- Arts and Design
Painted Pet Costumes
The Most Humane Costume of All
If your pet is anything like our Nattie, the idea of playing "dress-up" is very low on her list. She's made it abundantly clear that, of the many silly human ideas she must suffer, wearing hats or other gear is just out of the question.
So, dressing up is a virtual affair. Creating a Paint costume for your pet is creative fun and no one gets scratched -- or humiliated. In fact, with this method, you can even costume previously un-costumable pets. And Nemo's little cravat need never get wet.
Photo: "Pupcasso" by bossypants
Find Your Paints
If you already have a favorite photo retouching software, by all means use it. For our purposes, we're going to use a simplified program that just about every PC user already has on the computer: Microsoft Paint.
Or, to get to Paint, just select a photo from your picture library and right click on the picture. Then, hover over Open with, and left click on Paint.
(I made this image by using just the Airbrush brush style and changing colors. Took less than 10 minutes.)
Have you ever used Microsoft Paint?
My Two Favorite Paint Features
There are two little buttons on Paint that make all the difference when I'm dressing up a photo. They may make your life a lot easier, too:
Magnifier The magnifying glass (in the Tools area) lets you zoom into a particular section of the photo to work on detail. Left click on the area you want to magnify. Right click to zoom back out.
Undo The Undo arrow (or keyboard command Ctrl+z) lets me undo unlimited recent actions. Sometimes the real world Nattie startles me with a bark and my hand slips!
About the Background
An optional step
Getting rid of the background will focus attention on your pet and your artwork. The decision to eliminate the background is up to you. It can take some time to wipe it out.
I chose to take the background out on my picture. You can use either the eraser tool or a paintbrush. The eraser will make your background white. I wanted a black background, so I used a brush and black paint.
1. Use the magnifier to zoom in on the work area.
2. Click on the Color 1 box in the tool bar and choose a color from the color palette.
3. Begin coloring out the background area by holding down the left mouse button as you rub the cursor over the area.
TIP: work in small areas, lifting the cursor button periodically. This way, if your hand slips, using the Undo arrow won't erase all of your work.
Save Early, Save Often
With a Twist
Once you're happy with your artwork, as far as it's gone, save a copy to your desktop or library. Be sure to give it a unique name, so you don't write over your original photograph!
I like to save the image at this point (after all that hard work getting out the background) so I can use it over and over again with new costumes. I saved it as nattieblank.jpg. Please note that when you open a saved image, you can no longer undo any work on it.
I continue to save the image, with new names, as I progress, so my work doesn't get lost in the event of a technological burp or something. When I'm all done, I delete the extra images.
Dress Up Time
Draw the costume
I decided to put a masquerade mask on Nattie.
1. I zoomed in to her eye area using the magnifier (magnifying glass).
2. I clicked on the Brushes arrow and chose the first brush. Then, I clicked on the Size tool to choose the thickness of the brush.
3. I clicked the Color 1 box and chose a lovely purple from the palette.
4. I drew the mask outline and eye holes. It took a couple of undo clicks to get it right.
Playing with paint and brushes
After drawing the outline, I switched to a thicker line using the Sizes box for coloring. Remember to color in small sections, lifting your finger off the button periodically.
I switched back to a thinner sized line and black paint to draw the strings at the side of the mask.
Then, I used my favorite trick to make the sparkles on the corners of the mask. I chose the Airbrush style brush (the icon looks like an aerosol can) and sprayed single shots (just touched the mouse button once) of white here and there. Then, I changed the color to black and laid some shots near the white. I alternated black with white until I liked the look (and undid a few when I didn't). Isn't that fun?
There she is!
I may add more to her costume, later. Maybe a crown or a gown.
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