Hello Jenna! <3 It’s always good to hear from you.
So Kitsune has been in development for 5 years. Yeah, way too long, I know. But I’ve been struggling to get time to write things that don’t involve long-winded passages of legal analysis. Also, I wanted to finish the arts component of my uni degree. I’m majoring in Writing and Literature (and will be finished at the end of this year) - it involved a wide variety of things like novellas, scriptwriting, australian and world writing, digital writing, pop fiction etc. So this next response will be based on what I’ve learned in my course:
Tips for becoming a better writer…
1. Read. Read. Read and when you’ve read enough, read some more. You start to get a feel of how books flow - it’s great to look at some of the classics and go from there.
2. Try to write as much as you can on anything you come across. I keep a notebook by my bed in case I get an idea and need to write it down quickly. Sketchbooks are also amazing for scribbling ideas in or gluing in photos which inspire you. Never throw them out because even if you don’t use something immediately, you might in the future.
3. Push yourself - think up crazy things and try to figure out how they work in words. If you want a crazy example, look up ‘magical realism’. Seriously wacky and fantastic concept. I’d love to delve into it more than I already have (I’ve written a magical realism story before for uni - so much fun).
4. Characterisation - nobody wants 2D characters. Give them conflict. Give them depth. Give them wants and needs. Give them a unique voice.
5. Plot - think about how your story flows and never go for the cliche ideas, unless they’re done in a new and interesting way.
6. Short stories are a fantastic way to develop your skills. You basically have to fit an entire plot and characterisation into 1000-5000 words. Not an easy thing to do at times. I started reading James Franco’s Palo Alto a while back but never got around to finishing it (which I need to because it’s actually quite good - could use a little bit more editing in places though).
7. Poetry. I never used to like poetry. I thought it was boring and stuffy and completely overrated. But once you’ve met a real poet and heard them speak about their creative process, it’s really quite fascinating. Anthony Lawrence (an Australian poet) took one of my uni classes and… wow. Poetry is a great way to learn the power of writing. It can inspire emotions, it can make you remember things you thought you thought you had forgotten.
8. Plans… this is different for everyone. I make plans, I like having a map but you have to let your characters speak to you. If they want to go one way, don’t force them to go another just because it’s in the plan.
9. Show don’t tell. Actions, not description.
10. Have a critical person on standby. This person would be my wifey in my case. You need someone to tell it like it is and you need to be able to take the criticism. You can’t improve if you don’t get knocked around every once in a while.
I’m sure there’s a heap of stuff that I’ve missed… but anyhoo. I hope that helps, hon :)
I haven’t actually :) There’s a few basic steps but when you get into photoshop, there’s different ways to achieve different effects.
Basic Steps for GIFs
1. Get virtual dub which allows you to clip parts of AVI files. Clip the general area of the media you want to gif and save it. (For some reason, most of the AVI files I download won’t work in photoshop)
2. File > Import > Video frames to layers. Then you want to select a section of the smaller AVI file to gif and limit it to 3 frames. Hold shift down and play it through.
3. I suggest there should only be 20 frames/layers in a gif otherwise you’re going to go over 500kb. So delete the layers on the ends you don’t need or layers which are so similar to each other that you could get away with deleting it and it wouldn’t upset the flow of the gif.
4. Make sure they’re 500px wide. You can crop them at this stage too.
5. Once you’ve got your frames, make sure they’re in the animation panel window (PS. make sure it’s not timeline view - there should be little boxes). Make frames from layers after selecting all of your layers (if there’s already frames in the animation, get rid of the frames from the animation window and just start again - it will make it cleaner and save you deleting a heap of blank space).
6. Apply colouring. I usually take a static frame and do my colours or apply a PSD in another window. You can drag the colourings (in a ‘group’) from one to the other.
7. Sharpen each layer individually.
8. Save for web and devices.
Now to get something like this…
This is tricky because you need to find images/scenes which match. It’s then a case of matching the face to the other face and layer masking each frame on top of the original. Then it’s a matter of moving the image up, down and sideways (select the face layer and use the nav buttons on your keyboard) to get the right position.
And for something like this…
I did this by manually making tweens - there’s 3 layers for each person. 50/100/50% transparency and some are set to ‘screen’ over the other image. I blended them together first and then copied them into a new canvas to make the animation. If I had the PSD, I would definitely show you how it’s done but it’s gone missing on my HDD.
Okay… so I think that’s my general guide to gifs/manip gifs. Anymore questions, just let me know and I’m happy to help out :)
1. Experiment experiment experiment. My best work is the result of just screwing around in PS. There’s really no better way to learn than just doing it, seeing how it ends up and finding out it works. I find unique things are always better than something that is stock and standard. Experimenting is the golden rule when it comes to art.
2. Arrange pictures first and then colour. There’s no hard and fast rule on this. There are occasions (for example, when using screencaps) where I colour and then arrange but generally it’s the other way around. This also gives you room to change the colours or textures before you apply a PSD or action or just colour it yourself.
3. Get some good resources. Please excuse the pimping… but fuckyeahresources has a whole range of stuff that I find useful. See what resources are being shared. I generally reblog textures when I find them and leave PSDs to the queue. There’s some really excellent stuff on there and great tutorials for everyone.
4. Sharpen your images once you’re finished arranging. I usually copy a merged version of my art layers and duplicate, sharpen and then make it slightly transparent so it doesn’t look too sharpened. Really sharpened art kills the overall effect.
5. Texture text is better than using the text tool. I just think it looks more natural when it’s not typed out. Of course it also limits your options. When you do use the text tool, make sure your text is ‘smooth’. Sometimes I like to rasterize and blur my text as well.
6. Pay attention to trends. Popular art is popular for a reason. I’m not saying to copy it exactly but try out different images in ways that are similar to trends. Right now, birds, photo negatives, the painted background applied in overlay and skeletons are very much in. Colour is ALWAYS in - remember that.
7. Colour is your best friend. Find some bright PSDs and learn how they work. You’ll be able to duplicate their results once you figure out how to work selective colours, curves and colour balance. Play around with it, see what you like. My personal style is an intense purple (see my theme background on wicked-fate) which is a blend of two different actions. You don’t have to go too overboard with colour but see what compliments your original image.
8. Textures aren’t everything. I know I use a lot in mine but sometimes you only need something minimal. Sometimes less is more. Other times… more is more. The best way to use them is to play with them. I generally set mine to ‘screen’, ‘soft light’, ‘overlay’, ‘multiply’ or ‘linear burn’ but it’s all about what’s best for the artwork. Also, make sure your texture isn’t covering any faces. It just looks nasty unless that’s the effect you want (for example, slayground's skull box covering half a face or something). Also, play with PSD's - use a feathered round brush to add in a solid colour over your original image - the PSD colouring above will change the colour you end up with.
9. Use good quality images. Sometimes you can’t get around this but generally the more HQ the image, the better it is to work with. Grainy images are a nightmare but go to Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise to fix that.
10. Learn how to blend your images. Use the eraser with a basic round brush with a little feather (not a solid) and fade your images into your art. Personally, I’m AWFUL with selecting a whole person so it’s a good way to get around it.
11. The Rule of Thirds. Read this. Aspect is very useful sometimes.
12. Don’t be afraid of the PS tools. The eraser is amazing. If you have a problem with an image… use your clone brush. Gradients are brilliant - set them to soft light and see how your art starts to look more shiny.
13. Make things look natural. Try to find that point where things go from looking unfinished to ‘wow, i’d reblog that’. Sometimes it’s difficult to do because we’re always tempted to add a little more here and there.
14. Save your work as you go. PS crashes. Right when you least expect it. Especially when working on gifs. Enough said.
15. Use lots of layers. If you make a mistake, you’ll be able to go back and fix it when you have layers. If it’s all merged down into 1 layer… that’s a LOT harder. Your undo button only goes so far.
16. Get some good fonts. Do NOT use anything that makes you cringe. Let me tell you, there are some fonts that make everyone cringe. Let them go die in the corner with comic sans.
17. Tag appropriately. People do track tags but they won’t track things like ‘actor: katie mcgrath’, they’ll be tracking ‘katie mcgrath’. This is more about reblogging than art but it can make a big difference to art popularity.
18. Ask questions. If you want to know how it’s done, just use the ask box. It always helps if you’re not anon either. I love answering graphics-related questions. It’s why I set up fuckyeahresources.
19. Be proud of your work. We’re all learning. I’ve been web designing for 10 years. I had to start somewhere and you’ll never get better if you don’t work towards it. You need to experience the pain of 500kb limits or textures that just don’t fit or colours which won’t cooperate. It’s all practice. My early stuff was shocking and that’s putting it nicely. Plus, if you get hate mail, like I have, you tell them… DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO. It’s your life, it’s your art. Everyone views art differently based on their own preconceptions and values. Some will like it and some will hate it. But don’t let anyone stop you from doing something you love.
20. Have fun. Graphics-making is meant to be fun. It’s why you do it in the first place. Enjoy your time in PS and learn new things while you’re at it.