Buffy Casablanca Poster poppy wreath  RS

Art-tickle for Thursday Oct 16: So I made some things, and I won a thing!

Banner for snowpuppies Themes winners in btvsats20in20 Round 4. (Full-size)
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Banner I made for my Mods Choice Award for Challenge 33: (Full-size)

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Congratulations, links, challenge reminders, alts/extras, some thinky-thoughts and source photos after the cut. Usual disclaimers - don't plagarize, deface  or post to another online archive or site without at least checking with me. All icons snaggable.  Banners not.
[More images and a gallery guide inside the cut:]

Alts and extras for Challenge 33:


01 - Congratulations to Snowy and to spikesredqueen, starry_night, sweet_lyri, and midnightisclose for your beautiful winning entries in Round 4 of btvsats20in20! If anyone still wants a banner of their own it's not too late; drop a line at the Winner's Post here - you can reply to me directly in that thread. This is assuming everyone hasn't moved on to their Round 5 Rainbow Theme entries.

02-06 - Thank you to everyone who voted for my icons; I was tickled to see that each of them got at least one vote, and in every possible category. #2 & 6 are my favorites of this set; I'm super-pleased with how they turned out. See below for photo credits.#2 & 6 are far and away my favorites here. I'm very happy that #2 in particular caught starry_night's eye:

07 - Thank you starry_night for the honor, and congratulations to teragramm, tempertemper, pickamix and sweet_lyri for your beautiful winning entries! I gave out two Banner Maker's Choice awards this time for icons by juliet316 and pickamix. Check out all the winners here. Then get ready for Challenge 34, "Illyria, God King of The Primordium"; I'm expecting some truly awesome icons.

#2, 8-11 - I spent a lot of time getting the text right in 8-11; trying to balance legibility and aesthetics. I'll tend to sacrifice the latter for the former, but I think that's changing as a master the editing toolbox - and can have more fonts. I loved the idea of text fitting snugly above the curl of Sarah's hair in this on-set shot from Gone, and intended to enter one of those until I realized I preferred to just look at the lights and colors. Those sorts of effects are very new for me and I think I fell in love with that icon, perhaps more than a little. And Sarah is just lovely; with the strong contrasts of pale skin with dark lips and her own idiosyncratic beauty, she resembles a silent movie star.

#6, 12-13 - Once again I was working on clarity, color and light; and the subject is really Sarah's face. Once again she resembles a silent movie star, pale face and dark lips, from the days when women still had interesting (not necessarily beautiful) faces onscreen. I merged a cap from Normal Again with this studio photograph of Sarah photographer unknown (to me). And once again I had intended to enter the version with text and spent a lot of time getting it "right" before I realized I preferred the textless version. It seemed less cluttered; the text distracts from the forms of Sarah's face, the sweep of her hair and the wrinkles in her shirt.

#4 - uses the same screencap from Normal Again as 6, 11, 16, Textured b/g, Cat 2 and several alts for btvsats20in20. eilowyn pointed out to me the parallel between this image and my favorite VampWillow image, in terms of the vintage, old-school beauty, femininity and drama of the dark lips and pale skin in both. FYI: I failed to notice that my entry version of #4 was 100x104 pixels, not 100square proper; #4 is the corrected size.

#5, 14-16: Ideas I wanted to play with after btvs_hush Challenge 283. I liked the wall once I played with the saturation and exposure of the original cap; but I don't like Sarah's face here or in the original photo. She looks more like a manniquin than herself, which probably explains the crops of my entry. That's pretty much all I can say about these.

#3 - uses the clone tool for the repeat of Buffy clutching her head. I like the pale colors, but it doesn't quite come together somehow in that small version. It looks like it's cropped from a larger original, although it isn't. (I've done this design in a larger format and it looks very striking. It may be that the pastel colors and white are cencelling out the design in this instance. Thoughts?)

One of the nifty and challenging things about the icontests, especially the 20in20 rounds, is that there are always leftover ideas I don't get a chance to develop in time, or that crop up only after the images have marinated in my mind for a while. With these two rounds I feel like a shift occured in my abilities as an artist in comparison to where I was two months ago.

I really worked to improve clarity, color and light in the last month and I think I got closer to what I'm after than I had before. And thank goodness; this last month was particularly...shall we say, intense. Whereas Round 3 of 20in20 I worked really hard on (not always to the good), Challenge 33 was more easy-peasy playtime; I had no particular concept, just leftover ideas from 20in20 and from btvs_hush; I wanted to continue to practice what I was learning and just make something pretty.

Sources: The on-set image of Sarah from Gone in 2, 8-11 and the studio photograph in 6, 12 & 13 courtesy of The Chosen Two gallery.  S7 promo photo from btvs_hush Challenge 283 but can also be found at The Chosen Two gallery here.

Even the banners I've done here are so very different from the ones I did for SS Round 31 it's hard for me to believe they are separated by barely a month. The background for the banners was made from two of my own photographs: the base is a close-up of a weathered wood plank along a bike path where I stopped a couple of weeks ago; the color overlay and faint white diagonal lines from a photo I took on Saturday of site-specific art installation at the Goffe Street Armory auditorium in New Haven for Alternative Open Studios weekend. I think the artist who created the installation might be Mahdi Alibakhshian, but the CWOS website isn't clear on that.

(Right-click photos to view full-size)

If you wish to use these photos btw please feel free to do so!  Just don't claim them as your originals, and if you make something from them, send me a link in the comments thread, I'd love to see it.
Congrats! I really like the icon that won and all its variations, especially 10 and 11. Sarah's face is wonderful. She's so expressive.
Thank you sweetie! I love #2 obviously (not because it won an award but because it was one of those "Oh I did this!" moments when I finished it.

but 10-11 were two I almost deleted! 11 is actually the "first draft" - I had colored the large image that beautiful brown/ivory then cropped it; all the colors etc were overlaid on that.

Sarah's face is wonderful. She's so expressive.

Oh god yes.

For the 20in20 I could have done any SINGLE scene from Normal Again, just of Sarah's face - and I may do that this round, as the only theme is colors. Amazing AMAZING expressiveness. And she can be so ridiculously cute/hyperactive IRL, at least on camera, and Joss said she didn't understand Buffy's depression because she'd never been through it herself at the time. So where the HELL did she pull that performance from? Scary, sad, amazing.

Oh when is that woman going to find another job worthy of her talents?

But we could say the same thing about Aly Hannigan actually.

I watch an ep from HIMYM S9 (yes, I'm watching it, and getting that "I know too much" sick feeling) where Lily and Marshall are arguing and she is just BRINGING the tears, totally and I realized she's been throwing her talent away for the past nine years. That said, she's had a steady job and a paycheck and these are not things to sneeze at either.

Also - I LOVE the Mother and Robin/Barney are my FOREVER OTP (along with Buffy/Tara.)

Edited at 2014-10-16 07:48 pm (UTC)

I also loved them. So much. (I assume that you already know how it ends, but I won't add a thing until you tell me) I think that AH was very lucky, at least she found something that was loved by many people and successful. I really hope that Sarah does too. She's very talented but she's unlucky with the new projects.

Yes, icon 2 is amazing. I love that splash of color and the close crop. And she's smiling! So cute.

I actually got the basics of how it ends from one of your posts - I try to avoid spoilers but you (and everyone else under the sun were pissed off so I had to find out why.)

The whole thing pissed me off on so many levels without having seen it. But I was on the fence about Robin and Barney - and then I started watching season 9 and HOW CAN I NOT SHIP THEM NOW? "We love our story!" Me too!

I've said since I started watching that they were going to put Robin with Ted and oh, just get on with it already because "will they won't they?" is so boring but damn I wish I were wrong.

Barney's mom hugging Robin because her own mom wasn't coming to the wedding - I cried buckets. Robin and Barney holding hands, arguing, him surprising her at the rehearsal dinner - could they be ANY MORE ADORABLE?

I fell in love with The Mother immediately. I want that actress in everything. (Can you imagine how much she would have added to the show if they'd introduced her characters seasons ago?) How am I then supposed to feel good about Ted going back to Robin like he's been married to this wonderful woman but still in love with Robin all that time? The Mother (does she even have a NAME?) was just a baby-making machine for Ted? The writers had no idea how fucked up any of this is?

Fuck you, Ted Mosby, whiny, self-absorbed "nice guy". Now I remember why I hate Ted - he reminds me of Riley and Xander and his self-absorbed sense that he's a great guy and the girl should fall in love with him because he wants it and he's waiting for a great woman but what is he doing to be a great man?

Barney looks refreshing in comparison. I love Robin and Barney now so hey, silver lining?

I love that splash of color and the close crop. And she's smiling! So cute.

Thanks sweetie! You clearly have excellent taste. That icon, Action of Death (Normal again) and the Amber Benson one with the dark hair are my favorite of my icons I've made recently.

Edited at 2014-10-17 05:32 am (UTC)
The Amber Benson icon is really, really pretty. I love the color - the same of her eyes - and the close crop. Really pretty.

Yes, Barney and Robin are too cute for words. Plus Barney made a lot of steps to meet Robin in the middle, while Ted is essentially the "nice guy" so he doesn't have to change, he's already perfect like that.

Seriously, fuck the writers.
I think I already showed you the original image btw? But yes, that came out beautifully (and oh boy do I wish I'd written down what I did - I have a vague memory but I need to start keeping notes. And also, I wish that I had done a larger version. I'm hoping I can use this image for another fanfic banner.

Most likely I color-matched the background to her eyes (you can do that with some things in ipiccy but not others.) I also did a version with an overlay of clouds and sky because you know how I love playing with sky imagery when it comes to my girls in the buffyverse, but I think it's a bit kitschy and "on the nose".

Yes, Barney and Robin are too cute for words. Plus Barney made a lot of steps to meet Robin in the middle, while Ted is essentially the "nice guy" so he doesn't have to change, he's already perfect like that.


It's the same sort of thinking that's led us to tons of ugly leading men winning gorgeous leading ladies onscreen. (ex: The guy in Juno still being "worthy" of the protagonist's love when he hasn't done one goddamn thing to earn it while she goes through all the agony and public shame on her own. "Thanks for not telling my parents...") White middle class male privilege, reimagined by the nerds and geeks who didn't get the girl in high school and are getting their revenge after the fact. (yes this includes Joss.)

Fuck that noise.
Your work is splenderific, hon! I'm a total fangirl!!!!

Also, I love your photos!

I'm a total fangirl!!!!

*HUGS* Just picture me over on this side of the computer with a big smile on my face, dear.
(whilst also waiting to take batch of ketchup/bbq sauce #2 out of the canner.)

And I'm rather pleased with the photos myself, thank you! I might post more of those sorts of my photos here in future?

That auditorium was amazing btw - the upper section had the seats like the old movie theaters, dusty and neglected of metal and wood, that I took photos of, and the girders in the ceiling were a work of art - just an amazing space, and then that installation piece was icing on the cake. I knew when I saw the colors of the lights on Saturday that I was going to use it in the banner for challenge 33 because it went so well with the winning icons.
I like that you used the wood picture as a texture and the 2nd picture as the color. It was truly a lovely touch. I have saved your 2 pictures and put them in my stock and texture folder. I renamed them with your name, so if and when I use them, I will know they are yours and I will drop you a note.
*blushes* Oh my, thank you for the lovely compliments! And by all means do use these photos, or any others I post. I hadn't planned on overlaying the one over the other but I made the banner for snowpuppies first and it just sort of came together. Doing layers and textures is so much fun, I had no idea how much so.

I renamed them with your name, so if and when I use them, I will know they are yours and I will drop you a note.

Well, you're one of my mentors as an artist (it's perfectly true, yes), so that's an especial compliment! I can't wait to see what you do with them. :) And having a folder like that is an excellent idea - I think part of the reason I use my own photos a lot is that I don't have to worry about not giving proper credit.

One of the reasons I was keen to get photos of that art installation was because the diagonal white cables reminded me of some of your icons and I knew they'd look great as a texture.
Doing layers and textures is so much fun, I had no idea how much so. Are you still using ipicy (?-is that the name of the program you use) or have you tried venturing in to try Photoshop?

Well, you're one of my mentors as an artist (it's perfectly true, yes) so that's an especial compliment! Well, now it's my turn to blush. I do not claim to be an expert but (as my bosses wife always says about her photoshop skills) I know what I know *shrugs* That being said, I don't know much about how to take a good picture and your two photos are very nice.

I think part of the reason I use my own photos a lot is that I don't have to worry about not giving proper credit. It can sometimes be hard. I try to go back and double check that all of the people whose textures I use are listed on my profile page but I'm sure some have fallen through the cracks.

I've only done a few basic things in PSE with my sweetie's photos of her paintings, like cropping. I've sometimes found it easier to make basic adjustments to her photos in Preview or ipiccy. I'm sure PSE will be fabulous once I master it, but yes, all of the work you see in this post was done with ipiccy.

your two photos are very nice.

Thank you!

My sweetie took some photos this evening of the sunset after the rain cleared that are blow-my-mind gorgeous. (And I'm thinking, how can I use these in layers? *lol*)

I'm really trying to be more careful about that in future but I know I'll mess up, sadly.
My boss takes gorgeous beach sunset pictures and I sometimes use them when making banners. All the gorgeous mauves and golds make a nice color pop nor a banner.
Your boss lets you use their pics? Nice.

*nods* I used a sunset pic my sweetie took a couple of months ago for the Tara/Fear icon in Round 3 of 20in20 and - wow. I don't know if anyone else liked it but I did. I should have made that as a banner because something got lost in downsizing *slaps forehead*

Oh and here's a question and I bet the answer is "it depends" (hah). For a long time I worked directly in 100x100 because when I first started making icons in PB years ago, an effect that looked great even at 125 or 200square was totally lost when downsized. (Still pretty much true for PB, and sometimes for ipiccy as well, depending on the image.)

Now I kind of do both - sometimes I make a banner first, but lots of times I'm paranoid things will get mucked up and go directly to icon size. With Photoshop do you work in a larger size and then downsize it? How does that work with text, etc? Clarity and legibility are big issues for me.
How I usually do an icon, is I do the basic color and a/w in the original size (no cropping at all). That's because if I am changing the picture (for example, clone stamping) I need the larger size to see the finer points. Once the a/w and basic coloring is done I sharpen the picture (if needed) then crop it. After it is cropped I resize it because sometimes, something will look great cropped when it is bigger but no so great smaller. This last step will usually take a few tries until I get the cropping the way I like it. After that I tweak the coloring more and add textures, filters etc.

I think, this is not how most people work there icons, I think most people crop and resize first but I prefer working on a bigger canvas first.
*taking notes*

"a/w" ? it's probably really obvious once you tell me.

And that is a different way of going about things or at least to me. I had so few special effects and tools for so long; cropping was my #1 "special effect". (And photography reinforces that - I'm cropping an image in my mind before I take the picture or work with it on the computer.)

if I am changing the picture (for example, clone stamping) I need the larger size to see the finer points

Lately I've made banners and have sometimes cropped icons from them, after all the effects have been added, simply because I have the ability to do so now, but not as a regular practice. I have a feeling it may become more regular in future though. I think these bifocals actually push me towards that (seeing close and small is harder than it used to be)

When I say A/W I mean the actual changing of the picture. Take, for example, a negative space icon, in many cases, in order to make negative space you have to add to the picture. A/W, for me, can also mean taking glare out of glasses and smoothing out skin tones. For example, this cap...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/teragramm4/32-6.jpg which I made this icon... http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/teragramm4/icons/slaystil32a.jpg. I removed most of the background (the broom handles, the square behind Willow's head etc.) Since Cordy's bun was cut off in the picture, I extended the bun so part of her head (bun) wasn't cut off. Then I extended the left side of the cap so Cordy and Willow would be centered. All this is mush easier to do when the picture is larger rather than smaller.
All this is mush easier to do when the picture is larger rather than smaller.

Oh absolutely.

Masking for blends/layers is definitely something I do with the larger images first; I can't cut properly around a tiny object.
Go you for making your own textures - that's the fancy way of saying you used stuff you made, like the pictures you took!

Edit: THAT AMBER ICON IS GORGEOUS!!! And not just because Amber is gorgeous.

Edited at 2014-10-17 05:00 pm (UTC)
Using my own stuff certainly makes life easier (no worries about proper credits, and I know my own stuff well enough that I can generally find what I want quickly.)

THAT AMBER ICON IS GORGEOUS!!! And not just because Amber is gorgeous.

Thank you Lexi! It's a screen cap or still from the movie Dust Up which looks like, not my cup of darjeeling but that shot of her is so so gorgeous. I'm really pleased with how it came out - I think it's one of my better ones.

(PS - I'm looking at the Buffy icon of mine you snagged, and I actually still really like it. That doesn't always happen.)