Are you inspired by the mundane? The seemingly normal everyday things you come across? If not you should be, because what may appear to be nothing, can be turned into something unique.
Training yourself to be a good everyday observer and asking yourself questions such as “What else could I do with that?” will help you develop your art and unleash the potential of ordinary items; you don’t know how you could use something you’ve overlooked a thousand times to your creative advantage unless you let yourself experiment.
We’re going to take some things that most people throw away immediately – lolly sticks – and turn them into a design resource you’ll be able to use in personal and professional projects. It’s not hard, and there’s no secret – other than a willingness to live a creatively curious life.
Time to complete
Please visit the desktop site to download the project files.
For years I threw lolly sticks in the bin. Then one day I noticed they created a cool edge when broken, so I started saving them. You’ll need a good handful before you can create the edge we’re after.
When you’ve got enough lolly sticks saved up, snap them to create nice fractured edges. I find that breaking them slowly creates more interesting splintering.
Draw a rule on some paper and align your broken edges. Vary the sizing so you create plenty of character with the edge. Tape your broken pieces together to make scanning them easier. Scan in your edge as an RGB TIFF image at 100%,
set the resolution to at least 600dpi, and save it to your desktop.
Open your scanned image in Photoshop, and using the Levels palette (Cmd/Ctrl + L) adjust the image so you blow out details darkening the darks and lightening the lights until you have a posterised look (as shown in the image). You can also experiment further with levels to retain more mid-tones, if that’s the look you’re after. For this resource I wanted a high-contrast edge with almost no alpha pixels.
Open the Color Range palette (Select > Color Range) and using the default setting of Sampled Colors, click on the Add to Sample eyedropper under the Save button. Use the eyedropper to sample the colours in your image, creating the mask you’ll use to create your final edge shape. Leave some small artifacts in your image, so that it looks more authentic and distressed.
A new selection based on your colour-range work is now loaded, so create a new layer (Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + N) and fill (Shift + F5) the new transparent layer with black. Note the degraded edge with subtle distressed detail you’ve created.
You now have your base art done and can design whatever type of edge motif you’d like.
In this project I created a 8.5 x 11-inch frame using my edge. I cloned the edge layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J), rotated it (Edit > Transform > Rotate), and positioned it along the sides, to form the edged frame. Use the Clone Stamp tool (S), to alter some of the detail on three of the sides, so it doesn’t look as though you’re using the same edge.
This shows a photo of mine masked within the framed edge I created. It’s fun to find new uses for mundane things. In this case we took something disposable and recycled it into a creative and unique design tool.