Tag Archives: graphics

#Corel X8 vector graphics vs photos

In my last post about the new Innerscape cover, I vented about the trouble I was having getting the silver effect I wanted. Your suggestions were brilliant so I thought I’d do a quick update of my progress. The pic below is a test graphic to illustrate the difference between the two methods and how they might look in the finished product:

The silver ‘wire’ was created using Corel X8’s fountain fill. It is clearly silver, even when I reduce the size down, i.e. it scales well. Unfortunately it is absolutely uniform, something a real ‘wire’ would never be.

By contrast, the gold ‘wire’ is a photo taken of a thin needle shape covered in foil. The foil was silver, but the lighting created this decidedly golden effect [evening, overhead light and table lamp, both with bulbs of ‘warm white’]. I only know this with the wisdom of hindsight. 😦 If you look closely at the column on the right, you will see that when I increase the size of the gold wire, it becomes more and more pixelated, i.e. it doesn’t scale well. [Clicking on the image should display a larger version]

Finally, I created two, identical slices of the circuit board. Both were made by creating the individual components and ‘grouping’ them together. The silver, vectored one is shown below:

Although each of the tubular components comes from the one, basic shape, I fiddled with the fountain fill to a) make the image more realistic, and b) to reduce the uniformity. The golden slice is also made up of individual components, but essentially I just cut them out and stuck them together. I really like the way the image turned out, and I like the golden colour, but it’s not what I was after.

Which will I use?

This question is not as either/or as it looks. In designing the covers for the Innerscape print version, I wanted each one to:

  • have a unifying ‘theme’
  • be different
  • tell a subtle visual ‘story’

Thus, as book 1 is about Miira leaving the real world and entering a virtual one, I want her facing towards the stark, artificial image of the circuit board. That’s why the image has to be instantly recognizable as part of a computer. Books 2 and 3, however, will show a gradual blurring of the lines between real and virtual, with the changing circuit board being the unifying ‘theme’ that binds each image of the series.

At least, that’s the idea. Whether I can actually pull off this ambitious idea is moot. To make it work I’ll have to create two, completely different images of the circuit board – one with the silver wires and one with the gold. As each small wire will be made up of at least 3 components, it’s going to be a huge job. Not impossible, but it will test my patience as the original circuit board image has very few wires that are exactly the same.

To be honest I think I’m crazy to even think about doing this, and yet…how often do you get to create your first print book? Sitting here, calmly typing about my options, I know I’d hate myself if I gave this project anything less than my best, and fudging the graphics would definitely be a cop out. So…I’m going to be a busy girl. πŸ™‚

cheers

Meeks


DIY silver foil photos [update]

My scrunched aluminium photos didn’t work terrible well, but Dawn sent me some pics of real silver:

Going to have a play with them tomorrow. Fingers crossed. πŸ™‚

* * *

I was searching online for photos of silver foil to use as a texture in the Innerscape cover when I had a light bulb moment – why pay for someone else’s graphic when I have metres of aluminium foil in the draw?

This is a screenshot of the five photos I took in the kitchen:

I lightly crushed the foil before positioning it in various places to achieve different light effects and angles. I’m still a lousy photographer, but I hope these pics allow me to create a true metallic effect for the ‘wires’ on the circuit board. And the best part is, if it turns out to be an absymal failure, it won’t have cost me anything but time. πŸ™‚

cheers

Meeks


#FFXIV – The Vault

I’ve always believed that the definition of true courage is not a lack of fear but the exact opposite – lots of fear but the courage to push ahead anyway. Sadly, I’ve been less than courageous the last six [?] months, putting off doing The Vault dungeon until I’d literally run out of anything more interesting to do. 😦

Well, my Summoner, Meeka Thara, has finally done The Vault. Twas not glorious. I died at the three quarter mark of the third boss, but luckily the rest of the party finished him off while I lay ignobly dead at their feet. -sigh- I did learn a few things that may help others though. What follows is for newbies, and is only a kind of overview and tips type thing. You should still watch videos of the fight and read up on it for the complete mechanics.

So, to the overview and tips:

  1. Unless you’re incredibly overpowered, the trash mobs are actually quite hard. Not Limit Break type hard, but hard, and they aggro from quite a distance. Party members who run ahead of the tank are stupid, plain and simple.
  2. The first two bosses [Ser Adelphel and Ser Grinnaux] start out almost easy, but when you get them down to about 20% HP they morph into much harder creatures, so don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
  3. As per usual, the 2nd boss [Ser Grinnaux] is harder than the first and uses some mechanics that can trap the unwary. One of them is the aetherial tear [or void gate]. The Boss throws these void gates around the outer edge of the circular arena. Standing near a void gate will cause boss 2 void gatesome damage and stacks of vulnerability. Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of avoiding these gates. Every so often, the boss does an aoe knockback that sends everyone to the wall. If you get knocked back into a void gate it’s not good. As much as possible, try to position yourself so your back always faces an undamaged section of wall. I did read one forum post that advocated stacking the void gates all in one place to make it easier to avoid them but…I don’t know how you’re supposed to do that.
  4. The third and most powerful Boss [Ser Charibert] is hard right from the beginning. His mechanics include:
    1. Heavens Flames – these are circular fire aoes that target each, individual player – i.e. you will always have to be on the lookout for them,
    2. Chains – this mechanic chains two players together and keeps doing damage until the chain is snapped. If the two players are standing fairly close together when they are chained, they just have to run a short distance away from each other to snap it. If, however, the players are a long way apart when they are chained, they may not be able to put enough distance between each other to snap the chain.
    3. Knights – look like huge chess pieces and march in a row from the north of the arena to the south. Contact with one of theseboss 3 knights Knights causes damage AND a powerful Attack Speed Slow. This is not the kind of debuff you want when fighting a boss. The good thing, however, is that the Knights can be avoided, at least in the early part of the fight because they’re fairly slow and always keep to a straight line [think of them as moving line aoes].
  5. One strategy I read which worked really well during the early part of the fight is illustrated in the follow graphic: boss 3 schematicThe idea of stacking on the tank is that you automatically avoid the lines of Knights. You also have heaps more room to move if you get chained. It does work so long as you keep track of where the boss and tank are. πŸ™‚
  6. At about 60% health, the boss disappears and returns with 2 adds – both Knights, but these ones can do line aoes. He also casts Holy Flames. There are about 6 [?] of these positioned around the outer perimeter and DPS have to kill them asap. Holy Flames areΒ boss 3 at 60 percent holy flames followed by a room wide aoe called Pure of Heart. Now I’ve read that Pure of Heart can be followed by Sacred Flame, which is another room wide aoe. Apparently Sacred Flame depends upon whether the Holy Flames were all extinguished prior to Pure of Heart going off. We got all the Flames so I didn’t actually see this for myself. I assume it would have been bad though.
  7. In all the videos and guides, they say that after the Holy Flames/Pure of Heart sequence, everything else is ‘just’ more of the same but ‘a bit faster’ until the boss dies. Hmm….
  8. The reality is that phase 2 of the fight is when the boss throws everything at you at top speed, again and again and again. Knights charge down, chains happen along with fire aoes, and it’s all happening at once and OVERLAPS. Dodging the Knights was easy in the beginning but now with everything hitting you at once, moving and fighting at the same time becomes problematic, at least it did for me. boss 3 phase 2As you can see, a new line of Knights is forming in the top of the screen before the first lot have even passed. It’s rather chaotic and unless you’ve got your camera pulled out as far as it will go, seeing what’s happening [so you can avoid it] is difficult. This is around about where I died, probably because I was just too slow.

Given my lightning fast reflexes – chokes laughing – I should have just focused on my feet and forgotten about everything else. After all, the rest of the party managed just fine without me. Instead I tried to dodge while casting like the healer – awesome healer, by the way – and I failed.

So there you have it. Another dungeon, and a morning wasted on gated content that I hate, and no writing done, but at least I now have something more to do until the next trial in the game [Bismarck]. At this point, all I want to do is get past the gated content and reach the Dravinian Hinterlands for the crafting. After that, who knows.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. if you click on the screenshots, you should be taken to the Youtube video from which they were taken.


Canva for ebook covers

Never heard of Canva? Don’t worry, neither had I until this morning. Canva is a [free-ish] online graphics program? facility? that allows us cash-strapped writers to design our own ebook covers. It also allows us to do a lot of other things, but I only needed an ebook cover so that’s what I played with.

After doing the 2 minute tutorial, I spent about an hour playing with the graphics and, I have to say, I am very impressed. The image below is a draft of the cover I came up with for Innerscape:

innerscape cover draft

The cross hatching is part of the watermark [along with the name CANVA in the middle of the image]. The reason for the watermark is that I chose 2 non-free images for the cover – the landscape and the picture frame. Each image costs $1 – yes, that was not a typo, just one solitary dollar – for both personal and commercial use. So all up, my costs would have been $2.

I was very tempted to just pay my money and be done with it, but they have a special deal whereby you can buy 11 images for ten dollars, and I thought ‘oh, parts 3 & 4, and 5 & 6….’.

-cough-

Anyway, a bit about the design. The final, ‘real’ cover will have a different graphic on it, but for the moment I like the idea of mirror images and worlds within worlds and the visual tension of seeing the title as a not-so-subtle price tag. Paradise is only for the rich, after all.

Of course that could all be a bit of BS – there is a reason why I’m a writer not a graphics designer. -sigh-

Once you are ready to download your newly created image/cover, you are given the option of either paying for any non-free images you have used, or downloading a draft. I haven’t tried the paid option but assume it is the same as the draft one – you get to choose between downloading a 70 DPI resolution image or a 300 DPI pdf file.

DPI stands for dots per inch so 70 DPI would give you a reasonable resolution [as in my cover image] but nothing great. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t chew up your bandwidth. My image weighs in at about 75 kb, which is next to nothing. When I downloaded the 300 DPI pdf however, it took quite a while to download and was HUGE. Well over a megabyte of data.

I would use the 300 DPI for actual print covers but not for ebook covers. Finding the right balance for the cover image will require a bit of trial and error so that it looks good but doesn’t take half an hour to download.

Oh and one last thing. I converted the 300 DPI pdf file to a more reasonably sized jpg file but discovered that my version of the software didn’t include the fonts used by CANVA. My app substituted similar fonts but you can see that they do not look quite right. Next time I’ll either use fonts that I know I have, or I won’t mess with the image. πŸ™‚

And for those who might like to play with CANVA themselves, here’s the link to a great Indies Unlimited tutorial on how to use it.

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2015/05/11/canva-for-free-ebook-covers-and-more/

Comments? Please feel free to let rip. I haven’t paid for anything so you’re not going to hurt my feelings or my wallet. πŸ™‚

cheers

Meeks


Sunset in Final Fantasy XIV

I’ve been far too tense lately, and that has been reflected in my blog posts, so I thought I’d show you one of the reasons I love playing Final Fantasy XIV so much.

ffxiv coco and sunset

As you can see, FFXIV is graphically beautiful, but what makes it so immersive [I think I just made that word up] is the blend of time, weather and graphics.

Time passes in FFXIV. During the course of a few hours we go from day to night, and in the process we have sunrises and sunsets. And they’re not all the same. This particular one was so beautiful, it literally made me catch my breath, as if I were looking at the real thing.

The weather, too, affects me like the real thing. Dappled sunshine seen through leaves gently swaying in the breeze makes me happy. Mist is eerie, rain is a bit depressing, thunderstorms with lightning kind of make me duck my head.

And then there are the sound effects. My footsteps crackle on dry grass, squish when running through puddles, tap on stone, have a slightly hollow sound on wooden boards.

Add all this sensory sleight of hand together and you have a world that looks and feels real. Innerscape may not be that far off after all. πŸ™‚

cheers

Meeks


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