So. I’ve really been enjoying flipping through the projects at the Fall Pinterest Challenge at Young House Love. The idea is to actually *do* something you’ve pinned on Pinterest in the past. It’s not a bad idea. I do okay at accomplishing projects I think would be fun, but a little push is a good thing.
So I decided to flip through my Pinterest boards to see what turned up. This graphic from Graphics Fairy caught my eye:
I love that zebra. It’s so endearing. I also know that Beauty loves zebras, along with most other animals she can identify. (Which includes a few oddballs like lemur and gecko. Because that’s how my family rolls.)
I pinned it thinking I’d like to convert it to something I could use with my Silhouette, and I’m still not sure what I want to do with it, but I figure converting it to a vector file is a step in the right direction, right?
So I opened the image in Picnik (which was great, since Picnik lets you just type in the url, so I didn’t have to download it) and pushed up the contrast and exposure and shadows and then used Duo-tone to make it straight black and white.
Then pulled it into Paint.NET (which is an open-source art program that’s essentially a grown-up version of MS Paint) to clean it up. This was the longest step. I had to get rid of stray pixels (black speckles in white patches and vice versa) and define white and black patches in areas like the hooves that were practically checkerboards. I smoothed out some of the roughest edges and made sure the outline was unbroken. (I actually missed a break in the outline on one leg, but such is life.) Still, it really only took a few minutes.
Once I had a clean black and white image, all I had to do was pull it into Inkscape (more open-source software, this one is for vector art and I love it) and use the Trace Bitmap tool.
It came out beautifully.
I believe the Silhouette software can also trace a non-vector image, but I’ve found I don’t really like working with it more than I have to. Silhouette Software is a commercial product designed primarily for people who buy their cutting files, so creating vector images is not its core competency, and it’s almost always cleaner and easier to use the product that was actually designed to do what I am trying to do.
(Inkscape looks scary, but it’s actually quite easy to learn. I suggest the tutorials from Very Simple Designs to anyone looking to learn it. Save your files as .dxf to be able to open them in Silhouette Studio.)
Now, of course, I need to figure out what on earth to do with it. I think I have black contact paper (and if not I can totally paint clear contact paper black) and it would look pretty cool on the wall above her changing table. Admittedly she might pull it off after a while, but such is life. It would also look really cool on her dresser, but for that I’ll need to wait until tomorrow when I can measure it and see how it would fit.
But I’m so glad the Pinterest Challenge gave me this push. Otherwise I’d probably never have done any of it.
If anyone wants them, you can download the SVG file here, or the Silhouette Studio file here. Since the original graphic was freely available it seems appropriate to do the same with the vector versions.