Wiffy-Pop Popcorn RSD

My Corner of Buffyverse Fandom and Welcome To It


Click on all images below to view full-size (They don't look at all right downsized. 'tis most distressing.) All artwork by me unless otherwise noted.



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Gift from my amazing friend and a jewel of this fandom spikesredqueen for my birthday (Feb 2015, not snaggable)




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"Winged Buffy" banner, a gift from the fantastically talented and generous comlodge, (June 2013, not snaggable)
[Step into my parlour....]


* My LJ is Hugs Central. (Mostly.) Appropriate and consensual ones, of course. Safety and fun are at a premium here, so play nice with each other. Leave the weapons at the door, wipe your feet on the mat, and help yourself to some tea and homemade cookies.

*********

by any other name 700square

...by any other name. (June 2014)

* Buffy is my Big Damn Hero and my #1 HBIC - because she's flawed and human and real. Because she loves deeply; she falls down but still fights, she grieves and endures, again and again. Because she breaks the rules and finds another way; because of her intelligence, intuition and wit. Because in watching her I identify with my own issues and strengths, and have a renewed appreciation for my mom as well.

* Because in talking about her with other fans, in telling my story through her, in voicing my truth, I discover that I'm not alone in my challenges, faults, and grief; that I don't have to be imprisoned by secrets and shame; and in sharing this, I can bring comfort to others. And because at the end of the day, Buffy gives me hope; and sometimes that's enough to make getting out of bed in the morning worthwhile. And because she is just so freakin' adorable, y'all.
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Keep Her Safe (alt 1) (March 2015)
* I love intelligent discussion of , and appreciation for , the ladies of the verse and their complex interrelationships  at the core of the 'verse: mothers, sisters, mentors, students, friends, lovers, enemies, allies. The Buffyverse without it's women would be a cold, barren place:  ("that bright optimism that becomes a great, raw wound-red in The Body" - the_royal_anna ). They bear witness to one another, the hurt one another when they don't mean to, they love even when it's difficult and painful to do so.


* And yes, this also includes Kennedy. No vitriol. No joke.  (Tara would not approve of the hate. A lot of the complaints I've seen about her are suspicously close to those lobbed at Buffy, btw.) Entitled? Yes. Arrogant? Uh-huh - and also loyal, courageous, stubborn and gentle. She's a "queer woman of color..that is allowed to be the hero."

* The Buffy & Tara friendship/connection is one of the most underappreciated aspects of the 'verse IMO. This WILL be rectified. I don't ship Buffy/Tara, but if that's what it takes to get fandom talking about them? A fangirl's gotta do what a fangirl's gotta do. (ETA 2014: I have seen the light of the true religion: Buffy/Tara shipping. I ship those girls so freakin' hard. Now say amen, somebody.)
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My OTF/P (August 2014)
*In fact, let's just say "No bashing female characters, period." There's plenty of other places to do that, if that's your thing. The show's failures in terms of the depictions of women, of female sexuality, the lack of mature female characters, the massive fail in terms of race and class? Always up for intelligent, civil discussion and examination.
********
* OTOH, I do reserve the right to bitch about call out their shit criticize objectively analyze and take issue with certain whiny, self-absorbed males on the series and their collective patronizing jackassery. Don't get me wrong, I can understand them, sympathize with them, and so forth. Xander trying to be a "better man" than his father? Even when he gets it wrong? I heartily approve. (I'll still call him out on his shit, though.) It's simple math: Grow up, get real or go home. Also I welcome any and every opportunity to make fun of Angel.  Particularly when penguins are involved.  As well they should be.
********


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I Walk Alone, another beautiful gift from comlodge based on her FFL picspam series for Round 18 of seasonal_spuffy.

* I 'ship Buffy&Spike S7 . Love in action is the hardest, most painful and most worthwhile work we can ever do - and IMO it trumps "true love" romantic fantasies every time. (That said, I fully support the right to ship Buffy with anyone you damn well please.) But he is not my central focus here. Nor are any of the men of the 'verse, except in terms of how they serve Buffy's story.  It turns out the protagonist of the "Buffyverse" is some gal named Buffy.  Weird, huh?
Summers Family Portrait S5 RSD

These Are A Few of My Fanart Resources

This post will be updated frequently.  I'm including some examples when possible because a picture is worth a thousand words.

UPDATED 08 February 2016:
[Links, pretty pictures, and more!]

TEXTURES:
colorfilter - Their big 40 pack of icon textures (download link at Facebook here) is still the one I use most often and I haven't begun to scratch the surface of the hundreds of textures within. Also check out the pack of larger 800x600 textures. You can also find the sets posted individually on their journal. I've posted a few more examples of my icons using these textures in the comment thread here.

             1-7


             8-14



texturize - (Many thanks toteragramm for rec'ing this community) One-stop shopping for anyone interested in creating and sharing textures. Be sure to read the comm's very informative "Bible" (guidelines) before posting or snagging. Most of the artists post links back to their graphics journals or to Deviant Art.

lookslikerain at soaked. I've used more of their textures than anyone's except colorfilter's:

      icon for fanfic Ipseity by spuffy luvr 2015     15-20


whitebamboo:

      21-23


jordannamorgan at wolfbane_icons

24


scoobyatemysnax at burnedbreads - includes tutorials.  A tremendous variety of textures including soft glow, grunge, frames, abstract and geometric patterns in any one given set. I like their medium (300pixels) square textures for icons.

      25 - 30

 * broken_places The graphics journal of akilah92

* Evey-V at DeviantArt I like Ericka's soft, painterly, abstract textures, gradients, and text brushes:

consequences0128icon1.3e.png 31

 * sweetiepebbles Gallery of icon textures and bases at DeviantArt
 * Yeonseb at DeviantArt Vast supply of textures and application resources
 * spiritcoda - creativehangout is their LJ graphics gallery, or check out their DA gallery; some exceptionally pretty textures

FRAMES:
 * FRAMEs & BORDERs for use - Flickr image sharing group
 * Your Picture Frames - Most of the icon frames in my awards banners come from this site.
 * Victorian Frame Company - Mostly HQ photos of antique-style wood frames with carved detail, includes unusual shapes such as rounds, oblongs and hearts:

  32 - 33

SCREENCAPS for Buffyverse
slayerstillness has a list of Screencap Resources for BtVS and AtS, including all the ones I use most frequently; if you know of
any not on the list, send the links to starry_night. Some of my favorites from the list:

  * Pretty as a Picture complete screencaps for BtVS and AtS plus promo photos for Buf (ETA: 12/21/15 site currently defunct)

  * Bloodqueen has all seven seasons of BtVS complete, is one of my primary sources

  * Leave Me the White by _jems_  Spuffy-centric so no S1 or S3 caps and the remaining seasons are incomplete; but some of the best quality
     caps of the series I've found. (S2 is the most complete with 14 episodes capped.) Includes Dailies for Smashed and Dead Things.
     S7 is spread out over three albums including two Miscellaneous albums.

 * Buffy in HD ON Facebook Fan analysis of the problems with Fox's recent "HD remaster", galleries of screencaps, edits, comparisons

 * Shadow of Reflection also has all seven seasons; quality if variable. The early seasons caps compare favorably with
     Bloodqueen's; the later seasons are strangely distorted.

 * Screencapped.net WiP; S1-2 of BtVS are complete; plus one file of promo shots from S1 and the screencaps for Bargaining.
     Appears to be using a new cleaned-up source for it's caps (the so-called "high deflnition" version.) Has a lot of screenshots that
     may not exist elsewhere, but can appear slightly compressed or distorted.

  * The Chosen Two Gallery high-quality promotional and marketing images and magazine shoots of all the major and most of the
     minor characters/actors in BtVS, AtS and Firefly.

  * Kiss Them Goodbye Seasons 1 - 2 complete, partial season 3; also appears to be working off newer DVD's or Blu-ray sources but
      the images tend to be more pixilated than other sources.

Individual Cast Members Fansite Galleries:
   * Sarah Michelle Gellar France - What it says on the tin. One of my favorite fansite galleries for all things SMG and constantly
     updated. Photoshoot albums sometimes identify the magazine and the original photographer.
   * Glamorous SMG - online since 2003, another fairly comprehensive source.
   * Captivating SMG - relatively new (since 2013), it divides the Photoshoot section by years, which few sites do. Galleries for Sarah's other tv
     series still incomplete or empty as of this writing.

   *Marc Blucas Source
  * Michelle Trachenberg Web

For other fandoms:
  * All movie/tv caps on Leave Me The White. Extensive collection including Grease, Amelie, Dangerous Liasons, Terminator; Parks & Rec, Veronica Mars etc.
  * Genre Caps HQ screencaps for several fantasy series: Jessica Jones and other Marvel series, Doctor Who (New Who); OUAT, Outlander, etc

OTHER IMAGE SOURCES
* The British Library offers over one million royalty-free digitized images from their vast archives going back to the 17th century.
* The Brooklyn Museum of Art happens to be one of the best art museums I've ever visited. If I had to choose between a visit here
   and the Met, go to Brooklyn. In the meantime, their online collection has a stunning array of images.
* The New York Public Library Digital Collections Thank you petzipellepingo for the heads-up!
* The Graphics Fairy and the Background Fairy - the wonderful team at Graphics Fairy provide thousands of free large HQ images
   adapted from antique and vintage greeting cards, labels, valentines cards and assorted emphemera, DIY tutorials, craft projects,
   etc.
 * morgueFile - Millions of free, mostly large-size HQ stock images of just about any subject imaginable; unlike a lot of archives of free
   images, the photos are submitted by their creators.
 * StevenJamesMorris at DeviantArt

TUTORIALS & GUIDES
 * good_tutorial What it says on the tin. The last post was 2013 but still plenty of useful information



 
Kendra the Vampire Slayer RSD

Spreading out my 15 minutes of fame past tolerable limits...

Breaking news: Congratulations to the winners of whedon_elite Challenge 136: harlequinss_s, sweet_lyri, nmcil12, teragramm and emmatheslayer!  And THANK YOU to everyone who voted for my icons for giving my Robin & Nikki Wood Most Creative (tied with harlequinss_s's lovely Willow icon). Of my four entries that icon is the one I have the most feelings about in terms of me trying to express my anger at the way Nikki and Robin's relationship was portrayed/sidelined/given short shrift in the series. I have feelings about this issue, which I'll explain once I have some pretty awards banners for the round to show off.

In the meantime, here are some pretty banners from tempertemper for slayerstillness Challenge 61. Thank you for voting my icons 2nd place and Most Creative!


[BANNERS AND ICONS INSIDE THE GALLERY.....]


banner by tempertemper feb 2016   banner by tempertemper feb 2016

I love how the neutral background makes the icons really pop. I confess I didn't really appreciate teragramm's Wesley/Lilah icon until I saw it on TT's banner. Check out the rest of the winners and banners here.  My entries:

ozseason4handkissicon1b3a_rsd2016.png EntropyKiss_icon2a_sharp_we134_rsd.png EntropyKiss_icon1c1_sharp_we134_rsd.png badgirlsdanceicon1a.png consesquenceswiffyhugicon1c_rsd.png 1 - 5

As per usual, 1 & 2 are not the ones I would have picked to be winners. Those were the two I looked at and thought "oh crap, I wish I could do better than that. Ah, nobody will give those two a second glance."  Especially since I rarely icon W/O & W/T. And I just adore the old-fashionedness of Oz's gesture.

Re: the Buffy & Willow icon, I went back and forth between #5 & 14 for the longest time (ie an hour or so) because I love the retro coloring of 14, especially the blue/white curtain in the background. (The pattern is a texture by lookslikerain. Thank goodness for the off-white curtains in the screencap.)
Alts/extras:
ozseason4handkissicon1a2_rsd2016.png EntropyKiss_icon1c_sharp_we134_rsd.png 6 - 11
12 - 14




Somewhat off-topic and spreading out my 15 minutes of fame past tolerable limits: I am very amused by the fact that excerpts of my conversation with buffy comics cover artist Steve Morris on DeviantArt re: his cover for S10.24  has shown up on both Slayalive and Buffyboards. My conversations with him have turned me into a fan btw; he always answers any questions or comments I've had and is a delight to talk to about the process of making covers, his inspirations etc.
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

Thank you for the nominations and awards!

* Thank you to the voters at actress_ic Challenge 111 for voting my Lillian Gish icon Best Crop, and congratulations to the other winners erinm_4600, dragonydreams, vampgirl_nisha, ciuciuvaraworld, sandy79 and mops1980! This is my first time entering this icontest and it's very encouraging.
Thanks as ever to my darling beta-Muse velvetwhip for her input. My entries this round are dedicated to her because of our shared love of silent films; and she requested the Alice Joyce icon, introducing me to an actress I'd never heard of before.

1-4 are my entries, 5-6 the alts. 1, 2 & 5: Lillian Gish; 5: Dorothy Mackaill; 4, 6: Alice Joyce
lilliangishicon3b_actressic_jan2016_RSD.png    lilliangishicon2a2_actressic_jan2016_RSD.png dorothymackaill_icon1c_actressicjan2016_RSD.png alicejoyceicon2a5_actressic2016RSD.png      lilliangishicon1b_actressic_jan2016_RSD.png alicejoyceicon2c1_actressic2016RSD.png 1  - 6
Winner, Best Crop

Resources: "Frames" on 1 - 3 by scoobyatemysnax;  floral prints on 4 -6 by colorfilter.

Speaking of betas, the final slate of nominations for Round 11 of rwsawards have been posted and THANK YOU to the darling person who surprised me with a Best Beta nomination!  I understand these awards are judged (rather than popular vote) and thank goodness; becaus I can find so many of my favorite fics of the last year in any given category, I'd be paralyzed with indecision. I don't envy the judges one bit; the nominations slate is a Who's Who of some of the very best writers and artists in Buffyverse fandom right now. I'd name off all my friends who have been nominated but we'd be here all day so, trust, you're better off checking it out for yourself.

ETA: I forgot to mention that there's a tiebreaker post for slayerstillness for Challenge 61 going on right now. Oops. ( I shall have to go harrass poor feliciacraft.)

A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ Icons with blank space can be personalized upon request.
~ If you wish to personalize because you have PS and more font or fx options than I do, by all means please ask first.
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.
Max Max Furiosa b/w anguish blend

Nominations for the RWSA closing TODAY! (And a word or two in praise of betas)

Feb 3rd is the deadline to send nominations to darkgoddessgege for Round 11 of  the rwsawards, so it's your last chance to nominate your favorite authors and artists in buffyverse and SPN fandom.  Check out the list of current nominees here.

I noticed that at the moment there is only nomination in the "My Marker" (best beta) category, foxstarreh. It's possible that there are other nominations pending in that category but if you have a muse who has shaped your work to be the best it can be, by all means give them a little love with a nomination. Betas are unsung heros, serving as muses, editors, collaborators, teachers, sounding boards, task masters and selection committees.

I wanted to nominate velvetwhip in this category for all the work she does as a beta for my icons and artwork, but she has already maxed out on the number of nominations she can receive. As well she should. But it's worth pointing out that art betas are just as eligible to be nominated in this category as writing betas. (And yes, I have confirmed that with darkgoddessgege.) I am well-nigh certain that I'm not the only person using a beta-muse for help with my artwork because all artists (visual artists, writers, etc) need feedback. Art doesn't exist in a vacuum.
Buffy Happy Band Candy TGRM

Teragramm is the New Mod at Whedon Elite!

Anyone who knows teragramm knows what a wonderful, talented artist and supportive, all around nice person she is, and so the news that she's been named the new mod at whedon_elite is very happy news because I can't think of anyone better!  Let's join setentpet in giving teragramm our best wishes!


Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

My First (OOPS - second) Awards and Awards Banners of 2016!

Courtesy of the voters at Round 15 of btvsats20in20, and the splendidly talented tempertemper who outdid herself in her usual brilliant way. Thank you so much! I think my icons look the best they ever have in their lovely frames; the Light Texture and Close Crop icon really pop, and I can actually appreciate how nice the Category icons look as a set in ways I couldn't before. And I love the sly meta nod to the Category theme challenge (Silver and Gold) in the conception and execution.


Banner by tempertemper january 2016     Banner by tempertemper january 2016

Banner by tempertemper january 2016

This is why I enjoy winning because I get pretty pretty banners (and feedback and strokes); it's entirely pavlovian and I honestly don't care as much as I should. Even though I know it's probably childish of me. I really have never understood the folks who win at icontests and then don't ask for banners because they don't need them. You guys are better people than me, honestly. I'm shallow. Sue me.

And while I have your attention:

slayerstillness 26 entries in Challenge 61, "Touch Me"; voting deadline Tuesday Feb 2.

actress_ic has 28 entries in the very cool "vintage" theme of Challenge 111. Voting open until Thursday Feb 4.

GOEST THOU AND VOTE!
Willow Tough Love post-impressionist

Congrats to the winners of btvsats20in20 and whedon elite!

Thank you VERY MUCH to everyone who voted in btvsats20in20 Round 15!  I won Close Crop, Light Texture, and 3rd Place Category Set.  Congratulations to crazycordy, sweet_lyri, midnightisclose!

Congratulations to the winners at whedon_elite Challenge 135 : nadya149, dixon, harlequinss_s, hermionesparkle, heterodynes, sweet_lyri; and for my Banner Maker's Choice Award, teragramm.  Congratulations! The theme this round was "red heads", check out all the winning entries and banners HERE.

My entries for Challenge 135 after the cut. Fandoms: BtVS, Avengers (MCU). Many many many thanks, as always, to my beta-Muse velvetwhip for her input:
[OH LOOK ITS THE LOVER.....]
willowTL380_icon1d4_rsd.png willowTough_Love_379icon1e_rsd.png willowtwothicon1a2b_we134_rsd.png blackwidownatashaicon2a1a_we134_rsd.png 1 - 4
Arranged roughly from most painterly/stylized to photographic/realistic.  I'm really pleased with how #1 and it's alts (below) turned out.  I layered several textures by lookslikerain that give it the look of a post-impressionist oil pastel by Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas or Toulouse-Latrec.

Alts and extras:
blackwidowscarletwitchicon1a_we134_rsd.png oafaicon1_we1332016rsd.png blackwidownatashaicon1b_we134_rsd.png 5 - 10
I couldn't resist stealing teragramm's idea to make the Buffyverse ladies redheads. (Teragramm's are much superior, of course.)
Jan.png     blackwidowscarletwitchicon1_we134_rsd.png    11 - 15
  willowTL380_icon1a_rsd.png       16 - 20





Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

And here I seek to disturb feliciacraft's peace of mind.....

....because HERE be 3 tiebreakers for Round 15 of btvsats20in20. And we all know how feliciacraft feels about tiebreaker voting but darn it, it's a happening thing and if it leads to more of her brilliantly satirical stanzas I make no apologies.

And HERE be voting for Challenge 135 "Red Heads" of whedon_elite; 33 - count' em, 33! - gorgeous icons to choose from for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Best Crop, Best Color and Most Creative.  Most rounds of WE lately haven't gotten enough entries to warrent the full voting slate; this time everyone came out to play and they brought their A-game.

Voting is such sweet sorrow.

And totally off-topic:

* I've read Buffy comic S10 #23 and overall I quite enjoyed it.  I may at some point even choose to discuss it.

* Things I didn't know I needed in life until I saw them: I came across two Orphan Black/Buffy videos today on YouTube by Orphan Crack:
  -- Orphan Black credits Buffy-style by Orphan Crack; spoilers for all three seasons.
      I love how the credits list the characters rather than the actors. (Although it would be funny to see "tatiana maslany" repeated)
  -- Orphan Black + Buffy musical episode sets the OB characters into the episode "Once More With Feeling", specifically the number "I've got a
     feeling" and it works suprisingly well. The biggest giggle is Felix being assigned Xander's lines.
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

I was actually productive yesterday....

Banner for lookslikerain, whedon_elite Challenge 134 "Levels"; and banner for slayerstillness Challenge 60.  Thank you to everyone who voted my icon Most Creative! sweet_lyri won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, Best Crop and Best Color; crazycordy and tempertemper earned Mod's Choice and teragramm was awarded the oh-so-prestigous* Banner Maker's Choice for her witty and fierce Dawn icon:

Teaser: ss60_redsatindoll_banner400x300_mostcreative_RSD.png
[Gallery One....]



we134_banner2lookslikerain350sq_final_rsd.png     ss60_redsatindoll_banner400x300_mostcreative_RSD.png 1 - 2

#1 - Lens and optical flare light effects by daWiiZ on DeviantArt. The challenge this round was "levels" so I layered two or three light textures over one another, then created the repeat in ipiccy's collage setting. I also wanted a background that would suit the outer space setting of lookslikerain's Firefly/Serenity icons.

#2 - The base image of torn paper and the grunge overlay are by AmaranthusCaudatus on DeviantArt.  Thank you teragramm for the link to this resource!

*Who am I making fun of here? Myself, obviously.

Header banners for females20in20. mylengrave requested banners from members so that she can switch out a new one every month:

Teaser: OB-BethIMG_females20in20banner990x300_jan2016_RSD.png
[Gallery Two...]

All banners 990x300, click to view full-size.

OB-BethIMG_females20in20banner990x300_jan2016_RSD.png     punk-rose-alisonbriebanner_990x300_v1c_RSD.png 3 - 4
Tatiany Maslany, Alison Brie and Sarah-MIchelle Gellar
Jan.png     smgvintagebannerforactressic990x300_v1d_RSD.png 5 - 6
smgvintagebannerforactressic990x300_v2e_RSD.png     smgvintagebannerforactressic990x300_v2b_RSD.png 7 - 8


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A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ Icons with blank space can be personalized upon request, they are not "bases".
~ If you wish to personalize because you have PS and more font or fx options than I do, by all means please ask first.
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.



Next projects on my plate:  icons for whedon_elite, slayerstillness and actress_ic;
                                           fiction posters for velvetwhip, kerkevik_2014 and dragonyphoenix
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

Here be a tiebreaker....And shout-outs to fiction by Dragonyphoenix and Kerkevik2014

1) For slayerstillness Challenge 60 vote for your favorite icon for the third place position.

BTW, did you vote at btvsats20in20 Round 15 yet?  Good.  Now have you signed up for Round 16 yet?

2) And by the by, did you know that dragonyphoenix posted the artwork she commissioned from me for her excellent Anya/Snap crossover fic, The Letters (84 Charing Cross Road)?  (TTH post here.) But you will have to read the story to find it because  it's intergrated into the text. And FYI, the actual text of the artworks is entirely her concept. I just followed marching orders.

At AO3 she also included a marvelous story banner by Restfield aka rbfvid.

3) My friend kerkevik_2014 has been writing up a storm - a very quiet storm that snuck up on me and took me entirely by surprise.  His latest is a Buffy/Faith fic, "Casablanca" (not to be confused with shapinglight's fic) that is poignant and mournful and like all of his work is a prose-poem unlike anyone else's.

Last year I sort of asked him to write Buffy more often (actually I may have whined about it a little, but never mind that.)  He's come through while remaining true to himself in his own beautiful way.  This story is actually part of the birthday gift for elisi, the 22'verse that includes stories of Spike and Illyri, Riley Finn, Xander and Buffy, etc. Also worth a look - a charming, gentle Tara, Dawn fic (post The-Gift): Like Seeing Your Very Own Self Looking Back at You.

See, not every post I put up is longer than the Constitution. Some are only as long as the Gettysburg Address. "Short and sweet" is a relative thing.
Ms Miller OOMOOS btvs S1

HERE'S TO A NOMINALLY TOLERABLE 2016 EVERYBODY!

Or, the evolution of my New Year's greetings:
1) Here's to a happy new year!
           2) It has to be better than last year?
3) Let's hope it doesn't suck.

On the other hand: Viola Davis is looking F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S on the cover of InStyle Magazine.  It had this cover by Jan Welters at the doctor's office instead of the newstand version; and it looks more like the cover of Vogue circa 1977 than InStyle. I normally wouldn't line the bottom of a birdcage with that rag, but DAMN, that photoshoot. That woman.
******
Moving on.......It's been a while since I did a good old-fashioned promo post isn't it? fassy is starting an new icontest comm and is seeking a mod or two to help run it. (There is already one volunteer but I imagine back-up can't hurt. And for the record, I saw Star Wars (the original of course) in the theater back in 19-mumblety-something, so I am still not used to seeing the name "JJ Abrams" in the same sentence with Star Wars.(Given the nightmare f**kfest that was the "prequels", I think I can learn to deal.)



Speaking of icontests:

* whedon_elite: Icons for Challenge 135, "Red Hair" are due Sunday, January 24th by 3 pm EST. Make sure to scroll down the page and check out
the fabulous entries already submitted by harlequinss_s, teragramm, all_malocks, dixon, emmatheslayer and sweet_lyri. And I do mean "fabulous"; everybody's brought their A-game. At least in this little corner of the world 2016 is off to a roaring start.


* slayerstillness: Challenge 61, "Reach Out and Touch Somebody" open for entries now through Friday Jan 29 midnight at your time zone.


* btvsats20in20: Voting is open for Round 15 NOW through Friday January 22nd. Be sure to cast your votes for THEMES, CATEGORY, and ARTIST'S CHOICE.

Make sure to click ALL the buttons before you're done, and if you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask the mods. There are about -19-20 votes cast right now which is super but more would be great! I don't think we've ever hit at least 30 votes in a given round but I always think "ok this is the round..." (Back to the Optimist vs Realist conundrum and in my heart I always want the Optimist to win out.)

And because you've made it this far here are some lovely parting gifts: alts and extras from Round 15 plus new alts/ extras from Round 13. I also have a thinky thought or two along the way:


Teasers:     
[THE GALLERY AWAITS.....]


Round 13, "The Pack"

    1 - 3


      4 - 7

Crossovers with the movie "Possession" starring SMG.

Round 15: (Buffy-heavy at first. Of course. This is me, this is my brain on the Buffyverse.)
             8 - 14
            15 - 21

    
              22 - 28
After I cleaned the cap up I finally saw that the picture on locker behind Buffy is vintage comic book art, possibly a blow-/print of a Roy Lichtenstein piece, with the SDHS "Razorbacks" pennant covering the eyes of a pretty blonde woman in the picture. Meta commentary on the storyline or just an inside joke?  The fact that we see Cordy blindfolded later and no one can "see" Marcy Ross suggests either reading is possible. It seems to coincidental to be a, well, a coincidence.
         29 - 34


          35 - 40

        41 - 45
The flashbacks in the episode look great as screencaps but they're hard to work with; they're overlit as opposed to the rest of the early seasons material, which tends to be underlit.

      46 - 49
Also, I need to take some tutorials on working with skin tones for people of color, especially dark tones and not turn beautiful deep browns into weird shades of orange-red, or flat black. (We've just acquired PS btw, so I'm still fumbling along in ipiccy.)  #49: for the theme "green" I thought, well, I'll just tint the entire icon to go with the chalkboard behind her. Except that it doesn't look very good. Green skin? Usually associated with sickness or aliens? I should have known better. Plus, "black" skin reacts differently to tinting than "white" skin does.*
   
But it's the second association that bothers me. Our culture has a nearly long history of excluding black characters and actors from science fiction, horror and fantasy in literature, film and tv, except as background filler or literal "space aliens", demons and monsters. People of color as people just did not exist, with count-on-one-hand exceptions.

This may be changing now, I guess - slowly - but this is the reality I grew up with and "it's starting to get better" (by whatever yardstick you want to measure "better") doesn't undo decades of absence. So it just makes me uncomfortable, even if I don't "mean anything by it", I'd rather not go in that direction.**




*    I realize I'm still using phrases like "black" and "white" that were au courant when I was growing up...in the 1970's and '80's.
** Using my personal comfort as the yardstick here is arguably problematic.


*****
A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ Icons with blank space can be personalized upon request, they are not "bases". If you wish to personalize because you have PS and more font or fx options
   than I do, by all means ask.
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

5 FAVORITE PIECES OF FAN ART: ALL BANNERS (& POSTERS), ALL THE TIME

A collection of "random" pieces I have loved this year - click images or go to original links to view full size:
(ETA: This was a post that was meant to go on the buffyversetop5 and I hit the send button a couple of minutes too late. *Note to self: learn time management techniques!*)


Gift to me by the amazing spikesredqueen February 2015
1) Birthday Banner for me by spikesredqueen (February)
SRQ knows my love of the Buffyverse ladies. This pairs beautifully with teragramm's WInged Buffy banner, no? And well-done manips never fail to impress me (because I've seen far too many bad ones).

MORE after the cut:


[STEP INSIDE THE GALLERY....]



553851_original.jpg
2) I Walk Alone art picspam set and banners by comlodge for seasonal_spuffy Round 18 (May)
comlodge took the "simple" flipbook concept and turned into something incredibly sophisticated;  then she converted merged the images at my request into a single banner for my LJ. I know of few artists (if any?) who can combine luminousity and grunge effects in a single image.




3) Look Both Ways by boiiko - the rightful winner of the seasonal_spuffy Round 18 Banner Poll, and the only banner for the SS banner poll I've seen done in a hand-painted style. (It was actually done on computer, but it sure fooled me.) Almost elegantlly spare, the composition is deceptively "simple" and packed with layers of complicated emotions. More, please.


4) Out of My MInd from the btvs episode poster series by no-literally on tumblr. This is an ongoing project and every one of the posters is a masterpiece of graphic design; but I chose this one to display because of the incredibly clean, simple graphic that, like the other images on this list, is deceptively complex. Look close at the text and you'll see Spike's dream of kissing Buffy, floating above Spike's head - the dream and the dreamer visualized.



5) Wrecked from the btvs episode poster series by maradyeries on tumblr. , Haunting, jaw-droppingly gorgeous work in the style of "modern-day aesthetic" gifspams popular on tumblr right now.


Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

HAPPY BIRTHDAY VELVETWHIP!

And to celebrate a very special, generous, kind, supportive, incredibly talented person who is a dear friend, a superb beta-Muse and dedicated to her craft, cover art for velvetwhip's fic, Civilian (Willow, Riley) plus icons.

She just posted the banner itself here along with links to other fabulous birthday presents she received. (Such as angelskuuipo's fabulous Joyce/Angel fic "Hello From the Other Side" which has an absolutely brilliant "Why didn't I think of that? Why didn't anyone think of that?" premise that already has my imagining rewriting the entire canon to accomodate it. But I digress:)


Poster for Civilian v.1 (2016); shown full-size 650x500 pixels. Click image to go to velvetwhip's story.
Final version cover art for Civilian by Velvetwhip made for her birthday Jan 14 2016 story link http://velvetwhip.livejournal.com/1625058.html DO NOT TAKE


More banners and icons after the cut.
[SHE IS NOWHERE NEAR GONE ENOUGH...]
Icons here are snaggable, the posters are not.

Alt versions 2 & 3 (reduced, click for full-size)
v. 2 cover art for Civilian by Velvetwhip made for her birthday Jan 14 2016 story link http://velvetwhip.livejournal.com/1625058.html DO NOT TAKE     v. 3 cover art for Civilian by Velvetwhip made for her birthday Jan 14 2016 story link http://velvetwhip.livejournal.com/1625058.html DO NOT TAKE

Icons 4 10:
Riley Finn icon from cover art for Civilian btvs fanfiction by velvetwhip made Jan 13 2016 Riley Finn icon from cover art for Civilian btvs fanfiction by velvetwhip made Jan 13 2016 Riley Finn icon from cover art for Civilian btvs fanfiction by velvetwhip made Jan 13 2016 Riley Finn icon from cover art for Civilian btvs fanfiction by velvetwhip made Jan 13 2016 Riley Finn and Tara Maclay icon from cover art for Civilian btvs fanfiction by velvetwhip made Jan 13 2016 Tara Maclay icon from cover art for Civilian btvs fanfiction by velvetwhip made Jan 13 2016 Willow Rosenberg icon from cover art for Civilian btvs fanfiction by velvetwhip made Jan 13 2016


I've wanted to make a poster for this story ever since I read it in June 2014; a general concept came to mind but I lacked the know-how to make it come together. I made an icon for the story last spring for Gabrielle using the same photo of Blucas. I really love that picture so surprisingly that was the easy part of the poster. The hard part was - everything else. I always knew I wanted "ghostly" images of Buffy and Tara hovering around Riley and WIllow because Civilian is a metaphorical (not literal in Buffy's case) ghost story; Willow and Riley's lives have been affected and are still shaped by the memories of their past lovers. Riley is a bit more melancholy here than in the story itself but the image means to imply the Riley that's hinted at offscreen more than him in the present moment.

Finding the right photo of Aly was the single element that held this project up the longest.  The story takes place ten years after Chosen so I didn't want to use a photo from the series; I wanted something with gravitas as befitted the story and Willow's frame of mind, but I couldn't find one that had the right look for Aly and was of sufficient quality to work with. For someone with two major long-time tv series and several movies under her belt, she's incredibly hard to find photos for that fit the bill. I still haven't come across a fansite for her with a decent photo gallery. (Excluding sites like popSugar, etc.) She either tends to be photographed smiling or the few photos/screencaps I could find with the right mood were mediocre quality. The shot I ended up using is a cap from season 9 of HIMYM.

Resources: Photo of Marc Blucas via The Chosen Two (can also be found at Marc Blucas Source), photographer unknown. BtVS screencaps from Leave Me The White and Bloodqueen. Optical flares (light textures) on poster #3 by daWIIZ (Bessamer Azemi) on DeviantArt.



A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :) Posters 1-3 NOT snaggable.
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.


Alyson Hannigan Green Eye glow RSD

Happy Birthday Aliceinkinkland!

The other day I mentioned aliceinkinkland's "Show You the World" (Buffy and Dawn road trip fic) and you could certainly start there or anywhere among her fics on AO3 and find something sweet, or sad, or funny - maybe a combination of all three at once. And plenty of sexy stories - I love how she actually examines what desire looks like, and feels like, for women, how consent issues could be handled differently in our culture. In fact, Seeing a Different Shade of Red is one of the jewels in her crown because it's a meta-ish fic taht does just that. But so does Somewhere Sharp and Hot and Shimmering, where Tara helps Buffy become comfortable with her own desires.

Also I'm going to say happy birthday to velvetwhip two days early because - my pattern is to say it two days late, if at all, and this is one birthday I don't want to let pass. 
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

Just a quickie for no reason than self-pimpage and an excuse to ask a question....

I'm really pleased with how these two participation banners for hermionesparkle and xoheartinohioxo in Round 76 of character20n20 turned out:


character20n20round76participationbannerjanuary2016byRSD_hermionesparkle_400x295.png   character20n20round76participationbannerjanuary2016byRSD_xoheartinohioxo_400x295.png
Banners by me, shown full size. Icons by their respective makers.

Thank you setentpet for the assignment!  These came together surprisingly quickly today but I wasn't sure of the design until I overlaid the music sheet graphic over the Victorian card from The Graphics Fairy. I generally am dissatisfied with how text looks in my designs but I'm pleased with this  - I think the text here looks like it could be original to the card.

If you haven't checked out the winners, btw, you really must because they are stunning.

These were the only two people to ask for banners, which happened last round as well - check out sandy79's glowing, luminous banners for Round 75and how beautifully they compliment the light effects in the icons themselves. I'm always suprised more folks at the comm don't ask for banners but my love of pretty banners is well-documented.  (If I could frame the ones I've received and hang them on the wall I would, trust.)

And I gotta wonder - why don't more people ask for banners? I'm genuinely curious and clueless on this count, so what say you Gentle Reader?
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

I'm making an absolute hash of the Snowflake Challenge....and nobody is surprised by this.

So, I'm stalled on Day 3....whilst the Snowflake Challenge is at Day 9. Pretend to be shocked by my sad inability to do a simple daily meme. And bless the mods for this: Remember that there is no official deadline, so feel free to join in at any time, or go back and do challenges you've missed.

But first things first: THANK YOU THANK YOU to the amazingly generous benefactor who responded to my Day 2 wish and extended both my paid account and my extra icon space! This time I do know who my patron is, and I am overwhelmed by their kindness. I honestly didn't expect anyone to respond to my request, never mind so soon!

Second things second: THANK YOU THANK YOU to whomever nominated my fiction posters for herself_nyc's Closure is a Silly Word and baphrosia's Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are in Round 11 of the rwsawards!  (I also know who nominated Closure and I can guess who nominated Come out Come Out, but I'm not certain.) There's plenty of spaces left on the nomination sheet, so make some deserving authors and artists happy!  The nomination period is open until February 3rd.


Speaking of the poster for "Closure", let's get back to the Snowflake Challenge whilst I pretend to play "catch up":

In your own space, post a rec for at least three fanworks that you have created. It can be your favorite fanworks that you've created, or fanworks you feel no one ever saw, or fanworks you say would define you as a creator. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

 2015 was the year I think I began to come into my own as an artist.  My technical skills have a ways to go but considering I'm still working in ipiccy and not Photoshop, overall I can say "not bad".

For this post I'm going to concentrate on my banners and posters and not on icons, which require their own post. I've got a few items to show off, I hope you don't mind? I tend to think in terms of groupings, projects and "genres" rather than individual pieces.  In no particular order:
[PRETTY PICS AND THINKY-THOUGHTS......]


1) Awards Banners for Round 6 of btvsats20in20 (January 2015): my first major art project of the year proper. More posters than awards banners, these were far more technically complex than any I'd attempted previously as I pushed myself to learn new techiques. And I think they are more "artistic" than any I'd done previously, if in a somewhat self-conscious way.  I wanted to create awards banners that were works of art in their own right. I think this project helped determine the stylistic direction my artwork has taken this year. It also pushed me to depict characters and pairings I rarely do; in fact, the banner for sweet_lyri may be the first time I'd created a romantic Bangel image.


Right click all images to view full-size.
All artwork by me unless otherwise noted. Icons on award banners property of their respective creators. Not snaggable.
FINAL_v1_AngelthemesbannerfortempertemperJan2015byredsatindoll_zps48a9ea45     banner made by me January 2015     Harmonybannerv3.1_starrynightthemesACwinners_byredsatindollJan2015    banner by me Feb 2015 version 3 FINAL   banner by me 2015 1 - 5


*****
2) I'm very pleased with all the artwork I made this past year for seasonal_spuffy Rounds 18 and 19. The Spuffy Hands Banner is one the my favorite artworks I've ever made, I think I actually exceeded my expectations with that one and made something truly artistic. My banner for Round 19 isn't quite as "artistic" and is probably a little more traditional but it gave me an opportunity to hone my skills in terms of layers, textures and creating a convincing manip. And then the fiction posters for Round 19: the aforementioned "Closure" and shapinglight's "Casablanca" . "Closure" is one of the few fiction posters I've made that has no alternate version, I made it at the very last hour of Round 19, but I was able to produce so quickly because I started with a draft of one of the alternates for Casablanca. Being able to "reuse, renew, recycle" is one of the benefits of digital artwork.
Round 18 spring 2015 entry banner 3 lyrics by Bastille      unsigned final entry for round 19 banner comp seasonal spuffy autumn 2015n     closureposterforherselfnycround19seasonalspuffy1200x960_signedRSD.png   6 - 10


*****
3) Fiction posters for buffy_genfic: Each of these stories is very different to the others and I tried to capture what was special about each one, as well as convey what they all have in common - loving attention to the women of the Buffyverse, and each of these authors skillfully turns "heartwarming" into "heartbreaking" and back again. The also aforementioned poster for baphrosia's  "Come Out Come Out" , actually isn't my favorite; I can see a lot of things I would have done differently, although I'm still pleased that the print and texture on the scrunchy look convincing. I'm happier with my other efforts: posters and icon for "Who's That Girl" by velvetwhip , "Show you the World" for aliceinkinkland - my favorite detail is the fact that the jeep actually looks like it's on that road and not a separate image that was pasted on top; and another poster for baphrosia, "Choose 1 for Ready, 2 for Not Ready" :
buffyskateficposter1.2_byRSDforspuffyluvr900x720.png     whosthathgirlposterforvelvetwhip_v3.9a500sq_RSD2015.png   showyoutheworldposterforaliceinkinklandaugust2015_rsd_1.2_600x402.png   Alt 9 for spuffyluvr round 2 buffy genfic exchange sept 2015 11 - 14


*****
4) Character Posters of Willow and Buffy for baphrosia's Ipseity I challenged myself to adhere to roughly the same size and compositional format for both. The poster of Buffy is a bit flashier and more dramatic, and the symbolism far more obvious (the fracturing of Buffy's image, the sense of entrapment), which is what I was going for, but personally I prefer the more subtle, melancholy one for Willow. I love how the textures in that one remind me of a vintage handkerchief or tablecloth and give the image a quiet "domesticity", while the sigils to the left add an exotic contrast and yet also balance the ghostly image of Buffy.

Poster 2 for Ipseity by Spuffy Luvr Willow variant   Poster made for Buffy chapters of Spuffy gen fic Ipseity by Spuffy luvr 2015 15 - 16
*****

5) Other awards banners: This past year I've made banners for btvsats20in20, slayerstillness, whedon_elite and character20n20; as well as unofficial "commissioned" nomination banners for wicked_awards. And I discovered this year that as much as I enjoy making icons, I love making posters and banners. The larger space gives me more scope to play.  (The fact that I've had to start wearing bifocals for the first time this past year undoubtedly has something to do with it. Larger image = easier to see.) And whereas an icon is like a haiku, where every single word must be absolutely perfect, larger images allow for more "mistakes" (that in the end may not be mistakes at all.) Making banners on a regular basis has been a fabulous way to practice, practice, practice, and someone ends up with a lovely image to show off on their own journals.
17 - 23
FINAL2_kwrittenbannermostcreativebyredsatindoll_SS39 3rdplacetierua1412banner533x338_byrsd_WErd113_final.png we116secondplacebannerstarrynight_byrsd2015final.png ss42_secondplacebyrsdapril2015_375sqFINAL.png we120_bestcropbannerwithicon1.2FINAL.png we123_bestcropbanner_doubledutchess400x300_1.4.png trumpetflowerbanner350x272modschoiceteragramm1.4.png

24 - 30
FinalBMCv2_gabby227.png qwe127_BMCbanner_sandy_s.png we130_3rdplacebanner_everythingshiny_2015rsd.png nomineebuttonbuffywickedawards275x128_rsd2015_1.1final.png therelishcollectionbannerforkerkevik2014_style2.1_byRSD2015_550x268.png acsetbanner2a500x292RSD.png we133_BMCbanner_xclaire_delunex.png
******

6) Last but most certainly not least: velvetwhip's Answering Prayers was one of the projects that defined the year in fandom for me. The poster itself earned Runner Up in the wicked_awards; I'm grateful for that and at the same time I'm still very dissatisfied with how the image turned out.  It was definitely a learning experience (and it led to a commission for aadler's "All Ye Who Enter".)
answeringprayersbannerbyrsd2015_flamesversion1.4signed_zpsdt5fm2g4.PNG 31      


version 2 as requested by the author August 2015 ETA: Poster for aadler's "All Ye Who Enter".
Of greater importance was the process of being a guest pencil (beta) for the story, the journey that Gabrielle took me on with Joyce, and the journey Gabrielle and I took together is something I'll be forever grateful for. And the story fills a real need: fanfiction that examines Joyce Summers and allows her center stage, that makes up for the way she was shortchanged in canon, is something that I've hungered for ever since I watched the series and it's all too rare, too difficult to find. Which seems odd given the number of mothers and/or maturing women in this fandom. And as usual with Gabrielle's work, I love that the story twists and deconstructs romance novel tropes and kept me guessing every step of the way. I'm incredibly proud to have had even a tiny part in bringing this story to fruition.

Reading Gabrielle's response to the Day 9 challenge: I fully intend to write another Joyce-centric story made my day.  Possibly my year. That's how much I want her to write more Joyce-fic.


Day 04

In your own space, create a fanwork. Make a drabble, a ficlet, a podfic, or an icon, art or meta or a rec list. Arts and crafts. Draft a critical essay about a particular media. Put together a picspam or a fanmix. Write a review of a Broadway show, a movie, a concert, a poetry reading, a museum trip, a you-should-be-listening-to-this-band essay. Compose some limericks, haikus, free-form poetry, 5-word stories. Document a particular bit of real person canon. Take some pictures. Draw a stick-figure comic. Create something. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

I tried to fill kikimay day 2 request for some amusing Buffybot banners. And what I came up with sucked rotten goose eggs, IMO. But Kiki would like to see them anyway and she has a habit of seeing the worth in icons I've rejected. However I also came up with some Michelle Trachenberg icons that I think are pretty snazzy and Kiki has spoken admiringly of MT's beauty so I hope she likes some of these:


[ICONS INSIDE ThE GALLERY.....]



Buffybot_Intervention_096_icon1h.png Buffybot_Intervention_096_icon1g.png   buffybotsmileicon1g_jan2016.png 32 - 34

8dawn104_icon1a.png 8dawn170_icon1a.png 8dawn092_icon1f_rsd.png 8dawn092_icon1_rsd.png    8dawn088_icon1c.png 35 - 39
8dawn086_icon2e.png   8dawn086_icon2.png 8dawn080_icon1.png 8dawn086_icon1c.png 8dawn086_icon1.png 40 - 44

See? The MT ones are much, much better than the Buffybot ones. You were well and truly warned.


Day 05

Leave feedback for a fanwork. Or multiple fanworks. It can be as simple as I liked this to a detailed list of all the things you loved about the fanwork. The key is to leave some sort of feedback. If you've already left feedback in the course of a previous challenge, it totally counts. But you're free to leave more feedback.


Some works I've left feedback for in the past few days include Displacement and The Starfish by baphrosia on Elysian Fields, Chapter 17 of Dreams and Mirrors by kikimay, feet been draggin' cross the ground by Celaenos, Go to Sleep by evil_little_dog, Empty Hearts and Heavy Hands by Dactylgirl on EF; and in the art department I've left feedback for comlodge's absolutely stunning self-portraits and crazycordy's The Zeppo icon set for btvsats20in20 Round 15. (And as it happens crazycordy's birthday is today, so Happy Birthday and many more to come!)


And that's more than enough for one post, I should think.
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

Me Playing Catch-Up: Fandom Snowflake Challenge Days 1 & 2

I am participating in the Snowflake Challenge (on Dreamwidth) for the very first time - or trying to at any rate. I've never been much good at these "Post something every day" challenges, so let's see how this goes! The image below is a "static" image btw, not a link to the site because I can't get the link-y version to work, so clicking it will get you nowhere fast.  *le sigh*

[READ MORE INSIDE....]
Day 01

In your own space, talk about why you are doing the Fandom Snowflake Challenge? What drew you to it as a participant? What do you hope to accomplish by doing these challenges? Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.


Ok this one is easy: I'm participating because it looked like fun last year, and because velvetwhip encouraged me to do so this year. I don't think I mean to "accomplish" anything in particular except to see how many of these days I can actually cover. I usually avoid memes and daily posting types of things.

Day 2

In your own space, create a list of at least three fannish things you'd love to receive, something you've wanted but were afraid to ask for - a fannish wish-list of sorts. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your wish-list if you feel comfortable doing so. Maybe someone will grant a wish. Check out other people's posts. Maybe you will grant a wish. If any wishes are granted, we'd love it if you link them to this post.


This is gonna get slightly "political" so bear with me. My favorite part of this post is akamine_chan's extremely astute observation: Asking for things is hard. We're socialized to not ask for things, and in a lot of ways I think that's not necessarily a good thing. We feel guilt and shame when we ask, and that makes us less likely to ask for help, for care and consideration and kindness, for respect, when we all deserve those things.I think this is spot-on.

I tend to think of this as an American tendency but perhaps it's a "modern" tendency - pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Be entirely self-sufficient. Don't admit to weakness. It's American "rugged individualism" writ large, but it's also useful to super-capitalism: instead of people living together in extended families we've been conditioned to believe that everyone living in their own "nuclear family" is the one right and true way to live. Everybody in their own home with their own tv, their own radio, their own computer and their own washing machine, etc means more stuff to sell, sell sell and keep the almightly GDP going.  And even if you are receiving help or aid of some sort, we're conditioned to be ashamed of it, ashamed of ourselves as "failures".

ETA: A very very kind benefactor came through and granted my wish already with an extension of my paid account through 2018 AND even more icon space through the next year! I am just stunned and speechless beyond anything except to say THANK YOU to them. THANK YOU.

And thank you to everyone who I know would have done if you had the resources. I'm just overwhelmed by the love and support I've received here.  And people wonder why I hang out in fandom.


And in keeping with the theme of being ashamed to ask for stuff, I do actually have one wish and this really makes me cringe to ask. The paid LJ membership that someone gifted me with a year ago expires on Jan 12; and I'm pretty sure that the extra icon space that someone else gifted me with will disappear on that date and I'll be back down to 6 icon spaces. I had assumed by this point in time that I would be working again and would be able to renew it on my own, but I simply can't justify even that small outlay when there are things like rent and groceries to cover. The only part of the paid membership I really do take advantage of is the extra icon gallery space. I feel really weird about asking if anyone would consider gifting me with another year's paid membership, but I that's exactly what I'm asking for. *gulp* I would be most grateful. (And please not at the expense of your own food, rent, etc.)

Barring that, some help in selecting and paring down my icons would be most appreciated. But I'll probably do a separate post on that as I haven't had time to think about what ones I would keep.


Beyond that, I always want more kindness and understanding towards Buffy Summers, and fics that don't portray her as simply the accessory for a supporting male character, or a stone cold bitch who exists only to be punished. I'm always on the look-out for more Buffy and Dawn fics that is about the sisters and again, not about a man in the center, and in fact 2015 saw some really wonderful Summers Sisters fic; so I'm hopeful that there's more of an appreciation of their relationship. I'm also hopeful that more folks are inspired by velvetwhip's Answering Prayers and explore the character of Joyce Summers in ways that canon didn't bother to, and her relationship to her daughter. Spuffy fics that don't bash Willow or Drusilla? Yes please. Buffy and Tara friendship fics? Bring it on. Basically, anything that gives more face-time to the interrelationships of the women of the Buffyverse, not just for slashy porn and not to justify how "good" a male character is.

And I always wish for the various fandom factions and shipper factions to lay down arms, stop attacking each other, and see just how much we all have in common. We all want the same damn things for our beloved babies. We're all hurting over the things we were denied. Rather than attack each other, let's look for common ground - and attack TPTB who look down on fans with smug satisfaction and superiority whilst depending on us for their livelihood.  'kay?


Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

btvsats20in20 ROUND 15: Out of Mind, Out of Sight (BtVS S1.11)

So we made it to the flip side - Happy 2016, my friends!  May it be better than 2015.  (I say that every year. It never is better, but I always hope anyway.)

This was my "last hurrah" of 2015 (Good-bye old year, I won't miss you. At all.) and my first hurrah of 2016, for btvsats20in20 Round 15.
Plus a special treat for the Giles/Angel shippers in the house! (Anyone?)


Teasers:

[I was kind of hoping you were in a gang....]









10 Themes
Close Crop Red + White Pastel Surprise B&W + Quote
Provided Texture Green Hair Light Texture Peaceful
5 Category |SILVER & GOLD
Cat 1 Cat 2 Cat 3 Cat 4 Cat 5
5 Artist's Choice
AC 1 AC 2 AC 3 AC 4 AC 5













For the first time ever, I attempted "slashy" Giles/Angle icons. Actually, this would be my first ever m/m slash-y* icons, period.  I'm surprised that Giles/Angel isn't more of a "thing". Somewhere in the world I am sure there's a website filled with G/A fic of the two of them screwing each other senseless, but I haven't come across it. Not that I want to, tbh.  (This may be a sign of the End of Days. Remember to pack a toothbrush.)
Enjoy - I think?


1 - 6


7 - 11

12 - 13



* I actually hate the words "slash" and "femmeslash". I know where they originate in this context but I think it's time to retire them. And yet, saying "my first gay male icons" doesn't quite sound right either.


A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

Oh, Tara:My last award for Slayerstillness of 2015

And for my very last fandom award and icon challenge of 2015 it's only fitting that the marvelous tempertemper made the banner:

Banner by tempertemper for slayerstillness on LJ Dec 2015 - my last award of 2015


My Entries & Alts:
[Enter the Gallery:]


        1 - 5
My original intent was to only use caps amoung the examples Starry provided; it didn't quite end up that way. Nor did I recall planning on making them so consistent color-wise.  I did want to use unsual or rarely used caps as much as possible and I think I succeeded, especially with the two images from Where the Wild Things Are. The girlish pigtails bely the fact that she is someone who possesses a great deal of power and knowledge passed on by her mother and the women of her family. Tara's own power and knowledge are terribly underplayed after S4 and this is something I will never be happy about. Because it ends up being a double-whammy of the show's "issues with powerful women".

   6 - 12
If I could resubmit these, I'd switch out #6 for #5; the rest I'm satisfied with.

You know the drill:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.

Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

A very merry whatever you celebrate or don't to all my friends

So, I'm not feeling "Christmassy" this year, at all. But I do wish everyone a peaceful day and a peaceful season. Whatever you celebrate. (I was raised Catholic, I've been pagan, now I'm atheist, and I have friends all across the spectrum.)

dragonyphoenix asked me a while back to do some graphics for part 3 of her buffyverse/potterverse crossover fic "The Letters" (Severus Snape/Anya, Cordelia). It was the first time I've been commissioned to make fanart without having read the story first.  Dragony told me exactly what text she wanted to see on the graphics, including the brilliantly funny RSVP from Cordy.

sparrow2000 posted an amazing end-of-the-year fic rec list; some I've enjoyed, a good many others I've missed and must make amends for that. Because all the stories sound wonderful (and she hasn't steered me wrong yet.) She was also kind enough to name-check me and my artwork on the list! Thank you very much, I'm honored!

I will end up doing a recap of the year here in fandom in the near future but I want to say "THANK YOU" to the folks who have been so incredibly supportive of me in my growth and struggles this year. Special thanks and love to velvetwhip for her guidance, friendship and for being in my corner.

I have to admit I'm glad 2015 is almost over.

And finally - I've read issue 22 of the season 10 comics and I have one thing to say, one really essential thing that NO ONE is talking about - WILLOW DOES NOT HAVE BLUE EYES, PEOPLE!

*Actually, Buffy's eyes also look suspiciously sort-kinda blue on page 23, which is weird because they were green in the rest of the story. But the color is just muddy enough that I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. But Willow's eyes are absolutely blue - clear, beautiful, unmistakeable blue. The first issue that actually features Willow in any significant way this season and they can't get that one basic thing right. *le sigh*

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 022-005_crop1.png
Kendra the Vampire Slayer RSD

PRESENTS FROM FASSY! BEAUTIFUL BUFFY & KATNISS ICONS!

To celebrate her 10th anniversary as an icon artist, fassy offered to make icons for a certain number of folks, and I was lucky enough to be the last person to make the deadline for requests.  I asked for Buffy and/or Katniss (two of my favorite fictional ladies).  I loved Catching Fire (the movie) and felt that Katniss was Buffy's spiritual heir.*

THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH! I adore these!
All icons below by fassy / destruction_box ;  #1 - 4 not snaggable.
    1 - 4
All the icons have now been posted at her graphics comm destruction_box. Check out all 156 gems. Icons # 1- 4 are the ones she made especially for me and I LOVE them.  I wasn't very specific about what I wanted; apparently I mentioned a maternal vibe (see the "spiritual heir" comment above)? She went with that, but in such a way that 1 & 2 are very open to interpretation. The vibe I get could be read as parallels, as mirrors; as sisters, even in a romantic sense, if one wanted to.  I love the light, the glow and the softness of all 4 of these.  The way Fassy balances softness with sharpness to avoid a hard, aritificial, hyperrrealistic quality is stunning. I love the warm/cool color balance in #2. And with 3 & 4, I'm an absolute sucker for work that can make monochrome palettes glow. And you know my love of sepia tones and effects.


#1 - 4 are not snaggable; but 5 - 7 are; I couldn't resist snagging these alts as well:

  5 - 7


* Close, loving and fiercely loyal relationship with a younger sister who is really smart and cool in her own right? Check. Willing to die for said sister? Check. Skilled fighter? Check? Emotionally traumatized reluctant warrior who "soldiers on" regardless because she is needed? Check. Frequent thoughts of running away from her duty? Check. Uncomfortable relationship with a "sister warrior" who is far more comfortable with her own sexuality, the dark to the protagonist's light? Check. In the middle of a romantic triangle/quadrangle? Check. Turning against the patriarchial institution that tries to control her? Check. Am I forgetting anything?

P.S.: I haven't read the books, but I'm not bothered by spoilers.

P.S.S: For the record I'm actually a Katniss/Finnick shipper. I mean, their tension was off the charts in Catching Fire (the movie) and reminded me of a certain Slayer her bleached blond vampire lover.  Ok, I know Finnick marries Annie - but there's still something of Spike in his devotion to the women in his life, particularly his "mother/mentor", as well as his bad boy persona that's just a cover for a heart of gold.

Whereas Peeta is kind of Riley - the decent guy who is the "college" romance, as opposed to the childhood sweetheart (Angel/Gale.) Ok, it's not perfect match but close enough. It's inspiration, not a carbon copy.
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

Because I am utterly incorrigible.....

shapinglight mentioned that #7 & 8 of the artwork I made for her fic "Third Wheel" looked Christmas card-like (thanks to vintage card graphics from The Graphics Fairy) and, well, this happened:


christmascard1a_darlaangelturninggalwaybecomingframed600x552.png


Yes I considered adding a blood spatter or two but decided to "stay classy" this time.  You're welcome.

And that's all the Christmas-y fluff you're going to get out of me this year, Gentle Reader.
Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

Ghosts of Impossible Things: Artwork for "Third Wheel" by Glassdarkly (Shapinglight)

"Third Wheel" (Buffy/Angel, Darla/Angel) is Glassdarkly (aka shapinglight)'s entry in the 2015 IWRY Marathon, and inspired an art binge.

These banners in turn provided the inspiration for my icon set in slayerstillness Challenge 57.

This is the second story by shapinglight I've made posters for; the first being posters for Casablanca, for Round 19 of seasonal_spuffy.

Teasers: Buffydarlablend2e_656x588RSD.png icon inspired by Third Wheel by Glassdarkly for 2015 IWRY Marathon Buffy_2x21_B1_007lmtw_blend5_298x401_RSD.png
[A WHIFF OF DARK MAGIC....]

Click to view full-size (except icon #9)

1 - 2) Buffydarlathirdwheelblend7c_705x669RSD.png   Buffy_2x21_B1_007lmtw_buffydarlablend2.2.1P__framed705x669RSD.png
705 x 669 each


3) Buffydarlablend2e_656x588RSD.png
665 x 588

Confession (and warning for Angel-unfriendly thoughts): A year ago I said I "couldn't" do Bangel art. I've already proven myself wrong on that count, but I think it's significant that the primary power dynamic in this story - or at least the most intereting one to me - is not Buffy/Angel, or Darla/Angel but Buffy and Darla. I'm surprised by how few fics I've read draw on the parallels the series made between Buffy and Darla right from the opening scenes of WTTH (but then, I'm not a Bangel shipper so it may well be that there's more out there than I realize.)


If anything, the least interesting aspect of "Third Wheel" is, for me, Angel himself. He's a - well, a bit of a mope, and frankly just a little self-centered. (HIs first response to Buffy's nightmarish dilemma - and it is horrifying for both Buffy and Darla - is violence, then brooding and tears, as if he were the one most affected, not she. But to be fair, he does rally and prove himself to be the better man at the end.) Sometimes I have a hard time understanding why two such interesting, clever, powerful women as Buffy and Darla were drawn to him.


"Third Wheel" actually reminds me that I'm really not sure I ship Buffy with any of her canon lovers; it also adds weight to the argument that Darla, not Buffy, is Angel's "true love".

Without (hopefully) giving too much away, shapinglight's description of how the situation initially affects Darla reminds me of how it feels when I feel an epileptic seizure coming on, and I love how that specificity of feeling, and the precision of her language and the details, give the weight and substance of "realism" to a fantastical story.

Lobby cards:

4 - 5 )   Buffy_2x21_B1_007lmtw_blend4_300x388_RSD.png             Buffy_2x21_B1_007lmtw_blend5_298x401_RSD.png
                                                388 x 300                                                                        298 x 401


6 - 8 below are what I consider the "alt" versions (which sounds a little nicer than "rejects" doesn't it?)

6) Buffy_darlanangelbecoming_2f_750x550_RSD.png
550 x 750



7 - 8) thirdwheelforglassdarklybecomingframed3a_600x552RSD.png thirdwheelforglassdarklybecomingearshotframed4_600x552RSD.png
      600 x 552 each


9) icon inspired by Third Wheel by Glassdarkly for 2015 IWRY Marathon
And of course, an icon to go with.



Sources:
The background textile in #1, 2 & 7 a detail of an 18th Century bodice in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute.
Vintage card "frame" in #7 & 8 courtesy of the Graphics Fairy.
Black filigree layer in #4 by scoobyatemysnax for burnedbreads
Check out my Resources post for screencap sources.
Regretfully, I've forgotten the original source of the gold frame in #1, 2 & 5.

********************************************

A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.


Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath

I made some things - and I won some things! (A treasure trove of banners and icons)

This special 10th anniversary round of seasonal_spuffy was the first time I'd actively participated with regular posts; teragramm made special banners for all participants and customized this one for me. THANK YOU!

If you haven't had a chance to catch my three posts for Round 19, find them in the master list under "artwork" along with all the fabulous stories and artwork this round.

seasonalspuffyrsd_participationbanner10thanniversary2015byteragramm.jpg
********************

Thank you for the Best Crop Award at challenge 56 of slayerstillness and thank you tempertemper for the beautiful banner!

Teasers:
[More graphics inside the gallery....]

banner by tempertemper nov 2015

  1- 2



***************
Thank you to Challenge 57 voters for Most Creative Award (a category I don't score very often so I consider it quite the desirable prize indeed), and thank you starry_night for the Mod's Choice Award!  The Dara in Becoming / Buffy in Halloween icons were all inspired by shapinglight's entry for the 2015 iwry_marathon , "Third Wheel". The costume Ethan supplies Buffy has somewhat different effects than in canon, linking Buffy and Darla telepathically across the centuries. Banners for this round by yours truly; vintage dancer image, and floral "frame" in icon #6, from The Graphics Fairy.


  ss57awardbanner_MC2a_rsd_v2ballerina_400x300_RSD.png    ss57awardbanner_MC2rsd_v2ballerina_400x300_RSD.png

  3 - 7

  8 - 11

12 - 16
17 - 22

Fun fact: when I looked very closely at the screencap of Angel's sketch of a lady in "Halloween", the text next to her reads, as best as I can decipher, "Sarah Goodfriend."  I've often wondered if the drawing was a actually a portrait of one of his victims.
***********************
My awards for Round 14 of btvsats20in20; thank you for everyone who voted for my work!  Congratuations to sweet_lyri and gabby227 for their wins; their awards banners as well as all the winning entries can be seen here and here respectively. Banners by yours truly. For the background images I used my personal photos of New England skyscapes in a nod to this round's "In the Clouds" theme.

rsdnumbersbanner1.png rsdenemybanner1.png


This is the third time I've won the gold medal for Category set, so it's a nice way to end the year.  The Numbers icon is one of my favorites of this set, so I'm pleased and proud that the voters honored it.
1stplacecategoryiconRSD.png 2ndplacecategoryiconRSD.png


2ndplaceACiconbannerRSD.png

I love the subtly and understatement of gabby227's Faith icon, the way the softness of the light and coloring compliment the tenderness of the character's expression; bonus points for using an image I've not seen in an icon before.

 



A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.

Kendra the Vampire Slayer RSD

btvsats20in20 ROUND 14: NIGHTMARES (BtVS S1.10)

My set for Round 14 of btvsats20in20.
Beta'd by the fantabulous velvetwhip
Thanks to bangel_4e for allowing me a small extension due to illness.





Teasers:


[What do they need all those legs for anyway?]






10 Themes
Desperate In the Clouds Enemy Handwritten Nose Down
Negative Space Numbers Safe Circle Kiss*
5 Category |HORROR
Cat 1 Cat 2 Cat 3 Cat 4 Cat 5
5 Artist's Choice
AC 1 AC 2 AC 3 AC 4 AC 5




* There was no "kiss" in the episode so I used the next best thing.

The Cordy icons were some of the most challenging and interesting to do, partly because I hadn't planned on making any Cordy icons when I started. Her fear is played entirely for laughs in the episode, hah-hah, vain, self-conscious, socially-aware girl is terrified of being a nerd on the chess team who wears frumpy clothes and has "ugly" hair. Hah hah.

Well, not so funny when you consider what the loss of social status would actually mean (as we will see in Season 3, when she's left isolated by both the Scoobies and the Cordettes); not so funny when you consider the fact that she's been raised in a culture where a woman's self-worth is traditionally rooted in the kind of husband she is able to "catch", and her appearance is her main tool or weapon in pursuit of a husband.

And not so funny when you consider the racial implications of how smooth, silky, manageable hair is prized over curly or "kinky" hair. The "right" kind of hair is the kind that you see in the shampoo adverts; the wong kind is anything else, regardless of your race or ethnicity, although it's identified non-whites. Which is why I myself, as a white female, didn't appreciate my own thick, curly mane until I was well into my 20's, because it was the "wrong kind of hair" and ergo, the implication that something was fundamentally wrong with me. (Also not funny - catching said mane on the button of a professor's peacoat on the bus during a field trip.)

The more I looked at the images of Cordy, the more I also realized how well her fears reflected or paralleled those of the other characters and fit into the episode; and so I wanted to have one of her and the one of Vamp!Buffy touching her own face in the Category set.

Most of the nightmares can be catagorized as Appearance or Performance, regardless of the gender of the dreamer. So Xander shows up nearly nude in class, Cordy has ugly hair and clothes that mark her as a social outcast, Buffy is turned into a vampire (appearance); Billy is beaten nearly to death for disapppointing his coach, Willow is forced onstage to sing an opera she doesn't know and can't make a sound, Buffy's mind goes blank during a test, and Giles mourns at the sight of Buffy's grave (performance). But these two catagories often overlap, and so Buffy's failure to kill the Master (performance) leads to her becoming a vampire (appearance.)

For the AC set I originally wanted to do all Vamp!Buffy, but that felt like it would have been sort of copy-catting sweet_lyri's all-Buffy AC set.


Alts & Extras? But of course!

1 - 5

6 - 11
#11 was inspired by a comment I read at the AV Club Buffy rewatch three years ago: "Would you think I was weird if I said I think Joyce is kinda hot?"  And I thought, dude, I'd think you were were weird if you didn't think she was "hot". WTF? Because she's over the age of 30? GMAFB

12 - 16

17 - 21

22 - 25


26 - 31


32 - 37

  38 - 43


44 - 47 suitable for customization. The background of 46 47 puts me in mind of an AU plot where Buffy and Joyce are in Istanbul and Paris fighting monsters, having grand adventures and doing a little shopping along the way: The Incredible Summers Women World Tour. (Featuring Dawn as Watcher Junior, of course.)

  44 - 49

   50 - 55

56 - 60



A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.
Buffy OMWF Why Can't I Feel  KK

Happy 10th anniversary Seasonal Spuffy!

I finally posted my first proper post at the comm - artwork inspired by shapinglight's wonderful short story "Casablanca". Check out my cover art and icons here. I would have had it finished on the 11th as I should have done but for my internet connection going kaput for several hours.  Better late than never?

Teasers:      

Also, I want to mention that killing_kurare made the Buffy/OMWF icon that I snagged for my default icon because it gives me so many feels (do we still say that around here or is that passe?).  Isn't it an insanely gorgeous, evocative little masterpiece?


Kendra the Vampire Slayer RSD

Congratulations to the winners of Whedon Elite and btvsats20in20!

FINALwe129_1stplacebanner_sweet_lyri.png
Congratulations sweet_lyri, entwashian, and harlequinss_s on your wins in whedon_elite Challenge 129! Snag your banners here .

Final_1stplacecatsetbanner_SRQ.png FinalBMCv2_gabby227.png
Congratulations spikesredqueen, starry_night, sweet_lyri, crazycordy and tempertemper on your wins at Round 13 of btvsats20in20!  Banners here in the comments thread including my BMC to gabby227's oh-so-elegant Cordy icon. BMC was a really tough choice this time around because there were so many I would have loved to honor: starry_night's Wesley Icon, which I've already snagged, her Darla and her AC4 icons; sweet_lyri's clever Crossover icon, tempertemper's Cat 3 Amends icon, crazycordy's Sepia+Profile icon (that theme was one of my favorites overall). So many beautiful things this round.

And if I didn't single out spikesredqueen just now, it's because I'm well pleased that her icons were richly rewarded; her Category and AC sets in particular just rocked.

All banners by yours truly, icons by their respective artists. The background of the WE banner is based on a photograph I took in Old Lyme, CT a couple of weeks ago; I wanted the bright colors to contrast against the dark icons.  The background of the 20in20 banners is a photograph by Susan Murphy from her art studio blog that I adjusted, adding addtional grunge textures to it for a warmer overall look. I love framing effects but I also love the back sides of frames and pictures; I like to see how things are made. I wanted to subvert the normal expectation of a pretty frame by showing off the beauty of the flawed backside. The font is meant to appear to have been printed on the paper except for the artists' names; I imagined a space there that someone filled with a big fat marker or paint brush.
Kendra the Vampire Slayer RSD

NEW-ish ICON COMMUNITY!




New icon challenge community! All are welcome. episodes20in20

Thank you crazycordy for starting this new comm! 31 people have signed up for this round (WOW); check out the entries submitted by gabby227, crazycordy and killing_kurare.

BTW, the deadline for entries is November 15th and the sign-up period is open all the way until then; you can still jump in and join the fun.

And be sure to add your answer to the banner poll and if you're interested, volunteer as a banner maker. I've volunteered and I'd love to see more people making awards banners. I love making them - they're fun but also challenging and I've learned a lot about digitial editing, layers, design, etc by making them. Practice, practice, practice. It gives me an opportunity to study the icons - and I often come to appreciate them more than I did during the voting process - and then there's the pleasure that comes when the recipients like their banners. Honestly, who doesn't like presents?