larryb123456

custom avatars and signatures

746 posts in this topic

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Let me try to summarize and make clear to everyone what I want to achieve here. I will work with you -- in a collaborative manner -- to develop an avatar and/or signature that *totally* satisfies you. I will respond to your feedback and alter the images to try to get them closer to *your version* of perfection -- for however long it takes. The developing images will be HOSTED online, and I'll provide links so that they can be viewed on MSFN and downloaded from the 'net by you. THERE WILL BE NO "USE RESTRICTIONS" WHATSOEVER FOR ANY OF THESE HOSTED IMAGES. FEEL FREE TO DOWNLOAD THEM AND DO WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH THEM.

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August 1, 2011

Hello, everyone:

I have been a member of MSFN for a year now, but it was only today that I discovered this section of the site.

By means of introduction:

A major interest of mine is art -- specifically, painting. But, sad to say, I had to give up painting because I developed allergies to all types of paint (even acrylic). So, as a substitute, I have been trying to learn -- over the last year or so -- my Photoshop 5.0 program. This PS version doesn't have nearly the capabilities of the newer versions, but it accomplishes a great deal. Also, I've found that I can usually "finagle" with PS 5.0 to get a more modern look. By no means do I consider myself a PS expert, but with each *specific* project that I define for myself, I learn a little more. Examples of my work are shown in my avatar (very simple), my image signature (more complex), and my photo in "My Profile".

What I'd like to achieve here:

As my time permits, I'd very much like to work with any MSFN member to create a *custom* avatar and/or signature. I'd rework and revise the images, based on your feedback, until you had something that suited your tastes. It is by completing such *specific* projects that my PS skills improve. I feel that my traditional art background (non-digital) provides me with additional creativity.

If anyone knows a forum member who would like my "services", please alert them to this Post.

For anyone wanting a custom avatar and/or signature, just respond to this Post.

(If it happens that there are a lot of "interested parties", we might have to put each person in a separate "New Topic", to keep everything straight.)

Many Thanks

Edited by larryb123456
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I had to give up painting because I developed allergies to all types of paint (even acrylic)

You should look into Corel Painter (or Corel Painter Essentials) and a nice wacom tablet ;) It's a fantastic combo for this. There's a free trial version of it too. Also, Photoshop CS5 has made very significant improvements over CS4 in the area of painting with the new bristle tip brushes (again, this works best with a nice wacom tablet and the brush panel's options set to vary the stroke with pressure/tilt/rotation) and the mixer brush tool. There's also the new shortcuts for adjusting brush size/hardness (hold alt, drag cursor) which is another must-have, and the improved HUD color picker too. Photoshop 5 is very dated compared to modern offerings (not so surprising as it's 9 versions behind and from 13+ years ago), and that is probably holding you back quite a bit. Not just compared to Corel Painter and Photoshop but also TwistedBrush, ZBrush and many others.

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Thanks, CoffeeFiend:

for taking time to respond and all your suggestions.

I know that PS 5.0 is an outdated version, but when coupled with a little creativity and ingenuity, it can, IMO, produce *good and interesting* results.

Unfortunately, I'm stuck with PS 5.0, since I can't afford any later versions.

Regards, Larry

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Unfortunately, I'm stuck with PS 5.0, since I can't afford any later versions.

For the record, I wouldn't recommend buying Photoshop for this (painting specifically), even as an avid/advanced Photoshop user & definite fanboy. Corel Painter is totally where it's at for painting. I think you'd have a blast with a Intuos4 Large, the art pen (sold as an accessory) and Corel Painter's RealBristle brushes (and many other nice ones). The brushes behave very much like real ones (loading them with multiple colors at once, mix or smear colors as you want, you can rotate non-round brushes with the pen and such, there is ink thickness or impasto, pens react to the "paper" texture or surface, etc), there are countless nice brushes (not only brushes that emulate paint but also other mediums) with TONS of possible adjustments and many things traditional paint just can't do (layers, undo ability, the tracing paper, etc). It's truly amazing what it can do. But that kind of setup would set you back ~$1000, or about $600 with Painter Essentials...

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Again, CoffeeFiend, let me thank you for responding.

(I know that such a detailed and clear response takes a lot of time to write.)

I have not yet *fully explored* the limits of my PS 5.0 program. So far in my work, I have not felt the need to *paint* with PS 5.0 paint brushes, air brushes, pens, etc. But, based on your comments, I'm certainly going to experiment some to expand my skills. I'm sure that these skills will be very useful, and I'll then add them to my "bag of tricks". I'll let you know what I think in a few weeks (or so) when I've experimented enough to come to some definite conclusions.

Normally, now, if I need a "soft focus" abstract background, I start with one that's a little more "hard-edge" and in the basic colors I want -- (these are very abundant on the many free-to-use-image web sites) -- and crop out a small section and then enlarge that small section to whatever size I need. I also do other things like that. I feel very comfortable using PS 5.0 layers, and my typical .psd file maxes out at 100 layers.

I do make great use, of course, with Image > Adjust and experiment with *all* the Filters. It's amazing what "looks" one can come up with just in proceeding in kind of a "helter-skelter" fashion. Kind of like in the "happy accident" scenario. Of course, Image > Adjust and Filters can be used in a very precise way, too.

I guess the above kind of describes what I earlier mentioned as creativity and ingenuity sometimes being able to overcome the limitations of outdated software.

But that kind of setup would set you back ~$1000, or about $600

Might as well be $1,000,000. I see two options:

# 1: my good fairy will put the $$ under my pillow one night while I sleep;

# 2: Bill Gates will one day walk down the street in front of my house. I can follow him and pick up the loose change that falls out of his pockets. In a block or two, I should have $5K or $10K.

I think option # 2 is the most probable (lol).

Many thanks, CoffeeFiend.

I'm now going to make myself a cup of Kaffee.

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I have not felt the need to *paint* with PS 5.0 paint brushes, air brushes, pens, etc.

I know it was somewhat off-topic from your post, indeed. I just thought that if you gave up on painting because of allergies, then you still had some other options -- and definitely not the "last resort" kind either. Worst case scenario, Painter Essentials 4 is $60 (also with a free trial) but then again you lose a huge part of it when you're not using a tablet... Or perhaps TwistedBrush Open Studio (free but quite limited)?

I do make great use, of course, with Image > Adjust

That's not the way to do it. You want to use adjustment layers instead which are non-destructive (it's been a far better way of working, since v4 back in '96). I can't tell you for sure where they were back in Photoshop 5 though (been WAY too long; Layer > Adjustment Options?)... And they definitely aren't in the same place as in CS5 (completely different interface with panels). As a bonus, you can add layer masks to them (and blending modes too) which can be very useful.

I won't get into the new fancy smart filters that are in the newer versions of Photoshop ;) Not that I use that many filters (gaussian blur, despeckle, reduce noise and smart sharpen mainly -- a few others sparingly for specific desired effects).

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Image > Adjust is not the way to do it. You want to use adjustment layers instead which are non-destructive. As a bonus, you can add layer masks to them (and blending modes too) which can be very useful.

In less than a day, you have pointed out to me *many* topic directions that I can -- and will -- explore. Many thanks.

I have noticed that Image > Adjust > Brightness/Contrast is very destructive if you get too far away from zero. (Especially Brightness < 0, which noticeably "grays out" an image.) I have been aware that my PS 5.0 version has the features of adjustment layers, layer masks, and blending modes, etc. I guess the main reason I haven't explored these features in full yet is that I haven't been using PS as an image (as in face, etc.) editor.

My recent work has been focused on "mastering" the type tool, layer effects, stroking, patterning, etc., etc. -- which allowed me to make my avatar, signature, and photo. And this formed the basis for my wanting to make avatars and/or signatures for forum members -- and improve my PS skills in the process. I've looked at many avatars and signatures on MSFN and I always ask myself, "Could I make something like this ?" And the answer has most always been "yes". Same thing for text-based images on the 'net. I figured that if I ran into a "roadblock" in trying to make a signature for a forum member, I could get a little help from someone like you.

The bottom line is that I thoroughly enjoy the act of "visual, artistic creation". I strongly identify with a quotation by the contemporary American artist Chuck Close:

“I am going for a level of perfection that is only mine...most of the pleasure is in getting the last little piece perfect.”

Again, many thanks, CoffeeFiend, for your guidance. If you think of any more such commentary, please let me know.

Regards

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I have noticed that Image > Adjust > Brightness/Contrast is very destructive if you get too far away from zero.

That's not what we generally mean by destructive, but rather that applying any effect this way throws away the original pixels. You can't go back to them. When you use adjustment layers, you can disable it, delete it, mask certain portions of it, and even change the settings on it later on (or use completely different adjustments instead). The underlying pixels on the layer underneath remain unchanged. That's the big difference: you're not throwing away the original pixels.

(Especially Brightness < 0, which noticeably "grays out" an image.)

Brightness/contrast in older versions of PS was a great way to destroy images (very much like every other photo app out there besides PS still works today). It was improved dramatically with CS3. The best thing you can do (besides upgrade) is to not use it... There's many better options.

My recent work has been focused on "mastering" the type tool, layer effects, stroking, patterning, etc., etc. -- which allowed me to make my avatar, signature, and photo.

That was kind of obvious ;) Smart Objects (especially with nesting) far improve the layer effects possibilities but that was added with CS2... Another cool thing you can do with type is using clipping paths (using the letters to reveal parts of a photo/texture/gradient or what not) -- without having to rasterize the type and then using it as a channel mask (then you couldn't edit the text anymore; it also lets you easily move both independently of each other). I just saw yet another nice example of that used on a local musem's website a couple days ago (pic here). Photoshop (at least the modern versions -- not totally sure when that was introduced. With 7/CS perhaps?) are pretty powerful as far as type goes. You can easily make use of nice opentype features (real small caps, fancy ligatures, etc -- just check this out) like edit leading, tracking, kerning, shift the baseline, tweak hyphenation, etc (there's 2 palettes just for this)

I figured that if I ran into a "roadblock" in trying to make a signature for a forum member, I could get a little help from someone like you.

Feel free to PM me anytime for anything Photoshop related :) Mind you I haven't used v5 in over a decade...

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Just for the record, the Gimp has a price that cannot be beaten:

http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

and no, I don't want to start the usual Gimp vs. Photoshop flamewar, just wanted to add the option for larryb123456. :)

jaclaz

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I have noticed that Image > Adjust > Brightness/Contrast is very destructive if you get too far away from zero.

That's not what we generally mean by destructive, but rather that applying any effect this way throws away the original pixels. You can't go back to them. When you use adjustment layers, you can disable it, delete it, mask certain portions of it, and even change the settings on it later on (or use completely different adjustments instead). The underlying pixels on the layer underneath remain unchanged. That's the big difference: you're not throwing away the original pixels.

Thanks for giving the proper definition of "destructive".

I know that with Brightness/Contrast, for example, once you apply a "setting", you can't undo it -- (except with "Edit > Undo Brightness/Contrast" or the history brush, of course). Sometimes, if I apply Brightness = +20, say, and if the image is too bright, I can "restore" it somewhat by applying Brightness = - 20 (or thereabouts), *but I'm sure* -- based on what you said -- that this 2-step approach does not restore the image to its original state. I will definitely check out adjustment layers.

In my PS layers, I *never, never* apply any "action" to an original image -- I always apply the action to a duplicate layer, so if I mess it up, I can simply delete it. (I know -- that's basic PS operation.) I understand that an example of a non-destructive process would be a type layer that has not been rendered (rasterized) yet. It can be edited an infinite number of times. But once the layer is rendered, it can, of course, no longer be edited. If you want to change the size of this rendered layer, you have to resort to a numeric transform, for example.

Another cool thing you can do with type is using clipping paths (using the letters to reveal parts of a photo/texture/gradient or what not) -- without having to rasterize the type and then using it as a channel mask (then you couldn't edit the text anymore; it also lets you easily move both independently of each other). I just saw yet another nice example of that used on a local musem's website a couple days ago (pic here).

In achieving a *perfect* line of type, I usually put *each letter* on a different layer so that I can adjust the spacing between letters to achieve *perfection*. Then I make a duplicate layer for each letter, and then merge the duplicates into one type layer for ease of "handling". I can, of course, apply a pattern to this whole type layer. (I also can apply a different pattern to *each individual letter*, as your museum pic shows.)

The technique I use to make patterned type is to put the layer with the pattern above the type layer and then Alt-click *exactly* in-between these 2 layers. If I used a different pattern for *each letter* in the name and Alt-clicked for each letter, this would result in the type showing a different pattern for each letter, exactly as in your museum pic. IMO this feature (or effect) is ultra-cool ! This patterned type is rasterized, but I can transform it to resize it, say -- or apply any other type of transform. I also can apply any desired layer effect, stroke, etc. In the same way, I can make a stroke around a line of type and apply a pattern to this stroke. This works well, say, if you have a 2 px stroke around some letters and want the stroke (outline) to be a gradient fade from lighter on top to darker on bottom, for example. (Or anything else.)

I generated the lettering in my photo in "My Profile" using this pattern technique. I made a stacked 2-line larryb/123456 pattern from an abstract "shades of yellow and gold" image, applied an outer bevel, and free transformed it to fit the picture. I liked the result. My favorite type of pictures have areas so bright that "they will put your eyes out" and also totally-black areas. I like the picture since (IMO) you're not really sure if the people are watching a sunrise or an atomic bomb going off. (lol)

Photoshop (at least the modern versions -- not totally sure when that was introduced. With 7/CS perhaps?) are pretty powerful as far as type goes. You can easily make use of nice opentype features (real small caps, fancy ligatures, etc -- just check this out) like edit leading, tracking, kerning, shift the baseline, tweak hyphenation, etc (there's 2 palettes just for this)

Thanks for the reference. I looked through all of it. I think the way I put each letter or number on a separate layer and then adjust the spacing accomplishes much and "allows" PS 5.0 to accomplish more than it was intended to (if I'm not overstating this). For example, consider the "Superscrip/Subscript" example: [Co(NH3)6](3). I'd put [, C, o, (, N, H, ), and ] all the same size on different layers -- for a total of 8 layers. I'd then make 3, 6, (, 3, and ) the appropriate smaller size on 5 separate layers. I now have a total of 13 layers. I'd adjust the character spacing and orient the subscripts and superscript accordingly by moving each layer independently. Of course, at this point, all type is editable. I'd then duplicate each layer and merge the 13 layers for ease of handling. To this layer we can apply all kinds of effects -- stroke, outer glow, emboss, drop shadow, apply a pattern, etc. Of course, we still have our 13 original editable letters, so we can duplicate them again and go back and change the color of the 3, 6, and (3) to the blue shown in the image to the right. I guess this example provides a little insight into the way I work with my PS 5.0. (By no means am I claiming that this is "genius" -- lol ! -- it's just a simple, basic way to work that I'm sure that everyone knows and uses.)

Feel free to PM me anytime for anything Photoshop related :) Mind you I haven't used v5 in over a decade...

Thank you so much for your generous offer, CoffeeFiend.

I don't think we'd have to reference everything back to PS 5.0 per se, but it might be that I might not be able to understand the *basic concept* behind "clipping paths", for example. I've learned PS 5.0 up to this point mostly by my own trial and error, and trying to find pointers on the 'net. The PS 5.0 "Help" is not much "Help". Definitely a misnomer there.

Just for the record, the Gimp has a price that cannot be beaten:

http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

Thanks for responding, jaclaz. Finally, a price that I can afford ! Your link required Windows XP SP2 or later. I'm back in the "Stone Age" with Windows 98.

http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/old.html

has a download for Windows 98, GTK+ 2 Runtime Environment (version 2.6.10-20050823). But they say: "Unless you have a very good reason, it's recommended to always use the latest stable version, and not the versions available on this page." I had seen Gimp mentioned on the 'net before, but I kind of "glossed over" the info. I'm curious now to find out more about it. I think I'll download it with the Help files and just leave it on my Desktop for the time being. The way my mind works, I'm afraid if I start learning Gimp, I'll be trying to "Gimp" on Photoshop with disasterous results.

Again, Many Thanks.

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the Gimp has a price that cannot be beaten

Unfortunately, that's its only redeeming quality. I'd MUCH rather keep using an outdated Photoshop 5, heh. Even older versions of Photoshop are superior in many ways.

In achieving a *perfect* line of type, I usually put *each letter* on a different layer so that I can adjust the spacing between letters to achieve *perfection*.

That's probably your best workaround for not being able to control kerning in that old version...

The technique I use to make patterned type is to put the layer with the pattern above the type layer and then Alt-click *exactly* in-between these 2 layers.

That's precisely what's called a clipping path ;)

I think the way I put each letter or number on a separate layer and then adjust the spacing accomplishes much and "allows" PS 5.0 to accomplish more than it was intended to (if I'm not overstating this). For example, consider the "Superscrip/Subscript" example: [Co(NH3)6](3). I'd put [, C, o, (, N, H, ), and ] all the same size on different layers -- for a total of 8 layers. I'd then make 3, 6, (, 3, and ) the appropriate smaller size on 5 separate layers. I now have a total of 13 layers. I'd adjust the character spacing and orient the subscripts and superscript accordingly by moving each layer independently.

Ouch. You're not kidding when you're saying "accomplish more than it was intended to". These days not only there are subscript/superscript buttons to fake it (much like in word and other apps) but there's also options (hidden in a fly-out menu) to use "real" subscript/superscript from opentype fonts which have that feature (it looks quite a bit better). And of course, it all works on the same layer :P

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The technique I use to make patterned type is to put the layer with the pattern above the type layer and then Alt-click *exactly* in-between these 2 layers.

That's precisely what's called a clipping path ;)

The internet site I found this method on was a very simple, half page site whose only objective was to show how to make patterned type like that seen in your museum pic. They just listed the steps as I described above. They never called it a "clipping path". They only called it a "way to make patterned type". But, it was a revelation to me, for I immediately realized that this could be the (easy) starting point for all kinds of wonderful type effects -- from transparent type and beyond.

Again, CoffeeFiend, let me thank you for all your guidance and your offer of PS assistance.

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As my time permits, I'd very much like to work with any MSFN member to create a *custom* avatar and/or signature. I'd rework and revise the images, based on your feedback, until you had something that suited your tastes.

I'd love to see what you might create for me if you're still interested - use etch-a-sketch for all I care, if I like it I will gladly use it :)

You should easily glean a bit of what theme I'm aiming for - holler if you want to ;) I'll pass a few ideas your way.

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Hello, gUiTaR_mIkE:

I really become enthused when I have a *specific* art (graphic) project to work on. Thanks for your offer.

I'd love to see what you might create for me if you're still interested - use etch-a-sketch for all I care, if I like it I will gladly use it :)

I am definitely still interested. etch-a-sketch has always been way, way over my head -- ( lol ! ) -- so I guess I'll have to use my Photoshop 5.0 program.

You should easily glean a bit of what theme I'm aiming for - holler if you want to ;) I'll pass a few ideas your way.

What *instantaneously* popped into my head was a signature using your *ultra-cool* "gUiTaR_mIkE" moniker *exactly* as shown on the Post directly above your avatar. My guess is that the font is the default Tahoma font, but I can check this out easily enough. I would not touch (i.e., alter) your avatar *at all*. After all, one should not mess with PERFECTION.

I would make your signature totally compatible color-wise and "style"-wise with your avatar. I am a big fan of "elegant simplicity". One of my favorite logos on the 'net is found at

http://www.bookmarksocial.com/

the "look" of which shouldn't be too hard to duplicate.

Any color fade used in your signature should be based on the blue in your avatar, and I think it's important to have gUiTaR_mIkE alone on the MSFN signature area (i.e., without an apparent "bounding rectangle"). Of course, to do this we can simply make the bounding rectangle the color of the MSFN signature area. I can get this color -- and the blue color of your avatar -- easily enough from a screensave jpeg. Even better -- does anyone know the precise ( r,g,b ) values for the signature-area background ? (My browsers and PS version are old and I might not be able to get the *exact* ( r,g,b ) values from my screensave.)

Waiting on your feedback, gUiTaR_mIkE.

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Sounds good to me. Just a heads up, my avatar is a stock forum selection, nothing I did.

I was thinking initially about actually using a guitar and amp and implementing my name (maybe in the fretboard) but I like the idea of simply using gUiTaR_mIkE (no additionalt graphics), blue is my favorite color, the font doesn't matter (experiment). If you still are excited and have the energy maybe we can look into a combo images(guitar and amp) with my name embedded (or whatever), for now, see what you can do with my name using blue and whatever else suits your fancy.

If you could make the image large enough it can be used on forums that allow sizes greater than here at MSFN, maybe a square avy (for the avatar) and a rectangular image better suited for a sig. :)

Btw, sorry for my ignorance, shows how graphically challenged I am, I see by moniker you were referring to my user name - I feels reel stoopid :rolleyes:

Edited by gUiTaR_mIkE
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