larryb123456

custom avatars and signatures

746 posts in this topic

I've thought more about my comment about the possibility of using 'some kind of "fuzzy" background behind the letters', and I'd like you to please try that. I really like the way that the letters stand out on their own, especially against the extremes of a solid white or black background. With the letters in a contrasting color, that would guarantee that they would always be able to be read, no matter what the forum background ended up being - white, black, any solid color in between, or even an obnoxious, dizzying pattern. I like the idea of the reliability and stability of how it would look, not to mention the flexibility and simplicity.

That is an area of concern that shows up *frequently* -- how to get letters to show up on any color background. I made a whole bunch of "larryb123456" signatures -- (none were ever posted on MSFN) -- using white letters with a medium-gray outline ("outer glow" in Photoshop) on a *wide variety* of abstract-colored backgrounds (some with "an obnoxious, dizzying pattern"). To be specific, the medium-gray outline was black at a luminosity of 65 [( r,b,g) = ( 69,69,69 )]. So, when the *white-letter-with-medium-gray-outline* letters were on a dark part of any picture, *everything* would show up well (i.e., the letters and the outline). When the letters (with outline) were on a shade close in value to the medium gray, the white letter would show up well, but not so much the outline. When the letters were on a bright -- or white -- part of the picture, the medium-gray outline would show up great. Problem solved -- great letter readability under all circumstances. I think for your case, I'll use white letters, but *maybe not* medium gray for the outer glow. I'll try to find a more compatible outer-glow color. I like outer glows, because of their "softness". I'll also experiment with a "stroke" around the letters -- which is like the outer glow outline, but everything is filled in solid.

It would give the avatar a continuous, single border.Even if the forum background was such as to blend in with the sphere or edge of the man's head it wouldn't matter.

A good idea. A border (around the entire avatar) the *same* mid-value color as the outer glow of the letters would work well -- it would give a unified look, and make the letters "stand out" a little more.

Extend the man's hair/beard down a little, even wrapping around the bottom edge of the mushroom a tiny bit, as if the mushroom is growing up through it.

Things like this would be easy to do. Please feel free to think of other things like this that you want to try. After all, the avatar is "your baby" -- and I'm sure it would mean more to you if you looked back at its creation and recalled everything that was your idea.

So the bphlpt at the bottom would act like the base - like the date on a quarter. But, no matter where it ends up, centered or offset, keep it flat. Don't curve the bphlpt.

We *definitely* don't want to put bphlpt on a curved baseline. I tried it in my GIF versions and it looked TERRIBLE, because the "p" letters in such an arrangement were not compatible with the "flow" of the other letters.

If you try a rough draft and it looks terrible, go ahead and show me a bad example to convince me it was a bad idea. That way I won't sit there and wonder "What if?".

Please allow me to *respectfully decline* your request here.

It's not because I tried it and it didn't work -- (and I also deleted all PS layers related to this) -- it's because you can *easily* do it yourself, as I'll explain. (When I tried it, I curved the bphlpt below the blue sphere -- following the blue sphere's curvature.) Take a sheet of paper and draw 2 circles of radii r1 and r2 -- from the same center, of course -- where r2 > r1. If you don't have a compass, just "eyeball it". "Color in" the r1 circle to approximate the filled-in look of the blue sphere. Put the bphlpt on baseline r2, and make the heights of b, h, l, and t equal to an amount a little less than (r2 - r1). Give the letters some width and color them in with your pencil. See how the "p" letters mess everything up. The curved baseline idea would work best if all the letters were capitalized -- as in BPHLPT (try that, too, if you want) -- or it wouldn't look "too bad" if your member name were something like bkhlkt or mnasun. It's just that letters like the p mess everything up -- unless everything were "similar", as in pgygyp.

I've lived with my current sig/av for close to ten years, and I plan to live with what we come up with for at least that long.

So, let's casually explore all your ideas so you can know -- in your own mind -- that the final version is the absolute best that it can be.

Thank you. I hope you're not sorry you got involved with me - this has been useful and fun.

You're entirely welcome. Not sorry in the least.

Before, this project, I had only made one transparent GIF (a very simple one) -- for my own benefit -- just to see if I could do it.

Edited by larryb123456
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If you try a rough draft and it looks terrible, go ahead and show me a bad example to convince me it was a bad idea. That way I won't sit there and wonder "What if?".

Please allow me to *respectfully decline* your request here.

It's not because I tried it and it didn't work...

LOL No no, I meant this comment to apply to the bphlpt in the hair/beard or on the fuzzy oval/ellipse/cloud like idea. I perfectly understand the problem of the curved letters. Your explanation was very clear and made perfect sense.

Cheers and Regards

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I meant this comment to apply to the bphlpt ... on the fuzzy oval/ellipse/cloud like idea.

I don't understand what you mean by the "fuzzy oval/ellipse/cloud like idea". Sorry. Exactly where does it start and where does it stop in the picture ? What's it behind and what's it in front of ?

The way I'm seeing the final image in my mind -- now -- is that we first put all the pictorial elements together just as we want them, and then -- in the final step -- we put a 1 pixel mid-value color, just around the *outside edge* so that *every pictorial element* will show up well on *any and all* backgrounds. (This is the same concept I discussed in my last Post concerning my luminosity-65-black outer glow around the white letters.) I've been experimenting some in converting an anti-aliased edge into an aliased edge relatively easily, quickly, and *precisely* -- so that the image will export as a good GIF in PS 5.0 -- and in my approach, the 1 pixel outline discussed above would grow to 2 pixels -- which is just about what we need, IMO.

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Using my very poor drawing skills I came up with this as an example:

post-139042-0-63494800-1313891468_thumb.

I would expect that the ellipse color would be chosen to match the hair/beard color, just kind of blurred to make an even backdrop for the letters. But the same effect could be achieved without the ellipse with just a border/shadow around the letters that is the same color as the hair/beard. Just anything to make sure the letters are readable against whatever the background is.

I can't wait to see your artist skills in action how you extend the hair/beard to see how that looks.

I'm not sure about the overall border. But you probably know best. Let's try it with and without.

Cheers and Regards

Edited by bphlpt
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Using my very poor drawing skills I came up with this as an example:

post-139042-0-63494800-1313891468_thumb.

I don't like this "fuzzy oval" *at all*.

The mid-value-colored outline around the white bphlpt letters would insure that they could be read against *any* color (even in the situation you show here, where the letters are *partially* against the background, the Old Man's beard, and the mushroom stem).

I haven't started on the letter outline yet, so I'm not quite sure how it will turn out for letters this small. Please re-read -- if you care to, of course -- my detailed explanation of the black mid-value (luminosity=65) outline around white letters insuring that the letter/outline combo could be *easily read* against *any* background. (My Post # 91)

Just anything to make sure the letters are readable against whatever the background is.

See above.

I'm not sure about the overall border. But you probably know best. Let's try it with and without.

You seem to be "backtracking some" here (IMO), bphlpt, as shown by your earlier *very valid*, "hit-the-nail-on-the-head" point:

Don't get me wrong, I really like the way that the letters stand out on their own, especially against the extremes of a *solid white* or *black* background.

...always be able to be read, no matter what the forum background ended up being - white, black, any solid color in between, or even an obnoxious, dizzying pattern. I like the idea of the reliability and stability of how it would look, not to mention the flexibility and simplicity. Even if the forum background was such as to blend in with the sphere or edge of the man's head it wouldn't matter.

It would "seem" that we'd need a mid-value outline (refer back to my Post # 91, black luminosity=65 example) around everything to have everything show up against *any and all background colors*. For example, if the transparent GIF were on a background the same color as the light brown outline of the mushroom stem, then this outline would "disappear" unless we had the "outside outline". Since I haven't investigated this aspect yet, I'm not sure how all this outlining will look. But, if we go the GIF "route", it's necessary, don't you agree?

It seems there is *no need* to try it without a border. Agreed ?

I can't wait to see your artist skills in action how you extend the hair/beard to see how that looks.

Where I am in this project so far:

I have isolated each element of the picture on its own, individual transparent layer.

I have redone -- from scratch -- the blue circle with the binary numbers. (That, basically, was a separate project *in itself*, so I'm keeping that .psd file separate, and just "dragging" this "binary sphere" into the main .psd file. That way, everything will be easier to follow.) The circle is not a solid color, but it has the "patterned texture" shown in your current avatar. For the numbers -- as I said I would -- I used the numbers from the other person's .psd file and scaled, rotated, and colored them "blue" to pretty much duplicate the look in your current avatar. As we discussed, I gave the circle/number combo a subtle lighting effect to make it "appear" a little more like a sphere. This new binary sphere looks like the one in your current avatar but, IMO, *much more professional*. I think it's important to keep the new "look" the same (but improved) as the old, because -- as you say -- you have lived with this "old friend" for 10 years. This new work would just symbolize your old friend "maturing" or developing a bit. (I think this approach is much better than drastically changing the binary sphere to the extent that there would be no comparison between the old and the new.)

In looking at your picture, everything is really crammed together in that small rectangle, isn't it ?

It makes me feel claustrophobic to look at it.

We can alleviate this by resizing the pictorial elements (I am not at this point yet) and moving them around.

My present-strong-feeling is that, in the finished picture, the pictorial elements -- when taken as a *group* -- will fill a somewhat horizontal rectangle within the 80x80. That is, we will have more space above and below the pictorial elements than to the left and right.

Edited by larryb123456
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While I "followed" your detailed explanation of the mid-value-colored outline, I'm afraid it's an artist talking to a non-artist. I'll just wait for your post so I can see it. I think we're probably on the same page again, just talking different dialects of the same language.

The fuzzy oval is not important at all, but was the only tool I had to make the letters stand out against a varied background. Any way you do it so the letters are readable is fine with me.

EDIT: You've mentioned using white letters, but if you extend the beard/hair wouldn't dark letters look better against the light colored hair/beard?

As to my backtracking on the border, not really, again probably just different terminology. I said that putting the bphlpt on top of the other elements would allow the resulting image to have a continuous border (rather that the letters being out on their own as yours and my examples have shown them thus far), and you interpreted that to mean to add a continuous border, which very well might be a better idea. I don't think I'll mind those rare cases that the forum background matches part of the image "edge", as long as it looks good against black and white, but the added border might well make it pop that much better, I don't know. If the letters were out on their own, having the forum background match their color would be a disaster without some kind of help.

I love what I hear about the improved sphere. It definitely sounds more professional. I love the tie in to the past versions.

I agree my pic looks crowded, which was my main concern when I first had the idea of putting all the elements in there. You're welcome to expand and move things around as necessary. As long as the result fits in the 80x80 area you can go right to the edge in any and all directions. Leaving the added border off would also give you that least little bit more room to play with, wouldn't it? If we have to end up leaving the bphlpt out, I would consider that, but I think putting the letters on top of the other elements should be fine.

Looking forward to next time.

Cheers and Regards my friend

Edited by bphlpt
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Hello, bphlpt:

Here is my *initial* "scoping-out" JPEG layout (using the "refining" approach I earlier said I'd use). The image fits in the 80x80px -- as you requested -- and it doesn't look claustrophobic at all (IMO).

I didn't attempt to make a GIF out of this, and I didn't spend too much time cleaning up the JPEG. The purpose of this Post is just to give you a "status" report of where I am in this project and also to give you a "first-hand" *demonstration* of the necessity of an overall outline and to show you -- by the images at the end of this Post -- that the transparent GIF, when it's made, will show up well on *any and all types* of backgrounds. (I'm sure I can clean up the outline some in making the transparent GIF.) Hopefully now, you will understand my Post # 91 a little better, by studying these images.

I plan to make a *more final* version of the image (for the reasons discussed below), so until I Post that version, I won't be checking this thread. I don't want to be distracted. Thanks. We know -- and have fully discussed -- all the elements that are to go into the picture, so there is nothing more to say at this point, IMO.

I like everything about the JPEG image I made, with the possible exception of the *size* and *position* of the mushroom. Today's "fresh eyes" told me it would probably look better a little smaller and moved more to the center of the Old Man's beard. Your idea about having the mushroom look like it was growing out of the beard was *fantastic*. With the mushroom just superimposed on top of beard, it looked like it was "levitating" -- not a good look at all. Also, an Old Hippie (dare I say, such as yourself) would have to be pretty inactive to have a mushroom grow out of his beard. (lol)

I think your beard/mushroom idea was both *graphically necessary* and *conceptually super*.

I think the other elements -- the bphlpt name, the Old Man's image, and the binary sphere -- are so good that we do not have to mess with them any more -- *in a major way* (size-wize and position-wise). Let's refine this picture just by concentrating on the mushroom. I will make efforts in this direction.

BTW, the Old Man's face image was so *dark* in the original signature that I brightened it by an amount of +10 in Photoshop (this was the maximum I could go, because any more brightening completely blew away all the lighter tones in the face).

The face had to be brighter not only to have the details show up better but also to fit in with the brighter binary sphere (made brighter by the PS lighting effects filter to give the circle subtle curvature).

From the standpoint of "artistic composition", I feel this picture is *very strong*. We have the strong diagonal from the lower left (where the name is) to the upper right (where the blue sphere is). *And* this is "balanced" by the strong diagonal in the other direction formed by the Old Man's beard. We have, overall, in effect, an X-type pictorial composition.

I hope you enjoy "studying" the following pictures -- concerning why mid-value outlines are necessary to get features to show up under any conditions.

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INITIAL "SCOPING-OUT" VERSION OF "OLD MAN" TRANSPARENT GIF AVATAR -- (IN JPEG FORMAT) -- SHOWN ON A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS

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# A: white background

The *inside edges* of the border square measure 80x80 pixels.

http://postimage.org/image/i71ad0w4/

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# B: black background

http://postimage.org/image/1w0k1qjl0/

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# C: red background

http://postimage.org/image/1w0qnvxk4/

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# D: blue background

http://postimage.org/image/1w0vmhz1g/

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# E: purple background

http://postimage.org/image/1w1dtesh0/

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# F: teal background

http://postimage.org/image/1w2hib4bo/

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# G: background 0556

http://postimage.org/image/1tq7zoi78/

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# H: background 0624

http://postimage.org/image/1w694dktg/

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# I: background 1888

http://postimage.org/image/1treznj1g/

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# J: background 2379

http://postimage.org/image/1triaq810/

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# K: background 2382

http://postimage.org/image/1trvj0zz8/

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# L: color-spectrum background

http://postimage.org/image/1ts256dyc/

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"Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."

Claude Monet

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Looks good! I'm waiting all a'tingle! LOVE the sphere! And, I admit, I like the bphlpt under the man where it makes much more sense, rather than centered. And the overall outline does unify things. Since you now have the overall brightness balanced better after +10 to the old man, maybe try a -5 or -10 or so to the entire image? It looks a little bright. Just a thought. Overall, I really love it. I'm so glad we got together!

Cheers and Regards

Edited by bphlpt
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If I may add a suggestion, the beard looks too square to me, too much like a spread tongue. A semi-eliptical, parabolic or catenarian end, making it more pointed, while still full, would look more natural, IMHO. Please do feel free to completely ignore this suggestion. I just wasn't quite able to resist posting it.

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If I may add a suggestion, the beard looks too square to me, too much like a spread tongue. A semi-eliptical, parabolic or catenarian end, making it more pointed, while still full, would look more natural, IMHO. Please do feel free to completely ignore this suggestion. I just wasn't quite able to resist posting it.

Or even curled up a bit at the end like curled up fingers, or curled around the base of the mushroom like crossed hands rather than laying flat, or both - just throwing out additional random thoughts.

Oh, by the way, I think your overall spacing of all the elements is WAY better than what I had.

Cheers and Regards

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Hello, bphlpt,

and

Hello, also, dencorso. (I'm *glad* you're following the development of the "Old Man" avatar, and your commentary is appreciated.)

dencorso, I played with the shape of the bottom of the beard -- in *earlier* versions (but not in this version) -- and "felt then" that the ZZ Top look

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EXXZVdUJ98

worked best. But, to be honest, the flat shape also bugs me a bit, too. I'll go back and re-investigate in the image I've included in this Post.

Can you give me some image links to show me exactly what beard shape you're talking about? I'll also try to find some beard pictures myself. The shape of the bottom of the beard is an "important graphical element", so we want to get it right.

First, as a "heads-up":

I include a discussion for images # S-1 and # S-2, at the bottom of this Post, which leads me to conclude that:

It would be better to use a transparent GIF which *doesn't* have an outer outline.

The images in my last Post were *so preliminary*, that I was almost *embarrassed* to show them, but I knew that they would be *instructive*, so I posted them anyway.

I spent *much more time* on the image presented in this Post -- trying to reach a 95+ % level of perfection. (That's why I didn't post anything yesterday.)

I will next discuss the changes I made in the image presented in this Post.

Please refer to image # M-1 at the end of this Post for this discussion.

# 1: I enlarged the Old Man image so that it is now *as big as possible* (after all, he is the "focal point", and, it "graphically" looks better with him being this large). The Old Man, with outline, measures 80 px in the horizontal direction.

# 2: I redid the "binary sphere" so that it is now a *perfect* aliased circle. (In the images in my last Post, the outer edges became blurred, and the circle became distorted, when I reduced-to-size the original sphere.)

# 3: The main improvement to the image in this Post concerns the treatment of the mushroom. If the image is now to be considered a "success", it's because of the "new mushroom". I reduced the size of the overwhelmingly-ultra-large (IMO) mushroom in my last Post by 85%, so it is more of an actual representation, size-wise, of a mushroom compared to a man's face. I moved the mushroom so that the stem is now embedded in the center (approximately) of the man's beard. The main graphical problem that the new mushroom solves is that it is now contained *totally within* the image, and does not extend beyond the border of the beard and binary sphere -- as it did in my last Post (recall therein the *very awkward* outline-combo around the sphere, mushroom, and Old Man's beard). I eliminated the heavy outlines around the mushroom (save for a subtle outline around the stem, where it is against the light background of the beard). I have *always disliked* the "too bold outline" around the mushroom cap and stem. The mushroom cap can be clearly, and subtly, seen against the backdrop of the binary sphere and the Old Man's beard. It looks much better -- and more *natural* without all the outlining. The two brightly-colored regions on the left side of the mushroom cap draw the viewer's eye back toward the Old Man's face and the center of the picture -- a nice effect. The right side of the bottom of the mushroom cap shows up very well because of the contrast with the darker region of the sphere. The right side of the top of the mushroom cap shows up well because of the contrast with the numbers on the sphere. I love the way the right-side bottom of the mushroom cap *perfectly* follows the edge of the sphere there. The top of the mushroom cap "looks pointed" because it "happens" to be in front of the top of a dark number on the sphere. This needs to be *corrected* to remove the pointy look -- and I'll take care of it ! No problem.

These changes to the mushroom introduced an incredible softness and subtlety to the entire image, IMO. I am very proud of this "new" look.

# 4: To go with the softness and subtlety discussed in # 3, I brightened the outline around the bphlpt letters "a little" to make the letter/outline combo more compatible with the rest of the image. The combo is still able to be *clearly read* on any and all backgrounds.

# 5: I added a little greenish "tinge" around the top of the Old Man's head and around the outer edges of the beard (just where it shows up against the white background). I did this so that the gray outline around the image would not look as *dark* in these two regions.

# 6: I changed the outline around the entire image to a mid-value gray, instead of the bluish-gray used in my last Post. This has to do with the art concept of "complimentary colors". With the bluish-gray outline, on an orange background -- these are essentially compliments -- an undesirable visual effect will occur. (Same principle as with red vs. green, a more widely known example.) By using the "more neutral" gray color, we should minimize the undesirable outline/background effects.

I chose the outline-gray-color brightness to be *balanced* -- i.e., the outline shows up on a white background with about the same "intensity" as it does on a black background.

As for a discussion of the images presented at the bottom of this Post, I'll just include the commentary there along with the image links.

P.S.

@ bphlpt,

It's easy to reduce the brightness a little of the binary sphere -- which is on its own PS layer. That might be a good touch -- it should allow attention to be focused a "little more" on the Old Man's face and mushroom. (Please let me know if you want me to do this in my next version, to see how this change will look.) The Old Man's image must stay as it is, IMO.

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SECOND "SCOPING-OUT" VERSION OF "OLD MAN" TRANSPARENT GIF AVATAR -- (IN JPEG FORMAT) -- SHOWN ON A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT SOLID-COLOR BACKGROUNDS.

ALSO, ACTUAL TRANSPARENT GIFS (WITHOUT OUTER OUTLINE AND WITH OUTER OUTLINE) ARE GIVEN IN # T AND # U.

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# M-1: no outline on a white background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2glyl4h0k/

All the features of this image have already been discussed.

# M-2: gray outline on a white background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g4z3a6qs/

The outline around the "ZZ Top" beard and the top of the head are very noticeable, but I like the way they are "compositionally balanced" -- i.e., showing up at the top and bottom of the (Old Man's head)/(ZZ Top beard) *diagonal*.

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# N-1: no outline on a black background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g5ixqco4/

# N-2: gray outline on a black background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g66397l0/

First, by comparing # M-2 with this image, we see that the gray outline shows up with *roughly* the same intensity in both. (I purposely made the outline in # M-2 a "little less" intense than in # N-2.)

I very much like the way the outline "electrifies" the back of the Old Man's head and hair leading down to the bphlpt letters (and beyond). This arrangement really makes the bphlpt stand out well in the lower left of the picture, and the bphlpt provides sort of an anchor for the picture.

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Images # O through # R show the image -- with a gray outline -- on 4 different-color backgrounds, just to show how the transparent GIF will appear on these backgrounds.

# O: gray outline on a red background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g6wjurhg/

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# P: gray outline on a blue background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g71igsys/

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# Q: gray outline on a purple background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g7yl7quc/

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# R: gray outline on a teal background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g8u0fc84/

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# S-1: no outline on a beard-color background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g8vnyopw/

# S-2: gray outline on a beard-color background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2g93xnf6s/

These 2 images address the question: "Do we need an outline around the transparent GIF?"

To provide a "worst case scenario", I sampled the greenish color of the beard in # M-1 just down and to the right of the mushroom stem. I made the # S-1 and # S-2 JPEGs using this background color.

I much prefer the # S-1 image. Even though a lot of the greenish-gray of # S-1 is *lost* where it *totally blends in* with the background, we still get a soft image suggesting -- very well, IMO -- the presence of a beard.

Let's discuss other parts of the picture:

The outlined bphlpt will show up on *any background* -- guaranteed ! No need to worry about it further.

There are so many different colors near the edge of the Old Man's hair -- from the back of his head and down to the bphlpt (and beyond) -- that even if one of these colors disappeared into a similarly-colored background, the other colors would "fill in the gaps" and make the hair *highly readable* as hair.

Same situation for the many shades of light green at the top of the Old Man's head.

As for the binary sphere, it is *not* a single shade of blue. It is *heavily textured*. Also, there is a gradation of blues around the edge -- introduced by the PS lighting-effects filter. So, a few pixels of the sphere might disappear into a similarly-colored background, but all the other pixels will be there to "pick up the slack" and make the sphere indeed "read" as a sphere.

Based on the above discussion, I'd conclude that a better GIF would result if the gray outline were left off.

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# T: transparent GIF (with no outline)

http://postimage.org/image/2g9fieun8/

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# U: transparent GIF (with gray outline)

http://postimage.org/image/2g9xpbo2s/

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“When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."

Buckminster Fuller

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Edited by larryb123456
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This shape is just about what I have in mind. Of course it might be longer or shorter, provided it keeps the general form of half the shadow of an american-football ball.
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Don't ever feel a need to apologize to anyone or explain why you didn't post back with more images right away. If anyone complains about the "delay", tell them that they need to at least double whatever they are paying you. LOL

So T and M-1 are the same? To my eye they are. I'm glad you ended up coming back around to my view that it looks better without the overall outline. :thumbup I think what I, and you, had liked about having the outline on the back of the man's head, was that it "smoothed" the edge of the hair a little and didn't make it look as "jagged" as it does without the outline. So maybe you could just make the edge of the back of his head a bit less "jagged"?

The man's size and the shape of the sphere are good.

The relative brightness of "bphlpt" seems similar to that of the "bphlpt" in the sig. Subtle. I would have probably chosen something with more contrast on my own, but I like the effect you achieved. My nik will most likely be elsewhere in any post where either or both of these are displayed, so there is no need to have "bphlpt" blatantly plastered all over the place. That would just be juvenile. But could you do a version with just a touch more contrast, or maybe just a darker outline? (Since it is, to me, of a similar brightness and color to the hair, and maybe because of my color blindness [see comments below], against some backgrounds it is hard for me to see.) The sig shows up fine.

I'm all for modifying the beard in any way that helps it look less like it's sticking straight out like a tongue, as dencorso described it. In the sig, it's obvious that he's reclining, causing the beard to stick out as it lays on his chest, but the avatar does not have that frame of reference, so anything you can do will be good. The ZZ Top flat look doesn't help, as much as I like the band, especially that song. Maybe adding a bit more subtle texture?

As to the brightness of the sphere, darkening it a touch might be good, we could try it. I guess I suggested darkening the entire image a bit because there almost seemed to be a bit of "glare" coming off the man's forehead and part of his beard. But if you want, we can make the final overall brightness adjustment, if necessary, after everything else is finalized.

I'm not as happy with the "new mushroom" as you are. :no: Keep in mind that it very well could be that part/all of it is my problem due to my aforementioned color blindness. I've seen web pages that have bright red letters against a blue background (the background colors of your images # O and # P) - I don't have any idea how those look to "normal" people, but I can not read them AT ALL, and it gives me a headache to try. I can't see dark red roses or holly berries against the dark green leaves unless I've been told they are there and really stare at them a while. I know "normal" people can see all the numbers and letters in those color blindness test circles (remember those?) while I couldn't. In the same way, a lot of your "improvements" to the mushroom are not only lost on me, they make it worse. Don't ask me to explain how a particular color looks to me, because it would be like trying to explain how a banana tastes to someone who has never tasted one. Without a common frame of reference, it's very tough. Moving the mushroom up, shifting it left, and removing the border makes me TOTALLY LOSE IT against the sphere. Subtle is one thing, but invisible is something else. I can only see it under magnification. All your comments about how different parts of the cap still show up clearly against the sphere are, for me, wrong. I agree that the previous border around the cap was too harsh, but I NEED it to have one, however slight and subtle you can make it. Darkening the sphere a touch will probably help give a little contrast, too. Also, bringing it back down and to the right so that the edge of the cap sticks out distinctly compared to the edge of the sphere and beard helps as well. That will also help it appear lower and more forward, to me. In my mind it is in front of the man, closer to the viewer. I know you are very proud of the "new mushroom", but it won't work. :no: On a positive note, the size reduction is good. I also like the softer outline around the stem. Both of those aspects are good.

So, can we try again?

Cheers and Regards my friend

Edited by bphlpt
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So T and M-1 are the same? To my eye they are.

Of course they are not the *same*.

M-1 is a JPEG made from the image on a white background in PS (in the regular way). T is a transparent GIF of the same image made in PS by GIF89a Export. The 2 images are totally independent. They look the same on a white background because the transparent GIF was made correctly.

I'm glad you ended up coming back around to my view that it looks better without the overall outline.

Your statement is not an accurate characterization of the way the events played out. You went back and forth on wondering if the image would look best with/without an outline. You didn't have a firm view. You couldn't make up your mind. You mentioned that you were concerned that parts of the blue sphere might "disappear" on a similarly-colored background. To put this issue *to rest*, I said that if you wanted to be *sure* that *everything* showed up well on *any color* of background, you would *need* an outline. That's all.

So maybe you could just make the edge of the back of his head a bit less "jagged"?

Done.

I sometimes have a tendency to render graphic elements in this way to be a little "cocky" -- i.e., to draw a little more attention to these elements.

The man's size and the shape of the sphere are good.

You are correct.

The sphere is based on a *perfect*, aliased circle. (We need an aliased form for PS GIF89a Export to make a GIF.)

But could you do a version of bphlpt with just a touch more contrast, or maybe just a darker outline?

Yes.

I did a version of bphlpt with a darker outline both on a white background (# Final-2) and on a black background (# Final-4). In # Final-1 and # Final-3, I kept the letters and outline the same as in M-1 and N-1. In the 4 JPEGs shown in this post, the letter color is the same. In # Final-1 and # Final-3 the PS luminosity of the outline is 130. In # Final-2 and # Final-4, I reduced the outline luminosity to 120. This is a very small reduction number-wise, but it has a tremendous effect *visually*.

I'm all for modifying the beard in any way that helps it look less like it's sticking straight out like a tongue, as dencorso described it.

I went for dencorso's football look -- more or less. On the left side of the beard (as we are viewing it), I made it a little irregular, rather than coming down to the bottom in a straight line.

Maybe adding a bit more subtle texture?

The light in this picture is coming from right to left, so we would have the shadows on the left side of the beard (as we are viewing it). I made these shadows so that the depth of the beard would be increased somewhat. Also, the non-white coloration of the beard around the edges would make sure the beard would be seen well on a white background.

As to the brightness of the sphere, darkening it a touch might be good, we could try it.

In the images shown in this Post, I darkened the sphere by a PS brightness = -10. IMO, this helped the overall look.

I guess I suggested darkening the entire image a bit because there almost seemed to be a bit of "glare" coming off the man's forehead and part of his beard. But if you want, we can make the final overall brightness adjustment, if necessary, after everything else is finalized.

I toned down the "glare" coming off the Old Man's forehead some.

You are giving the *totally incorrect approach*, IMO, in saying that a darkening or lightening should be applied to the *entire image* when everything is *finalized*. This is because we do not have "fine-tune control" then. The way to do the brightness adjustment is to deal with the individual layers *independently*. Then, when we have the overall image we like, we flatten the layers into the *final* image.

I'm not as happy with the "new mushroom" as you are. Keep in mind that it very well could be that part/all of it is my problem due to my aforementioned color blindness. In the same way, a lot of your "improvements" to the mushroom are not only lost on me, they make it worse. All your comments about how different parts of the cap still show up clearly against the sphere are, for me, wrong.

It is too bad how your visual defects prevent you from clearly seeing the much better image (IMO) -- and how they cause you to use a worse solution to the problem (the artificial outline).

I agree that the previous border around the cap was too harsh, but I NEED it to have one, however slight and subtle you can make it.

I based the outline around the mushroom cap on the letter color and adjusted the brightness to get what is shown in the images. Using this color tied the mushroom in with the rest of the picture. (I tried other outline colors and they did not work at all.) I absolutely have no idea how you will perceive this outline color (because of your visual defects). Just let me know if you want me to darken it or lighten it.

After outlining the mushroom cap, I brightened the entire mushroom (cap and stem) by PS brightness = +5 to help it stand out a little more against the darker binary sphere.

I then added a *highlight* to the mushroom cap to give it some curvature. By comparing this mushroom cap to the cap in earlier images, we can see just how *incredibly flat* the cap was in the earlier images.

Darkening the sphere a touch will probably help give a little contrast, too (between the sphere and mushroom cap). Also, bringing it back down and to the right so that the edge of the cap sticks out distinctly compared to the edge of the sphere and beard helps as well. That will also help it appear lower and more forward, to me.

Yes, darkening the sphere helped with the mushroom contrast (as did lightening the mushroom and putting the highlight on the mushroom cap).

I tried moving the sphere down and to the right by just 1 px in both directions, as you suggested, and, IMO, that looked *terrible*. (So, terrible, in fact that I didn't do it -- and I'm not going to do it, with all due respect.) By adding more sphere area (i.e., dark area) to the right of the mushroom cap, the viewer's eye is drawn more *in that direction* and not in the direction back to the Old Man's face, as it *should be*. Also, we lose that neat effect of the bottom of the mushroom cap "exactly paralleling" the edge of the sphere. We can *completely solve* the problem of your visual defects around the mushroom cap in that area by adjusting the brightness of the cap's outline. Just let me know how you want it adjusted. Thanks.

On a positive note, the size reduction (of the mushroom) is good. I also like the softer outline around the stem. Both of those aspects are good.

Yes, they are.

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FINAL VERSIONS OF "OLD MAN" TRANSPARENT GIF AVATAR (IN JPEG FORMAT)

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# Final-1: avatar on a white background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2kpcbtgxw/

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# Final-2: avatar on a white background (with a darker outline around bhplpt), JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2kpuiqadg/

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# Final-3: avatar on a black background, JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2kq7r12bo/

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# Final-4: avatar on a black background (with a darker outline around bhplpt), JPEG

http://postimage.org/image/2kqed6gas/

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"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can."

Danny Kaye

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I stressed my color blindness caused deficiencies in my last post merely to emphasize that the problem with the avatar was not your ability as an artist, but my inability to see some of the subtlties of your work. I also said that what I requested was necessary "for me", again to put the burden of responsibility of using an imperfect solution in my lap, so that you would not be judged poorly for this choice. I don't appreciate being reminded that I cannot clearly see the much better image (IYO) -- and how my visual defects cause me to use a worse solution to the problem (the artificial outline). I've seen this way my entire life, and I only know that others don't see the way I do because I've been told that. You say you have no idea how I will perceive a certain color. Well I have no idea how you see it either. Now that we both understand that clearly, can we quit referring to them as my "visual defects"? (Very politically incorrect.) Between your rendering the image and my ability to see it, guess which is the only one either of us has control over to modify and which one we both have to live with? While you are working wonders in improving my original image and adding in the elements which I suggested, in roughly the position I suggested, since I do not currently have an installed program that can manipulate .psd files and you have much more artistic ability than I have, you currently have control of the work in process. I know from your earlier posts that you want things *perfect*, as do I, perfectionism is my curse as well. But unfortunately my vision is not perfect, so we both will just have to make allowances. You have also stated that you are willing to work with anyone who wishes to use your services to make it *perfect* for them. Well, this is to end up as my avatar, one we have established that I plan to enjoy for a long time.

Overall, I like most of the changes in the image A LOT! I'll respond in detail separately. I just wanted to get this off my chest.

Cheers and Regards my friend

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