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custom avatars and signatures

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#76
larryb123456

larryb123456

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Well, I'd be interested in seeing what you might come up with for me. I like my current avatar OK and my sig a lot, but they might could both use some polishing up. I don't necessarily want to change their general themes too much, but the avatar especially is a little rough around the edges. Any ideas?

Your signature image is one of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen. I can't believe the different *subtle levels* of depth back into the picture plane -- from the white out front in "<The Old Man />, etc." all the way back to the binary in "deepest space". The first thing that popped into my eyes was that maybe the bphlpt was a little too bright -- in that it competed with "<The Old Man />, etc." I opened the image in Photoshop and bphlpt was *pure white*. If I changed *anything* with your signature, it would be to tone down the bphlpt a very little bit (i.e., move it to a visual plane a little behind "<The Old Man />, etc."). Fortunately, it would be very easy to adjust the color of bphlpt, since the lettering is not anti-aliased. It consists of a bunch of *solid white* pixels, so I could just color them in using the pencil. I wouldn't tone the white down to a light gray. I think I'd sample the "purple" color behind bphlpt and use a brighter shade of that. (It wouldn't appear purple, though -- it would just fit in with its "environment" better.) What I can do is make 5 or so versions in order of decreasing brightness so you can see the effect and maybe choose one of them. If, for example, if you felt brightness 1 was too light and brightness 2 was too dark, I could easily make a version with brightness between 1 and 2. This "project", as I've described, is very simple to do. The image now is a GIF. I always thought that JPEG was best to display on the internet (and in the discussions in this thread, CoffeeFiend and dencorso "seemed" to agree -- by no means am I an expert on this subject.) I can save it as a GIF if you want -- just let me know. Do you want me to proceed with the signature "project" as I've described ?

Oh, I just noticed that there is a rather small, white area on the Old Man's right leg. IMO, this should be removed, because it is distracting. It will be very easy to do, and I'll remove it in such a way that "the absence" will blend in perfectly with the rest of the leg.

That transparent GIF avatar is one of the worst I've seen -- as far as being rough around the edges. In Photoshop, it opens on a black background, so the roughness is even more apparent. In straightening it up, I *expanded* the outer border a little -- [using the MSFN background color -- (which fit in very nicely with the pastels at the outer edges of the "binary sphere")] -- rather than cutting into it -- for I very much liked the soft transition from the blue (on which the binary is) to the light outer color. I spent a lot of time on the mushroom. I put a simpler, lighter brown outline around the stem and graphically simplified the outline around the right-bottom of the mushroom cap. I very much liked these simplifications, because the mushroom outlines are not as distractingly busy -- and the mushroom "pops out" some to the foreground compared to the "binary sphere". To make sure that the GIF was *correct*, I e-mailed it to myself on an aqua background. It looked perfect to me (it also looked perfect in Photoshop when I saved it). If you want, you can e-mail it to yourself, and you can see *exactly* the outline I put around the "binary sphere". If, for some reason, the GIF doesn't work for you, let me know and I'll try to correct it.

The direct link for the GIF is:
http://postimage.org/image/2bn30tqw4/

Thanks again for the project. I really enjoyed fiddling with the GIF.

Larry

P.S. added in edit:
Your current avatar is 80x80 px. The maximum size allowed on MSFN is 100x100 px. If you want, I can enlarge to 90x90 and 100x100 so you can see how these sizes look compared to your signature. Sometimes images tend to look blurry when enlarged too much in Photoshop, so this might not work very well. We could just try it and see, if you want.

Edited by larryb123456, 14 August 2011 - 05:21 PM.

new_MSFN_static_signature.jpg

 

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#77
larryb123456

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@ bphlpt

Long story short:
I decided that I wasn't satisfied with the avatar I did for you, because the "binary sphere" wasn't perfectly spherical --(I left *that part* as it was in the avatar that you had been using).

So I made it "perfectly" spherical. (It didn't take long, since I had all my Photoshop settings saved.)

Please use this version
http://postimage.org/image/213syylj8/

and *not* the earlier version
http://postimage.org/image/2bn30tqw4/

You can directly compare the images to see the improvement. In your new version, the binary sphere (excluding light-colored outline) and the mushroom are perfectly centered. The size of your new file is 81x83 px.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Larry

Edited by larryb123456, 14 August 2011 - 10:07 PM.

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" What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."  Plutarch

 

 

 


#78
bphlpt

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Thanks for the work on the avatar Larry! You could really tell that I just threw a couple of stock jpegs together in a Paint type program, couldn't you? Great job on smoothing out the sphere. I REALLY liked it better when you made the sphere perfectly spherical. That was MUCH better. [It was jagged due to the automatic settings in the program I used to convert the jpeg to a gif and add the transparency layer.] I wouldn't of thought of adding the extra outline. It looks good on a white background, but on a black background the extra outline looks a little bright. It looks kind of like a halo is around the sphere. Maybe if it was narrower by at least half? Or it might be better to just leave it off - try it and see how it looks on both white and black backgrounds. The more I look at it, the more I might like it, but I'd rather have a more uniform look regardless of the background. Play with it and see what you think. I also like the brown outline of the stem, a nice finishing touch, but maybe a slightly darker brown? Overall the avatar looks much better, but then how could it have looked worse? LOL I would like you to please round off the far right of the mushroom cap though - it looks a little "cut off". The size of the avatar is fine at 80x80. I would prefer if we can have it end up as that. I see no reason to use any more space since all the elements are visible as it is. I also want to minimize the size of the file as small as possible without any apparent visible differences and keep the transparency layer, so I guess that means staying as a gif?

As to the sig, I see nothing wrong with what you propose for it. It doesn't matter to me whether it ends up as a gif, jpeg, or png. Like the avatar, I just wanted it to end up as the absolutely smallest possible file without visibly degrading the image. The dimensions of it are fine as is. To make it easier for you, I've attached the original psd file for it below. It was made for me back in 2003 at another forum in similar circumstances to now. Someone was volunteering to make sigs. I told him I wanted the old man, mushrooms, night time, and coding elements, and that was what he came up with. (Note the misspelling of bphlpt, so you'll need to correct that, as I had to do when I got it, and maybe use a smoother font?) In fact, that might be something to consider for the jobs you do for others. In addition to providing the images to them in jpeg or whatever format, if you also give them the psd file as well, then if they ever do want to make any changes or fixes to it, then they can operate with the original file to maintain the quality of the image. I will want the psd of the final image. I also attached a gif of a version of the image that had the 10101010 layer more prominent, but at the time I thought that it detracted a bit from some of the other background elements. Do you agree? I'm not sure I still do, but probably.

I had tried to tie in similar elements to both avatar and sig - blue as a major color, mushrooms (because I felt like I was treated as one - kept in the dark and buried in s**t compost, LOL), 1010101 representing programming, night since that seemed to be when I did most of my programming - the sig is supposed to be in moonlight and the avatar sphere is like a moon, but I missed the old man part in the avatar. Could we possibly add that in and not have it look too crowded? Maybe the old man's head, reduced in size if necessary, to the left of the mushroom and in front of the sphere? The mushroom could be in front of part of the beard if necessary and could even be reduced in size. And maybe even add in bphlpt superimposed centered across the bottom? Then it truly would be a unified set. Those are just crazy thoughts, so if it just ends up looking like a mess we can scrap that idea. I guess that's an indication that you do good work - when people expect you can OBVIOUSLY perform miracles until you finally tell them NO! :lol:

I really appreciate your enthusiasm and work ethic. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Cheers and Regards


Attached File  bphlpt_sig-optimized.gif   15.28KB   3 downloads

Attached File  bphltp_sig-orig.rar   482.16KB   4 downloads

Edited by bphlpt, 15 August 2011 - 12:08 AM.

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#79
larryb123456

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Hello, bphltp:

I will try to look at your attachments tomorrow and start on the Old Man signature. (If I possibly can).

I'll respond to your main comments in your last Post next -- for purposes of completeness. I've organized *all* the images at the end of this Post -- to keep things straight. Basically, the images tell the whole tale.

I made your transparent GIFs as you requested. I really *don't like* the "aliased" look of them, but I didn't know of any other way to do it. (I basically had to go around the outside of the image -- pixel by pixel -- trying to make the "stairsteps" as least-noticable as possible.) In Photoshop 5.0, an anti-aliased image will not successfully "GIF 89A Export".

The main contribution of this Post is that I made you *absolutely perfect*, anti-aliased image versions in both JPEG and PNG form for use on MSFN and forums that have a white background. These are in images # 7 and # 6, respectively. I just wouldn't understand why you would use the GIF on MSFN, when you have the *far superior* images. My strong recommendation would be for you to use the PNG version -- since the degradation introduced into the jpeg due to the compression in the one-time "save as JPEG" in Photoshop made the MSFN background ( r,g,b ) values read as ( 250, 251, 253 ) -- where the correct values are ( 250, 251, 252 ). The PNG image had the correct values. As far as your concerns about keeping file size small, you can make a copy of the PNG and do a "save as PNG" and adjust the file size accordingly to get the best trade off between file size and image quality. But the PNG is only 9.55 KB, so why bother (IMO) ?

Now, to respond briefly to your comments:

I wouldn't of thought of adding the extra outline. It looks good on a white background, but on a black background the extra outline looks a little bright. It looks kind of like a halo is around the sphere. Maybe if it was narrower by at least half? Or it might be better to just leave it off.
As I'd mentioned, I added it to make sure I didn't "cut into" the blue in straightening up the outer border of your original "binary sphere". *Much, much* better to leave it off -- so that's what I did.

I also like the brown outline of the stem, a nice finishing touch, but maybe a slightly darker brown?
I went back to your original avatar and made # 4 based on the exact pixel colors in that image. IMO, that outline was way too dark -- it competed with the soft yellows in the stem. I made # 5, the version with the lighter outline around the stem, by increasing the luminosity of *each pixel* in # 4 by 30. IMO, this is the far superior image, because we can now subtly see the 3 separate elements in the picture: the sphere, the mushroom cap and the stem.

I would like you to please round off the far right of the mushroom cap though - it looks a little "cut off".
I agree, and I knew it -- I just didn't know if you'd mind or not. ( I thought you might think it was a little graphically "cocky" -- lol. ) I rounded it off. The distances between the vertical center of the stem and the left and right edges of the mushroom cap are identical. (I measured them in Photoshop.) I made the "rises" of the bottom of the cap symmetrical from the middle of the stem. The top of the cap is a little right of the center of the stem. I didn't change that at all, since I liked it. After all, I didn't want to make the mushroom look totally symmetrical -- like an umbrella.

The size of the avatar is fine at 80x80. I would prefer if we can have it end up as that.
No problem. Done. The images are centered both vertically and horizontally in the 80x80.

I also want to minimize the size of the file as small as possible without any apparent visible differences and keep the transparency layer, so I guess that means staying as a gif?
You have the best of both worlds -- *visually perfect* PNGs (or JPEGs) for MSFN and forums with a white background AND GIFs for forums with black, green, aqua, purple, pink, turquoise, etc., etc., backgrounds.

As to the sig, I see nothing wrong with what you propose for it. It doesn't matter to me whether it ends up as a gif, jpeg, or png.
I liked the approach I used for gUiTaR_mIkE -- providing both PNGs and JPEGs. The PNGs (lossless format) would be your master copies, and you could upload the JPEGs (best for photos) to the web. In this case, JPEG would be fine, because we are not trying to match up perfectly a particular color -- as discussed earlier with the background color of MSFN.

I will want the psd of the final image.
Shouldn't be a problem. Generally, my psds are a little messy -- since they are just for me and I can follow them. I'll just have to clean up my act a little and maybe provide comments in the layers themselves -- so you can understand what I'm trying to do.

I also attached a gif of a version of the image that had the 10101010 layer more prominent, but at the time I thought that it detracted a bit from some of the other background elements. Do you agree?
I absolutely love the way the 10101010 layer works in your present signature -- and I wouldn't change it at all. It's like you are looking back, back, back into space, and the "subtle conclusion" -- 10101010 -- is seen at the deepest space.

the avatar sphere is like a moon, but I missed the old man part in the avatar. Could we possibly add that in and not have it look too crowded? Maybe the old man's head, reduced in size if necessary, to the left of the mushroom and in front of the sphere?
I have another good idea to try, and, if I can get it to work right it should look pretty neat.

And maybe even add in bphlpt superimposed centered across the bottom? Then it truly would be a unified set.
No problem to do.

Those are just crazy thoughts
IMO,"crazy" is not too bad. "Insane" -- well, that's another story.

I guess that's an indication that you do good work - when people expect you can OBVIOUSLY perform miracles until you finally tell them NO!
Thanks for the compliment. I'd really like to feel that the avatar phase of this project is finished. Right now, I just don't see how I could do any better than I've already done. Please let me know on this, bphltp. Thanks.

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SUMMARY OF IMAGES IN THE bphlpt AVATAR PROJECT
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# 1: original bphlpt MSFN avatar -- transparent GIF
http://postimage.org/image/143hqh0uc/
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# 2: first version -- sphere not spherical, light-colored outline around sphere, right side of mushroom cap is flat -- transparent GIF
http://postimage.org/image/2bn30tqw4/
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# 3: second version -- sphere perfectly spherical, light-colored outline around sphere, right side of mushroom cap is flat -- transparent GIF
http://postimage.org/image/213syylj8/
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# 4: no outline on sphere, darker outline on mushroom stem, rounded right side of mushroom cap -- transparent GIF, 80x80 px
http://postimage.org/image/144tp235w/
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# 5: no outline on sphere, lighter outline on mushroom stem, rounded right side of mushroom cap -- transparent GIF, 80x80 px
http://postimage.org/image/144yno4n8/
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# 6: image # 5 (but with a perfect, anti-aliased "binary sphere") on a white background, 80x80 px
(for use on forums having a white background)
JPEG: http://postimage.org/image/14elyj0ck/
PNG: http://www.freeimagehosting.net/a8722
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# 7: image # 5 (but with a perfect, anti-aliased "binary sphere") on the MSFN-colored background, 80x80 px
(for use on MSFN)
JPEG: http://postimage.org/image/2pfjtpbok/
PNG: http://www.freeimagehosting.net/1c71f
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“I am going for a level of perfection that is only mine... most of the pleasure is in getting the last little piece perfect.”
The artist Chuck Close

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P.S. added in edit:

I should have thought of this in the Post, but I didn't:

Suppose you posted on "X" number of forums -- with "X" number of different background colors. With your modern OS and browsers, you could accurately get the complete set of
"X" ( r, g, b ) background colors from screen saves. If you let me know the values (soon, while my psd file still makes sense to me) I could quickly make the *perfect* images suited to these forums -- just like I did in #6 and # 7 above. It would be no trouble at all.

Edited by larryb123456, 16 August 2011 - 11:05 AM.

new_MSFN_static_signature.jpg

 

" What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."  Plutarch

 

 

 


#80
bphlpt

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Of the GIF's you produced, #5 is by far the best, as you already knew. LOL I can understand your point about having specialized backgrounds for different forums, and even more than one per forum when they offer different skins that change the color scheme. But hey, I'm as lazy as the next guy, so just having one with a transparent background that you can put anywhere and not worry about it is much easier. I was comparing #5 to the PNG #6 and noticed that when you "improved" the image, #6 actually "grew" down and to the right. I noticed this by opening the two images in different tabs of my browser and switching back and forth between the two. Nothing of consequence at all, just was a curiousity.

Anyway, I took the #7 PNG and ran it through a "Convert to GIF" right click option program I've had for so long I've forgotten where I got it or even what the name of it is, and it made the image I've attached below. Comparing it to the PNG and JPG in three different tabs shows no perceptible difference at resoloutions up to 300% on a white background. BUT, since there were a few white pixels in the image itself, it made those transparent as well which shows up on other backgrounds. Could you doctor it up for me just to get the last few kinks out? Your eye for the artistic nuances is FAR better than mine, and I am color blind. (Typical male red-green, really, I am - that's why I either have to rely on programs with automatic functions or depend on kind folks like yourself.)

Attached File  001_avatar_image.gif   4.27KB   2 downloads

In my reading and searching for programs that could do a PNG to GIF transform for me, I discovered that PNG's can also have a transparency layer, which would seem to be a way to have the best of both, but I don't know if any imaging software that can handle that task can run on your system - you'll have to check that out.

Other than the above and waiting to see what the idea you had was about adding the old man and the bphlpt, I agree that the avatar is as good as I'll need it to be, and just the way I want it.

Carry on the great work!

EDIT: Looking at this post and being able to compare the work you've done to my current avatar shows just how badly I needed your help! And I used to think what I had was OK - well, no more!

Cheers and Regards

Edited by bphlpt, 16 August 2011 - 11:53 AM.

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#81
larryb123456

larryb123456

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I was comparing #5 to the PNG #6 and noticed that when you "improved" the image, #6 actually "grew" down and to the right. I noticed this by opening the two images in different tabs of my browser and switching back and forth between the two. Nothing of consequence at all, just was a curiousity.
Boy, you are quite the "Dick Tracy", aren't you ! (lol)
They say "Curiousity killed the cat", and since I surely don't want this one to kill you, I'll explain.
When I improved my hand-made "somewhat" aliased sphere (in # 5), I made the *diameter* of the anti-aliased sphere (in # 6) larger by 2 pixels -- i.e., # 6 has a 1px "outline" around # 5. I needed to do this to "cover up" the irregularities in the # 5 sphere border. # 6 moved down a tad -- again to best cover up # 5's border irregularities.
I think it's *great* that you are doing your own independent "fiddling around" with the images. That way, you might be able to point out to me minor defects or irregularities -- or, in general, things I wasn't aware of.

I took the #7 PNG and ran it through a "Convert to GIF" right click option program.
BUT, since there were a few white pixels in the image itself, it made those transparent as well which shows up on other backgrounds. Could you doctor it up for me just to get the last few kinks out?

When I opened the image in Photoshop, it *did not* open on a black background the way transparent GIFs "normally" do. The image looked *exactly* the same as in # 7 -- so, there was no way to see what pixels needed doctoring. I e-mailed the image to myself on a black background -- and it showed up as a total mess. Not only were there totally unacceptable, distracting white "jig-jag" pixels around the sphere and mushroom cap and stem, but, as you say, many pixels showed up as black *regions* in the mushroom cap itself.

Could you doctor it up for me just to get the last few kinks out?
This "patient" is *dead*, and this "doctor" can't bring it back to life. (I would need to see it in Photoshop -- on a black background -- to clearly see what pixels I needed to correct.) I could spend hours trying to fix this image, and the *absolute best* I could come up with would be # 5.

Of the GIF's you produced, #5 is by far the best, as you already knew.
So, it appears that if you want to go the GIF "route", # 5 is the *best* we can do. (But, if it were me -- being the totally compulsive perfectionist that I am -- I would use # 7, just for MSFN. But, *of course*, you are free to do whatever you want.)

Other than ... waiting to see what the idea you had was about adding the old man and the bphlpt, I agree that the avatar is as good as I'll need it to be, and just the way I want it.
I'm glad we have a "winning GIF" in # 5.
As far as the Old Man in the avatar, I'll try to make my image first -- with my rather neat idea (if I can pull it off) -- before I discuss the "concept". They say "A picture is worth a thousand words". We don't want (IMO) to get the thousand words before the picture.

Carry on the great work!
Thanks for the compliment. I'll do my best. What I'm going to do next is try to improve your *current* signature -- in the way I discussed earlier -- before I even look at the other gentleman's psd file. (If I get "too many irons in the fire", I always wind up getting burned). Then I'll look at his psd file. Then the "Old Man" avatar. [There might be something in his psd file that I can use in my (Old Man)-(binary sphere)-mushroom-bphlpt avatar.]

Looking at this post and being able to compare the work you've done to my current avatar shows just how badly I needed your help! And I used to think what I had was OK - well, no more!
That is the very neat and interesting thing about the mind, art, and visual perception. All artists are aware of the fact that you can spend a great deal of time and energy on a painting, for example, and get it *absolutely perfect". Then, a few weeks or so later -- (during which time you haven't seen the work) -- you look at it with "fresh eyes" and all the imperfections POP OUT -- like gangbusters -- and, in the shock, you kind of feel like you have been hit over the head with a sledgehammer.

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"Art is never finished, only abandoned."
Leonardo da Vinci

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Edited by larryb123456, 16 August 2011 - 03:55 PM.

new_MSFN_static_signature.jpg

 

" What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."  Plutarch

 

 

 


#82
larryb123456

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I finished the version 1 (i.e., V01) modification of your original bphlpt signature. The result is given in # 9. I also included your original bphlpt signature in # 8, to make it easy to see (by comparison) the changes I made in # 9.

Please -- before we "jump the gun" and go off willy-nilly modifying # 9 some more (right away), live with # 9 a couple of days first. I'm sure you will like it better the more you "study" it, since I did make rather dramatic changes to the Old Man's leg and -- especially -- to the area under the laptop. These changes were to *simplify* the image -- and to establish a *clear focal point* concerning the Old Man image. I was particularly *bothered* by the area under the laptop in # 8 -- which is very *ambiguous*, at best. It makes one wonder just exactly how the laptop is being supported there. "By all rights" -- (i.e., the laws of Optics/Physics) -- this area should be in the shadows -- just as deep as the shadows on the Old Man's right shoulder and under his right sleeve. So, I made the changes in # 9 accordingly. We can still clearly see the near-black right edge of the laptop (i.e., under the Old Man's right hand).

The other change I made was to darken -- a little -- the bphlpt in the lower right of the image. To get the letter color, I sampled the brownish mushroom stem under the word "since" in the title. Actually, the letter color is a "brownish-gray". I established the letter brightness by trying different luminosities until I hit on the "correct" one shown in # 9. By making bphlpt as in # 9, we have "The Old Man" title on the visual plane nearest the viewer, and bphlpt on the *next* visual plane "back in space". The neat thing here is that the darker bphlpt "resonates" with the 111001 in deep space at the top right of the picture (i.e., the 111001 tends to be more visible in # 9 than in # 8, where the white bphlpt letters "blow away" the subtle 111001). The interesting thing -- to me -- is, since the bphlpt letters in # 9 don't have as strong a contrast with the background (as compared to the pure white letters in # 8), one has to "focus" on them a little more -- which makes them *even more strongly visible*. BTW, I love that "aliased" font. It really shows up great at that small size. If the font were anti-aliased at that size, it would indeed appear more fuzzy. Also, since the font is already aliased, I can *directly* use it in creating my Old Man avatar transparent GIF. You had mentioned a "unified set" between the signature and avatar. Using this same font will work well in this regard.

Like I said, please live with # 9 for a couple of days, and we can make changes then if you want. I will do nothing more with the signature until then. I'm kind of eager to start on the Old Man avatar transparent GIF -- just to see if I can successfully achieve the idea I have in mind. I sure hope I can. It will be fun to try. Now, I'm going to look at the other person's psd file to see if there is anything I can use there.

I think it would be best if I finished *all* the work on this part (including any changes you might want in the signature) before sending you the psd file. I have 7-zip, but it won't work -- for some reason -- on compressing files to .rar or .zip, for example. (It does great on extracting files though.) I have spent some time on the 'net looking for other free programs to do the compression, but I don't meet the system requirements. I have a friend who might be able to do the .rar or .zip conversion for me. I guess I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

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DEVELOPMENT OF BPHLPT MSFN SIGNATURE
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# 8: original bphlpt MSFN signature
JPEG: http://postimage.org/image/2rje51eo4/
PNG: http://postimage.org/image/1mpc1kdc4/
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# 9: larryb V01 modification of the original bphlpt MSFN signature
JPEG: http://postimage.org/image/1mpp9v5ac/
PNG: http://postimage.org/image/1mpvw0j9g/
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"The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like old men, but that old men will begin to think like computers."
Sydney J. Harris

Note: old in the quote was added by me.
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Edited by larryb123456, 18 August 2011 - 08:21 AM.

new_MSFN_static_signature.jpg

 

" What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."  Plutarch

 

 

 


#83
bphlpt

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No need to live with #9 - I like it! The brightness of bphlpt seems very appropriate, better than I had, and still bright enough. The cleanup under the laptop is also VERY nice. All the details of the laptop are now clearer and the laptop is OBVIOUSLY either resting on the old man's knees or on a cloth draped stool or stump next to him. Unless you find something in the original psd you want to use, or it allows you to create the image with any better detail or focus, I think we have a winner! I personally can see nothing that needs to change, but your eyes are better than mine.

Cheers and Regards

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#84
larryb123456

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No need to live with #9 - I like it!
Unless you find something in the original psd you want to use, or it allows you to create the image with any better detail or focus, I think we have a winner! I personally can see nothing that needs to change, but your eyes are better than mine.

Fantastic ! I'm so glad you like # 9.
The reason I went through the "live with it for a couple of days" rigmarole -- of course -- is because "art appreciation" is so *subjective*. What suits me, might not suit you -- and it's just personal *taste* -- nothing absolute, etc.
I carefully checked out the original psd and there is nothing in it that would allow me to improve # 9. However, the binary numbers were alone on a separate transparent layer (and not merged with anything else) so I could use them in the Old Man *avatar* that I'm presently working on. Let me say that this work is proceeding very well. It so turned out that all the different elements fit together perfectly (size-wise, position-wise, etc.). I didn't know if this would be the case or not until I started to develop the image. I should be able to present these results later today.

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#85
larryb123456

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Hello, bphlpt:

I have included 2 images for the "Old Man" transparent GIF avatar -- one with bphlpt (# 10) and one without bphlpt (# 11). Each image is 80x80 px, as you requested.

I will include a little discussion regarding the "art/visual" aspects that I saw as important in creating these images.

Before I forget: To get a compatible letter color for bphlpt, I sampled a color from the middle of the "1" in the second row of numbers down from the top. I tried different luminosities of this color until I arrived at the "correct" one shown in # 10 [luminosity = 145, ( r,g,b ) = (140,148,168)]. This color is a *mid-value* blue-gray, so the lettering will show up equally well on a black or white background. The fact that the mushroom stem outline is done in a different color scheme -- i.e., shades of brown -- makes the mushroom tend to "separate" itself from the lettering (and the circle).
In developing the GIF, I constantly compared how it looked on both white and black backgrounds, to get the "kinks" out.

Let me say first that I was a little leery as to how the bphlpt would fit in with the circle and the mushroom. But, the more I look at # 10, the more I like it. The bphlpt kind of provides a "little floor" on which the image "rests". I spent a lot of time adjusting the horizontal positioning of bphlpt until I was satisfied with it. This position is pretty much centered under the Old Man's face, and -- because of this -- one's eye is subtly drawn *upward* to the face. If bphlpt is moved to the right -- closer to the mushroom stem -- everything is thrown out of balance (big time, IMO). Also, if the bphlpt letters were *any* bigger, they would *not fit in* as well as in # 10. (Believe me, I experimented with this aspect.)

But, both # 10 and # 11 work well independently. I guess which one you'd choose to use would depend on the particular application.

I'll now discuss the choices I made in making the circle -- with the Old Man's face and the binary numbers. I got the dark blue background around the face by sampling the area around the face in the signature. This color needs to be as dark as shown so that the man's face shows up well from the contrast. But it can't be too dark (i.e., approaching black) because then the area wouldn't be seen on a black background. The blue works great both on a black and white background.

To me, the most important thing in the avatar is the binary field -- and this took some tinkering to get it positioned right. First, I did not rotate it from the horizontal (like in the numbers in your current avatar, # 1), because that look threw everything out of balance. Plus, the numbers in the signatures are not rotated -- so by keeping this "look" the same, we have a more "unified set" between avatar and signature.

Now, for the *positioning* of the numbers in the circle. The two rows of numbers at the top are light colored (i.e., more highly visible against the dark blue). If the next two rows below were this light, the number/blue background would be much "busier" and the contrast in the area between the man's eyebrows and nose would not be as great. We need high contrast here, so that the man's profile "pops out".
Now for the coup de grace.
Notice where the man's beard intersects the mushroom cap. We see the top of a zero peeking up in the background. This further reinforces the fact that the number field is indeed in the background. (This is one of my favorite parts of the picture.)

Well, I guess that's about it. I honestly feel like I can't do any better on these GIFs than I've already done. Please make sure that they show the proper transparency effects for you. I e-mailed both GIFs to myself on an aqua background and they looked perfect (as they also do in the links below).

Waiting on your feedback, bphlpt.

P.S.

I really like the way the GIF looks on a black background. You had previously mentioned the "moon" look. With the Old Man in the circle as shown, he is transformed into the "Man in the Moon" !

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TRANSPARENT GIF AVATARS USING THE "OLD MAN" IMAGE
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# 10: "Old Man" avatar with bphlpt included (version 1)
http://postimage.org/image/17e17ktg/
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# 11: "Old Man" avatar with bphlpt not included (version 1)
http://postimage.org/image/345876x6s/
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"As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two..."
Sir Norman Wisdom

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#86
bphlpt

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Your idea was slightly different than mine.

I had thought of the "moon" and the man and the mushroom on 3 more distinct layers rather than the man in the moon look. Just using Paint.net, as you can obviously tell from my crude attempts, I made two different tries at it using two different sizes of the man. comparing them both to your version on both white and black backgrounds. The smaller size had been my original thought, but I think I agree with your decision of the larger size being better. Maybe somewhere in between, but definitely closer to your size. After all, he should be the main character, not the moon. Having more of the man visible by being in front of the moon will also add to his importance in the image. In yours, the mushroom almost takes up as much volume as the man and in a way seems to be more the focus. The man could be slid slightly lower, so that the moon appears to be more above him rather than behind him, but I'm not sure. I guess the mushroom might even be reduced, slightly, in size, but I'll let you play with that if you like - I'm fine with it as it is. I had also originally thought of putting the bphlpt superimposed over the man/mushroom, but I really couldn't find a good color for the font that would show up well against them, so you probably made the best decision there, too, unless you used some kind of "fuzzy" background behind the letters, but probably not. I'm also not sure about your choice of moon color. I agree that it does make the man show up a little better rather than against the lighter background, especially against a black forum background, but against a white forum background, the 101010 really gets lost to my poor eyes. And against the black background, as good as the man "pops", the dark moon doesn't. Not that it needs to pop, but maybe be a bit more noticeable? True, it matches better to the sig, which I continue to love, but the mushroom doesn't match the sig either. I thought about getting a mushroom image that matched the ones in the sig more, but those are really more part of the background. The sig also has the extra writing, the laptop, the tree trunk, etc on it as well, so I don't feel we necessarily have to match the look of all the elements, as long as the basic elements are represented, which I think you achieved.

Attached File  compare.png   33.85KB   3 downloads

Anyway, take this not as criticism or even suggestions, but rather just as random ideas I'd like your feedback on and something we can compare our thoughts on.

Looking forward to our continued conversations.

Cheers and Regards

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#87
larryb123456

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I wrote this Post before I saw your last Post (# 86), so I'll post it as I wrote it, before I respond to # 86. (There seems to be a lot to "work through" in that Post.)

I'll try to be brief in this Post.

I saw GIFs # 10 and # 11 with "fresh eyes" and thought that the circle (with the Old Man and binary field) might be a little dark compared to the mushroom. (I had used the Old Man's face and the binary field in the *exact* brightness as they were in the signature.) I brightened the face by Photoshop +10 and the binary numbers and the blue background by brightness +5. This had the effect of moving the face a little forward in space relative to the number field and it moved the whole circle (i.e., Old Man and number unit) forward to be closer to the mushroom. The brighter, softer colors in the Old Man's face and beard worked much better (IMO) with the soft colors in the mushroom stem, especially.

The new GIFs are called # 10-brighter and # 11-brighter.

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TRANSPARENT GIF AVATARS USING THE "OLD MAN" IMAGE
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# 10: "Old Man" avatar with bphlpt included (version 1) -- from Post # 85
http://postimage.org/image/17e17ktg/
# 10-brighter: (i.e., version 2 of # 10)
http://postimage.org/image/9tm9e7ms/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# 11: "Old Man" avatar with bphlpt not included (version 1) -- from Post # 85
http://postimage.org/image/345876x6s/
# 11-brighter (i.e., version 2 of # 11)
http://postimage.org/image/hm6jervo/
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"A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it."
Scott Allen

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P.S. added in edit:

I said I wouldn't respond yet, but I just couldn't help myself (lol).

I kept everything within a circle in the images in this Post, since that is what you had before. But, I guess all that is a moot point, now.
I *definitely* like your image where the Old Man's hair is in a free-flowing vignette (i.e., bottom right corner, for example) like in the "Moses look".

Can you tell me your size limitation on these new transparent GIFs, so I can shoot for that size from the outset ? -- even in making the rough jpeg "scoping-out" trial versions. If I get a perfectly alaised image -- for making a GIF -- and then enlarge or reduce it in PS, it becomes anti-aliased (i.e., fuzzy) around the edges, and the GIF will become a "no go". So, I'd basically have to start over -- NO FUN AT ALL ! Your image in the lower right corner is rectangular, not square. Recall that the maximum avatar size on MSFN is 100x100 px, and that the file size of such a GIF would be very small. Please let me know on this, and *I can get started* on roughing something out. Thanks.

In the GIFs in this Post, I pretty much have everything on separate layers, so it should be easy to apply a bunch of independent variations to them. I like the blue-sphere color and number color of your original GIF -- again, bottom right corner. I can duplicate pretty much the color and texture of this blue sphere. I think it would look very amateurish to use my presently-on-a-separate-layer mushroom, move it into a different position on your *current* blue-sphere avatar and then try to "fudge in" the areas that needed "fixing". I'd like to use the binary number array in the other person's psd file to base the numbers on. I think I can manipulate this array to give -- pretty much -- the "number look" in the binary sphere in your current avatar (size-wise, color-wise, texture-wise, etc.) I like the way these numbers are rotated from the horizontal. How about you? If we are going to try a bunch of variations of the different elements in the picture -- relative sizes, positions, etc., it's crucial (IMO) that everything be on a separate layer. Then it becomes as easy as pumpkin pi.

I think that we can do *all* the "scoping out" -- i.e., developing the *final* image elements (size-wise, relative-position-wise, etc.) -- in *precise*, but maybe "fuzzy-around-the-outer-edges" jpegs. Then I could alias the edges of the "winner" by hand and make the final GIF.

Please forgive any rambling in this Post. (One reason I wanted to wait on responding is that I'm very tired.)

Please respond to this Post with *any other* important concerns that you want in your image. The time to deal with all the issues is from the "get-go" (IMO).

Thanks,

Larry

Edited by larryb123456, 19 August 2011 - 07:19 AM.

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#88
bphlpt

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Size limitations haven't changed - 80 x 80. My combined image I posted was simply my crude attempt to copy four copies of your image, along with two copies each of my two rough drafts, all roughly 80 x 80 so that each of my images is shown along side one of yours, on both black and white backgrounds. Any result that is not perceived as 80 x 80 was unintentional and due to sloppy and off-center cut and paste. The two on the right are the same images, just different background. Same thing on the left.

I'm glad you like the free flow hair. I do too. I'm fine with keeping the sphere the same size as #10, and adjust the size and position of the man and mushroom to fit/look the best. And I'm not saying the mushroom NEEDS to move or be resized, it might be just fine where it is. I just meant if you think it would look better moved, you're free to try that. I think we're on the same page. I'll look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Cheers and Regards

EDIT: Something that I also think would be good is if the numbers in the middle of the sphere are slightly larger than those along the outside edge. I THINK that would give it a more three dimensional look as if the numbers were wrapping around the sphere, rather than laying flat in a two dimensional plane. But I could be wrong. There might not be enough room to give that effect, so don't beat yourself up about it. In fact, I got back on line to suggest this because I thought I remembered that the original sphere had this effect. But looking at it now, it doesn't seem that it does. It might be the shading of the sphere that gives that effect. So if you do try it, it probably only has to be a subtle difference to achieve the effect. Anyway, just another of my hair brained ideas.

Edited by bphlpt, 19 August 2011 - 10:31 AM.

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#89
larryb123456

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I'm glad I responded when I did, rather than waiting until I was more rested, because that puts us a half-day "ahead of schedule".

Size limitations haven't changed - 80 x 80. Any result that is not perceived as 80 x 80 was unintentional and due to sloppy and off-center cut and paste.
Just checking on the size limitation -- just to be sure.
As I envision now -- even before I have done *any* work on this phase of the project -- the final image would "have to look" pretty much as your bottom right image does (but with everything in the 80x80). I think this would(?) make the Old Man's head in the avatar smaller than in the signature, which is the way it should be, IMO.

My combined image I posted was simply my crude attempt
"crude" maybe from the standpoint of publishing it online, but *very effective* in communicating your ideas

I'm glad you like the free flow hair. I do too.
That's the "winner" -- for sure.

I'm fine with keeping the sphere the same size as #10, and adjust the size and position of the man and mushroom to fit/look the best.
My first efforts in this project will be to get *all* the different elements on different transparent layers, so we can very easily move everything around, change relative sizes, etc. I like the "look" of the mushroom in your current avatar -- rather than trying to use a mushroom from the signature.

I think we're on the same page.
I think so -- even though it's only page 1. (lol)
But every great novel *starts* on page 1, doesn't it ?

a more three dimensional look as if the numbers were wrapping around the sphere, rather than laying flat in a two dimensional plane. It might be the shading of the sphere that gives that effect. So if you do try it, it probably only has to be a subtle difference to achieve the effect.
I was also thinking along these lines, myself. You hit the nail exactly on the head with your comments here.
Photoshop 5.0 has a neat "lighting effects" filter which can visually transform a flat looking 2-dimensional circle *subtly* into a 3-dimensional sphere. Only the most subtle effect is required to give the illusion -- or suggestion -- of 3-dimensionality. I would apply this filter to the layer on which the numbers *and* circle background were *merged*.

My guess is that it will take a couple of days to work up my next Post -- i.e., explore some possibilities. I want to try and make sure that I submit just my best JPEG "scoping-out" versions, so we don't waste time discussing the "losers". Then, based on your feedback, I can make the modifications, get them approved, and make the FINAL GIF from the "winning" JPEG.

Anyway, just another of my hair brained ideas.
Hair brained is good, IMO -- even dreadlocks hair brained.

Edited by larryb123456, 19 August 2011 - 07:09 PM.

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#90
bphlpt

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Sounds good. I'm glad you think we should keep the mushroom as it as. It's kind of a hippy, psychedelic look which fits with my age. (Ah, memories of high school and college in the 60's and 70's!)

One final, (Ha!) request. 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. It would give the avatar a continuous, single border rather than having the letters "on their own". 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, But if there were some kind of narrow "fuzzy", or cloud-like oval or ellipse tying into or overlapping onto the man/mushroom if necessary, depending on the final height of each, 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. 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. I just had another "hair brained" (pun intended) idea. You might could do this as an artist where I wouldn't have a prayer. 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, and use a relatively even colored section of it as the background for the letters, blurring the hair at that point just to give a good contrast to the letters, but only just behind the letters - kind of like the shadow/outline of the "larryb123456" in your sig give them a uniform background. The resulting increase in overall volume of the man might help emphasize his importance in the image and better balance him with the size of the mushroom - just a thought. That might also allow you to center the bphlpt at the very bottom. I know the avatar is square, but there are so many curved surfaces it gives a feeling of being very roughly curved to me - just allowed to run wild and spill over the edges of the sphere. 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. 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?". And if the hair extension idea doesn't work, please try the fuzzy oval/ellipse/cloud like idea instead.

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. Your coming along and offering your services has been a blessing. Thank you. I hope you're not sorry you got involved with me - this has been useful and fun. Maybe it will also help you drum up other customers. I think one of the early suggestions to you of showing a page full of examples of the type of work you're capable of could be useful in giving people ideas as well - kind of like a portfolio. Feel free to use the work we did here together, either finished images or the building blocks, in any way you so choose with no restrictions whatsoever, either as examples of your past work or even in building blocks for others. If I see pieces of it elsewhere, I'll know where it came from and I'll smile, remembering this good experience.

Cheers and Regards

EDIT: As you can see, I've happily adopted your improved version of my sig, in a slightly reduced quality, being sensitive to CoffeeFiend's concerns as to overall file size. it's now a comparable file size to what I was using before. I've compared this to your PNG version expanded over 300% and saw no differences within reason, so I'm happy with it. As such, when it's convenient, I'd like to get your PSD file to store away in case either you or I wish to do anything else to it in the future - though I can't imagine what that could be. You put the PERFECT polish on it that it needed. Thank you.

Edited by bphlpt, 19 August 2011 - 11:17 PM.

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#91
larryb123456

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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, 20 August 2011 - 12:45 AM.

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#92
bphlpt

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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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#93
larryb123456

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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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#94
bphlpt

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

Attached File  avwelipse.png   6.32KB   3 downloads

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, 20 August 2011 - 08:09 PM.

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#95
larryb123456

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Using my very poor drawing skills I came up with this as an example:
Attached File  avwelipse.png   6.32KB   3 downloads

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, 21 August 2011 - 08:38 AM.

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#96
bphlpt

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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, 21 August 2011 - 09:58 AM.

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#97
larryb123456

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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.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
INITIAL "SCOPING-OUT" VERSION OF "OLD MAN" TRANSPARENT GIF AVATAR -- (IN JPEG FORMAT) -- SHOWN ON A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# A: white background
The *inside edges* of the border square measure 80x80 pixels.
http://postimage.org/image/i71ad0w4/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# B: black background
http://postimage.org/image/1w0k1qjl0/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# C: red background
http://postimage.org/image/1w0qnvxk4/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# D: blue background
http://postimage.org/image/1w0vmhz1g/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# E: purple background
http://postimage.org/image/1w1dtesh0/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# F: teal background
http://postimage.org/image/1w2hib4bo/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# G: background 0556
http://postimage.org/image/1tq7zoi78/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# H: background 0624
http://postimage.org/image/1w694dktg/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# I: background 1888
http://postimage.org/image/1treznj1g/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# J: background 2379
http://postimage.org/image/1triaq810/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# K: background 2382
http://postimage.org/image/1trvj0zz8/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# L: color-spectrum background
http://postimage.org/image/1ts256dyc/
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."
Claude Monet

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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#98
bphlpt

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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, 23 August 2011 - 12:27 AM.

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#99
dencorso

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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.

#100
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.


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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