Evelyn Chartres Author

Creating the Cheshire Cat’s Grin

Upon doing a review of Ethereal Nights, I decided to split the story into two chapters.   Part of Ethereal Nights was designed to precede the chapter, but at the time I felt it would ruin the surprise.

By moving the troublesome story to The Cheshire Cat’s Grin I hope it will be better placed within the overall work.  A review has been done on the remaining chapter elements to keep the surprise intact.

While the above links are for Google Docs, you may also access these chapters through Wattpad.

Enjoy!

Slow and Steady

For the past several months, I have been doing an initial review of The Grand.  It has been a long process, marred by delays as other projects and commitments crop up.  Tonight, I managed to complete my review of The Van Helsing Paradox, available on Wattpad and brings my overall review completion to 71% of the manuscript.

This chapter like the novel strays from the style used in The Portrait.  In my previous work chapters were small.  Designed to be quick reads, chapters within The Portrait are on average 3 pages of single-spaced writing.

The Van Helsing Paradox stands alone as 16% of the overall manuscript and is made up of over 10,000 words.  This chapter also features a lot of dialogue, which was not prevalent in The Portrait.

The review process has remained the same.   For now, I have 2907 separate corrections applied to the manuscript.  These vary in scope and includes single word changes, to spacing corrections and the addition of new paragraphs.

In other words, there are 41 modifications done for each percent or 1.5 pages.  This seems like a lot, but this improves dramatically when I do my second review, followed by a third and so on.  I follow an iterative review process then introduce a pause to gain a change in perspective.

Stay tuned!  There are still 3 chapters and a lexicon left.

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.