The Chain

I promised you alts and extras, alts and extras you shall have....BUT FIRST a word from our sponsors

I wanted to get these out to y'all earlier in the week but sucky life circumstances drained the life out of me for a few days. I'm very grateful for the love and supportive I've gotten this week from my friends here who have offered virtual arms and shoulders to cry on, and let me rant about things various, be it my personal distress so I don't curl up in a fetal position in the corner, or why I prefer Barney Stinson's honest deceptions to Ted Mosby's self-absorbed, pretentious, pseudo-sensitive crap but could never articulate it before.

The lesson, kids, is that none of us is really, truly alone, that it takes courage to say "I hurt" aloud and trust someone to hear that because it's so hard to do. That I have wonderful friends so even if my life is in pieces, I'm not a "bad" person to be so loved. And - upside! - I'm using some downtime to learn new-to-me digital editing skilz. Because I WILL get good enough to make meta-picspams that don't embarrass me, and pretty prezzies for my friends.

                                                                                                                         *****

*** Voting for Round 1 of btvsats20in20 is open until midnight June 16th, if you haven't had the chance to vote already for Themes, Category (B/W),  and Artist's Choice. Looking at the results so far is proof positive that I'm a pretty poor judge of my own stuff. Or other people's I guess because there are some really fantastic icons by folks who happen to not be me that are NOT getting the love they deserve. So says I. I'm not telling you to vote for my stuff, of course, or what stuff by other people to vote for. Really. That would be wrong. But if you chose to catch my mental wavelength and read my mind, then there's just nothing I can do about that, is there?


*** Challenge 26 at slayerstillness is "The Same But Different". starry_night kindly responded to suggestions from teragramm and myself for a challenge that allows multiple icons of the same image. "For this challenge there will also be a slight change to the rules in that I would like you to submit a full set of five (5) icons. Voting will also be different in that you will be voting for your favourite sets, as well as individual icons...For this challenge only (for now…) you can submit up to TWO (2) sets of five icons."   The deadline is midnight Saturday June 21st at our own time zones.

*** otherworldlyric Challenge 175 is set to the song "Stay with Me" by Hoobastank, deadline midnight Friday June 20th. I've never heard of the band or the song but the lyrics are simple and lovely and I started making an icon or two or....about 10 or so at this point, and at least three different crops of the same cap. Hmmm... As Willow says to Kennedy in "Get it Done", it's how I work. Ten years ago I made Moulin Rouge icons just for myself - i didn't know about LJ, about icontests or any such thing, so I was just having fun and making multiple variations of any one icon came naturally to me. It's much harder for me participating in challenges and trying to force myself to make fewer icons. So far? It hasn't worked. 5-9x the number I need is pretty much average. (Yes, I did the math.)

If I could have, my entries in Round 1 of btvsats20in20 would have been almost entirely variants of The Chain icon.  Speaking of which... my alts/extras for this round. (Did I mention voting ends June 16th?)

Here be teasers:

[More, more, always more...]


I know I've mentioned it before but it doesn't hurt to repeat: all credit to kwritten credit for introducing me to ipiccy and to clockwork_hart1 for giving me instructions in how to make a collage in that program.  I'm not trying to affect anyone's votes btw, and some folks don't want to be bothered with the blah-de-blah (if I weren't me I'd tell me to STFU) so I've grouped the icons first, directors commentary track afterwards - your choice to read it or not.

Here be Icons:

(01-04)

(05-08)


(09-11)


(12-14)

(15-17)


(18-20)

(21-23)


(24-27)


(28-30)


( 31-35)


(36-38)

(39-42)

(43-45)


And here be Artist's Commentary Track:

[You know what to do...]
#01 -08 This set was such fun and my favorites of all my entries. Making them was like discovering the key to a door I'd never been able to unlock before. #1-3 are basically the same icon, with the addition of the Photo Collage effect from ipiccy. IThe exact arrangement, number/size of the photos, size and color of frames, the color of background and color within the frames all had to be chosen separately. Then I took #2 back to PB and used the Splash function to remove all the color and repaint some of the squares. (#3) Great practice in hand-eye co-ordination, especially redrawing the blood on her cheek while leaving the rest of the square grey.

For  both #4 and my Comics entry I had to go back to the original icon #1, and readjust the arrangement and number of photos within the image each time, chose the color within the frames and the background colors separately. #4 has smaller "photos" and thus less background showing; I also learned something very important - don't bisect key facial features (nose and lips) right down the center.

For my final Comics entry I recolored and reshuffled everything, then added a separate light leak effect, something I see in icons all the time and have wondered how it was done. (Every week now I find myself looking at an icon and saying "I know how that was done!" And every day I look at an icon and say "How the heck was that done?") Photo Collage is a tricky effect; it's easy to overdo, but it doesn't mesh well with very realistic photographs because it has a very cartoon-like "drawn" or fake quality.  With an icon from a comic book illustration, it's a perfect marriage.


#09-11 My first successful attempts at "blending" - really collage; I didn't know how to blend images seamlessly. And by "successful" I mean, "nominally better than a sharp stick in the eye".The effect reminded me those graphic movie magazines I grew up with in the 1970's but really not satisfied with the quality of it. I tried using a light effect from ipiccy to cover up the dividing line. It didn't work, but it looks like a prompt for a nifty "Cave Buffy and newly resurrected Buffy are thrown into an alternative universe together" fic. Anyone want to take that up?

Cave Buffy sort of skirts the edges of my claim (not really-real Buffy) but when I rewatched Beer Bad the second time after watching season 6, the visual parallels with Bargaining were one of those "once you see it you can't unsee it" things. Exhibit A in my "Beer Bad is aweseom and fandom doesn't give it respect" argument.


#12-17 First time with textures.  #12 is the color version of my Cat #4 (black/white) entry and I think it works better with color. Poor Cat #4 - the only one of my entries not to draw any comment when I posted them and no surprise, it's my least favorite too. 14 is a combination of provided texture plus shine (rays of light) effect, which is where the yellow color comes from. These aren't pretty but they remind me of the artwork of William Blake and his friend and contemporary Henry Fuseli. Also, I apparently love to combine textures with the Shine effect because they both show up in three of my entries, separately or together. Should I be worried?

#17 was just sharpen, sharpen, lighten, blend the pixels, push the contrast, sharpen, blend one more time. I didn't realize how soft-focus the original cap is until I started playing with it. (If you are unaware of my feelings regarding Normal Again and Sarah's amazing performance in it, you must be new here. Welcome! Have a cookie!


#18-23 More provided texture plus shine effect, then pushing the color. I don't remember how I got those bands of purple in the Primeval icons (another applied texture maybe? I have no idea) and I couldn't have planned the way it goes directly into her eyeballs and curves around her chin. Happy accidents. These icons have a particular immediacy for me because I have epilepsy and a seizure is essentially an electrical surge in my brain that temporarily shorts everything out; I have no control over my own body. "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" And that's what I wanted to evoke visually - the sense of things gone haywire, the horror of losing control of one's own body.

#24-27 These icons from Amends and The Wish show how well some of the early season caps can be lightened without pixelating. I'm still surprised by how much detail I got - the pores on the skin, the makeup around her eye, the lines on her scar. The sadness on Wishverse!Buffy's face isn't noticeable in the original cap, which is very dark, but comes through when it's lightened ands took me by surprise. It's perfect - the lonely, wounded girl behind the tough exterior. She's not "Buffy as Faith" as some fans have said; Faith is full of piss and fire and would have emptied Giles' decanter and stolen another bottle for good measure. This girl, she's General Buffy, foreshadowed, but still very much Buffy. I really took the guideline "must show detail" to heart for the XCU - I was going to get every pore on her face if it killed me.

The softness and sheen of her hair and skin in the Amends icons is incredibly lovely in these and belies the horror of the moment. I turned the orientation of the cap to show off her expression better. She almost looks as if she is running very fast and shouting in alarm something in the distance, i
nstead of lying in bed being killed/devoured by Angel in his dream. The man clings to her as his salvation, his second chance to be a good man; the demon  would gleefully suck her dry. (Be careful what you wish for...)


#28-30 As with the Amends icon, I love the contrast of the warmth of this imagine and the context of the scene: "That's my guy." All these effects were done in ipiccy. I wanted the look of a drawing for 31-32 but I didn't like the Pencil Drawing effect in ipiccy, so I used the lines of one of the Light effects and removed the color. A lot of icon making for me is about trying to go around the back door to get what I want.

The First wearing Buffy's face is the (non-corporeal) manifestation of Buffy's fear of becoming a demon, inhuman, from "Nightmares" in S1 through S6, as well as soulless Spike's desires that she "try on my world for size". The fantastic, bitter irony of the formerly soulless vampire demon who once wanted her to be his companion, his lover, alone in the dark, needs the real Buffy - needs her humanity - more than ever to help him escape the darkness and evil he'd encouraged her to embrace. (Be careful what you wish for....)

#31-35 "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" series - the title of Keat's ballad is perfect for Faith's dream image of Buffy in TYG; the font is Princess Sophia in PB. I spent more time, and threw away more attempts, on this set than any other for the round. Beautiful images but the caps are so damn dark, and unlike the early season caps they don't emerge nicely when you brighten them, they just pixilate. I finally realized that when I downsize an image in ipiccy I get slightly better results in ipiccy than in PB because ipiccy seems to retain the quality of the image a bit better, but I still had to downsize and adjust in increments.

Tons of blending work - I bow low to the wisdom of comlodge's sage advice - especially on Sarah's nose, as well as on the background. Dear god, chasing that last little pixel at the tip of her nostril nearly drove me insane. I am well on my way to becoming the foremost expert on Sarah's nose - second to only her ENT doctor. (And look, Ma, I finally signed one of my icons! *lol*)


#36-42 From Nightmares - another reason you need to watch Season 1 if you haven't already. The seeds for the entire series are planted in S1, and Nightmares might just be the skeleton key to the psychology of Buffy Summers. (And it pays dividends down the line for Willow Rosenberg fans as well.) I hated losing that brick wall. Kicking myself for not paying better attention to the guidelines of that catagory. The NS+mono I entered with the shine effect has been getting almost the most votes of any of my entries but dear goodness me I loved the lines and texture of that brick wall. No special effects needed except brighten, sharpen and contrast. The "flames" of color revealed themselves. I painted in the silhouette with black to cover lighter pixels dotting her face and clothes.


#43-45 What's a brick wall without a little graffiti, even in the Hellmouth? Especially in the Hellmouth? Buffy the Ad Exec Slayer - there has GOT to be a btvs-Mad Men crossover somewhere.  The phrase "She Comes" is the result of me mis-remembering Lord Byron's poem "She Walks in Beauty" but for this context I prefer my version - it could be hopeful (Make way for the Queen!) or sinister (Run for your lives!).

I don't know how this works, but I really like the ones you made on 9-11. That episode, just....and that look that you captured in the icon....Gets me.

Also 24, with the scar. I always wonder about my alternate timeline. Watching that and seeing that scar makes me think maybe somewhere, in someone else's world, I'm don't have any scars at all.

I like those icons. A LOT.
Thanks hon!

I don't know how this works either (me = clueless) but I think pretty much what like you've done - leave comment, concrit, hugs, puppies, tea and cake, but no children. Leave the kids at home, I can't accept them as tribute because can't do a thing with them. *LMAO*

Since these are my alts/extras you can check out my actual entries or just go straight to voting posts and vote for your favorite/best icons - if you're into that (I have a hell of a hard time voting. I just like to look and enjoy.) http://btvsats20in20.livejournal.com/tag/round%201

That episode, just....and that look that you captured in the icon....Gets me.

We're talking about the Beer Bad/Bargaing ones, right? Which of the two eps do you mean? (I assume bargaining because JFC on a cracker that episode KILLS me. Buffy wandering around Sunnyhell - I don't have words for it, just icons: http://red-satin-doll.livejournal.com/36397.html
http://red-satin-doll.livejournal.com/39612.html

I've never gotten anything I'm really happy with, I've been more successful with Buffy in After Life.

I always wonder about my alternate timeline.

Huh, honestly I never thought about that. But then I figured my life would turn out a lot differently, so it's like, my life now is the alternative (DNW) version.

Thanks again for the kind words, I'm glad these speak to you. *hugs*

These are so fantastic and they clearly show the tremendous progress you've made as an artist. Bravissima!


Gabrielle
Icon number six is perfect. Sometimes I like your extras more! I love that one. Oh and "la belle dame sans merci" is kinda perfect too. The quote is so spotted on and I think it reflects how people see Buffy sometimes (Like, I think that she has a lot of "merci", but enemies and people with issues *coffcoff* Faith *coffcoff* can see her as cruel. And also Spike, I guess, sometimes)
Thanks sweetie! I don't know about perfect but #6 is the same as my AC#2, just darker color scheme here, and that one has gotten almost the most votes of any of my entries. I think I used a pixilation effect in ipiccy and enlarged the pixel size until I got just that one line.

Sometimes I like your extras more!

I know we talked about this before but when you snagged my Dawn & Buffybot icon that I thought was a failure, that was a huge lesson to me about how other people see things that I don't and my inability to judge my own work. But as the artist I'm not objective. (Sometimes. Also, this 20in20 - what I think is "the best" isn't necessarily the same as everyone else's!) Guess I need to improve on that!

(Like, I think that she has a lot of "merci", but enemies and people with issues *coffcoff* Faith *coffcoff* can see her as cruel. And also Spike, I guess, sometimes)

Pot, meet kettle.

Pot, meet kettle.

Indeed. Have to say Spike's poor me stuff seems to bother me more and more on rewatches.

But, I dunno. It's another one of those things I think the show sometimes absurdly fosters with weird writing.
Well, I guess. I can't really fault James for it. His character would act like that (something people don't seem to get about bad guys is they don't think they're bad guys). Spike *would* think he was constantly the victim.

At the same time, yeah, the writing. Take the Beneath You scene in the church. In Petrie's draft, there's none of that 'service the girl' crap. It works better, IMO. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I think so. Joss's is more eloquent in a lot of ways, but contextually is nonsensical. If you watch S6/S7 back to back that stuff comes out of nowhere and comes off as extremely victim-blamey.

But it doesn't really stop with Spike. We *are* seemingly meant to think Buffy is a big ol' meanie for being fed up with Faith in Sanctuary. We are supposed to think she's mean for staking Sandy!vamp in that alley...even though Sandy!vamp went into that alley with the intention to kill her. I don't know. Maybe I'm just cold, but I didn't feel any sympathy.

Then there's also the phenomena of the way female protags are treated within fandom.

But meh. Same old discussion. Some way or another, it's always Buffy's fault.

The other day I actually had to explain to someone that yes, Buffy IS the protagonist. (not a shipper, btw, a SG fan.) So now someone even acknowledging that Buffy is the protagonist even while beating the shit out of her seems like a step up. *lol*

If you watch S6/S7 back to back that stuff comes out of nowhere and comes off as extremely victim-blamey.

When Spike goes on his "I did it for you, the soul, the changes" bit in S7 I roll my eyes a lot. I've been on the receiving end of "I did such and such FOR YOU (without asking you if that's what you wanted first) so why aren't you sufficiently grateful?" too many times, and I dare say I've dished it out more than once. So it's all bs to me, but I do think we're meant to see her as responsible. But she's been responsible for him ever since he came back to SD in S4. the vamp who hangs around town because he's either in love with her/wants to kill her/ironically depends on her for protection/occasional cash/adventure since he's persona non grata in the demon world and can't kill humans.

In other words, he uses her, too, and that's never acknowledged. Ever. And not once in S6 did she lie to him the way Parker lied to her, or the way Riley did in S5. So the whole "you used me" - well, you used her too, dude. And I get tired of soullessness being used as a constant get out of jail free card.

But we could talk about this all day, let's talk about something frivolous....um....ok, I love it when she calls him on the carpet in Get it Done. And when he calls out everybody's shit in Touched. I know, that whole thing is a mess and Willow should have been the one to step up in EP and say, hey, Get the hell out of my library - I mean, everybody back off (I kept waiting for that). But I love it when anyone steps up to the plate and defends Buffy, like when Tara protects her in OAFA. Sue me.

I saw that exchange. Thought it was quite special. No, the show wasn't 100% about Buffy. Just 92% about her.

When Spike goes on his "I did it for you, the soul, the changes" bit in S7 I roll my eyes a lot. I've been on the receiving end of "I did such and such FOR YOU (without asking you if that's what you wanted first) so why aren't you sufficiently grateful?" too many times, and I dare say I've dished it out more than once.

Well, it goes back to the male entitlement thing. Funny bit is it's the same logic Xanderfen use. And yes, she never once asked him to get a soul.

As for using, I made a post about it a long time ago (I think you commented on it) about sex being a metaphor for power in S6 S/B and it works about as well as the magic!crack. Yes, Buffy used Spike to depower herself*, the sex was just the method. And that's the hangup, you know? Because it hinges on the idea that sex is bad (pretty common for Whedon) AND the idea that being a sub is some kind of degrading ugly kink. Be that as it may, that is just how it reads to me.

I love it when she calls him on the carpet in Get it Done.

Definitely. I can see complaints about doing it privately, but I think it's telling of Spike that he'd just get up and walk out while she was talking as though none of it applied to him. It's even noted in the script. Bah. Nearly everyone in that scene annoys me. Friends don't let friends bury dead girls by themselves, guys!
No, the show wasn't 100% about Buffy. Just 92% about her.

*SMH*

I can see complaints about doing it privately,

But invading an dissecting every aspect of Buffy's personal life is ok? Right. Gotta give privacy and respect to get it, kids.

Anyhow, arguments in the real world are usually about anger, snap decisions, irrationality and things coming out of your mouth on the spot, not "Oh my, let's sit down and discuss this rationally, shall we?" I guess there are people who can work things out that way but that wouldn't be true to these characters, nor the situation. (Privacy, in that house? What privacy?)

Friends don't let friends bury dead girls by themselves, guys!

This calls for a snark attack:



Oh, I wasn't defending it. But I can see how some might think "kinda mean", but me? Nah, I found the ostentatious the way he just gets up in front of everyone and heads for the door while she was talking to be nothing but an F-U. So I say fire away. Like I said, Xander, Spike, Ken (who I don't dislike) all annoy me there. It's the whole female leaders are supposed to say please, thank you and may I about everything suggestion. Shadowlass once wrote a fic about it. Can't remember the name.

I stand by the opinion that if Xander, Giles or Spike made that rant? Fandom would have cheered.
It's the whole female leaders are supposed to say please, thank you and may I about everything suggestion.

Nail, head. Head, desk.

I stand by the opinion that if Xander, Giles or Spike made that rant? Fandom would have cheered.

Oh but of course! I shall have to look up up Shadowlass' fics, I know I've read at least one of their stories, not sure if that rings any bells.
I enjoyed your pimping, your icon artistry, and your commentary. I am so proud of you for continuing to explore different creatively awesome things with your icons. :)
Oh thanks so much sweetie! I thought I'd already responded to this yesterday, very sorry for not acknowledging sooner! *hugs*

That Spillow icon with the teddy bear just makes me laugh so much - too cute!
You inspired my idea for the "levels" theme!

I did? *squees*

(Btw, "levels" is the same thing as "collage", right?)

I'm really excited for the next round too - probably more excited to see what other people do than what I come up with.

And I think I'm gonna ask your help next time I do one of these posts - I like the way that icon tables look but there has to be a way to do one that isn't such a pain in the ass? (aka why can't I do one in rich text?)
(Btw, "levels" is the same thing as "collage", right?)

I'm pretty sure that's it

why can't I do one in rich text?

The only way I can do icon tables is to copy and paste the code into a basic text editing program. Rich text messes the html up. Sorry!
Doing the tables for the 20in20 felt like kind of a nightmare to me. I'll do it for the contest because that's a requirement and maybe it'll really push me to decide beforehand which icon is for what icon goes into which catagory - or better yet, make each icon specific to every catagory, and that's that.

Thanks again sweetie!