Yes, that was 3 (4?) months ago
. It feels like both a forever-ago and just yesterday that I was ready to throw up my hands and drop out, and the wise and wonderful velvetwhip
provided the gentle encouragement I needed to keep going
. And where would I be the last 6 months or so without her? Mired in a puddle of my own hopeless, frustrated tears, that's
where. And tempertemper
was likewise a phenomenal beta-muse for when I was making the banners.
Full disclosure: when my babies don't perform well in competition I weep and wail and wonder "Why not? I don't get it." When they do well and are honored as they were in Round 6
, I wonder "Why? Other folks' stuff is so much better. I don't get it." Starry's Harmony set
, in particular, nearly caused me throw in the towel; it's just so damn gorgeously pretty and I loved how in lieu of actual holiday episodes for Harmony she created a gorgeous sparkle-y holiday feel with superb use of textures. So you, Gentle Reader & Voter, cannot win for losing.
I wish I could credit the photographer of the image of Aly
because it's a fanartist's absolute dream of a photo to play with; besides being an attractive image the clarity and image resolution are stunning. There is absolutely no "meta" aspects or intellectual thought to these three banners except "Ooh, pretty! Why haven't I seen this image used in other fanarts before?" and "How do I set the icons and text across it without looking like snot is dripping out of her nose?" I originally used the other half of her face for the banners and had to redo them because greenish text and a large icon dropping out of someone's nostril is not an attractive look. Profit from my experience, Gentle Reader.
The normal ettiquette with 20in20 awards banners is apparently to make them only for folks who request them. I decided to throw convention to the wind: banners for everyone, barkeep!
Which was essentially my excuse to play around and try to stretch myself a bit in terms of techniques. For instance, I discovered accidentally that if I had two images the exact same size, one with text, icons, etc and one without, I could layer them in texture mode and "transfer" whatever visual elements I wanted from one to the other without having to everything all over again from scratch.
I made the Willow banners last of all; the first one I made was for sweet_lyri
's second place Bangel category icon. She hadn't requested it yet so that was pure playtime for me. I found a promo photo I liked and decided to go with promo photos for all of the other banners as well, all of them from The Chosen Two Gallery. This banner is probably the first traditionally romantic, unironic Bangel fanart I've made; I took the "Christmas/ magical snow" context of the icon and extended it to the entire banner
. It was a bit of a puzzle at first how to do that - Sarah's wearing a strapless dress and the photo was clearly NOT set in wintertime, but by cooling the color tones with a blue-ish "waterdrop" texture, a second "lace stripe wallpaper" texture a snowflake frame for the icon and a snowflake "paintbrush for the outer border, I think I got a reasonable approximation.
I was going to leave Sarah's skin tone a touch warmer to emphasize Buffy's humanity in contrast to Angel's non-human status but decided it just detracted attention from the icon itself. (Since that round I have become a huge fan of sweet_lyri
's work; check out my userpic gallery for confirmation or better yet, go directly to her Round 8 Dawn set
's had an interesting genesis in a Jangel icon I was attempting to make for velvetwhip
's extremely awesome fic Answering Prayers
. Take a promo image of David for btvs (or ats), cut it out and place on dark background, add a starscape/universe texture and one of my own cloudscape photographs to cover the edges of the mask and voila
! Again, no meta statement re:Angel going on except - whatever you want to read into it. Angel as an immortal creature yadda yadda bitty blah and all that jazz. I was a little puzzled at first how to do a banner for all of her very worthy Themes winners, six in all So I decided to treat them as if they were a "set". I suppose if I'd tried harder I could have put all of her winning entries onto one banner. All the awards banners I'd seen up to that point kept the icons at their original size; I didn't know that you could reduce them to fit the banner. (Since then I've seen banners at other 20in20 comms where they actually do size the icons down.)
Her Reason icon is a thing of GENIUS, y'all - it never fails to make me smile. And her Category set is another fantastically clever solution to the problem of creating a "holiday" category set. To my mind it's not only more clever, it's wittier and more inventive than my set because I had a holiday, ready-made, to work from; she had to create one from whole cloth.
I already mentioned that starry_night
's Harmony set nearly caused me to quit Round 6 before I'd even made a single icon because they were simply so beautiful and accomplished and I knew I couldn't come within a mile of them. (I still can't, IMO.) That it took much hand-holding from velvetwhip
to get me to complete mine? Starry's icons are so gorgeous and elegant, I wanted the banners to suit them - and I kept coming up with images of Mercedes McNab showing lots of skin that looked like they were meant for men's magazines. Now I am all for a woman's right to display her own body as she chooses but that wasn't the look I had in mind for the banners. The image I found on The Chosen Two was a rare exception, very restrained and classical, almost "Renaissance".
It needed a little something extra though and my landlord's yellow rose
set to difference/subtract/invert (one of the three, I don't recall which) to turn it black like Mercedes' dress was just the thing. Never underestimate just how handy a casual outdoor snap you've taken can be. I tried to keep the rest of the color scheme as close to the various shades of pink/mauve/purple found in the icons as possible. All of these icons are lovely and her Category set is a knock-out; I snagged her 3rd place Category icon because I simply had
to have it.
**** The Spuffy banner for oh_cheezit's wonderful AC set from "Sleeper", an episode I love, was the last one I made aside from the Willow banners and in some ways the most difficult. I came into this fandom an S7 Spuffy shipper and by the time I'd made these banners, "Spuffy" had become an uncomfortable and even painful place rather than a comfort zone. I found it difficult to re-access my original love and enthusiasm for the pairing and perhaps this banner was above all else an attempt to reclaim my love for them on my terms. (I very nearly didn't make this one at all.) I was going for the sense of Buffy as the sun, as moral compass, a guiding presence to him in her life and in death but also, perhaps, a ghost or memory. My first try (below right) is very pretty and the icons pop but something's missing I think, it lacks overall unity and is a bit bland.
I cropped Sarah's face closer on the second try, pushed the blue-green color from the photo of James in the "crypt" and didn't notice until after I'd layered them that the roots in the crypts intermingled nicely with Sarah's hair so that they seemed intertwined. The image of James was actually of rather poor quality in some respects and I had to do a lot of blending around his face; it ended up more washed out than I wanted. I made several tries at the font colors with this one and never got it quite right; her name in particular looks too bright too me now. I'm still not sure that the banner doesn't overwhelm rather than compliment the icons. The final version is on the left and the alt is to the right:
I arranged the icon set a little differently to the other banners because for some reason they wouldn't line up in an exact line. When I staggered them a bit I thought it created a nice sense of both dimension and movement that I think suits the icons. There is a very cinematic feeling to this set; oh_cheezit alternated long, medium and close-up shots like an expert cinematographer, but always with an emphasis on the varied emotions of the scene and Sarah and James' wonderfully expressive faces.