#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, instead 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!).