It seems like everyone who first gets a bead pattern program will take a picture of a fav person and try to turn it into a bead pattern (I sure did!) And more often than not it either looks like an abstract mess, or it ends up being a huge tapestry with 200 colours!
Working with pictures of pets and people can be some of the toughest, but most rewarding results when designing patterns.
I want to share some of the things I have learned, that help get better results.
I have found that the largest I should get is 4 to 5 inches. This keeps the diminsions realistic (I know I'm less likely to finish that huge tapestry I started as my first project EVER, than I will the 3 inch amulet bag. )
The design above is a good example of this principle. It's finished diminsions are just a hair over 3x4 inches.
I did go a bit over on my number of colours rule - this one ran about 22. but several of those colours were in small sections for the nose and eyes - places where a small amount gives a lot of impact. knowing that it would take less than a gram for several of the colours makes it a less expensive project in the long run. It's a delicate balance between getting enough detail and having something become too speckley
I have found that after the numbers get over 16 to twenty colours the difference starts to get less noticeable on the detail. In fact sometimes the detail can become very muddy and speckled if there are too many colours in the pallette. Notice how the background of this graph is a solid green. When the pattern first converted, there were several didfferent greens and it was just too much going on in the graph.
There are several ways to limit how many colours are used.
The most basic is to edit the photograph being used, before you ever open a bead pattern program. To edit photos, I usually use adobe photoshop, but there are many different ones out there including the basic paint program that comes with microsoft.
One of the key things about a photo is to look at what you want to stand out when you convert it into a pattern. Everything else non-essential should be removed or turned a solid colour. Other wise, it will use up a lot of your pallette to creating a background for your image. If there is too much going on in the background, it becomes a very busy pattern.
Of course, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but the best results usually come from keeping the image simple.
Another basic way to limit your pallette is to tell the program to use a limited number of colours from the begining. -The draw back is that sometime you will end up the computer substituting colours that aren't accurate. A perfect example of this is a parrot picture I worked with recently.
The pattern was important - it was of a pet who had been in the family for over thirty years and recently passed away. The person I was designing for would have probably been upset, if her pattern had come back looking like someone elses bird, due to colour substitutions.
The first graph has a couple of things about it -- The most prominent is the cheek of the parrot is green. The original picture I was using, however, shows the bird with an orange cheek. I had to get the cheek to show the proper colour without adding too many colours to the final picture.
The first graph also shows a corona around the bird. Flash pictures will often translate this way in bead patterns, and while it can be an interesting design element, for simplicity I felt here it need to be erased. I used the fill function to make it the same as the rest of the background.
By using the eraser funtion (I use Beadtool 2) I cleared out only the area of the cheek, which was mis-coloured. Then I had the program recolour it using only four colours and to not colour any area that was already filled. This allowed me to control the total to only 20 colours.
Because this is a special display piece, I did make it a bit larger - it is 4 x 6.5. However, because I felt she might also wish to have a piece to wear as well, I also did a smaller version which uses only a portion of the image.