Hello and welcome to my skill share audition for my course on “Graphic Design for Cheapskates and Know-Nothings”. While I’ve used the Adobe Products and highly recommend them, I experiment with free editors just to show that you can still do graphic design if you believe in the heart of the cards. If you are a graphic designer… leave. Get out, this is the duct tape fixes everything approach and I’ll probably end up doing or saying something frustratingly wrong. This is more or less the cheap cosplay guy, I’m just going to try to create something in the most broke way possible, let you see behind the scenes and maybe you learn something along the way. Okay. Okay today I will be using the thumbnail image of my Sleepaway Camp review and we’ll look at how we created this spooky image.

The editor for today is Photo Pos Pro 3 which gives you access to both a simple and pro style photo editor that has a lot of the bells and whistles of Adobe Photoshop with the biggest drawback being that free version limits your dimensions to a range of 1024 px x 1024 px which again would probably suck for a legitimate graphic design use but for someone who wants to dabble and experiment… who cares? However, because of this I would highly recommend always starting a new work space document with a blank or transparent background within the dimension limit as it’s good to have all editing parts not as the background layer but also because resizing your documents is “not fun” with Pos 3.

I was fortunate that I had found a great base image that already had the creepy atmosphere I was looking for and was in the public domain so that I’m not infringing on anyone’s copyright. When it comes to editing this image, be prepared because there’s a good reason why this is in the public domain. The problem is that the picture is both overexposed at the light source and underexposed in the surrounding shadows. There’s a lot of areas with limited information so you have to be cautious how your editing effects the image. The best way to give you a quick reference of how your image can be distorted I would take this image and see how the auto brightness affects the edges of light, and how auto color creates a mess in the middle of the picture. However, for our intents and purposes we like the contrast of the image and it doesn’t need to much tweaking.

I’m Blue

I didn’t really use a direct reference in creating this image, but it’s always good to have an idea of what you’re trying to create whether that be a mood board, inspirations, or other designs. For this I thought a cool blue has had a history in the horror genre and I hope that you can clearly see some inspiration was pulled from the original posters of Friday the 13th and maybe more obviously John Carpenter’s The Thing. The Idea to do a cheesy “bloody” text came from the original poster for Sleepaway Camp to make sure it still feels somewhat connected to the film being reviewed. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired somewhat in the color mix by the Remain in Light Album cover which let’s just say is a more subtle reference then my first nod to the Talking Heads.

So, you’re reading this and hopefully you’re somewhat clueless and now hope I will tell you what the “make blue” button is. The thing is, there is no “make blue button” and there are actually multiple methods to make your image transform into a blue landscape. Isolating each as the only effect on the image, you can see how exactly it transforms the image to give it a blue appearance.

RGB Channels

Cold/Warm Picture

Gamma Correction

Adjust Kelvin Temperature

Colarize

Hopefully that visualizes how each effect operates. RGB Channels give a dramatic and isolating look with a simple two-color scheme, while making the picture colder lets the light keeps it’s transparent properties and makes it look more naturalistic. So, if you are wondering which one, I used… all of them. Honestly just play around with these tools and see what kind of results you can get, it depends on what you want to achieve with the design. For me I wanted the light to almost have a solid presence but also effectively shinning through so I could experiment with how my person interacts with the environment. That’s why I’m sure your first instinct is to look at the big ball of light and how your adjustments change the background, but it helped me to focus on the shrubs and foliage next to the tree, behind “Sleep”. This is the most detailed part of the image so it useful to see how much info we drown out and allows us to set the base for how other objects are interacting with this light source when we to implement our cartoon figure.

Perspective

Now let’s talk about the worst tool in all of Photo POS, the perspective tool. To access this tool, you go Effects > Deformations > Perspective. You use perspective when you want to give objects access to the Z-axis. I used it because I wanted to create the illusion that my guy is possibly hiding or is at least obscured by the tree behind him. In my case I’m lucky to be using such a simple model as I get away with some details like how light exactly hits facial contours and how details give away exact positioning. Usually perspective tools are not good for beginners as it’s easy to stretch images in awkward ways and can create an uncanny effect. That goes for me to, you could maybe say that it looks like I’m Michael Jackson leaning forward in the final image.

Why do I have such a disdain for the perspective tool, because it’s ineffective. In other editors like Adobe Photoshop and Gimp the perspective tool is formatted like a transform tool but with more anchors. Photo POS you are dealing with width and height sliders. This limits the precision you can operate with and makes the tool annoying to use but I guess as a trade-off if you just want to do simple tilts then it effectively morphs the image pretty efficiently.

For my final image I set it to Width (-11) and Height (14) but as always play around with the slider and see what works for you.

In the Thick of Things

How do we give enough of an illusion that it appears that this guy is actually amidst the scene of our background image? It is important to remember this; I know I often do but we as people are not flat. If my guy is to interact like a real person in this environment, he shouldn’t be flat. Luckily, we have a tool that can give us an interesting look.

I used the bevel effect which is a tool that manipulates the shading of an object to give it the appearance of being sloping or curved outlines. By using this we can create a subtle illusion that there’s dimensions to this figure, that we aren’t viewing them perfectly head on and therefore can see the curvature of the face, arms and shoulders. Here’s what is neat about using the bevel in this particular instance, we can manipulate to almost give us the effect completely. Bevels often use “Two Shades” representing highlights and shadows. So in this case adjusting the color style of our bevel to a color matching our light source can we create a glowing edge of light blue giving the impression that it is back-lighting creating a silhouette. Above you can see the exact measurements I put and how it altered the appearance of the stand-in.

One thing I would encourage you is to try and hold of doing bevel until after any other modification as it kind of takes precedent over other edits in rendering. As you can see from the last image, I like the outline on the right side but the figure overall is sort of glowing which odd and the skin color is looking a lot like I have Jaundice. When I went to edit it in corrections such as de-saturation or contrast it was reverting it back to this image above despite what was being previewed just because of how it gets rendered in the image.

The solution was to ultimately add an inner shadow, essentially draping the image in a blanket of darkness without influencing the beveled edges. Essentially I wanted to make the character dark enough that it seemed he was in the pitch darkness of the landscape, was hidden in a way that he’s attempting to be from the stalking figure but still something that was clearly visible, something you shouldn’t have to strain your eyes to see. I added a little bit of a drop shadow, that isn’t all that important but gives a little interaction of the character and the tree in the background which is another subtle way of giving the impression of actually being in the environment.

It’s not the best-looking effect but I certainly think it somewhat gets the job done. You could maybe argue that the residue of blue on the right hand and elbow is somewhat of an editing error but I think given that the light is poking off the side of the tree, the distance between the model and the tree is somewhat ill-defined it kind of gives the impression that light isn’t perfectly hitting one side only. I don’t know if it’s placement is the most sensical but most people are going to look at the image for 1 second and say “cool” except for maybe one person in the comments… is it going to be you? You know who you are, you know.

Words, Words, Words

Getting to find the perfect text is essentially the cherry on top. Text is the easy part, but also don’t sleep on it because if you’re doing it right it should be the one part that people are guaranteed to look at. While Photo POS comes with some pretty choice fonts, I think to really capture the slasher genre we’re going to need a more decorative font. I believe there are a couple font libraries on the web but the one I use and recommend is 1001 free fonts. There’s a lot I like about this website and how it helps you find exactly what you’re looking for. You can narrow your search into specified genres which this one was easily found in horror but they got you covered if you need: Medieval, Typewriter, Western, Calligraphy, Disney,  Sans Serif and many others to assure you’re not browsing through a thousand fonts. My favorite feature is that it allows for you to preview your text by typing it into the search results and allowing you to pick the color it appears as well. Personally, I’m the kind of person who can get turned off by just one letter looking “off” so I’m glad I’m fully aware of what it’s going to look like when I implement it into my design. Below is examples of how some font choices appear when making your selection.

Once you find your perfect font you download it and are now free to use it for personal, non-commercial use, remember the name of the font as you’re going to need to find the Zip file in your downloads. Inside the Zip should be previews and reminders of the license but in order to use it you’ll open up the True Type font file and click install. You will probably have to restart your editing software and then it should appear as one of your text options for the type tool.

I didn’t put too much thought into text placement, though it appears to work out. The natural lines of the light radiating light draw your eyes towards that bottom corner, and the tree my little guy is hiding behind establishes an organic margin so the text seems to occupy a clearly defined space.

Thanks for Attending My Ted Talk

I just like picture editing as a hobby and if I’m going to spend the time making these dumb images, I think I earned the write to talk about them. I think it’s both challenging and fun; if I want people to get anything out of this it is give it a try… maybe? I’m just trying to challenge the preconceived notion that you have to be this skilled professional who has expensive software and years of experience to create cool stuff. That certainly helps but I think if you want an outlet for your creativity and are willing to maybe pick up some tutorials and learn the tools at your disposal it can be an enriching experience. I also want to also say hey… an Instagram filter isn’t photo editing and there can be a lot more too it than that. So thank you for entertaining me you cheapskates and know-nothings, be sure to like this post so skill share knows that my content is well-received and should be one of their courses. Comment what you thought of this kind of content. I know it’s not a review but a voyeuristic behind the scenes ain’t too bad every so often. If you haven’t I’d encourage you to help me reach my follower goal. I’m hoping to get to whatever number you see it as +1 really soon so I’d appreciate your generosity. I don’t know how a Skill Share course ends so I’m just going to say, You can consider this skill shared!


Photo Pos 3 can be downloaded by clicking here.

(This is not sponsored or endorsed by anyone, I on my own volition just wanted to discuss and recommend editing software and libraries I use. Skill Share please respond to my emails I swear people want to learn this. )

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