Tuesday, September 22, 2009


by Marian Cates

I discovered WiseStamp last month, when I was updating a Firefox addon. I looked through a list of recommended new addons, and WiseStamp was on that list. Their signature is a free product, but you have the option to donate.

WiseStamp provides links to your social networks—blogs, facebook, Twitter, Live Space, etc. You can have icons or text. Or you can have both. These links allow your email recipients to see you in all those contexts.
You can also add a picture to your signature.

They have a lot of features I didn't use. But you might love to have a photo of Einstein, with his tongue stuck out, as part of your signature.

(design by Marian Cates)
with permission of WiseStamp

Monday, September 21, 2009


A Beginner's Tutorial
by Marian Cates 
(updated 10-1-2010)

See Create Shoe Designs on Zazzle for an article with screenshots.

Designing Ked's shoes on Zazzle is a lot of fun,once you get the hang of it. In this beginner's tutorial, we'll create a simple, one-image Women's Mini Slip On.

  • upper
  • inside quarter
  • outside quarter
  • insole
  • heel

  • Customize
  • Keds Shoe Options 
Rather than letting yourself be overwhelmed by all the options (as I was at first), let's create a very simple design, with only one image on the shoe.

Go to Zazzle.com and click on "CREATE" at the top left of the screen and select from the dropdown menu "See More." This takes you to a page with all of Zazzle's products. Shoes are located on the second line down on the far right. Under the image of a Men's Low Lace Up shoe, click on "Create shoes now."

FOR ZAZZLE SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: Be sure to sign in to your shop first.

This takes you to a page full of photos of all Zazzle's products. Keds shoes are on the second row down, on the far right. Click on "Create shoes now," located under the picture of a shoe.

This takes you to a screen that says, at the top of the page, "Custom Shoes, Custom Made Shoes and Personalized shoes."
    On the right of the screen are the shoe types from which you can choose.

    The Women's Mini Slip On is one of the easiest to design, so let's use that as our example.

    Click on the words "Women's Mini Slip On." The first thing you must do is to choose the shoe size -- for yourself or, if you're a shopkeeper, for your customers.
    You cannot proceed without choosing the shoe size. The default for women's shoes is 7.

    There are two ways to work on your shoe design. You will find the choices at the top, over the large-photo shoe, on the left. One of them is the design view and the other the product view. We will work only with the product view for this workshop. Later you can experiment and see which view works better for you.

    Once you've chosen the shoe size, click on the words "Customize it!" You'll see one large photo of the shoe; the default is "outside quarter." Under this large photo are small photos of the shoes from various viewpoints. You have a choice at this point. That choice is between:
    • "Add images"
    • "Add text" 
    For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be adding only an image, so "Add images" is the bar we'll be clicking on. And we will be putting this image on the Upper.

    From the small photos, showing seven views of the shoe, click on upper. A red check mark appears, to confirm your choice. Now the upper part of the shoe moves into the large photo position.

    Click on "Add images." Browse to the image you want to highlight in your design. Fit the image into the space by using the re-size tools, as well as the move tools (arrows).**

    For the rest of the design, we'll use the Keds Shoe Options. Click on the bar containing the words "Choose colors, prints and details." (It is below the Customize section.)

    Once again, you see the large photo with your chosen image and below it the small photos.

    We start with "1. Colors and prints," which is the section that is open by default. By clicking on a little arrow next to the name of the shoe part, you will see the various colors and patterns that you can place on different areas of your shoe. For the main shoe areas, they have a good array from which you can choose.

    If your image did not fill the entire upper area, select a background color that goes well with your image and creates a harmonious design for the upper. Then go around the areas of the shoe, choosing colors and patterns. After that, choose the insole color or pattern.

    Once you're happy with those selections, Click on "2. Trims & details" just to the right of the "Colors & prints" bar. The "Trims & details" section appears.

    You follow the same procedure with the "Trims & details" as you did with the "Colors & prints."

    Start with the upper and top bindings. The upper binding, you will see, is the binding for the shoe upper, whereas the top binding is for the sides of the shoe.

    Next choose a color for the gore, which is the elastic part of the shoe. You will see that you have far fewer color choices. This is true for the remaining "Trims & details." As the number of "Trims & details" color choices diminishes, you may find that you need to rethink your design. That's fine, because you can easily navigate back and forth between the
    "Colors & prints" section and the "Trims & details" section, since they are right next to each other on your screen.

    Your design can go in whatever direction your creative impulse takes you. You can choose whatever mix of colors and prints appeals to you. If you're a shopkeeper, however, you will naturally be making decisions based on what you think your customers will prefer.

    It's a good idea to look at the magnified view of each part of your shoe. To do so, you click on the magnifying-glass icon, located on the right side, over the large-photo shoe. By doing this, you ensure that every area of the shoe is covered properly and that all areas of the shoe flow nicely into each other.

    For your final step, go back to the customize screen.

    Select the Upper. Then click on the bar that has the name of your design on it.

    There is an icon, above and to the right of that bar, that looks like two gears -- one larger in front and one smaller behind it. Click on that icon.

    A small pop-up screen appears. At the top are the words,  "How do you want this image to appear on the left shoe?" The options are "Mirrored" and "Not mirrored." To the right of those choices, you will see the words "view left shoe." Click on those words. An enlarged view of the left shoe will appear.

    If you use text in your design, you will need, for obvious reasons, to choose "not mirrored" for the section where the text appears. Otherwise, the choice is up to you.

    To see the pair of shoes together, click on "View pair" at the top right, next to the magnifying-glass icon and over the large-photo shoe.

    View, as a pair, each area of the shoe. You may find that you want to make adjustments to your design, to get a harmonious balance between the left and right shoe and also a good flow from area to area.

    FOR SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: When choosing "mirrored" or "not mirrored," you are also given the option to select between "Lock object" and "Make this a template object." When you choose to make a template of any part of the shoe, you allow your customers to change that part of the shoe. This gives your customers free rein in their shoe designs. However, if you are uncomfortable with that idea, you can choose to lock any part of the shoe. Customers cannot change any area that is locked.

    When you are satisfied with your design, click on either the "Add to cart" orange button or, if you are a shopkeeper, the words "Post for sale," found at the bottom of the screen and two lines down from the number 2.

    FOR SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: This takes you to the final screen. Fill out the fields in this screen. Then hit the orange "Post it!" button.


    There you have it! You've created a pair of Ked's Women's Mini Slip On Shoes, for yourself or your Zazzle shop. Give yourself a "pat on the back" and then eagerly await the arrival of your new "designer shoes!"

    FOR SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: Before your shoe creation appears in your shop, it will be reviewed by the Content-Review Team. This is to your benefit, as the review team will catch any technical errors you've made and give you the opportunity to correct them before your shoes appear in your shop. Until approved, your shoes can be found in your "Private Products," which you can access on the Products Screen (the My Account Products tab).

    ** Tool tip: If you hold down the Control key (or the Mac equivalent) when you click on one the tools, such as the move (arrows) tool, it will allow you to adjust images in smaller increments. If, on the other hand, you hold down the shift key, it allows you to make larger adjustments. 

    Bulldog by Marian Cates

    Bulldog by Marian Cates
    Click for prints, canvases & various products

    Burrowing Owl by Marian Cates

    Burrowing Owl by Marian Cates
    Click for prints and canvases & products

    Jack Sprat Mother Goose Rhyme by Marian Cates, from a vintage illustration

    Jack Sprat Mother Goose Rhyme by Marian Cates, from a vintage illustration
    Click for prints, canvases & products

    Robin Hood by Marian Cates, from a vintage illustration