Friday, 21 November 2014

Free Christmas Craft Papers

We have a good selection of free Christmas Papers to download now so this year we can be a bit more relaxed about them. You will probably have noticed that many of these are cartoon based, the Craftville Bears, which seem to have gone down very well. We started with three designs, Father Christmas, the Elf and the Fairy but then someone on Facebook asked if we were going to release a snowman. We hadn't planned to but though it was such a good idea we added it to the list.

What we didn't want was for newer users of the site to think that we only have cartoon style Christmas papers so this week we are reminding every one of the more traditional papers we have available for download.

We have a great selection of Christmas papers now and as usual the main problem has been to help people find the right ones for the project they are making. For this reason we keep on pushing the page we have which lists all the free Christmas papers. This is our sort of "one stop shop" for suitable papers and by far the easiest way to see the full range.

Friday, 3 October 2014

The British Craft Network

The British Craft Network

Well after a few weeks of promotion "The British Craft Network" was launched at the beginning of October. The network already has a wide range of participants, many of whom will be familiar names at least to British Crafters. Robert Adams, Ribbon Box, The Stamp Hut, Bee Crafty and Scrap Yard are just a few of the companies involved.

Now let me say right up front I am really glad the "normal"craft shopping outlets have a bit of competition and it's really nice to see that they are doing it in a different way, I do however think they have a few issues. This is early days so they may still be "finding their way" so I shall continue to watch and see if things develop in a positive way, I do hope so.

A Presenter

The programs I've watch so far have mostly been "presenter-less". Now this may be a concious decision by the British Craft Network to avoid presenters given their poor reputation on shopping telly. We are used to presenters interpreting the demonstrations with their sales pitches and cutting demos off short as time runs out.  Due to this I think many of us have taken against presenters. Having said that the presenter, when working properly, can play a very important role.

  1. They can be the "learner". Asking those questions which we might ask if we were there and asking for clarification for the difficult parts.
  2. Move the demo forward when it seems to be getting stuck.
  3. Adding a little banter. This can annoy when done badly but it really can "add" something when done well. You will notice radio programs, even when meant to be a single person, now often contain banter between the main person and another, I'm not suggesting they go to the level of "Alan and Barry" but I do think some chat would help.
Having said that I'd rather no presenter than a bad one! Whilst many people think they can present it is actually a remarkably difficult role which, when dome badly, can destroy a program.

Robert Adams: British Craft Network

The Demos

Whilst it's really nice to see fuller demonstrations I did find some of them moved a little "slowly". I prefer the "Blue Peter" type of approach with the occasional "here's one I made earlier" so we don't have to see every single part of every step, especially when an action is repeated several times. I'd much rather see more demos than what at times border on Instructional Videos. Again I assume this was a effort to get away from the speed demos on normal shopping TV but, for me, it goes a little too far and I found my interest waning at times.

Ribbon Box: British Craft Network

Technical Details.

There are some lovely little intro bits and "Adverts" which someone has obviously spent a lot of time on. Someone involved here has a good level of technical expertise when it comes to video. Unfortunately that wasn't matched by the technical details in the demonstrations themselves. I found the single camera view soon got a bit boring. It would be nice to see a couple of different camera angles which isn't that difficult to achieve

On the whole this is a great idea and I wish them every success. I know the above may seem a little critical but with the level of competition around I do think they are going to have to "up the game" a little if they are going to build on the launch.

If you would like to watch The Bristish Craft Network (and I would urge you to do so and give them a bit of suport if you haven't already done so) you can find them here:

The British Craft Network

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The BestFree Graphics Programs

I've been making graphics for Free Craft Downloads / Craftville for many years now and before that I was involved with graphics in websites etc. During that time I've used a whole range of graphics programs, many of the them free, in fact I think I've only ever used one paid for program on a regular basis and that was 10 years old before I stopped using it!

Anyway I've decided to share my "finds" with others who may find them useful. These are real free programs, they are legal, full versions and made as free. I have downloaded and installed each of these programs and haven't had any issues with the installing unwanted extras, viruses etc.

Lots Open Source / Free software is still going strong but it is getting harder to find. When you search for free software the rubbish you get in the search results is amazing, programs which aren't free at all. programs which are free for a limited time or have some of their functions disabled until you pay. There are even versions of the open source free software with added viruses!

Many of the programs I use / review have a long history and are either made by a community or by one or two individuals with the support of a community. Some of the bigger ones like GIMP and have active forums and a multitude of people creating add ons.

Image Manipulation
So if you can actually find these programs there is some really good stuff out there. I've review 17 of the best programs I have found (after sifting through 100s) on .

Graphics Editors
Image Viewers / Organisers
Painting Software
Photo Manipulation

I can't stress strongly enough how good some of these programs are, far paid than spome of the paid software available!

So if you want to organise your images, make or edit some graphics for card making or even correct / edit your photographs then there is a bit of software for you. There is even a really nice/simple bit of software for making Celtic Knots.

You will find all of my reviews, download links and recommendations on my site

I have even started to add a few tutorials and will be adding more. I would be very interested to hear how anyone else gets on with these programs , or indeed , if you have found any good free programs yourself. Please do let me know.


Friday, 4 July 2014

Free Card Kits

For years I have been avoiding making card kits. My thoughts were along the lines that we would provide crafters with a large number of free papers but that the actual design and style of the card ( or other papercraft item ) would be down to them. We've stuck to that for every since we launched Free Craft Downloads / Craftville.

So what's changed? Well basically we have been asked again and again for kits so we have finally decided to trial them. They aren't meant to replace our "normal papers", in fact all the kits have been made up using previously released papers.

What we have done with these kits is resized and altered the papers so they all fit together to make one card. It reduces the amount of cutting, resizing and altering sheets making the kits quite easy to put together. No only that but you don't even have to use everything which is there. Sheet 1 is the basic card and you could, if you wish, just print that off and fold it in half. That would make a card but obviously doesn't involve a lot of craft.

The second sheet is the decoration, normally a bit of decoupage or a pyramid (stacker). You don't have to use everything (or anything) on this sheet. Even my demonstration piece at the top of this page uses less than half the decoupage available. If it's a pyramid design with 6 layers you could just choose to use 3!

The final sheet, 3, it an insert sheet. Again it is optional, you could put in a plain white sheet if you prefer, or not use one.

So we shall be trialling these kits for the next few week, So far they have proved very popular with lots of downloads (maybe having them available in zip files helps) so my guess at this stage is they will become a perminant feature on the site.

You can see the range of free card kits we have available HERE.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Craftville Bears

Bride and Groom Bears
By now many of you will have seen some of the designs in our new character set. We are really pleased with the Craftville Bears For a long time we have wanted to develop our own bears but it has proved a bit more difficult than we imagined. Whilst we fully support "copyright" it is remarkably difficult now-a-days to develop a bear character which doesn't resemble some other too closely.

If you think of all the bear designs in existence, many of which are covered by copyright. We have Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, Rupert Bear, The Care Bears, Yogi, Ted and even Smokie. Add to that Bears which have appeared in films and TV but not necessarily as the main character; Baloo, Fozzi, Lots-O'-Huggin Bear (Toy Story), Teddy (A.I.) and lots lotsw more, I'm sure you can think of many more. So you can see how crowded the market has become for bear designs, I wonder if there will come a t time when no more are possible!

Anyway we are really pleased with our designs and we how to use it in a wide range of  situations and styles. So far we have a soilder bear and a nurse bear. These will soon be joined be a fireman bear, a lollypop bear ( sorry that may be confusing for the non-UK readers... crossing guard bear may explain it), bride and groom bears and many many more.

As with all of our papers these bear designs are completely free to download, print and use in your paper craft projects. We hope you like them as much as we do :-)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Whats all this about 300dpi

Firstly let me get a couple of things out of the way:

Image of Bea from the Pirate set.
There is no need for this image
to ever be printed at 300 dpi.
There isn't enough detail to warrant it.
1. Before anyone want s to point out the error I do realise that we are  really talking about PPI (Pixels per inch) but in this article which is directed towards the average crafter I'm going to stick to the common usage of DPI.

2. This article certainly isn't an in-depth look at dpi/ppi and printing and is only meant for the hobbiest crafter. I'm afraid if you are looking for a more in-depth article then you'll have to look elsewhere.

High Quality 300 dpi images.

I am seeing that phrase more an more in relation to craft downloads and craft cds. It's being used as a selling point however I have serious doubts as to whether it is as good as it seems. Everyone will know that all the images on are made at 150 dpi which is a decision we took after much research and advice. We did this mainly because the majority of our images are graphics rather than photos and few graphics have the subtle detail which requires 300 dpi, in fact you will get no more detail in a 300 dpi copy than you will a 150dpi.

A lovely multi coloured Sunset.
This image would look good at 300 dpi, ink
bleed on lower quality papers shouldn't
be too much if an issue.
Secondly there is a danger that your printed image will be worse by using 300 dpi rather than a lower one. When I first discussed this with friends they thought I was making it up BUT once they thought about it they realised they had all seen it. The problem is when we print out the designs we often aren't using quality of paper which a 300 dpi image requires. Sometimes we're printing onto white card and sometime just a white paper, neither of these can handle the quantity of ink being applied and in the case of card what were clear lines can actually bleed. In the case of paper not only can it suffer from bleed but it can also cause the paper to buckle as the ink dries.

Finally, and rather obviously, you are using twice the amount of ink to get a worse image.

Don't get me wrong, there is certainly a place for 300 dpi images but in order to get the benefit it should be a photo with lots of gradients and colour changes plus, if it has distinct detail it need to be printed onto paper which can cope with 300 dpi.

I do often print my 150 dpi images onto 260gsm glossy photo paper, especially the decoupage, I like the finish it gives. But again, as they are graphics/pictures rather than photos, there is no need for them to be 300 dpi. Printing at 300 dpi can't add a level of detail which just isn't in the original image.

Image taken on Mt Snowden
This image would be good at 300 dpi but should be
printed on high quality paper or ink bleed will be
an issue on the sharp rocks and edges etc.
Having said that I have just released a set at 300 dpi, mainly because they are based on photos and therefore should be good at 300 dpi, plus, they are all colour blends without any sharp lines, so using them on card or lower quality paper shouldn't be a huge issue.

My advice to crafters:

1. Think whether an image needs to be printed at 300 dpi. Is it a photo? Does it have lots of subtle  light, shading, colour?.
2. Is the paper or card you are printing it on going to make a 300 dpi image look better or worse.
3. If it isn't a photo, and you know what you are doing, think about decreasing its DPI. It will save you ink and give you a better finish on lower quality cards and paper.

Obviously there are exceptions to the photo rule. Many oil and watercolour painting etc can have very subtle colours which could benefit from being at 300 dpi and on nice paper but that is a long way from many cartoonish style craft designs.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Site Move: Craftville

Well I shall  write a bit more when I get time but I'd just like you to know the we have finally moved site. The new URL is

Most of the links you will find on this blog and elsewhere (which are the old ones) are still working as we have set up some "redirects" but if you can't find what you are looking for we do, as always, recommend the site map which is fully up-to-date.