Watercolor 101 Supplies: Paper

We’re very excited for our first Watercolor 101 class to begin in March. In preparation, our teacher Monica Lee has put together a series of videos about the basic supplies for her class. In this instructional video, she discusses everything you need to know about choosing the best paper for your project. Watch it over here, and enjoy!
Watercolor Supplies: Paper by Monica Lee

Student Spotlight: Marjorie Limbonhai

Nicole's Classes Work by Marjorie Limbonhai

Today we wanted to introduce you to one of our very talented students, Marjorie Limbonhai. We’ve loved the work she’s created in many of our classes (including the design above!), and it’s been really fun to have her in the virtual classroom. See what she has to say about her Nicole’s Classes experience and her journey into design in the little interview below:

How did you hear about Nicole’s Classes?
I read about Nicole’s Classes in a blog called How About Orange.

What got you interested in design?
I’ve always been interested in art and design as a kid, but I never considered it to be more than just a hobby. A few years after college, I was looking for a career change when I bumped into a creative blog on the internet. I didn’t blog then so I was completely new to the blogging world. I was nothing short of enchanted by her words and her beautiful pictures, her imagination and her creative energy.

I searched for others and found that there was actually a whole community of artists on the internet! And I knew from that moment on, that I wanted to be just like them, to create beautiful designs of my own that would also inspire other people like me.

Which classes have you taken from Nicole’s Classes?
I’ve taken most of the Illustrator classes and I’ve got a few more lined up for this year — both for Illustrator and Photoshop.

What have you done with the skills you developed in Nicole’s Classes?
I create projects of my own to practice what I learned. I’m still learning and experimenting with Illustrator, and still in the process of discovering what my style is. I do hope to find a career in art and design someday. Nicole’s classes helped me a LOT. They not only taught me how to use Illustrator effectively, they also taught me how to think openly and creatively.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?
Anywhere and everywhere really. But when I do need inspiration right away, I always go to art blogs and creative websites. I love seeing what others have done. And when I find something beautiful, I try to interpret it my way.

Where can we find you online?
My blog Mints and Chocolates.

And of course, here are more of her designs!

Nicole's Classes Work by Marjorie Limbonhai

Nicole's Classes Work by Marjorie Limbonhai


Nicole's Classes Work by Marjorie Limbonhai

Free Class Giveaways at Alt Summit!

nicole's classes giveaways at alt summit!
Some of our extremely talented teachers will be speaking at the Alt Summit event in Salt Lake City this week, and for our readers who are lucky enough to attend, we have a treat for you!

Our founder and chief-of-all-things-Nicole’s-Classes, Nicole Gerulat (pictured above), will be giving away 30 free classes over the 3 day event! She’ll be taking over our Instagram account (follow us @nicolesclasses) today through Saturday and posting her locations. So you just need to find her, strike up a conversation, and win a free class — it’s that easy! We’ll also be giving away other fun Nicole’s Classes swag like our super helpful Tiny Tips, so make sure you introduce yourself to all of our instructors if you’re at Alt Summit!

Sewing 101: Choosing Fabric

We’re so excited to have Theresa Gonzalez, the instructor for our brand new Sewing 101 class, sharing her first post with all of you today! She’ll be a regular fixture around these parts in the coming months, and we know you’ll appreciate her tips and insight into not only sewing, but design and decor as well. Read on for her thorough thoughts on fabric choice and a stellar discount code for her class!


Timber & Leaf Collection by Sarah Watts, 100% Cotton Timber & Leaf Collection by Sarah Watts, 100% Cotton

When you’re just learning to sew, you want to brush up on the many types of fabrics out there — from cottons to wools to silks to synthetics. Understanding how these fabrics work differently will help you choose the best fabric for your project. It’s so easy to be drawn to the beautiful prints you see in stores, but if you’re making a dress that needs to have some drape and you choose a fabric meant for upholstery, you’re not going to get the results you expect.

Here are six tips to help you choose the right fabric for your project (or the right project for a fabric that you love). It’s the first step in learning how to sew with professional-looking results.

1. Read your pattern: Whether your pattern comes from a store or a download, it should tell you what types of fabric you should use. As I mention in my class, I highly recommend sticking with the fabric your pattern calls for because the designer always knows best. Lightweight fabrics, like chiffon, crepe, and linen, work best for fashion projects while heavyweight fabrics, like upholstery-weight cottons or velvets, work best in home projects. Your fabric store will likely separate the home fabrics from the fashion fabrics, so note the sections when you arrive.Calico Corners Indigo & Citron Collection with upholstery-weight cottons

Calico Corners Indigo & Citron Collection with upholstery-weight cottons

 2. Look at the fabric bolt. When you find a fabric that you like, check the printed information found on or near the bolt. This will tell you the fiber content. There are four types of fibers: natural, man-made, synthetic and blends. Natural fibers include wool, silk, and cotton.  Man-made, which can be made with natural materials such as cellulose, include acrylic, rayon and acetate. Synthetic fibers are made completely from chemical sources, such as nylon, polyester and spandex. Blends are made from these three sources.

 Amy Butler Honeysuckle Bloom in Rayon Amy Butler Honeysuckle Bloom in Rayon

 3. Feel your fabric. You can tell a lot about the fabric by unwrapping it a couple feet from the bolt and holding it. Do you like how it feels on your skin — smooth like satin or nubby like corduroy? How does it drape — does it flow or just hang heavy and flat? Does the weight feel right for your project? For example, for a curtain, do you want to block light or let light in? Think about how you will use the project (how will you wear it — casually or to work? for home things, will guests be sitting on it or tossing it on the floor?) and note the comfort, durability, texture, and care of the fabric and decide if it’s right for you.

Nani Iro linen-cotton blend—“a floaty light gauze woven fabric”

Nani Iro linen-cotton blend—“a floaty light gauze woven fabric”

 4. Know your skill level. Some fabrics, like chiffons and satins, require more advanced sewing skills. If you are a beginner, I suggest starting out with light to medium-weight cottons. Cotton is a durable fabric, so it won’t snag in the machine like some other fabrics can without the right know-how. It’s inexpensive, so if you make a mistake you won’t be out of a lot of money. Plus, it can come in loads of fun prints, as I’ve shown here, which will inspire you to want to sew.

FreeSpirit Fabrics Notting Hill Collection, Lightweight Cotton

FreeSpirit Fabrics Notting Hill Collection, Lightweight Cotton

 5. Consider print. When you’re choosing a print for your project, you want to consider its size, color, and direction. If you’re working on a small project, like a bag, a big floral repeat may not be your best choice. If you’re working on a dress with curves, stripes may be difficult to keep even throughout the project. Also note that the color may look differently in the lighting of the store vs. your home. Bring home a swatch first to be sure you like it in your home or on your skin, or take it outside.

Liberty of London Tana Lawn Classics, 100% Cotton

Liberty of London Tana Lawn Classics, 100% Cotton

6. Review care instructions. The fabric bolt will also tell you how to care for your fabric so I suggest taking a photo of the information before you leave. Keep in mind that you should always pre-wash (according to care instructions) and press your fabric before sewing to avoid puckering after the first wash. If the fabric looks like it may require dry cleaning or gentle cleaning, you might want to consider an alternative fabric if that’s not your thing.


She really knows her stuff, right? If you’re looking to learn even more from Theresa (and we know want to!), use the discount code SEWSEWSEW now through February 4th to save 30% on her Sewing 101 class! The code is good on all sessions of the class, which will be held bi-monthly starting in February. So if you received a sewing machine for Christmas and it’s already collecting dust or if you just need to brush up on your skills so you can start DIY-ing your way to a new wardrobe or fresh decor, now is your chance to learn how with Nicole’s Classes!

It’s a Textbook Tuesday Sale!

nicole's classes textbook tuesday sale!

We have a screaming deal to share with you today — all 3 of our very popular textbooks are just $20 starting now through this Friday, January 25th! We’ve never offered our Photo 101 textbook at this deep of a discount, so if you’ve been waiting to buy, now’s the time!

And if you’re going to Alt Design Summit this week, stay tuned to the blog and our social media sites (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) later this week for information on how you could be the lucky recipient of Nicole’s Classes swag and free classes!


Happy Monday… and a Survey!

nicole's classes happy monday

Just checking in to wish everyone a happy holiday Monday — we hope you’re enjoying your extended weekend!

And we have some exciting news for you… we’re thinking about bringing back our live, in-person crash courses! Help us decide where to teach by taking our very short survey. It won’t take more than a minute, and your response could persuade us to come to your city!


Image by Nicole Gerulat.

Join us on Instagram!

If you’re not following us on Instagram already, make sure to pay us a visit @nicolesclasses. Take a peek at what goes on behind the scenes and enter contests exclusive to followers. Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to! (and if you want to view our feed online, stop by here!)

Enjoy the extra long weekend!

First Student Work from 2013!

Good morning and good Monday to everyone!

We finally have our first batch of student work for the new year to share with you all, and we couldn’t be more excited! Our students are as talented and creative as ever, and the work they’ve produced proves it.

Tara Ouitavon captured this amazing shot of her cat in Photo 101. We love the perspective  and the creative angle!

Student Work by Tara Ouitavon.

And we have more pet pictures! This one was taken by Christen Fleming of her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Nala. Again, great perspective that really shows off his regal side!

Student work by Christen Fleming.

Illustrator student Keema created this assignment to practice alignment. We love the inspirational quote and her choices in font size and color. Pay Keema a visit over here!

Student work by Keema.

And to finish today’s student work off, we wanted to share this very special Christmas card created by Macy Robison. With the skills she picked up in our design classes, Macy created a really fun and original holiday greeting that we absolutely love. Make sure you say hello to her!

Student work by Macy Robison.Student work by Macy Robison.Student work by Macy Robison.


Registration for Floral Arranging 101 is Now Open!

nicole's classes floral arranging 101 is now open for registration!

That’s right, the wait is finally over! You can now purchase a spot in the highly anticipated Floral Arranging 101 class with Chelsea Fuss of Frolic! Be sure to grab your spot in this class that will be offered every month starting MAY 2013, as we’ve had a lot of interest and we do expect sessions to sell out.

For more details on this amazing new addition to the Nicole’s Classes curriculum, you can visit our Crafting classes page and our post from last week.

Happy Friday everyone!

Catchlights 101

One question I’m commonly asked is how to get catchlights. For any newbies out there, a catchlight is the reflection of the light source in your subject’s eye. It is what makes the eyes pop, or seem bright and alive. Here are some important things to consider when trying to get better catchlights:

Distance & Size: The size of your light source and its distance to your subject will affect the intensity of the catchlight. The closer and larger the catchlight, the larger the reflection. Pretty simple, right?

Shape: Catchlights can be little flecks, circles, squares, skinny rectangles, triangles, you name it. If you have control over your light source, you can control its shape to be reflected. For example, a window will show a rectangular catchlight, and the sun will show a circular catchlight.

Angle of Light: The light source needs to be low enough to be able to shine into the eyes. Midday sun -where the sun is directly overhead- will likely produce nasty shadows below the eyes and never add a catchlight. So, choose a time of day where the sun is lower in the sky. Or, if shooting in the beautiful shade, face your subject towards the brightest part of the sky. If it is difficult to tell where that is, watch the catchlight in your subject’s eyes as you turn them in a full circle to analyze the best angle.

Adding Catchlights: Adding catchlights is simple, as long as you have a main source of light. One way to add catchlights is to look for natural reflectors in the environment that are getting strong sun, like a sidewalk or side of a building. These large, natural reflectors will create more catchlight shapes to help illuminate the eyes. Or, grab a white sheet or pillowcase, car or photo reflector, or white matte board and place them opposite your light source, and angling back at your subject’s face. Adding reflectors is a great way to add more light to the eyes (and face!) helping the eyes appear lighter and brighter.

When strong catchlights aren’t present, some resort to Photoshop to enhance or even create catchlights. Unfortunately, adding artificial catchlights in post-production rarely look natural, which is why I recommend the techniques above. In summary, turn your subject towards the light! If you have further questions, I’m here to help! Leave questions and comments below in this post and I will get back to you soon.

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