Monday, September 26, 2011

I *insist* you wear that tux ... and answers to queries!

First question from a random hypnosis fan:

I love your captions, but would it be too much to ask for some more hypnosis captions?
How about something I just created the other day for a newbie on the Haven, Ellie Chambers?

She likes hypnosis captions, and it looked like she was into compulsions as well. I wanted to have some fun with a non-standard picture. Most of the time I try to use feminine pictures, with women wearing dresses or skirts, high heels, nylons, etc ... I found this picture of the wonderful Dita though, and a wedding scenario immediately came into focus. I figured that a wedding would be a good place to debut "Ellie" to all of Dee's family, and show who wears the pants, so to speak! The futile resistance that Iain puts up is really cute, and I'm glad I was able to make it completely dialog driven. It also has just the right amount of embarrassment factor played into it, AND the wedding pictures will last a lifetime! For the writer of this question, I would love to see what sort of ideas you have in making a hypnosis caption. See the DISCUSSION QUESTION below!

Here's a question from someone that didn't have a name:
Hey, I know the first attempt at a pregnant discussion didn't go well, but I thought that when people FINALLY started talking, it got interesting. Any chance of another couple pregnant caps plus some pregnant discussion?
Well how about I post one of the first pregnancy captions I've ever made?

One of the reasons I like this caption is its another in a long line of "oblivious" captions I so enjoy, where the grasp of comprehension is so close, or just fleeting.

I'm happy to post this question and see if anyone wants to elaborate. At this point in time, there doesn't seem to be much discussion going on. My question would be for those that like Pregnancy captions ... Do you just want to be female while the pregnancy is happening and then revert back to a man at some point, perhaps once nursing is done, or do you stay female? Are you going to be perpetually pregnant, or do you have a say in how many kids you are going to have? Hopefully that will get some people talking in the comments section!

There are a few more questions in the queue, but they might be lengthy enough to be their own complete posting. I hope people like the balance between an almost brand new (made fresh yesterday) caption and one from over 3 years ago. Now that its almost October, we have Halloween coming next month, so I'd like to see comments pick up like they were a few months ago!

DISCUSSION QUESTION: I know there has to be some people that come here that just like TG captions, and sort of glaze over all the technical or creative type discussions I try to shine a spotlight on. I wish that I would get some feedback from them, especially from a viewer standpoint. Did I convey what I set out to do? Do you have a better understanding of how they are created? Things like that.

In the spirit of that, I am looking for people to post some ideas/plots, a sentence or two of story, a smidgen of dialog, or even a zinger ... either dealing with Pregnancy or Hypnosis. I'm hoping to get at least a few people to post things here ... and I will try to make at least one or two captions for each category.

Here's YOUR chance to help make a TG caption! I could be YOUR caption consultant / editor / publisher!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Long One from the Archives

This was one from over 3 years ago, and it is quite long compared to most of the captions I've done in the last few years. I believe this is about 2 months into my caption making, and as such, its rudimentary at best, but the story is still pretty good.

I wanted everyone to see it for a few reasons.

(1) For those that are just starting out making captions, I wanted you to see that EVERYONE starts out pretty much the same. It took me 6 months or so until I had a style that I actually thought was decent, and from there, it needed another year or so to evolve.

(2) For those that think I never did series more than one or two panels ... here is a NINE panel caption series. At this point, I was just happy to be in the presence of some people on the Haven that I looked up to, and wanted to do what they did. They made caption stories that flowed over multiple panels, and THAT is what I should be doing as well! I was deliberately trying to make as many panels as I could, and it didn't really fit what I was good at. After this one, I made another one that was over 13 panels ...then I think I can count the amount of series that I did over 5 panels on one hand, the best one probably being one I did for Simone.

(3) I am still feeling pretty shitty, and I want to give a good effort for the questions that are awaiting me in formspring. Posting something from a long time ago will fill space, and hopefully make people feel better about their own captions. "Hey, I think Dee is a good TG captioner and look how shitty her early stuff is! I wanna try and make some now!" .. The best way to get good at something is to really fuck up and learn from your mistakes.

(4) I miss Bimbo Jessica, who was the recipient of this caption. She was so silly and bimboish, and made going to the Haven so much fun! Andy is really busy now doesn't really pop online that much. Occasionally I will go and search out some of the people that are no longer contributing to the Haven and check out their folders, and enjoy the old stuff in between constant flow of new captions appearing all the time!

DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Who are some of your favorite old captioners that were on the Haven, Lycos, or Yahoo groups that don't seem to make new captions anymore? We have a ton of archival folders at the Haven, and perhaps I, or the readers, can discover some hidden gems we haven't seen before. For me, it was Pretty Sissy Dani when she did stories that had a picture or two embedded in it. They were small serials, and those cliffhangers guaranteed I would be back to her website every day! Serena Lawhead was another on in that same vein.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Photoshop and "Wite Out" Conditions!

Figured I would post this since we recently had a discussion about a few programs used to make captions, and Steffie is probably the best Photoshopper out there, with perhaps Caitlyn a CLOSE second. At one point, Steffie had the moniker of "The Pantiless Picasso" as an alternate title in the Haven, back before she was an admin, and I think it fit her well.

I also wanted to get everyone's input on this caption I am posting below. Please click on it before continuing to read.

OK, so its your basic "Dee caption" right? Basic plot line and a bit of a zinger / wordplay at the end. So, what is the big deal?

Well, I didn't use Photoshop for it, yet it still looked like you typical "Dee caption" right?

I used a free photo program out there called "Pixbuilder Studio 2.0" which is in my opinion a slightly stripped down version of Photoshop. It has layers, filters, drop shadows, and most of the tools that you'd find in a Photoshop CS1 and below. It didn't take me too look to whip this caption up. It was mostly a "ok, I know how to do this in Photoshop, what do THEY call it?"

For those that are still using MS Paint (please say you aren't!!) or something similar, you can head here to download the program and play around with it. It is somewhat intuitive, especially if you've played around with other photo editing programs. It'll even OPEN Photoshop files, though it doesn't seem to retain Adobe's layer system.

OTHER NEWS: I have a few questions that people have asked on Formspring. I will be getting to that hopefully soon. I just got a 3 week supply of antibiotics for my latest Sinus Infection, and might be seeing a specialist if they can fit me in, once I am done with the med regimen. I'm sorry I haven't posted much, and the numbers are bearing out that we don't have as many visitors lately, though the encouraging thing is that we DO get many hits the 1st day I post something new.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Did you notice anything different about the second caption I had posted? I can only see SLIGHT differences between this one and the ton I've done in Photoshop. If something is glaring, please let me know. I was trying to show how good a caption can come out while using free software.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dirty Martinis .. Shaken Not Stirred

I realize that Groucho probably didn't say one of those quotes that was attributed to him, but as I originally posted in Petra folder ...

I am more inclined to believe that you follow the words of Dorothy Parker even more than Groucho:

I love to drink Martinis,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under my host.

I am sick of being sick and/or busy with real life stuff. I thought it would die down soon, but things keep piling up. If only it was a "Honeydew" list, I could just ignore it but sadly its not. Since I didn't have time to make her a caption yesterday, I would like to publicly wish Steffie a happy birthday. At least I was able to send her a quick message so it wasn't belated.

Things on the horizon ... I created a caption that is going to be in the next Rachel's Haven eZine ... I LOVE it and I think its pretty special. I won't be able to post it here until next Spring, since we are maintaining a 6 month exclusivity. Lets just say it deals with a September anniversary and is part of a feature that "Dee-lusions of Grandeur" would definitely sponsor. Also for the RH eZine, I am answering a question from someone that wrote in to "Ask the Mistresses". I got the question a day or two ago and am thinking about the answers right now.

As far as tagging previous posts are going, I have done all of 2010 and January of 2011 ... and every post since June 30th. Hopefully people have been using them, or its going to just be a serious waste of my time. Anyone finding things they missed the first time around, or rediscovering a caption they'd forgotten about?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ergonomic Chairs .. and Font Clarity

Wow, I originally posted this over 3 years ago! When I saw the picture, the exact curve of the chair being almost the exact same as her posture just clicked and I don't recall spending more than 10 minutes on this. On the "Evolution of Dee" scale, I think this might be mesozoic, but it does have some charm. That is one of the most fun things about looking into my archives, seeing where I was and where I'm at now.

I wanted to post this because Tatiana asked me about the use of fonts, and some previous questions as well in how to make them clearer.

What type of font do you use and how do you get it so clear even on back grounds?

 I didn't intend to write too much for her at the time, but since I am not feeling well enough to take out the AC units today (my daughter gives me much joy and pleasure in my life, but I swear, but she is like friggin' Typhoid Mary!) I figured I would try to whip up a post since I feel that I'm almost neglecting my followers lately.

Here is what I wrote, and I may elaborate more here than in the initial reply.

I don't tell people my font, mostly because I think at this point, its a "Dee" style. I would hope that even if people stumble upon it, they'd wink at me, and just use another one instead!

However, I can certainly give you many other tips.

It helps that I use Photoshop. It is the best when it comes to managing fonts. If you have Photoshop, play around with some of the fonts they have until you find something that kerns well, looks good condensed, and is readable regardless of how small it is. I would suggest something like
Corbel or Calabri if you want a standard font, and something like Monotype Corsica if you want something with a bit of flair. Stay away from fonts with lots of flourishes, unless you are trying to duplicate someone's writing.

Once you have a preferred font, I almost always choose "smooth" for my anti-aliasing method. That way, there are little to no "jaggies" in the text. From there, you can play around with italics and bold, etc ... I tend to stay away from bold text, since once again, it can lead to "jaggies".

I always try to pick a text color that fits well on top of my background. I always pick the background first, as it integrates the text and photo together into one coherent piece. Usually I do that by picking a color that is dominant within the photo, and then playing around with it until it works within the confines of what I'm setting up. Once you know the background color, you can figure out what text colors you are using (or just use plain white if there is no dialog, since white will ALWAYS look the best against a darker color) by just plotting different shades against the background. If there are two people talking, I will often choose a color that they are wearing, or a hair color, that can match the quote to the person saying it.

I tend to use drop shadows with my fonts. I have a certain ratio I use that I think works best for my captions. You can play around with how you'd like it to look, or just use their defaults. Either way, it should draw your text out even more.

Lastly, this has nothing really to do with fonts or placement or anything like that. I would recommend that you keep the plot/story to its bare minimum. No matter how good your font and background look, if its too small to read, then people will ignore it. If you have a great story that cannot be edited down anymore, think about trying to find another picture, and stretch it out to a small series. This perhaps may be a guide for you, but I tend to NEVER let a picture be wider than 500 pixels when I am making a landscape caption, so that I can make the entire thing 850 or so pixels. This was done because originally you couldn't have a caption be wider than 900 pixels on the haven. Even with that constriction, I tend to make my fonts no smaller than 18 pt. Most of the time, I am using somewhere between 24 pt and 30 pt. That way I can always scale down the text box if I need a few more sentences written to finish off the caption.)

The main thing I would like to mention though, is that almost everything I've learned has been through trial and error, along with looking at tons of other peoples captions. I have a design background in real life, but I'm best at learning by playing around and messing up, which leads me to the best ways of creating, whether it be music, captions, or whatever I am working on.


PS ... . Also, yes, I am always going to be 666 years old, which is the new age 39!

I cannot stress enough that the tools you use WILL make your work much better, once you get the basics down. For the longest time, I had a copy of Photoshop 6 which was fine. Then when I went back to school for a college course, I was able to snag CS1, and I still use that one today. I just don't have the money to snag the latest version, which does look spiffy. If you have a chance to get Photoshop, I think you should learn it, as there is NOTHING better at photo editing than Photoshop. 

Another caption creation tool I would possibly recommend is Comic Life, which can be had for under 50 bucks I think. If you do use that, please make sure to play around with it. For every Bren or Jennifer, there are a ton of people who's captions all look almost exactly alike.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: I will try to answer any caption creation questions that you may have. Just leave a comment and I will reply. I LOVE to talk shop, and since I haven't had much time recently to exchange ideas with people like Simone and Jennifer. Not plots per se, but the actual construction, style and flair that make up the look of what we do. EVERYONE is welcome to throw in your two cents. I know that Caitlyn often does this because she's quite anal and saves everything, but this might lead to a posting where I might decide to chronicle the steps I take in making a caption. Usually I am an "on the fly" creator, but if I think ahead of time, I'll try to whip something up more slowly.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Formspring has given me a request for more pregnancy captions and a question from Alectra that I will hopefully be answering soon. Figured I would give people a heads up that I have seen them, but haven't really had time to whip something up. I haven't really even had time to make any new captions, though I did make one for the next Haven Quarterly eZine which I am sort of proud of. Unfortunately for everyone, you'd have to buy a copy when its out in October to see it!

This caption is a good followup to the previous post, in that its deals more with feelings and experiences than with a set plot line. It didn't really matter HOW she became Serena, what happens next? I didn't mention it at the time, but it was something I was thinking about, due to friends either getting divorced or losing a close loved one. Its all well and good to mourn or mope, but at some point, you have to move on and make the best of whatever situation you are currently facing.

Of course, I chose not to make this a sad caption, as it was created specifically for Serena. I wanted to accentuate the positive, and among other things, having a body like that certainly helps when coping with becoming a female. Well, at least once it is accepted.

For me, the fact that she wasn't sure of what she was wearing, as opposed to the "I'm a girl now" situation that Dee thought, was incredibly positive. Most women have a comfort zone by the time they reach their 20's, where they know how they want to present themselves: in hair, makeup, clothing, and unless its a special occasion, they don't usually veer away from it too much. Its been built up from the time they were a little girl, through the teenage years, and on up through their adult life. The next step from the mid 20's style is if/when they have kids.

Serena didn't have that chance, and will certainly have to figure out on her own what she feels most comfortable with, and it looks like that this caption is the first step of many for her. Even better, she's putting on her panties in a way that makes they easier to take off if she decides to seduce Tom!

DISCUSSION QUESTION: I've noticed that I can't help but transfer my mood and thoughts to whatever caption I am making at the time. It probably goes back to my days in music, and when I was pissed off, I would write a punk song, and if I was happy, it'd be a cheerier punk song! The photo certainly influenced what I wrote, but looking at it now, I think its a pretty vague (though quite seductive) picture. When you saw the picture, before reading the caption, what did you think the story/plot line would be from me? What would you have done with the photo if YOU were making a caption for it?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Putting On A New Face

For the discussion question's sake, view the caption first, before reading the blog post.

I was going through my archive's for something to post tonight, and this one struck me in an interesting way, and figured I would share it with you. It was made for Mei and I think its probably the best one I did for her. Why, you may ask? Mostly because I went against the grain and didn't use any typical over-the-top Asian stereotypes of "Me sucky sucky" even though she doesn't mind them. I left that stuff vague so you could read it in the caption if you wanted to, but there are only so many times you really can go into that well before you get bored with it.

I wanted to play around with what constitutes the "true" person inside. Caitlyn does a great job in explaining how she's defined Calvin and where Caitlyn fits into his life. When I was creating this, I saw a way to push on through and go places I hadn't before. It wasn't like it was painfully plotted out, since it honestly took about 8 minutes in total to go from picture to final jpg, but it was an idea that had bounced around my head and just all came together when I saw the picture and knew it was going to be for Mei.

In this caption, I wanted to show that "Jeremy" was more of a Drag King mode for Mei, than the other way around. It was obvious to her, and possibly to others, that a big change in her life was about to happen. Mei, as far as I know, is in the process of transition. I thought it would be fun to see it not the way that most people see it, but from a complete alternate take. Something that is probably closer to people in the process of going through SRS feel at a certain point, where they are no longer portraying the new version of them, but pretending to be who they were and tying up the various loose ends of their earlier existence.

I made no claims as to how/why the change was happening. I figured that people would fill it in however they wanted to, but there is no forceful nature implied  to whatever changes are underfoot. It could run the gamut from willing change all the way to completely forced. Perhaps that is why I love this caption so much.  I laid a groundwork to get my point across, and yet it is still pretty universal. Is it magic, hypnosis, force-fem, or whatever category you want to place it in? Its probably a good litmus test to read the caption and then see how you read it.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Soooooo, what was the back story to this caption as you read it, before reading what *I* had to say? Does it line up with your preferences as to what you really like in a caption, or did what I write lead you a different way? Did I do a good enough job in portraying the idea I wanted to convey, or was it watered down too much to really grasp?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Digging Deep, Where's the Seam? .. by request

Someone gave me a simple question on Formspring the other day,mainly,  "could you do a bodysuit cap?"

Well, of course I "could" do a bodysuit caption. Theoretically, I could make any sort of caption I want. I don't do many bodysuit captions though, because I tend to make non-consensual captions that involve magic. It is hard to put anybody in clothing against their will, as anyone trying to get a child dressed .. or redressed after they've stripped naked after lunch would attest to. I guess you could blackmail/coerce them into it, and if I have to make another body-suit caption, I'll see if I can work on a good enough scenario to make it work. However though, I would think that 90-95 percent of all bodysuit captions would have to be considered at least partially consensual.

Because of that particular bent, I had to come up with a good reason for someone to want to use a bodysuit. Cassandra 'Angel" is big time into Cosplay and would want to use a bodysuit for the weekend so she could look even better in whatever girlish character she wanted to play. Since I'm not entirely comfortable with the concepts of bodysuits, I selfishly brought in the bathrobe wizard from Spells R Us to help sell the idea of being stuck, although looking back at it, I probably could have let it stand on its own and people would've gotten the idea. I usually give the reader the benefit of the doubt that they'll get most of the things I layer into my captions, but I didn't do that here, possibly because I wasn't quite sure of what I had written either. I think that if I had made this caption now, instead of 2 years ago, I might have used the same story line, but the execution would be much better and streamlined.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Since this was requested, and that there has to be some bodysuit fans out there, what methods would you use to get a bodysuit onto a person that doesn't want to wear one? I am assuming that there will be some people that trade with me that would LIKE to have a bodysuit, and I am looking for ideas on how to fulfill it while still maintaining the elements that make a 'Dementia' caption relatively unique. Right now I've got the blackmail/coercion method, and perhaps a paint can like spray that could be applied to the skin. What else can you come up with?