quick post Friday


Yesterday was awesome. I took a bunch of pictures and I’ll share them here next week in a 30walks post. But at the moment I’ve got a client project that I need (and want!) to be working on, so I’m going to cut out some distractions and get to it. (I’m looking at you, Facebook. LOL.)

Have a great day! The weekend forecast looks awesome so — yay!

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hungry for some change, a beach


Today I find myself thinking about hunger.

Not the issue of having enough to eat, which surely has lots to think about, but the feeling of craving a thing.

For example, I’ve been so hungry for the Highlands lately. For their saturated-with-rain, June beauty. For the sounds of the ocean against the sand and the rocks. For that feeling of “standing on the edge” and looking out. For the silence, for the rush of nature noises.

So today I’m taking myself on a little trip. A day trip. I’m loading podcasts on my phone to listen to, and going to visit Caitlyn in her shop Salty Rose’s, in Ingonish. Her grand opening is on Saturday but she’s there doing stuff, and I won’t be able to go down on the weekend. I want to walk on a beach, so I’m going to go do just that, even if its raining (I’ll bring my rubber boots). And if there is time and I am able, I have a friend in a nursing home in Neil’s Harbour that I’d like to go and see.

This is a simple hunger, in a sense. I feel the desire and urge to go on a trip, it stays with me long enough, and I make it happen. (Especially a trip as small as this. Ingonish is not Australia.)

But the hunger for change in our communities is a bit more complicated. We’re all so hungry for it, I feel. But how do you make it happen? It’s easier, less scary and more straightforward to just talk about it, and to say “yay” to others when they’re doing stuff that looks like change.

“If you’re hungry for change, make yourself a change sandwich.” That popped into my head the other day and I wrote it down. But how do we do that? Are we doing it already, and it just takes time?

I don’t think I have a definite answer. Maybe I’ll find a part of the answer on an Ingonish beach.

As always, love to hear your thoughts! Or examples of change. Or whatever!

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project process // hand-lettering part 3

01. image trace options

Back in February of this year I started on an independent project for school, learning some hand-lettering. I’m a huge fan of Mary Kate McDevitt’s work and wanted to learn some of the techniques of the beautiful art of letters, so I signed up for her Skillshare class for $20 and got started. This post you’re reading is part 3, so if you want to catch up and see how I started my lettering project, check out parts one and two first.

Alright! So onwards with part three.

So, you’ll remember that at the end of part two, I had an inked version of the drawing ready to be scanned into the computer.

I have a scanner at home and so I just scanned it in using that. A few things I did at the scan stage: I changed my resolution settings to 600 dpi, which just means more detail, and a bigger file size. I also saved it as a TIFF file, and scanned it on a black-and-white setting. The drawing is black and white already, which just helps when you’re turning it into a vector later on. (All of these steps are covered in Mary Kate’s Skillshare video, linked to above, in case you’re thinking of taking it.)

So the image at the top of this post is what the drawing looks like after I’ve scanned it and when I open it up in Adobe Illustrator, and then start the Image Trace process. If you click on the image it will open it up bigger and you can see the Image Trace dialogue box and the settings it offers.

Image Trace is a powerful tool within Illustrator, and basically it lets you take photographs or scans of images, which are just made up of pixels (and have a maximum size they can be reproduced at before they start looking bad), and turns them into vector files. I don’t know the math behind vectors, but working as a designer, I do know that they turn an image or illustration into a whole bunch of paths and points, which you can tweak and change. It also makes it so that the artwork can be resized up and down many times without losing the crispness of the lines and colour. And, it makes it super easy to change colours of individual parts of an image. (If you want to learn more about vectors and rasters, this is a good article.)
02. image traced

I won’t get too much into the details of the Image Trace process and which settings I used, but basically I played around with it a bunch to make sure the lines were getting turned into vectors in a way that looked how I wanted them to. If you have Illustrator and you want to play with Image Trace, that’s what I’d recommend, is just playing around with it. Make sure your “Preview” button is checked so you can see the changes happen as you play.

So you can see in this image above (which is on “outline” view) that the artwork gets changed into a whole bunch of lines. Then I go in and spend some time deleting chunks that I don’t need (like the insides of letters; sometimes they get made into their own object but if you don’t need to control the colour at that spot, it’s just a useless vector shape and you might as well delete it).

03. starting to play with colour

I pretty much always get super excited and just start changing the colours of things, too, even before the drawing is done and “ready” to be coloured. It’s just so easy and fun to see!

But, then I decided I wanted to make the lines that go around the island to be stronger and not all broken up like they are in the image above (which happened because in the first trace they just happened to be a bit lighter than the rest of the drawing), so I re-traced that part of my inked drawing by hand, and scanned that in, used Image Trace and made them vectors too.

This screen capture above is showing the drawing on Outline view, and I’m using it just to show you how the illustration, once vectorized, is made up of a bunch of separate shapes, all of which are made up points. I can click on any of those points and change their position either slightly or a lot, and also change the curves between the points. I can delete them or add more points to any line. It’s great fun! (Nerd alert!)


And this screen capture above shows me playing with colour. Again, each shape is editable on its own. At this point it’s a bit like Microsoft Paint that we played with as kids, with the Paint Bucket tool, just filling stuff in like a boss. Island_lettering_colourversion1-01 So in the end, I submitted three different colour variations of the print to my instructor. This one above was the first one. I looked at my moodboards (from part one) a lot when I was deciding on colour. The first one doesn’t look a lot like the moodboards but I wanted a soft palette with a hit of orange and that’s what I came up with. Island_lettering_colourversion2-01

The second one I wanted to have more vibrant and “punchy,” like the “live in the sunshine” lettering from my mood board.

Island_lettering_colourversion3-01 Andd for the third one I looked at the satellite image of Cape Breton for colour inspiration.


Then I printed them off on card stock and submitted them to my instructor. And that’s that!

To me, finishing a project is more important than worrying about details too much, although that’s always a tough balance to strike, because you do want your work to be precise and well-done.

So, though I’m happy with them and glad I’m finished, there are bound to be imperfections and things that a more experienced letterer might look at and go, “Well, she should have done X and Y.” But, I’m glad I pushed through, though, on this project, and got it done! Overall I like it a lot. (Looking at it now, a few months later, the lines around the island bug me a bit… they seem too light and without purpose. I like them in the version with the dark background, though.)

What do you think? Do you like the illustrations? Which colour version is your favourite? Would you buy a print if they were available? (And be honest, please!)

A note on copyright: the lyrics I’m using here are by Kenzie MacNeil, from the song “The Island.” I reached out to Kenzie to ask his permission to use the lyric, and after we spoke on the phone, he hasn’t had a chance to respond to my follow-up email, so I’m not sure where we stand with that. However, I am not selling this product, only using it for educational purposes, so technically I’m within my rights to use these lyrics, but of course I want to clear it with Kenzie as well, and also look into getting permission so that I may sell the prints someday.
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just keepin’ it real


Random photo — no real connection to the subject of today’s post except that I took it yesterday.

Today I don’t really have much in terms of a post, but I’m going to jot a few words down anyway, because I do want to post something. I guess it’s for the sake of “keepin’ it real”? Cuz, that’s a thing, right? Right.

And I’m just going to apologize in advance to you for reading these ramblings. Cuz you might be like, “OK, who cares! Get your sh*t together, Leah!” That’s cool. I’ve been doing this blogging thing long enough now to know that some people are going to get something out of any given post and some people are not.

Anyway, my brain feels a bit all over the place today.

Now that school is done done done, and I’ve got a bit of time before my job starts (on August 4th, and I’ll be sharing info about that as soon as I can, because I’m quite excited about it), I’ve been feeling like in every moment of the day, there are about six different things I want to be doing and/or should be doing.

I feel this, like, frantic-ness, if that’s a word, like each of those things is The Priority, and really should be done rightthissecond. Dishes! Mow the lawn! Keep the garden tidy! Deal with shit in my office! Do the freelance projects I said I would do! Take a long walk! See friends! Go drive around the Trail and walk on a beach! Cook supper! Relax!

And I can’t decide which one to do. Some of these things, really, once you do them, you just need to do them again (cleaning, especially — uggh it’s the worst) so that’s easy for me to put off and just live with. And some of these things really, I should just suck it up and do them, like the freelance projects, but then there isn’t enough time in the day and I want to go for a walk, too, and I’d really feel better and more refreshed and creative if I went for a long walk on a beach and… yeah. You can see how this all goes. It just kinda feeds itself.

But then, the flip side is, I really hate that frantic feeling. I don’t want to be stressed out. I don’t want to feel like my neighbours are judging me, like my family is judging me, on how my garden is kept, on how often the lawn is mowed, on how the house is kept. That makes me feel angry, it makes me feel stressed out and not happy.

I’d say that mostly, when I feel that frantic-ness, I’m able to stop, and take a deep breath. And think: “Oh well! So X and Y didn’t get done. At least Z did!” And I’m able to focus on what’s good, on hanging with my fella, on the sunshine, on the roof over our heads.

I partly think I’m sharing this info with you all so that if you’re feeling the same way, you can feel a bit better. And I could also tell myself that it’s because I want you all to know that I really do not have it all together, and I’m just as unsure as anyone else, so please don’t feel like “oh my goodness, that Leah has it together!” But really, it’s just because I need to vent a little.

So, yeah! Keepin’ it real. That’s where I’m at these days. On the positive side, one big antidote to this feeling is the word “No,” and using it as a tool to stay focussed and not take on too much. I was chatting with a friend who owns her own business, yesterday, and we were talking about this burnout and balance “thing,” you know, the whole trying-to-keep-things-balanced-and-keep-ourselves-happy thing. I said, “Yeah, as women we’re never really taught how to say no.” So we have to teach ourselves.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Hope you’re having a great day, a not-so-frantic day. And as always, I would love to hear your thoughts.



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five things I’ve learned from: completing a diploma at NSCC

diploma leahwithdiploma

On Saturday I wore a black and white academic gown and I crossed the stage and got my diploma.

I think a big “huzzah” is in order, so: HUZZAH!!!

Two years ago I decided to return to school and work towards this goal. Slowly but surely the time passed and the work got done, and here we are.

I’ve learned so, so much in the past two years, and when I compare “me now” with “me then”, it feels like I’ve grown so much. It’s hard to boil it down to just five things I’ve learned, but I’ll try anyway! (The first post in this series on my blog is here.)

1. People are everything. The people you are in school with, the friends you make, the way you treat each other, it’s so big. Our class made time to share food together at potlucks, we always tried to have fun and to laugh, and we all became friends. Having that group to support each other and cheer each other on made all the hard days seem not-so-hard. I think it doesn’t matter what the task is, if you’re working on it with people you get along with, or at least that you are making an effort to be nice to, it can be enjoyable.

2. I can do this. When I left university in 2007, in my third year of a BA, due to health reasons, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t finished. And it made me wonder if I could in the future finish a diploma of some kind. So, holding this paper in my hands is a huge deal for me: it’s proof that I’ve got what it takes.

3. The power of “just sticking with it” is amazing. Sure, stuff got hard! There were so many tasks and assignments and chores I didn’t want to do. I got grumpy and I complained. But man oh man, just doing it taught me so much. Cut the complaining and just do it, and then it’s done. I learned the power of this, over and over and over. (And over!) (Oh wait, I’m still learning this.)

4. Show UP. Be there. Every day. Don’t cut class. Write down the rambling lectures that might not make a lot of sense. Write down the bits of brilliance too. Do the exercises, even the ones where you think “I already know this,” or “Why am I doing this?” That is seriously 90% of success right there, just showing up. There were lots of days I was tempted to stay home and do the work from there. But I think that being in class shows yourself, shows your teachers and your classmates, that you’re totally serious about this and willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goal.

5. Have faith that you CAN do it. (“It”= Going back to school, getting the diploma, taking on a big project, or just learning all that you need to learn to reach a goal.) Have faith that even though you don’t know what it will all look like when you’re done, that even if it seems impossible right now, saying “Well, to hell with it! I might as well try!” is a huge demonstration of faith in yourself. And faith in yourself doesn’t mean already knowing the answer or the end goal. It just means that you trust your own ability enough, to give that something a try.

Bonus #6: CMD + Z (or CTRL + Z on a PC) is your best friend.

Have a great Monday, everyone! Enjoy that sunshine.

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links loved / june 21


This was Dominion yesterday, after I had dropped off my friend Hollie, and took a quick stop at one of my favourite beaches. (And took this video.)

Today is graduation day! So I’m quickly getting some coffee into me before I make us some breakfast, and then get ready to head over to Membertou where the ceremony is happening. But first! Some links loved lately, inspired as always by Elise Blaha Cripe’s weekend links:

Elise’s super sweet letter to her baby girl Ellerie on her first birthday.

Also I’m really loving Elise’s podcast and it is making me inspired to start my own. I’ll keep you posted!

A great idea: make a website in one weekend with rad designers to help!

Pugly Pixel is learning Illustrator. Here she talks about (and shows!) what vector paths look like, and just how frigging many of them there are!

I just discovered “Meg In Progress” and pored over her archives last night on my phone. This was one of my favourites, about how we shame other women and about what “womanhood” really means.

I also loved this one she wrote about why she hopes her daughters will wait til marriage to have sex (not that I agree 100% with that, but I really liked what she had to say). “Sex is the power to create. I am not just talking about procreation, although heaven knows that is a divine thing. I am also talking about the creation that comes from speaking the language of sex with someone that walks with you through life.”

A great post about working from home by a fashion blogger.

Love these mood boards and inspiration for an office makeover! Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

And loving this sweet necklace by a Cape Breton artist/crafter. Might just be my next Etsy purchase!!

Have a great weekend y’all! Hope it’s equal parts indulgence and laziness. Thuh bessst.


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how sweet it is

Cape Breton -- Munro Park, North Sydney. Life is good!

A quick post today!


  • It’s my week to do the “Share That You Care” graphic, and it’s not done yet.
  • I also want to: walk in Munro Park (the spot in the picture above), shower, get ready for a photoshoot with Wendy McElmon with all my classmates, and then go do that.
  • Somewhere in there, do a bit of client work, and pick up an extra ticket to my graduation that I got yesterday in the “lottery”.

So! Onwards. It’s Friday, it’s sunny, it’s mid-June. How sweet it is, indeed. Enjoy your day!

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