Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 15 January 2023

No-one's more surprised than I am that I have an Etsy shop for printables to colour in

My Etsy shop front...

Recently I have been 'getting into' Inkscape (free) in a fairly big way, learning how to use it by a mix of trial and error, watching YouTube videos, reading the help files and tutorials and even asking on the forums. I have now reached the status of Adequate At This, coinciding with a burgeoning in my use of it for work and fun. 

I began using it in 2019 as I wanted to apply some hand drawn things to a printable item I was creating in PowerPoint, the item being a wearable cyborg hat for kids to colour in at science festivals. It's half human, half robot / computer and known as a 'hatagon' (hat polygon). Quite fun. 

My earliest use was fairly basic - drawing something in pencil, going over in black ink, erasing pencil, photographing and importing the image into Inkscape then using the automated 'trace bitmap' to produce a transparent version that I could easily resize (basically 'digitising a scanned in image'). Gradually I learned to draw things directly into Inkscape and manipulate them and I'm quite pleased with my progress. This is the A3 Hatagon v2. (Download your own to colour in, A4 versions of the older one are also available).

On the left is the planform for the hatagon, on the right is one coloured in and worn

I wanted to produce a nice version of a tile I'd like to paint at a ceramic cafe. There are two ways of doing this - print out a copy of the tile and trace it by hand then apply the tracing to the bisque tile and paint. Lacking a printer I've chosen the slightly more time-consuming but probably neater Inkscape way which is to use the pen tool (in 'B-spline mode') to trace over the pattern. This results in very clean lines, though I'd be the first to admit they probably look a little cartoonish compared with a more hand-drawn effort. Tracing them is also a very pleasant activity.

Black and white line drawing of one of William De Morgan tile designs, for colouring in

Now I'm tracing all sorts of items (all are public domain photographs or scans of public domain artwork and I've listed the provenance with each item I've put on Etsy) including William De Morgan tiles, William Morris patterns, random Iznik patterns I've found, fleur de lis examples (probably my favourite motif) and have shoved them all on my Etsy shop. Many of the listings also include a link to free versions where they are available, for example these William De Morgan tiles below (the one bottom right is a 16th century tile not by Wm De M). These are just PDFs for colouring in, the Etsy store has the SVG files.

Four Floral Tile Patterns to colour in – free printable to download (A4 and US letter size)


The four featured items on my Etsy shop


A note on Etsy
The pricing structure of Etsy is a little unintuitive and they take a chunk (fair enough I suppose) to host an item. When I first added an item it told me it cost me ~£0.20 to list it and asked me how many copies I wanted to make available, which made no sense to me as it was a digital file so completely renewable. I wanted to make 1 copy available and for it to remain there to be downloaded as often as people wanted it. That isn't how it works though, so I googled and found that most people put '100' so I did that. Then I discovered (after a friend tried the system for me and bought the file) that Etsy charges 20p every time a copy of the file is downloaded me, so each one of the 100 there is treated as a separate listing. Other fees mean that you'd end up losing money if you set a price much below about 70p so most of mine are that (it automatically converts this to 84p to account for tax). I don't really like it and am hoping that people will download the free stuff, and I'm just paying 20p to advertise files ;)

Anyway I only discovered that people sell digital files on Etsy because I was learning how to create those files from YouTube videos and 'how to sell SVGs on Etsy' kept coming up, so eventually I wanted to see if I could satisfy the remit. Job done, even if none are ever sold :)


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