Evelyn Chartres Author

The Hiding Behind Chainsaws Test

Recently came across a Geico commercial dealing with bad decision-making in horror movies.  While I have not had television for years, this commercial came across as both funny and insightful.

Horror movies and prose often have story-driven elements that push characters to do insane things.  Movies like The Cabin in the Woods weave these elements in with the main story to create a parody of the affair.

So how was this commercial insightful?  It points out how prevalent the types of decisions are in horror movies, even if we are not acutely aware of it.  Sometimes author’s need a proverbial slap in the face to see it for ourselves.

There are occasions where we write ourselves into a corner and due to time constraints, excuses or laziness we choose the path of least resistance.  This can lead to bad writing, a theme covered in detail in the novel Redshirts by John Scalzi.

When you re-reading your work(s), think about this commercial then consider how a viewer would see it.  If a scene seems as ridiculous as hiding behind chainsaws, then revisit that particular chapter.

Perhaps this logic condition should be referred to as the hiding behind chainsaws test.  Has a nice ring to it?

A Mild Dose of the ‘Eat Me’ Cake

Digital Alchemy – Part 12

This is Part 12 of the Digital Alchemy tutorial and previously we created an Ethereal Night.

The base resolution for this picture is barely within the guidelines set out by Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Obviously, we cannot create additional pixels where none exists. Modern programs have gotten far more effective at increasing image size without leading to a dramatic loss in quality, however there are limits and artefacts will be introduced.

Fortunately, the original shot was a painting and we have the option of using Corel PaintShop Pro to the image in brush strokes to simulate a painting. This will smooth out errors and leave us with a high-resolution image.

From the Image menu, select Resize.

From the Resize window, you can resize based on Pixels, Percentage, Print Size and Based on One Side. Select By Pixels, then set the Width to 9000 pixels.

When you switch to By Print Size, more options become available. Namely, you can set the Resolution (density) in pixels per inch (Pixels/Inch) also known as Dots Per Inch (DPI).

This measurement is important for printing an image and should be considered when self-publishing through CreateSpace or similar. We want to set the Resolution to 300, which is better than the 96 DPI used for screens.

Switching from one resize method to the other maintains settings; so set the Resolution then return to Pixels to find your selected pixel intact.

Note

This multiple section Resize window is new with Corel PaintShop Pro X8. Earlier versions had an all inclusive window instead. However, the capabilities is the same between versions.

Now we have a larger image than the original, flaws an all. From the Effects menu, select Art Media Effects then Brush Strokes.

Brush Strokes is powerful and yet slow effect, especially at high resolutions, so selecting the Preview on Image check-box is not recommended.

Select Factory Defaults from Settings then change the Color under Lighting to introduce purple with the brush strokes. To learn more about these settings, click on the Dice button to observe how changes play a role in the effect.

When satisfied with, you end up with an effect similar to the one shown below. To showcase the effect, a zoomed in portion of her head is shown to highlight the introduced purple plays a part in colouring her crown.

Lastly, this is a full version Lady Ethereal is shown below:

Instead of using Lady Shade, use the Soft Light blend on the Original version of the Lady. This version has more skin tone and is a better suited for some covers.

Ethereal Night

Digital Alchemy – Part 11

This is Part 11 of the Digital Alchemy tutorial and previously we Removed Lady Shade’s Glow.

Lady Shade in the previous section fits in well with an eerie scenes. Now we will experiment with a variant that creates a ghostly background; one which may be might encountered when a fog rolls in. We need to use Radial Gradients to achieve this effect.

Note

These new layers must be be located above all others for them to be effective.

First, create a New Raster Layer then provide the settings shown below. Set the Blend mode to Darken then reduce the Opacity to 50%.

Definition – Darken

Displays pixels in the selected layer that are darker than the underlying layers.  Pixels lighter than the underlying layers disappear.

Using the Material Properties window, click on the + button to create a new gradient. The mechanisms discussed in Let There Be Night are still in play.

However, with the Night Sky Layer we did not care about Centre Point or Focus Point, as we wanted a linear and gradual transition. Now Radial Gradients are used (select the third from the top), these settings will play a large part in how the gradient will progress and from which point.

These layers may seem counter-intuitive, since this layer aims to maintain lightness in certain areas while they darken those covered by a gradient we will creat next. Replicate the settings shown below then click on the OK button.

When prompted to save; provide a meaningful name. Gradients cannot be sampled using the Dropper Tool, so saving your gradients is the only way to create or modify them later.

Once the new gradient is complete, use the Fill Tool from the Tools Bar to populate the Ethereal – Trees Layer.

Now create a New Raster Layer then select Screen as the Blend Mode vice Darken from the previous layer.

Definition – Screen

Lightens the colors of underlying layers by multiplying the inverse of the selected layer and of the underlying layers.  The result is a color that is the same or a lightened version of the selected layer.  This blend mode produces the same result regardless of the order in which the layers are stacked on the Layers palette.

Because of the Screen Blend Mode, this gradient will lighten many areas in the field including Lady Shade. This is why the Darken Blend Mode was created previously to counteract some of these effects.

Once you use the Fill Tool from the Tools Bar to populate the Ethereal – Field Layer you will end up with something that looks like this.

Next in Part 12, we will give Lady Shade a Mild Dose of the ‘Eat Me’ Cake.

Removing the Lady’s Glow

Digital Alchemy – Part 10

This is Part 10 of the Digital Alchemy tutorial and previously we Took a Bite out of Lady Gray.

In the process of creating an eerie night scene, a glow was introduced on the left side of the Lady’s face. This glow detract from the overall effect, so best to remove it!

From the Tools Bar, select the Lighten/Darken Brush to address this problem.

Note

Since the Soften Brush is already selected, click on the arrow besides the icon to show tools selectable within that group.

Select the Background then zoom in on the area. Since this is a combination tool, the left-mouse click will Lightenen the area while a right-mouse click Darkens. Darken the area on the background while with the Lady Shade layer remains visible to gauge the effectiveness of the correction.

Once pleased with the results, you should end with the following end-result.

Next in Part 11, we will create an Ethereal Night.

Taking a Bite Out of the Lady

This is Part 9 of the Digital Alchemy tutorial and previously we made the Lady Green with Envy.

Lady Shade may share the undead’s skin-tone, but lacks something linking her with vampire lore. Early on in the cover’s design it was decided that the effect should be subtle to provide the viewer with a clue. This made fangs too obvious, however puncture marks hidden in the shadow of her neck seemed appropriate.

Using the Brush tool from the Tools Bar, place two marks in the appropriate area as shown below:

A new layer was created when those brush marks were made. From the Adjust menu, select Brightness and Contrast then Highlight/Midtone/Shadow. When you select Highlight/Midtone/Shadow, you will be requested to convert to a Raster Layer, agree and continue.

Set the elements as shown below or select Intense colour pre-set from Settings.

Double-click on the Fangs Layer then click on the Layer Styles tab. We are going adjust the Emboss settings to add shadows and depth. Either replicate what you see below or experiment to add a unique flare.

Double-click on the Fangs Layer then click on Blend Ranges tab. Select Soft Light as the Blend mode for this example.

From the Tools Bar, select the Soften Brush. This feature smooths-out elements within the affected area, a useful feature for removing the jagged edges.

Hover over the area then click to apply the effect, continue until satisfied. Remember to use CTRL-Z to Undo when necessary.

When complete the effect should produce an image that looks like the one below. Not only is the end result subtle, but should make this clue worth finding.

Next in Part 10, we will Remove the Lady’s Glow.