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...