I remember sitting night after night reading Beatrix Potter books to my children when they were young – secretly however it wasn’t the words I was interested in. Sure, the stories of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck and Benjamin Bunny were lovely but really my concentration was on the incredibly beautiful illustrations. What a talent she had!
At that point I had no reason to create my own but having more recently opened my shop CarolineLaursen.Redbubble.com, a creative dream of many years came to fruition and Chester Rabbit was born.
So far I have 35 variations of designs including him sitting on his own, sending hugs to the people we miss, giving a message of hope, love or maybe saying sorry with his gesture of a daisy and even playing marbles in all sorts of colours.
These make really great children’s designs and look beautiful in youngsters rooms on bedding, blankets, cushions and wall art on a choice of canvas, metal print or posters…
As a space and astronomy nerd, I have been excitedly following the NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Mission, which has just succeeded now in late February in landing a new exploration vehicle on the surface of the Red Planet. Yesterday, I learned that NASA hid a secret massage in the colored panels of the parachute that lowered the rover to the surface of the planet!
The red and white panels of the inner parachute ring were arranged to make a binary code of 0s and 1s, which spelled out the mission slogan “Dare Mighty Things”, while the outer ring encoded the coordinates of the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Earth: 34 11 58 N 118 10 31 W. How cool is that! Here is how I went about turning that blurry original image into a poster.
First, I made a simple outline of the 80 segments of the parachute using the free Photoshop-like tool called Gimp. (Gimp is my go-to for pretty much any kind of detailed image work because it is free and I love free things, plus it is surprisingly powerful.) I drew one segment with the Paths Tool, then copied and rotated and pasted until I had this:
Using the same drawing tools, I outlined the individual panels and other main areas of the parachute, like this:
Next it was time to color the panels. Using the eyedropper tool I sampled the colors in the original photographic image (including the beautiful dark blue Martian sky!) as well as various sunlit and shadow areas on the panel. This gave me good and varied color palette for the rest of the work. Now it was time to bucket fill each panel with the appropriate base color:
To give the design a little depth, I added a new “shadow” layer to the image to darken the edges of the individual panels a little. Technically this was at the limit of my graphic design skills and involved much fiddling with Gaussian blurs and masks and other yucky things. However, I think the effect was worthwhile. Here’s how it looked in close-up:
Next it was time to create a ring of outer text. To do this, I switched to my other favorite free graphic tool, Canva. It’s a great online tool for quickly putting together basic designs. It doesn’t have the power of Gimp, but it is very flexible for mocking up ideas — it is also great for creating curved text! And it comes with thousands instantly usable fonts too. I found a really good NASA-looking font called “HK Modular” and used that to create a ring of text to go around the main image:
(The circular element approximated where the parachute would go and helped me to align the text perfectly.) The text ring was made at the largest free image size in Canva (5000 x 5000 pixels) and after downloading it I needed to remove the background as the free version of Canva doesn’t allow you to export transparent images. (One day I will take a Canva subscription because it really is worth it, but for now I’m just a happy freeloader.)
I imported the text ring into Gimp, removed the background, then resized it to wrap around the main image:
The final graphic design step was to imitate the effect of sunlight on the parachute as a whole. To do this I selected the white panels and tinted them towards the blue, before using the spray-gun with white to lighten the parachute areas in the sun. A similar effect was applied to the red panels. The finished design has a nice harmony I think:
My design was then ready for uploading to my Redbubble shop, where you can now find it on:
This project stretched my graphic design skills to the limit, but I am secretly pleased just how much I have learned in the last year, both about the tools of the trade and about how to design good-looking products. Now it is on to the next challenge!
In 2009 I found myself in need of an extra income on top of my day job in estate agency, and when my then new boyfriend asked if I could design some leaflets to promote his business as a pianist, he recognised that I could be good at making a go of this. Within a blink of an eye ‘Design by Caroline’ – Bespoke Invitations and Stationery was born.
I had no real experience in this kind of thing other than to create flyers for my day job, but set out to see where this might take me. I bought a decent printer able to print on thicker card types and started letting people around me know what I was doing. Within a month or so I came across my first real client – a lovely lady who was looking for all the stationery required for her son’s Bar Mitzvah, everything from save the date cards to invitations, reply cards, items for the day such as name place cards, table numbers and menus, and then thank you cards for her son to write afterwards… When all was done she turned out to be so happy with what I came up with, she emailed her son’s entire list of classmates to promote my work.
Design by Caroline grew at an astonishing rate. Before long I had a 6-12 month waiting list which was in part due to my USP of offering a different design for every customer. Common themes requested included everything from graffiti style, social media themes such as Twitter and Instagram, iPhones and iPads, all sorts of sports, science enthusiast designs and ticket style invites were particularly popular. But of course, every single person was given something different and with around 500-600 clients over the 8 year period alongside my current POD business at CarolineLaursen.Redbubble.com with almost 800 designs in itself, that’s a lot of ideas to come up with! …and so fonts play a huge part in my designs.
Take for example this beautiful Audrey Hepburn quote… ‘The Best Thing to Hold onto in Life is Each Other’ – not wanting to detract from the words themselves, I carefully chose three fonts that I felt work together perfectly on all of the 50 products the design is available on (homeware, clothing and accessories). Do you agree?
Equally, I felt this popular ‘No Rain, No Flowers’ quote for different reasons – being actually quite deep and meaningful required simplicity, and I chose just two fonts to sit alongside the elegant flower I drew, also available in a selection of colours…
And the last example I’d like to show you today for something very different, relates to a passion of mine. Having become an avid wild swimmer this year I’ve made a range of collections including the ‘Born to Swim’ shown here, as well as ‘Just Add Water’, ‘I’m a Chilly Dipper’ and ‘The Water is my Happy Place’ among others… and in this design you’ll see I’ve used a font that reminded me of splashing water…
Like many people living in the Northern Hemisphere, theGreat Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in late December 2020 was hidden behind a mass of boring cloud. The only view of the event I got to see was a secondhand blurry image made available on Wikipedia by user KSPFanatic102 under a Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license.
I got to wondering what the conjunction on the winter solstice would have looked like if I had been able to see it through a really powerful instrument, like the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. Maybe I could create some sort of mosaic image based on other higher-resolution images?
It turns out that there are many high resolution images of the individual planets and their moons in the public domain. Using the original image as a template, I set about replacing each blurred planet and moon with an appropriately rotated, scaled down, de-saturated, high-resolution image, lightened or darkened to match the planet or moon’s correct albedo.
As the actual conjunction occurred in Sagittarius, I took the liberty of adding a faint but appropriate starry background. The resulting image is, I believe, as close as possible to what you would have seen if it was possible to “look through” as powerful a scope as the Hubble in orbit:
In the composite image we see Jupiter bottom right with, from right to left, its moons Europa, Io, and Ganymede. Top left we see Saturn with, above it, its moon Titan. In close-up you can see the planets and moons in high-resolution:
Astronomy is a deep passion of mine and I love to contribute to its great body of knowledge in anyway I can. If anyone is interested, I have made this image is available as a poster, a print, and in various other forms in my Redbubble shop.
Here are some stunning astronomy gift ideas that are perfect for the stargazer, cosmologist, or astronaut in your family … even if that’s yourself!
Space is fascinating, educational and entertaining! We marvel at the asteroids, comets, moons, planets, stars and galaxies. We wonder about all that is to be discovered across our vast universe. And space science provides us with some of the most gorgeous images ever captured by mankind. Here are some stunning astronomy gift ideas that are perfect for the stargazer, cosmologist, or astronaut in your family … even if that’s yourself!
These and many many more space and astronomy-themed products can be found in the Astronomy Collection in the Tiokvadrat store on Redbubble. Available products include colorful astronomy design for tops, t-shirts, skirts, scarves, leggings, socks, bags, phone cases, covers, mugs, notebooks, coasters, cushions, pillows, duvets, mats, blankets, clocks, prints, shower curtains. Perfect gift idea for astronomy and space sciences loving boy, girl, friend, wife, husband, partner, brother, sister, colleague, or the office. Happy shopping!
This acrylic work was produced late in 2012 just as the Swedish winter started to bite. We were already looking forward to the Spring and its early crocuses, but that was still many months away. Like many winter paintings my palette turns dark as the evenings closes in. In spring my palette lightens considerably and warms towards oranges, yellows and reds.
This original acrylic artwork was one of the first of this type to be uploaded to Redbubble. RedBubble likes large images but we were limited somewhat by the original scan size, so we achieved only 4634 x 6266 pixels after limited enlargement which are rather awkward dimensions to try to use on Redbubble products and led to some compromises. Usually we aim for at least 7632 x 6480 pixels.
Nevertheless, some products really shone with this work as design. As is typical, both throw pillows and floor pillows (cushions) worked well: