So my daughter came home from school with this beautiful painting of a tree last year. She was so excited to share it with me because she knows how much I love tree designs. Of course I loved it and was so excited to hang it up on my wall but it was just too cool of a design to stop there.
So we decided we were going to create a Zazzle store and upload this design to be a Print On Demand product. If you aren’t familiar with the term print on demand it basically means that the design isn’t printed on the product until you order it.
We put her original design onto a coffee mug and I added some text that said “Shine bright in Any Season”. My daughter’s god mom, who has a coffee mug collection, so kindly bought a coffee mug and shared it on social media. When I friend of her’s wanted to buy it too but struggled to get through the purchase process because of privacy settings, that was when I knew I had more to figure out.
I set out to learning everything I could about Zazzle and figuring out how to get the most out of our designs. As I was designing different product items, I decided I really wanted her tree to be a shower curtain. I just thought the pretty colors would brighten up my bathroom and it had sort of a landscape feel too it. There was a problem though. Cue *wah waaaah* sound effects.
The photo we had taken of her painting was a raster image, which meant if I expanded the image to too large a size, it would look all weird and pixelated when printed. The other design issue was that the mountain part of the design just kind of cuts off in mid-air (where the page ended in the original painting). This isn’t a problem for all products, and some people don’t mind that look, but I figured if I had to redesign the image I may as well adjust the design to minimize the hard edges. I wanted to keep the original mood of the image the same so I changed it as little as possible while still trying to get a good result on a variety of different print on demand products.
I am going to tell you how I changed her image to one that could re-size (as large as a billboard!) at the end of the post and give you some resources but 1st I am going to tell you why I chose Zazzle as the 1st print on demand company for my 1st design.
There are plenty of print on demand sites out there but I love Zazzle specifically because I can upload designs and you (the customer) can personalize the products by adding your own words, names, and pictures to them. For example check out this rainbow tree baby onsie I designed. Click the “personalize this template” section of that Zazzle product page and it will let you type names, text, numbers, etc. The possibilities are endless!
I love an interactive shopping experience so I wanted to provide that as well. Maybe you don’t have time this season to create something from scratch but you still want to give something that has that personal touch. Problem-solved! Plus with Zazzle it was fairly easy to upload an image for my 1st time.
Creating our store was a bit more challenging but once that 1st photo had been uploaded, and I had a taste of what the design possibilities could be, I was totally committed to figuring it out! I’m glad I learned this new skill and it gave me the momentum to figure out how to upload to my Amazon Merch Store as well. Yippee! Wish me luck! I have to wait up to 3 more days to see if the design was accepted. I am just hoping I submitted it correctly, and I’ll worry about whether it will sell later! Click here to go to the Amazon Merch page and learn more about that program.
Creating a Totally Resizable Image
So 1st off I took a picture of my daughter’s painting. It was painted on cream-colored paper which turned out to be a super pain in the apples. I tried color-correcting the photo on a photo editor on my phone to make the background to look uniformly white but every time I lightened and brightened the image the violet color was so light it was hard to see and the picture looked unbalanced.
The next step was to start with the original image again. I used the program Gimp to erase the whole background, mountains, around all those little blobs of color, and I erased some of the ground to round the edges and make it more of a floating design. It only took me 11 gazillion hours but I did it! If there is an easier way to do this please leave it in the comments and help us all out! It was a lot of work but I needed the background to be a good solid color for the next process to perform well.
The next program I used is called Inkscape and I used the bitmap tracing tool to trace as close of an image as I could get. Then I exported this as a .png file type so that my image background would stay transparent. Using a transparent background changes the look of a design when you put it on different color products. I think this design looks cool on products with both light and dark colors.
Both Gimp and Inkscape are open-source software and totally free to download and use. I know they do appreciate any contributions if you can afford it but if you can’t that is OK. Everyone has to start somewhere and they are great resources for those just starting or trying out graphic design.
Online Tutorials that Helped Me
How did I learn how to do all this? Ye ol’ google and Youtube were my best friends during this process. I’m going to share the resources that helped me the most by telling me the correct settings and explaining how to use the different tools.
Davies Media Design – His channel on youtube explains the different tools, techniques, and settings on Gimp for images intended for print or on-screen display.
TJ Free – His youtube channel explains the ins and outs of drawing and editing images in Inkscape.
Jen and Elke Clarke – Their youtube channel provides a lot of best practice information for when creating and marketing your products on Zazzle.
Unfortunately I can’t find the woman who talked about her sales on Amazon Merch. I’ll update my post if I find her again because I feel like she had valuable insights but she wasn’t showing designs or explaining how to get through the process or anything. Honestly once you get through converting the raster image to the vector you will probably feel pretty confident about seeking information you need to complete any other tasks.
I will definitely keep updating my blog with how designing for products progresses and whether or not I feel like it’s going to be a significant source of income. I hope this helped some of you get your wheels turning for some future creative projects. Making a product on Zazzle is really quite simple as long as you don’t want something as big as a shower curtain. Any good quality photo will do!
I hope that this post was helpful for you! Let me know if you have any words of wisdom or questions. If you know someone you think would be a great designer please share this post with them. So many great artists lose hope and stop creating because it’s a hard way to make a living and then some big bad job gets in the way. Save an artist, tell them there is potential to make at least a little side money doing something they love.
Thanks so much for reading with me today. If you do end up purchasing any of the designs in our Zazzle Store today or in the future, please tag us on social @craftingglow. We would love to see what people are making with our designs and what new creations they come up with. If you have any special design requests let me know!
I do hope you and yours are happy and staying healthy and well.
Thanks again for all your support!