Wrapping my head around Zazzle wrapping paper

A product change started me to wrapping my head around Zazzle wrapping paper again. Zazzle changed the size of the standard width of their wrapping paper products. They went from 24″ to 30″. Fine with me, I designed for 24″ so I keep to that width. Alas, 30″ is the only option and this is the result.

Zazzle wrapping paper fail

Normally I create an image of 5400 by 3600 pixels which give me 150 pixels per inch. The standard length is 36″ and the standard width was 24″. After 36″ the image is replicated again, a kind of tiling along the length of the roll every 36 inches.

Those who used a much smaller image and tiled it with the 36 by 24 inch format, wouldn’t have any problems with the new with of 30″. I could tile my large image also (along the width of the roll), but that gives the following ugly result at the egdes.

Ugly tiling Zazzle wrapping paper

This is because my images take in account tiling along the length of the roll and not the width. The solution is to create smaller square tiles and tile these over the 36 by 30 format. The problem is, how do you resize the square tile so that the row fits exactly in the 36″ length (remember, that 36″ is tiled again along the total length of the roll)?

With some experimenting I figured out that the default dpi for wrapping paper is 100dpi before resizing the image. So, with 36″ lenght and a square of 100 by 100 pixels will give me a row of 36 tiles. A bit too much, as is a tile of 200 by 200 (18 tiles). The best option is either a tile of 300 by 300 or 600 by 600. Keeping with the 100dpi default the tiles will fit exactly along the total length of the roll. Lets see an example of a 300 by 300 pixel tile:

Tile 300 by 300 pixels

When using the tile function of the Zazzle product tool we’ll get the following result. It looks great and Zazzle doesn’t protest about the low dpi of 100. Apparently it is good enough. But what if you want a higher dpi?

Completely tiled with 100dpi

A higher dpi you can get by simply take a larger image (f.i. 600 by 600 pixels in a 6″ by 6″ square) and resize to half the size in the Zazzle product tool (f.i. 600 by 600 pixels crammed in 3″ by 3″). This should result in 200 dpi, but Zazzle doesn’t allow for exact resizing. Tiling along the length, over the 36″ format, won’t give a nice result.

One strip of tiles to rule them all

For this problem I deviced a clever solution. Simply create one image of a row of a desired number of tiles and “fit” this in the standard lentgh of 36″. I created this example of 7200 by 600 pixels (12 tiles).

One strip of tiles to rule them all

Next step is to fit this image in the 36″ by 30″ format. So 7200 pixels snuggly fitted in 36″ will get me 200 dpi, good enough for me.

Fit the strip snuggly

Since tiling along the length of the roll is now fixed properly, I only have to tile along the width of the standard format. For that I use the build in tile function of Zazzle. With the following result.

Tiled correctly all the way in 200dpi

And the result in my Zazzle store “Fresh Patterns”.

Now, I made a bunch of wrapping paper design with the first 100 dpi tiling method. From now on I’ll use the second method in order to get the desired 200dp.

Update

I’ve made a Pinterest board for all my Zazzle wrapping and gift paper designs.

Haida Weeping Skull and other new stuff

I’ve finally started making my own Haida Formline art, the first one is called the Haida Weeping Skull. Besides Haida art I made a series of new patterns. But first Haida Formline. Copying from the web and recreating copied designs isn’t very satisfying and therefor I decided to make my own Haida Formline designs. I watched the tutorials, from for instance Steve Brown, and penciled down some formline. I figured a frontal face would be an easy beginning and I wanted to do something with a skull since I believe not many used this subject. The process went remarkedly well and I’m quite pleased with the result. I present to you the Haida Weeping Skull:

Northwest Pacific coast Haida Weeping skull Wood Coaster
Northwest Pacific coast Haida Weeping skull Wood Coaster by ejkaal
Browse more Northwest coast Wood Coasters at Zazzle

My pattern shop is getting fuller by the week. Some old designs from the past are applied to a whole new bunch of products of Zazzle. And I found a lot of really good examples on the web which I want to use as patterns. The new patterns are pretty simple and I’ll try maybe ten or so in order to see if they make an impact. Patterns always are a bit of a gamble. These four are on sale in my shop right now:

One particular old design I want to mention is my houndtooth weaving pattern. I updated the design to the look and feel I see in fashion today. To my surprise after only two day on sale I already sold a product with, that’s my fastest sale to date. How a small change can make a big difference.

On my Pinterest page I started a little experiment. With a lot of hype Apple introduced their newest phone, the iPhone 6. What if I made a Pinterest board just dedicated to Apple iPhone 6 cases? Could it help me with any sales? I don’t really sell much cases, whether it is Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, Motorola Droid RAZR or Amazon Kindle. Maybe this Pinterest board can generate some traffic.

Harry Potter and making money magically

For many years I always wanted to make a post about the Wizarding world of Harry Potter. I’ve read the books at least two times and I have seen the movies on multiple occasions. This blog needs more posts, posts of a more divers character. Lets start something lighthearted about magic.

If you’ve read the books and seen the movies you might noticed that the wizards and witches aren’t exactly the most happy lot. In the movies many are portrayed as a bit scruffy and not particular wealthy. Which is odd since they have this ├╝ber power called “magic”. In this post I’ll try to give my view of what I read and saw about making a living in the Wizarding World. And how this relate to the muggle world, because J.K. Rowling wrote this book in a very non-magical, highly technological culture. Magic really doesn’t exist, you know.

How to get some dough

Gamp’s law says you can’t create money out of thin air. As you cannot with food, which dough is really. Money is just an object, a wizard shouldn’t have trouble with creating some. But we’re talking about wizarding money, which is made and tightly controlled by goblins. Apparently the amount is fixed and can’t be increased by the muggle way of fractional banking. At least the only debt I encounterd in the books were betting debts. Money is exchanged as a physical object only.

Only gold, silver and bronse, secured with goblin spells, as money may appeal to the romantics, but it makes live pretty difficult. Mrs. Weasly clearly was scraping by with difficulty getting cash, while Harry had a pile of gold sitting idle in a vault. My impression was that every adult wizard and witch was trying hard to get galleons, sickles and cnuts. Only two ways were presented to earn an income; working for a handful of institutions or being self-employed.

Making money magically
“Heart of the Wizarding economy”

In fact there is one institute where almost everybody wants to work, the Ministry of Magic. Outside the Ministry, if you’re not working for the Daily Prophet or Hogwarts, then your only option is being self-employed. In this case, bar some shops in Diagon Alley, this means being a poor peddler.

All the talent, but no skills

We’ll get back to the Ministry later. First, making a cnut on the street. You would expect that a wizard would have no trouble creating a good life for himself. And having plenty of purchasing power. Lets see, a roof over your head? No problem, with magic you can make a nice house with magically produced material. Need a plot for your house? Pick any remote spot with no muggles in sight. You’re a wizard, transportation is easy and free to any spot on the planet. Food? Conjur the best salmon from the rivers, fruit and wheat from muggle farms. They won’t notice. In short, magic will provide almost all, for free.

J.K. Rowlings is brilliant though. Being a wizard, or witch, makes you lazy. Everybody has the same talent as you have and magic takes a lot of muggle effort away. Hermione may be the best witch of her age by studying hard, when push comes to shove the difference with others is negligible. Harry has better fighting talent and that’s all he needs. Thanks to their muggle upbringing Harry and Hermione do have street creds, which keeps them ahead of their peers. Most students, even Neville, reach the same level off skill, the difference really is only in the amount of skills, for instance the number of spells you’re able to perform. If there is no real incentive to excel then what you get is a bunch of bone idle wizards and witches who get through live with the least amount of effort.

The result is people scraping by or hitting rock bottom in Knockturn Alley. Given that the estimates of the British wizard population varies from 3000 to 15000, that’s a lot of bums I saw in the movies. According to this wiki it seams that most wizards get their wealth through inheritance and not through business. Then again how shall a wizard succeed in business if he has never learned to work hard, study hard and apply discipline. It is no wonder that being self-employed is a poor mans option. George and Fred may have been natural business men, Mrs. Weasley was horrified. A funny objectivist view on the Harry Potter world points to the oddity the Wizarding world is, despite his excellent talent in potion making, it never occured to professor Snape to monitize his concoctions.

Knockturn alley
“A lot of loosers for that tiny part of London”

The Ministry, the only game in town

There is another reason why being a being a business men is hard for a wizard. You can’t interact with the muggle world very much. As a wizard you could create great value for muggles, if necessary in secret. But this Ministry of Magic keeps a Big Brother style of control on magic performed close to muggles. With thousands more muggles than wizards, that’s a huge market which is out of bounds. The British Wizarding world itself is barely the size of a small town. This keeps wizard businesses at the level cottage industry. Except the Ministry itself.

The Ministry is the 900 pound gorilla in the room. Any wizard who wants to have a decent income tries to get a job at the ministry. The Weasleys pretty much a civil servant family. A save bet but the pay isn’t always stellar. Which is no surprise since the Ministry is depicted as a rather large organization. With so many mouths to feed and such a poor tax base, money is spread thinly. Especially since the Ministry can’t print its own money. No doubt the offices are filled with poorly trained wizards and witches doing a half-assed job (what do expect with just five years of secundary education).

Is there a lesson for us?

Although the Wizarding world is weird, there are some striking similarities. For instance the dominant Ministry of Magic is starting to get its counterpart in the Muggle world, namely the modern western government. Also citizens getting resources with hardly any effort, for instance benefits, almost look like wizards and witches. But this blog is getting too long already and these comparisons I would like to keep for another post.