Buffy Happy Band Candy TGRM

My banners and icons for Slayerstillness #44 (plus icons from Round 42 and geeky-thoughts)

But first, I want to take a moment to wish HAPPY BIRTHMONTH to m'lady snogged: funny, kind-hearted, generous with her time and support and oh-so-talented. I was stumped as to what to do for a birthday present this year but velvetwhip gifted her with a fantastic Riley, Willow S4 drabble "Not So NIce Guy" that really packs a wallop (or at least a very strong "ouch") in just a few short lines. Check it out. (And yes, I happen to ship Riley/Willow. Didn't everyone when they first watched S4?)

Now, onto today's feature: THANK YOU again to everyone who voted in slayerstillness Challenge 44, and most especially to everyone who honored my icons with 2nd Place, Best Crop and - drumroll, please - my very first Best Color honor! Congratulations again to the other winners tempertemper, first-time entrant muirthemne, sweet_lyri, and my Banner Maker's Choice teragramm. See all the winning icons and banners here.

Full disclosure: I was rooting for TT's Drusilla icon in the tiebreaker voting. More Dru icons are a needful thing and I love the meta-ness of the starlight texture - with Dru it's not just a pretty background - as well as the softness and coloring. But there were so many great icons that choosing was once again incredibly difficult. As happens so often, I noticed a consistency to the entries across the board, regardless of who made them. This time it was in terms of color choices, with cream/ecru, orange, green, and faded blue-grey predominating with touches of deep pink. So for the banner, I adapted a photograph I snapped in my front yard a couple of days ago to coordinate. Original photo behind cut, along with banners, entries and alt icons from rounds 42 and 44.

Teasers: ss44bestcolorbanner_rsd_sharpenedv2.png   ss44secondplacebanner_rsd_sharpenedv2.png    

ss44secondplacebanner_rsd_sharpenedv2.png       ss44bestcropbanner_rsd.png
Banners and icons by your's truly; Art Nouveau Caps font from dafont.com; art nouveau frame from a design by riccus on deviantart.com.
My entries for Round 44:
1. 2. 3. 4.  5.
If 2 and 5 look familiar, they should. I couldn't resist returning to that photo to play with it again. I still don't know who the original photographer was, alas; if anyone has the inside scoop on that, please let me know. Let's pretend that I did not look at #5 when I finished it and think to myself, If I can't win Best Color with that, then I never will. Nope, such impure thoughts never entered my mind. And by the way, that bridge in Brooklyn can be yours with a low down payment and 0% financing.....

My entries for Round 42, which I forgot to post previously, including Mod's Choice Winner #6:
6.  7. 8.
9. 10.  11.   12. 13.

   14. 15. 16. 17. 18.
18.  19.  20. 21. 22.
I don't personalize my own icons very often so I wanted to give it a try. The "Shanghai" font in #16 is from ipiccy; Art Nouveau Caps in 18 - 22 is from dafont.com.

There were alt versions of #4, involving the First Slayer seeming to creep up on Willow...and I deleted those. There is no way to use an image as problematic and unintentionally racist as the First Slayer (aka "The Magical Negro") and not be part of the very problem I decry unless I use the image specifically to highlight how troublesome it is. And my icons weren't doing that; they just had a mildly creepy-erotic vibe so I chucked them. Not that focusing on the mighty-white Buffyverse and making caps of white folks and focusing on their beauty to the exclusion of the majority of the world's population isn't a whole heapin' helping of problematic in and of itself. But I digress.

The geek-y, tech-y portion of the program: I took some snaps of the azaleas in my front yard the other day with my Nikon Coolpix 300 on the "Food" setting. I added glow, brightness and ambrotype filters and yadda yadda (I don't write this stuff down, are you kidding?) as well as several textures including a bokeh-look effect from Graphic Stock and the photo on the right. I pointed my camera at the trees outside my bedroom door and shook it while I snapped the picture. Does double-duty as a blur and/or brushstroke texture! You're welcome.

Photographs by your's truly, 2015 - and did you know that work can be copyrighted pseudonymously? Nifty, huh?

These banners presented a couple of very challenging problems for me: adapting the frame image to get the colors and transparency I wanted; and adding a font from a source outside of ipiccy. One if ipiccy's biggest drawbacks for me is the severely limited range of font options. I typed the text I wanted in a Pages doc using the one art nouveau style font I had on my Mac hardrrive; the font color was an educated guess on my part while I literally eyeballed the banner image. I converted the Pages doc to a pdf, which in turn had to be converted to a PNG file so I could work with it as a layers in ipiccy. Then I cropped every individual line or text element of the PNG, including the "RSD" stamp, to create several separate PNG's that I could manipulate freely in Layer Mode. For instance, the last line "Challenge 44" and the date, is actually two separate layers. The "multiply" filter to darkened the font slightly, with further small adjustments to saturation, brightness etc.

Every time I needed to add a new word of text that I'd forgotten the first time, I had to go back to the Pages file, save the changes, then override both the pdf and the PNG files.
This was after I gave up trying to add the text directly using PS Elements 12. (For the record, I did try. Someday I'll know what I'm doing.) If I hadn't been at home sick from work for a few days I would have gone the path of least resistance and made do with a preset ipiccy font. Yay for downtime.
Many many thanks of gratitude and praise to my lovely Muse, velvetwhip, for whom no query is to tedious ( "Is the text legible? Is the design cluttered? Is this any good, even?" ) or beneath her consideration. She's been utterly invaluable to me as a working partner and as a friend  - feedback, conversation, inspiration - even if and when I don't show her what I'm working on.  As it happens, we've recently had conversations about our shared taste for late 19th - early 20th century graphic arts and design (arts and crafts, art nouveau, art deco), as well as silent and early Hollywood cinema; I'm sure those conversations were indirect inspirations for the design of both the banner and the Best Color icon.

And now a final word from our sponsors: Deadline to enter Challenge 45 "Potentials" is Friday May 29th at your timezone. And today is your last day to cast tiebreaker votes for five categories at btvsats20in20 Round 9.
Like you, I too, try to guess who made what icon, for these challenges. Sometimes I'm right and sometimes I'm wrong. (Lately I've been wrong more than right.) I loved all your icons in this round and again I think I voted for all of them. AND I had know idea who made them. They are lovely!! Great job!
Guessing who made what used to be a favorite pastime but the last few rounds I've been so consistently wrong I've all but given up on that game.

I loved all your icons in this round and again I think I voted for all of them.

I DO still look at the voting thread (is that wrong?) and I saw that. Thank you sweetheart - it made me blush because I knew there was no way you could know, you were voting with your eyes and judgement. (Which is what you'd do even if you did know, of course.) I think I'm still blushing.
I can't tell you how much I enjoy being part of your process! Thank you! (And thank you for being MY beta, as well!)

Your work is simply outstanding, oh yes it is!

Had I already mentioned how much I love your winning icons? Mmm, yeah, I think I did! I really like 20 too with its softer tones.
Yes, but I never mind hearing it again! :D (of course, seeing you use one of my icons is the biggest compliment of all.)

I really like 20 too with its softer tones.

I like that one quite a bit too - it's 19 with one of my favorite light textures (in the collection in my harddrive) set on "screen".

If you're interested I could personalize for you, just say the word. It can be that font or another one, I adore art nouveau fonts as you can tell. (I wonder how "Double Dutchess" would look? "DD" just sort of evokes dunkin donuts for me, but we could go that route too.)
Beautiful icons, as always!

But, as you mentioned that First Slayer thing... As you seem to be a person whom I can ask it without starting a flame war or unintentionally offending you.
What is this "First Slayer racist" thing and where it comes from? I see a lot of it on tumblr, but it never gets explained, and I simply don't get it. (And I don't think I could ask it there without getting tons of hate mail.)
There is a character from pre-historic times. She is black. Because humanity originates from Africa and pre-historic people WERE black.
How it's automatically becomes so obviously terrible, that Americans don't even need to explain, why it's racist?
Part 1
No problem! And keep in mind I love the show and I love Buffy but race and ethnicity is a Massive Fail on the part of the series and it's creators. Points awarded for trying, but points deducted for not educating themselves sufficiently to avoid stereotypes, conventions and tropes. I also wish I had anywhere near the eloquence necessary for the subject, I am constantly trying to educate myself.And thank you for asking the question, I shall answer as best I can, and hope I don't blunder too badly. It's a question and a conversation well worth having. I'll say first all that I don't think the creators of btvs were "intentionally" racist, any more than I think they were "intentionally" homophobic when they employed old tropes when they killed Tara in S6.

Race is a huge sore spot in the United States, to put in mildly, a huge wound in the national psyche and our greatest shame - we have not achieved anywhere near parity or equality no matter the skin color of our president (and btvs was made pre-Obama) The First Slayer could have been an interesting concept but first of all, she's a concept, a plot device, NOT a person. She repeats an old trope that whites in America, especially liberals, use when they want to show how "enlightened" they are about race.

Did you read the link about the "Magical Negro" I provided? It's a character who is not a person but a plot device who exists only to pass mystical wisdom and guidance onto the story's white protagonists They are rarely a fully-rounded human being in and of themselves. They might be negro, hispanic, asian or native american, but that they are non-white and the protagonists is white is the key thing. It's a trope seen over and over and over in countless American movies and tv shows to such an extent that for decades it was unremarkable. You still see the trope in a recent movie like Silver Linings Playbook - a black character who we see for just a few seconds here and there in the movie suddenly dominates a scene to teach the white protagonists how to dance better and "black it up." (See also Strictly Ballroom.) And its still employed by writers who want to demonstrate that they are "not racists" by throwing a minor character of color into the story, rather than writing stories about the lives of characters of color.

In Restless The First Slayer has no voice of her own, and a white woman has to speak for her. (Tara) POC's are routinely silenced by the narratives written by whites, both in the stories themselves and in historically real life, in terms of being enslaved, denied education, denied their identities. They have had their homelands and their names taken away, their countries have been invaded, colonized, denuded of their riches and resources.

That Tara wears the costume of yet another ethnic culture not her own - she is dressed in a "sari" and earrings that suggest India, rather than as a European or Celtic wiccan, in other words, closer to her own culture. So we have two colonized cultures being - colonized by the narrative. The makeup and "costume" of the First Slayer is the worst white stereotype of "the primitive" and looks like nothing you'll in any African culture. Her movements are animalistic, apelike, she sniffs and prowls like an animal and has no voice. This in in line with the white European concept of African culture as a monolith (one culture) that is essentially primitive, uneducated, unintelligent. Then she violently attacks the white main characters, a reflection of white fears about black people.

Apparently someone pointed out the problem of the First Slayer being voiceless so they changed that for Intervention in S5 but everything else remains unchanged. We only see her one more time, in S7 and then only very briefly when she attacks Buffy in a dream. We do not see her during the Shadowmen ceremony, only a shadow and a scream. The narrative of the Shadowmen, who are depicted as villains - black men gang-raping little girls, taking away their voices and identities - is repeated by the narrative of the series itself.

(CONT to Part 2)
Thank you very much for the birthday wish!

Excellent work on your art and thanks for sharing your process!
Beautiful icons. Can we talk about 11, 12 and 13? They are literally perfect. The colors are so clear and defined and it's really flattering to SMG's beautiful face. So very pretty. Congrats!

The banners are amazing. I love the Art Nouveau style.
We can always talk about my artwork sweetie - with you it's always a pleasure!

I actually have more color and saturation variations of 11, 12 , 13, those were the simplest and end up the best I think. That image is just amazing. I still want to know who took the photograph. (And kudos to the folks who scanned it/put it online. The quality is superb and so much easier to work with for icons than any screen caps of course.) It's just a dream of an image.

Thank you very much for the compliments Kiki! And oh, I didn't know you like art nouveau - I've been passionate about the style since I was a teenager and the love hasn't waned, although I've developed a taste for more spartan styles alongside.
Gorgeous work again my dear! As I said over at SS, those banners are fabulous and I love how you find inspiration from your own photos.

And your entries were terrific! That shot of Sarah is stunning and you definitely did her justice with your icons <3

ETA: I don't know who the photographer was for the Sarah image but it comes from an Eqsuire shoot here

Edited at 2015-05-28 11:02 am (UTC)
I just saw that gallery the other day (after I posted this of course!) The photos were shot for the UK edition of the magazine and appeared in December 2004 but I could not figure out who took them until I found a scan of the cover:
It was James White, if you look in the lower left corner of the scan.

I first became aware of White about ten years ago in connection with photos of Nicole Kidman (he may have done some still photos for the movie Moulin Rouge but I honestly can't recall.)

And THANK YOU so so much for the lovely compliments!
Yay! More congrats are in order!!! I think your icons are marvelous, I adore the vintage feel of some of them such as 11-13 and 18-22!