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06 March 2007 @ 12:23 am
Manips redux  
nemo_88 did something really lovely over at her journal, and I thought I'd try it.  This is the second of hopefully three posts - icons, manips, banners, where I'm going to post my very first graphics and describe why I shudder at them and what I could've done better, if I knew then what I know now (or something like that).

it seemed like people were ok with my icon post... so here goes the next...


The very first... Spike & Xander


Yep, before I was a spander reader, even, I tried to make a Spander graphic. 

Why's it scare me now?  Oh wow.  Well, first off, the pictures are pretty terrible quality.  And they're *different* terrible quality, so Spike is much blurrier than Xander.  That might be fixed if I reduced the size, but I try to work with higher quality screencaps these days.  Also, this was back before I'd learned how to mask, so I'd actually manually cut out Xander from the picture.  Little bit by little bit.  And if you look closely you can still see where his hair was against a lighter background.  And his shoulders are a little too smoothed for the same reasons.  So also, I had to cut Spike's hand (and hand shadow) away from Buffy's arm so it could go on top of Xander's... but for whatever reason, Xander's arms in the pic I chose end up looking really spindly, and Spike's hand doesn't wrap properly.  Finally, I decided to hide any problems with skin tone by sticking a blue tone over the whole pick - that's ok, sure, but it doesn't hide that the light sources on Xander's shoulder are coming from a completely different place than the thing that's illuminating Spike's face.  I try and be a little better about light source these days (or at least try to correct it manually!)

The second:  Buffy & Giles


So here's where I tried to put my favorite couple together - Buffy from SMG's wedding picture to mister Freddy, and Giles from an ASH pic elizabuffy let me have from a con.

Why's it scare me now?  Well, really, it's pretty dreadful.  Again the picture quality doesn't match, so Giles' face is higher contrast (see those flat white patches on his forehead and back of his neck?), and Buffy's is not.  Oh, and that masking technique would have totally come in handy for this one!  After putting them together in a position where their bodies don't match - Giles is not holding anyone, he's talking into a microphone, and Buffy's holding someone but he's got a different build than ASH (so her arm looks a little funny as it goes around his shoulder).  So how did I try to correct this?  I ran a film grain filter (which puts more grain into SMG's arm, which doesn't work), and then I put a pink gradient over the entire thing, which is supposed to put their backgrounds into frame with eachother, but instead makes a bigger contrast between the one side of Giles' head and the other above Buffy's.

The Third:  Another Buffy/Giles


Hey, wedding picture anyone?  Ok, so, some of these same things are part of the problem - masking (Giles' hair would've been smoother, and the shadow underneath his lip).  But the thing that bothers me most about this one is that Giles' skin is so much ruddier than Buffy's.  I mean, sure, she's a little pale at times, but... I should've lowered the saturation on his face or *something* to take a bit of the warm tone out.  Also, because I only had his head (that shot is from his kiss with Anya in the Magic Box in Tabula Rasa) I had to do something really funky with FPJR's Jacket... I still don't know what I was going for.  And I don't want to look back and see what the original was, because it'll just freak me out more.  Oh well.

Finally there's this one. I'm pretty sure, was my fourth manip:


And it's actually one I really really like.  Honestly.  Even though it's not absolutely perfect, it's pretty damn good.  Funny story?  I showed it to a friend and she didn't even realize it was a manip!  That totally made me happy.  Especially since this one was *still* done without knowing how to mask, so all of Faith's hair was cut away from her background bit by bit... and all of Wes' shoulder, and everything.  Sure, Faith's arm that's against Wes' chest could be smoother (heck, her other arm near the elbow is downright crazy if you look closely at it), but I'd made their skin tones work, made the background something that favored them both, and I think did a pretty decent job putting Wes' nose into Faith's hair (instead of the original pic, which is one of Alexis & Alyson... so his nose in that one was in *red* hair).  Also, though, since these were both pictures taken on red carpets (though different red carpets) the light sources are in very similar places - so the shine in between Faith's brows and Wes' temple do look like they went together.

So I've done things since that I've liked better, and things I've been afraid to show to other people.  (really, only elizabuffy and snash_attack have seen those, and they agree, I should not be inflicting them on you).  Manipping is definitely one of those things that sometimes comes together like flashfire, and others just ... turns out WRONG. 

But here, here are some of my favorites, just for the hell of it...














 
 
 
EB: Queen of the Social Lepers: b/g snuggling by kateelizabuffy on March 6th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
Ooh! I love that buffy manip (with the sword!). I really like the angel manip on my profile. You really have some incredibly awesome manips.

I so forgot about giving you the ASH pic, lol...I have a great memory, don't i?

You forgot to include one of the first manips you made...the buffy/tara one, which, while I love it, has it's flaws.

I shouldn't admit this, but I don't remember ever seeing the naked james/spike manip. I'm a sucky stalker :(

~e!
my monkied brain: EB Rockskatekat1010 on March 6th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
you'd so better get with the stalking!! what's up with that?

and i think the james/spike manip was only posted on darker_spike? Back in the relatively early days of doing manips, when that was the only place i would post them?

and you're right about the Tara/Buffy one, but i don't have the larger pic anymore (and actually, i think I did it after I did the Faith/Wes one, so it's chronologically ok that it's off the list)

had you not see the buffy with the sword? i love her too - she makes me happy. Speaking of - nice icon! :D

*snuggles you*
EB: Queen of the Social Leperselizabuffy on March 6th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
Yeah...I don't even have the b/t icon anymore *sniff*.

And I've so seen the buffy sword one...i even emoed over it, lol. It's def. my favourite of yours, and I would love to be able to use it...I just don't know how.

~e!
my monkied brain: buffy - pirate swordkatekat1010 on March 6th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC)
*pets you* what's up with that? i guess i'd better make a new manip of them so you can have a new icon... speaking of, that manip i did of the two of them in the shade is one of my favorites too.

and yeah, i dunno how to use the buffy one either. but oh well. Sword. :D
EB: Queen of the Social Lepers: tara-wavy hair by jeansmxelizabuffy on March 6th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
It's because I'm a dork. I deleted the icon from my icons and completely forgot i didn't have it saved on this computer (that was about two computers ago).

I didn't realise you had an icon of sword!buffy. I am so snagging that!

~e!
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on March 8th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
there's actually a bunch of icons of sword buffy if you don't particularly like that crop (on my lj, being lazy about linkages)

and if you want the tara/buffy manip icon, you know it's up on the graphics website, right? at least, i'm pretty sure it's up there. tell me if it's not and i can send back to you....
xanzpet on March 6th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
Holy hell! That one with Buffy and the sword made my man-parts tingle! That's AWESOME! ::drools::
my monkied brain: buffy - pirate swordkatekat1010 on March 6th, 2007 03:51 am (UTC)
BWAA. Glad I could be of some service. I'll have to remember that about you and women with swords.

And that one? Totally came together like a dream. If only all manips were that easy and turned out that yummy.
xanzpet on March 6th, 2007 03:55 am (UTC)
::snicker:: What can I say about women with toys?

I can't believe I just typed that ::headdesk::

Buffy, Cordy, Faith, Xena, Callisto, Wonder Woman, Jamie Lee Curtis with that ax in Halloween H2O...it's all good. Makes me feel secure n'stuff ;)
literate and stylish: who rocks? Katekat does!mishloran on March 6th, 2007 08:15 am (UTC)
Hee, I liked the Wes/Faith one too! My absolute favourite is the Buffy-with-sword one, though, you know that!!!

Again, though, they're all pretty good really. But you have come so far! So faaaar! :)
my monkied brain: buffy - pirate swordkatekat1010 on March 10th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
the wes/faith one i think is probably one of those good flukes - i had no idea what i was doing but still it came out pretty great! thanks darling - i'm so sorry it's taken me forever to respond back (sillycomments)

and you know the buffy with the sword is so one of my favs too!
enkelien on March 6th, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC)
So uh, Kate. Can you make an icon for me? I have the picture, I just needs text on it. >_< But despite my leet scanlating skills, I have no idea how to put text on an icon and make it look good.
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on March 8th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
yeah, send me the pic and the text you want on it... i'm totally fine with doing that anytime you like
beraht: Xander and Riley (Subtext)beraht on March 7th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
I like the nude Spike and topless Giles manips but am a little disturbed by the Spike/Xander ones.

Riley/Xander or Xander/Oz, on the other hand...

(you're to blame for this)
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on March 8th, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
heeeeeee. told you i was going to corrupt you.

and disturbed by the pairing? if so, i can understand, because i was too until i started reading s/x fic, and then discovered that ... well, it may be weird from the outside, but the way people write it? absolute yum. but then again, i'm a fic slut, so i'm probably biased in some fashion or another.
beraht: Xander and Riley (Subtext)beraht on March 9th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, the pairing. As hot as Xander/Angel, Xander/Spike, or even Xander/Giles is based on pur physicality, I just cannot believe any of them as pairings.