DIY Needlepoint Design VII: Dark Shadows

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Disclaimer: This tutorial series is intended for educational purposes only and is aimed at needlepoint hobbyists. If you make use of any information presented in this series, please do not infringe on any copyrights.

Moving right along to Quadrant Numero Uno (where the 3 Lions are supposed to be), I decided they looked too squished together.  Since this is not an official “McGrath Clan” shield, I decided to replace them with a picture of a heraldic lion that I found on the Web.  It looks authentic, but the artist was not attributed.  Probably medieval, and traced out by someone whose name has been lost in the sands of Internet time. 

Heraldic Lion

Heraldic Lion

It was a bit of a pain getting his background stripes out from behind him using Gimp.  Sometimes Gimp is easy, sometimes it is really hard to do what appear to be simple things.   Sometimes what works for one image does not for the next.  Don’t ask me why.  And I think his vector image was diminished when I brought him back into WP as a PNG file.  You can see a bit of how nice he looks in pseudo native SVG in the pic on the right.  He doesn’t look quite as nice in Quadrant 1, I must admit.

I kind of like that vector look, however; I might explore using it in some other projects.  But I’m a little disappointed that the antelope ultimately turned out as fuzzy as he did (compared to his raw SVG file, in which he looks rather stunning).  But that’s an image on my hard drive that I’m looking at, using Mozilla,  so it’s obvious that something is getting lost in translation during the conversion to PNG and upload to WP.   Of course the vector look goes out the window once you start stitching, so in a way the issue is moot, except that it may help with tracing, which is kind of why I was bothering with it in the first place.

Back to the project at hand, I colored the lion fire engine red, in keeping with the original McGrath coat of arms, but also to see how hard it is to trace dark on dark design elements.  One thing I can say at this point is that It can really take a lot of time to take a picture or even clip art illustration and make it look the way you want it to. Plus I really did get a little bored when the Gimp Bucket FIll didn’t work properly with the lion, so instead of needlepointing, I found myself mousepointing for what seemed like hours on end.  That really sucked.  Enough complaining:  One thing I can tell right away is that his high five paw is going to be a bit of an issue.  I can fix it when tracing, but something I am keeping in mind is that I may have to use 1 or 2 plies of embroidery floss to accentuate some of those finer details like the shadows in his body and that raised paw.

At any rate, here’s where the design now stands

Coat of Arms Design

Tomorrow sometime I will be finished with the Hand and Cross icon (Quandrant 2), Needlepoint Gods willing.   I also may go back to the 3 Lions design, as it looks better on paper.  And I don’t really like the red color combination (in Quadrants 4 and 1), which do not go well together.  Plus this particular lion, whom I have taken to referring to as El Diablo, is a little intimidating — not sure I would actually want to stitch him.

That’s the beauty about computer-driven needlepoint design or choosing color schemes based on your hand drawn sketch:  mistakes can be corrected with the click of a mouse or eraser magic — unlike the tedium of ripping out stitched threads, when that perfect thread that you’re stitching a canvas with suddenly seems all wrong.  Don’t you hate when that happens?

Time it took to do this:

2  hours, plus a large bottle of Visine.

Next Step: The Sign of the Cross.

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

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About Erin

Owner of Needlepoint Land, LLC. Professional in the field for more than 15 years, during which I have managed and/or worked with various high-end needlepoint shops. I enjoy teaching both beginners and advanced stitchers, and have created numerous stitch guides, with speciality thread selections, for in-store customers and private clients. I maintain contact with an extensive network of needlepoint vendors, custom artists, and, most importantly, reliable, high-quality finishers. I look forward to hearing your comments on my blog!

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