December 26, 2012

Graphics Studio #1 + Important Notice

I'll do the important notice first to get it over with. To everyone who planned to come to my party tonight:

I have WAY more stuff to do than I thought when I first posted this party. Yes, even after Christmas it can be hectic, and I'm sure you all have things to do as well. It was a tough decision, but I've decided to cancel the party. I may still finish the house and post up a tour since it looks really awesome. Happy holidays, and thanks so much to all of you.

Whew. That's done. Anyway, I'm introducing The Graphics Studio! This series of step-by-step illustrated GIMP tutorials starts you at beginning, and takes you through everything you'll need to know to make something you'll be proud of. 

Lesson 1: The Basics

So, you want to be a graphics artist? First, you'll need to download GIMP, which is a free image manipulation program. You can download the newest version, GIMP 2.8 (which is what I use) here. (Click the first link.) Warning: when you first try to open GIMP, it may not respond for a while. When you get the little pop-up window that says close or wait for a response, just click "wait" every time. Patience is key. 

To start, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+N. You should get this pop-up window:
Creating a new image. Read the comment.
When you click OK, you should have three windows open in GIMP. One is your new untitled image. One shows the layers and brushes (we'll get to those later.) The last one shows all the tools. Here's a picture of them: 
Although many of these are great, many are also useless. You'll only use a few of these during your GIMP experience. Ignore the selection.
They can be really confusing without explanation. Chances are, you'll only use less than half of them. Here's what they are: 
The one that looks like a gray rectangle is the rectangle select tool. You click and drag to select a rectangular area. This tool is useful for pop-out images and is necessary for these specific types.
The one that looks like a gray oval is the ellipse select tool. You click and drag to select an elliptical area. This tool is occasionally used for smudging, but not much else and is rarely used.
The one that looks like a lasso is the free select tool. You click and drag carefully to draw a shape to select. This tool is extremely useful and is good for rendering. It's used very often.
The one that looks like a magic wand is the fuzzy select tool. You simply click an area and it "magically" picks out a selection for you. This can be used for rendering and is quick and easy, but produces sloppy results and is usually never used.
The second row includes four tools that are practically useless.
In the third row, the one that looks like an eyedropper is the color picker tool. You click an area in the selected layer and it makes the color you clicked on your foreground color. This is useful when you want a specific color that is in the image and is often used.
The one that looks like a magnifying glass is the zoom tool. You can select to zoom in or out, and it's very useful when rendering or when you need to do intricate detail and is used very often.
The next ten tools are various manipulations that can come in handy. The move, rotate, scale, and flip tools are used often, while the others are very rarely used. 
The one that looks like the letter A is the text tool to type in text on your image. This is another essential tool that is used very frequently.
The one that looks like a bucket is the fill tool. You click on the layer and a whole area is filled in with one color. This is used occasionally.
The one that looks like a two-color square is the gradient tool. You click and drag to gradually fade one color into another. It's really useful and is used very often.
The one that looks like a pencil is the pencil tool. It's not much different from the paintbrush, except that it has less options. Because of that, it's almost never used. 
The one that looks like a paintbrush is the paintbrush tool. You click and drag to draw custom shapes, and special brushes that look like pretty much anything can be downloaded to put in your image. It's used often but not as much as you might think.
The one that looks like an eraser is the eraser tool. You click and drag to erase things you don't want in your image and is used very frequently.
The one that I have selected is the airbrush tool. It seems to be another drawing tool, but it doesn't really work for me. Use the paintbrush instead.
The one that looks like a bottle of ink seems to be yet another drawing tool, but has different and confusing settings. Use the paintbrush instead.
The eighth row is very rarely used.
In the ninth row, the one that looks like a hand is the smudge tool. You click and drag to create a smudged effect in your image. It's only used in special images where you specifically want that kind of effect.
The last one is the dodge and burn tool. You click and drag to lighten and darken areas of your image.

Whew! That's a lot of tools! Now that we've gone over those, here are the most essential keyboard shortcuts you'll need. (Don't worry, there aren't as many of those.)
Ctrl+N: New image
Ctrl+S: Save image
Ctrl+Shift+S: Save image as
Ctrl+Z: Undo
Ctrl+Y: Redo
Ctrl+A: Select all
Ctrl+Shift+A: Select none
Ctrl+I: Invert selection
Ctrl+X: Cut
Ctrl+C: Copy
Ctrl+V: Paste

That's all for today. Come back later for Lesson 2: Textures and Layering! Comment if this helped you!

- Sophia E

December 13, 2012

Idea Bank 1st Edition along with News Galore!

Game news: New hoard pack! Yay! *sarcasm* I understand that this is a holiday pack, so it's not QUITE as irritating as normal. But I'm tired of hoard packs. *sees yuletide fireplace housing item and drools* I WANT IT! Is it auctionable? Can somebody sell me one? Please?

My in-game news: Oh, yeah. I got a candy cane wand and a gingerbread wand from Lord Nightshade, but I really want a mint staff. Should I keep farming? I'm really tired of farming him. I'll post my holiday outfit soon.

Social news: I haven't been posting for almost two weeks now. Inexcusable. I should post WAY more. I need longer and more interesting posts, and more of them. To help myself get started, I will bring back something I used to do. Those who have been reading my blog for a long time probably remember "Outfit of the Week." I will do "Outfit of the Week: Holiday Edition." (The old "pretty, unique, wacky" system is being abolished.) I'm looking for a festive outfit. Stay tuned!

Sophia EmeraldBlossom is now on Twitter! Right now, I'm mostly posting advertisements for various giveaways, but I should start posting more. I'll probably be posting little things there that I wouldn't post here, so follow @ArtsyTheurgist!


In-game ideas: I want to do a big house chain linked by teleporters that tells a story with mannequins. I'm not sure how realistic that is, though, because I'm missing two key components: the teleporters and the mannequins. :P That wouldn't happen for a long time, but I'd love to do something like that!

Blog ideas:
~ Wizardly Debates
~ Fashion Frenzy (articles)
~ Why or not?
~ Poll Overview (remember to vote!)
~ The Crafter's Workshop with Emma IceCrafter
~ Graphics Studio with Sophia EmeraldBlossom

Note: these may not all happen immediately. Some may not happen at all.

That's all for now! Remember to vote on the latest poll for the upcoming Poll Overview!

- Sophia E

December 01, 2012

Guess what?

It's December, my favorite month of the year, and I'm back! I'm proud of my poem, even though it's a little bit early. It's supposed to be at the time of the party, not now.
Now Christmas Day is over
We all have had our fun
But I just can’t help feeling sad:
The holidays are done.

But wait! I think you’ll be surprised
To find it isn't true
Twelve parties for twelve merry days
That I made just for you.

“Twelve parties?!” you exclaim in shock
For how will this work out?
“Is it really true, and not a joke?
I admit, I have my doubts.”

Oh, no, it’s certainly not a joke
Please, step right this way
For awesome parties and games galore
After Christmas Day.

I have a wish to make for you
In a spirit of holiday cheer:
Have a belated Merry Christmas
And a very happy New Year!

Yes, you read that correctly! There are 12 parties, one for each of the 12 days of Christmas, and you’re invited to every single one of them! There will be a different holiday-themed event at each party, so none of them will be the same as the one before. For those who don’t want to partake in the festivities, my PvP arena will be open at all times. No matter how you want to celebrate, remember that the holidays aren't over yet, and most importantly, have fun.

The parties will be held at my secluded Christmas Cottage out in the unknown skies of Wizard City. The only way to access it is by teleportation, so please visit this address to teleport:
Ice Tower
2, School Circle
Wizard City
The Spiral
Make sure that you are in Scarecrow realm. The parties will take place from December 26th, 2012 – January 6th, 2013. They will all start at 8:00 PM EST (this is 7:00 PM CST, 6:00 PM MST, and 5:00 PM PST), except for the party on January 1st, which will be one hour later due to personal conflict. Be sure to look for the pickup wizard, Christina RainbowSong (who will be wearing the Secret Shopper badge) about 10 minutes beforehand. RSVP in the comments, and be sure to tell me your wizard name so I recognize you.

1. Please do not:
·         Swear
·         Beg
·         Be rude
·         USE ALL CAPS (only because I use all caps when making announcements)
·         Talk over me or any staff when we’re saying something important
Any of these will get you kicked out. I’m sorry, but I can’t give second chances; it’s too hard to keep track.
2. No complaining or porting back if you get kicked out.
3. Please wear red, green, white, or a mixture of these colors.
4. Bring a Christmas wand if you have one. If not, just go without a wand (the exception to this is PvP).
5. You may not wear a Santa suit or transform into anything. There are staff to do that job. 
6. You may not wear these badges:
·         Wizard City Protector
·         Undead Hunter
·         Secret Shopper
·         Gobbler Chaser
The only reason is because these are all staff badges.
7. You MAY:
·         Leave during an event
·         PvP whenever you like
·         Take pictures or video
·         Talk to your friends during an event. You only can’t talk over me or the staff. If possible, keep your discussions to whisper or group chat.
·         Leave during a party (just don’t say things like “This is boring, I’m leaving.”)
·         Port back to a friend after leaving, as long as you weren’t kicked out.

To kick off the festivities, we will go caroling in the Commons. We’ll elect a “lead singer” (someone who knows the carols and has open chat) in the Christmas Cottage beforehand, and also choose which songs we’ll sing. Start typing the next line as soon as you’ve said the last one, and say it when the lead singer does. Those who aren’t interested in caroling can PvP.

This should be fun! More days will be announced as the month wears on.

Also, my wizards are all dressed up for Christmas (except for Daniel, who looked really weird in bright colors) but I'm not showing pictures because they need holiday wands first.

Sophia E