence and blood.

I learn quite a bit doing this; next time I think the kickback from the gun should be bigger, and the reaction from the person getting shot should be more of a snap-and-drop rather than a snap…pause…fall.

That’s all for today folks, hope you enjoyed this look into what is happening.

And that’s the way the butter is spread.

~Maxwell~


Some Good News and Some Bad News

Hey! Sorry for going all AWOL on you guys these past few weeks. We’ve all been super, super busy and Monday just kept showing up and leaving again without us having anything to write about. Unfortunately, this is gonna be one of those general-update-thingys we keep doing.

Okay. Good news first.

We’ve pretty much decided that we’re going to switch locations. We all really liked where we made that test film and I think it’s going to be awesome. Max is planning to write more about the location sometime soon so y’all get more details about where it is and what it is and all that jazz.

Since we’re switching locations, the script has to modified somewhat. Micah and I have made some good progress on that the past few days. Once again, the story is morphing into something different as we try to fit it all in. We’re planning to head back to the location sometime soon to actually figure out exactly where we’re gonna be filming specific things. (Lots of pictures will be taken. 🙂 )

Okay. Now for the bad news. 😦

When we first started the Evasion project, we were planning on filming sometime in July-August. As we get closer and closer to those months, our schedules are getting fuller and fuller. This summer, we are also working on two other film projects (LCC XI, and Enumclaw 10 Decades) not to mention Rachel has a job now, so can’t work as much. There is soooooo much packed into this summer!

Bottom line:

We’ve decided to put Evasion on the back burner for a while.

I know. It’s sad.

It’s very, very, very, very, very sad.

We will still be working on it somewhat, but our other projects have deadlines so they’re our first priority. Filming for Evasion has now been set back to October. Maybe we’ll have it done by Christmas.

There is a cloud in this silver lining….. wait……

*clears throat*

There is a silver lining in this cloud. 😉

This blog will NOT be put on hold. We are now going to be writing about our other projects as well! Anything and everything we learn about filmmaking will find it’s way here. *suppresses shriek of excitment* This is gonna be GREAT!!!!! 

And that’s the way the banana peels.

Annie


Experimenting with Fake Beards – Crepe Hair

Hi everybody,

Before I get started, I just wanted to mention: Happy Memorial Day! To those who have served their country in the armed forces, to those who have died to protect the freedoms that we enjoy in the USA, you have my deepest gratitude and thanks.

Well, Monday snuck up on us again this week. We all had a late night last night going to see the new Star Trek Into Darkness (which was supercalifragilistiAWESOME!) and talking about it over pizza afterwards. Nothing super exciting has happened with Evasion this week, but I did do something fun that has to do with movie-making, so I figured now is a good time to share it!

One of the other films we are involved in this summer is a short film celebrating the 100th birthday of a little town nearby named Enumclaw (where the Swets live) funded by the city arts council. Several of us have official positions in the film (very exciting), mine being the Hair and Makeup Lead. Part of the plot of the movie involves going into the past, and a few of the characters need to have very full beards and some super moustaches. Meaning, I need to learn how to do fake hair, stat! This week, the director gave me some supplies, and Max volunteered to be my first victim *evil scheming face here*. I learned a lot, there are several things I didn’t do quite right, and I’ll be practicing some more before we shoot, especially in the moustache area.

I’m not going to give an in-depth tutorial this time. I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I’ll just give a little background about the supplies I was using:

1. Crepe hair: a wool, which is usually used for beard and moustache prosthetics. Comes in lots of different colors. Usually, two or more colors are used because it makes the beard look more realistic.

2. Spirit Gum: an adhesive. Kinda smelly. Very sticky. It is advisable to use a spirit gum remover solution, rather than just ripping the beard or moustache off.

3. Silver gray: a liquid for putting silver in the hair to make the model look older.

4. Random other: Fingers. Moist towellettes for constant cleaning of said fingers. Toothbrush or disposable mascara wand for applying the silver gray. Scissors for cutting and trimming the hair.

Let the pictures begin!

Presenting, Maxwell Swet, as we all know and love him, to grandpa and weird-hobo-guy-with-gun!

silver hair makeup

How to apply a crepe beard

applying fake hair

Crepe beard with Maxwell Swet

Well, that’s it folks! As always, please leave your thoughts below; we LOVE to hear them and eagerly await the email saying we got a new comment. 😉

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.


First Test Footage from ‘EVASION’!

Hello again everyone!

Well here it is, the footage (you probably didn’t know) you were waiting for!

A little while ago Micah and I went with the Polings to a location near their house. We decided to shoot a little test film to see how the location and costumes looked (also for fun 😉 ); the whole thing was planned, choreographed, and shot in a little under 2 hours, it was quite an experience. We had quite an adventure that day because it was very stormy and rained hard several times; by the end we were very wet. Josiah did behind the scenes stuff, Micah did the camera work, and Rachel was Micah’s UH (UH = Umbrella Holder).

Evasion

We love getting feedback so please leave us your thoughts and constructive criticism. We can always use it! 🙂

Sorry the post is a little late, we have been have a busy weekend with friends. 🙂 Go here to see a post that our friend, Abby Lama wrote about what we did.

And that’s the way the carrot crunches.


How to: Build a Fig Rig

Greetings everybody!

My first post on this blog *happy dance*!

Today I’m going to show you how to build a Fig Rig. In case any of you are wondering, it has nothing to do with figs :P. The purpose of a Fig Rig is to help stabilize shots when filming so that if you’re running it isn’t so shaky.

Before you build the rig, you will need these parts:

3/4″ PVC pipe – Cut to :

5 ~ 6″ lengths
6 ~ 2.5″ lengths (only 4 pictured)
4 ~ 1.5″ lengths

3/4″ PVC connectors:

10 ~ 45 Degree Connectors
3 ~ “T” Connectors (only one pictured)
1 ~ “Cross” Connector

Misc. optional parts:

3/8 pipe insulation
Electrical or black tape
Quick release connector
Long bolt
Big Washer
Spacer
Wing nut
PVC glue

First step is to assemble everything together. In Photoshop I color coded the parts in the 2 pictures. It might look confusing, but if you just concentrate on one color at a time it isn’t hard.

How to build a fig rig

How to build a fig rig

There is no particular order when you put it together. I just grabbed a piece and started the assembly!

The next step, the mounting system, is kind of tricky. I say it will be tricky because each person uses something different. Since this was my first time, it wasn’t easy putting it together because I was just fitting on random parts I had at my disposal. You can do the same or follow what I’m going to do in the next sentence.

Drill a hole in the bottom of the middle “T” connector and fit a long bolt through it. Slide a big washer on, then a small spacer, and last a wing nut; tighten it all down.

How to build a fig rig

Sort of almost done! 😉 Just a few more steps.

How to build a fig rig

Next step is to paint it. You can paint it any color or just leave it white. I picked black because it looks totally awesome. 😉

When the paint is dry, grab the pipe foam (I used this stuff) and cut it to the desired length. Then wrap electrical tape, or pretty much any kind of tape, and cover all the foam. I added the foam so my hands would be more comfortable while filming.

How to build a fig rig

And for the final step, screw on the quick release connector. I used this one because it was cheap and got pretty good reviews. There are others that might be better, but this one works fine for me.

How to build a fig rig

Voilà, it’s done!

How to build a fig rig

Here is a quick video test I put together. I shot some footage without the rig and then tried to re-create the same shots using the rig.

~Closing thoughts~

I’m really happy with how it turned out. I read online that I should glue everything together using the PVC glue but I decided not to because I might need to take it apart down the road. You can also cut the side pieces (where  the grips are) smaller so it isn’t so tall. The reason I made it that tall is so the small monitor we use on the DSLR would fit.

And that is the way a muffin is baked. 😀

As always, we love seeing comments down below, so post away!

~Micah


Quick Update

Hello,

Just a quick update about what is going on:

The script is is just about done, we just have to iron out a few little things and figure out an ending we all like.

We went back to the location that I had shown you guys in this post and found that it won’t work as good as we thought. Since I was there a whole lot of grass/greenery has grown up and it doesn’t look as cool as it did before (the location doesn’t quite fit the story anymore either). 😦  Don’t worry though, there is hope! The Polings found a location that might work; its in an old logged area that looks pretty cool. 🙂 In the next few weeks we’ll be doing more location scouting and we’ll post more on the subject.

Well, that’s all for today folks! We love to hear your comments so please leave one. 🙂 See you next Monday!

Maxwell

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Making Movie Posters from Scratch

As Annie mentioned, my computer took a little time-out at the Apple Store last week, and I wasn’t able to write this lovely long post about poster making. Everything is all sorted now, so let’s get down to bit’ness! *rubs hands together*

First of all, a small warning: Poster-making is Photoshop intensive. I have learned soooo so much about Photoshop from trying to make posters. I learned way more than I can squeeze into one post. Instead of detailing the exact steps I took in Photoshop to create these posters, what I’d like to do is take you on a little journey through my learning process, and point you in the direction of the websites and resources I found helpful.


Photoshoot

When we were first thinking of making posters, I quickly realized that we needed to have a photoshoot to get lots of high quality pictures with lots different poses to choose from. I dragged my siblings, our dSLR, and the tripod outside in the freezing intermittent drizzle and tried various different things.

1. We have these big sheets of poster paper that we used to create a white background. Someone would stand behind our current model, and hold the paper while I took the picture. We did this so later it would be much easier to remove the background in photoshop so we could just use the person in our poster.

Lizzy movie poster

2. We held the white paper like a “bounce board” down below camera. The light from the sky reflected off of the white paper and onto the model’s face, making the picture very evenly lit.

Lizzy poster 2

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3. We got lots of different poses, lots of different faces, sometimes had weapons, sometimes not, sometimes used the white background, sometimes not. We took, at the very least, 15 pictures of each person. In retrospect, it would have been better to take even more. Closer to 20-30 would have been better.

Annie Poster

Here’s what I learned from the photoshoot:

  • It was a really good idea to take these pictures when it was cloudy outside. Even though it looks good with your eyes, direct sunlight is much harder to take pictures in. Clouds help diffuse the light- spread it out and make it very evenly lit. This is perfect for taking this kind of pictures, especially if you don’t know yet exactly what style of poster you want to make.
  • If I ever do this again, I want to have a system down for getting all the poses I want from everybody. I was giving directions willy-nilly, and some of the poses that we really wanted to use later on in our posters didn’t have a white background, and some people were just missing poses that we didn’t get. This made it a little bit harder to do what we wanted. I’d almost want to create a checklist of sorts: facing right, facing left, facing front, facing right with white board, facing left… etc.
  • Like I said before, I took at least 15 pictures of everybody, and chose about 6 of my favorites of each person from that pool. We did end up having enough, but if I do this again, I want to take closer to 20-30 pictures to choose from.

Research

So now I have all of these awesome pictures…. What do I do with them all?!? Being a first time poster-maker, I did what I always do when I don’t know how to do something- Google it!

I spent quite a while poking around on various websites trying to find what I was looking for. This is what I found:

Here is a tutorial I started with. Mostly what I needed was some new techniques to use in Photoshop. By following the tutorial, I learned the techniques I needed to make what I was seeing in my head appear in Photoshop. By the time I got to the middle of the tutorial, I didn’t really need it any more, and I was able to move on to adapting what I learned to the poster I wanted to make, instead of the poster in the tutorial. I also used this tutorial for inspiration and ideas.

Here are the process pictures of the first poster I did. I uploaded them to the private Facebook group we use to share ideas with each other. I got lots of really good feedback from everybody, along with suggestions and help.

poster 1 first try

1. This my first attempt while I was learning the techniques used in the tutorials. At the time, it looked really cool. Looking back at it, I think it looks… like a first attempt that got much, MUCH better later on. I didn’t have pictures of Max and Micah yet.

poster 1 second try

2. I decided to put some of the color back in. I also found a font that I liked for the title and played around with that a bit. I got some new watercolor brushes for photoshop (downloaded for free somewhere), and that made it WAY better.

Poster 1 third try

3. Max and Micah had their photoshoot and sent us their pictures. I spent hours tweaking little things like getting the little bits of white outlines out of everybody’s hair, and getting the color balance just right. I know how to do those things WAY faster now.

Poster 1 fourth try

4. After sending everybody a new copy of each try, this was the version that everybody said was finished! I moved Lizzy into the middle because it looked too balanced before. It needed to be balanced, but interesting.


Textures

One of the most important things I’ve learned about creating graphics, in Photoshop or otherwise, is how to use textures. Textures provide our eyes with that little element needed to know that what we are looking at is real. Pure color just looks wrong, but add a subtle texture to it, and our brain accepts it much better.

Textures can also help cover up and smooth over mistakes or imperfections.

For instance, here is a copy of the first poster I made without any of the stone or watercolor textures I added.

Evasion_Poster_withoutTexture1

Now you can see any mistakes I made, or any little imperfections. They are glaringly obvious.

Here it is again with the stone textures added in:

Evasion_Poster_withoutTexture2

And the finished one with the watercolor textures back in:

Poster 1 fourth try

I’ve found several sites that provide wonderful textures to download for free. I just love them! You can also take pictures yourself to use as textures once you know what you are looking for. I must admit to being slightly addicted to downloaded textures, especially antique paper and cool stone packs. *guilty face*

Here are my favorite free texture sites:

Lost and Taken
Zen Textures
Design Instruct

Also, here is where we like to get free fonts:

Dafont.com


In Conclusion

I learned so much by just trying and seeing what would happen! Every time I ran into a little problem, our whole little movie group was there to help me with advice and ideas, and of course, I read many tutorials and articles on Google and lots of videos on Youtube to fill in the little gaps.

If you are making posters and would like another set of eyes to look over it and give you constructive criticism or help, I am more than happy to give it. Just send it my way! Often we learn the best from someone else editing our work.

As always, I anxiously await comment notification emails, so don’t be shy! We all love to read what you think about what we are doing!

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

Love,

Rachel