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Creative Dry Spell?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
After a few weeks of cranking out sigs for people, I think I've hit a serious dry spell. There are requests I see from people who want sigs, and I have 2 people who want new ones and I just have no idea... I'm clueless as to what to do!

I'm terrible at just making a nice background and using that as a base. I usually have to come up with some sort of theme before I can do anything. One person wants a spring theme, and even with that though I don't have any ideas as to where to start.

Any ideas on how to get out of this rut?
post #2 of 23
The problem with theme sigs is that you are going to run out of ideas quickly, no matter what They can get old quick. Maybe you can use this time to practice making your own backgrounds

I usually go on a sig spree and make a ton of them, then don't make any for quite a while. I am currently in the "not making any" phase. For me, I make sigs to relax and for fun. If I am not into it, there is no point forcing it because they normally come out pretty bad when I do and it's not very relaxing.

The great thing about the sig shower thread is that no one is forcing you to make a sig. Yes, there are plenty of requests there, but there are plenty of people making sigs also. The requests will still be there at a later date and a new sig may be appreciated later after they have run through some of the ones they get when they first make the request. I have a list of people that have asked for sigs that I will get to sooner or later.

If I am doing some type of a "theme" I usually come up with my best ideas when I am far, far away from the computer, when I am gardening, out for a walk, and well, sometimes after a few drinks. You need to step away from the computer and let your mind wander a bit.
post #3 of 23
There won't always be an image or idea you can use as base so I think Karen is right and perhaps spend some time working on creating your own backgrounds.

If you want to build a portfolio of work to go into graphic design, you will need to show originality and something unique to you - not something like this image etc.

I often go through phases where I don't make any sigs and regroup and take a break so that when I do them, I am doing them because I want to and not because I feel I have to - because for me, they will never be good enough if I force it.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
There won't always be an image or idea you can use as base so I think Karen is right and perhaps spend some time working on creating your own backgrounds.

If you want to build a portfolio of work to go into graphic design, you will need to show originality and something unique to you - not something like this image etc.

I often go through phases where I don't make any sigs and regroup and take a break so that when I do them, I am doing them because I want to and not because I feel I have to - because for me, they will never be good enough if I force it.
Any tips on getting started to working on backgrounds? I don't even know where to start to get ideas.

I think so far I've shown orginality, atleast amongst other designers here, it's just a matter of hitting a wall at the moment
post #5 of 23
Themed sigs while 'different' to others on the board are based on something and so don't show much originality.

Plus things like the polaroid one you did for catloverin_ks etc have been done before in a slightly different manner. I have a polaroid one myself and made one for someone last year too, and there are a couple of people on the board with similar ones - things like that are sigs everyone has and wont hold much weight when looking for a job in graphics

You could try playing with the tutorials at good-tutorials.com and learn how to do different things for backgrounds
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
Themed sigs while 'different' to others on the board are based on something and so don't show much originality.

Plus things like the polaroid one you did for catloverin_ks etc have been done before in a slightly different manner. I have a polaroid one myself and made one for someone last year too, and there are a couple of people on the board with similar ones - things like that are sigs everyone has and wont hold much weight when looking for a job in graphics

You could try playing with the tutorials at good-tutorials.com and learn how to do different things for backgrounds
Well I just meant that amongst sigs that you see every day on the site, I personally think, and I've had others tell me that they're alittle more unique. It's just something I'm speaking about here, not in terms of graphic design. Actually the point of the thread was about making sigs here, I'm not thinking in terms of getting into graphic design.
post #7 of 23
But while you are having a siggy dry spell - that is stuff you can work on!

There is no fix for a dry spell - if its not happening don't push it
post #8 of 23
I don't have any tips or anything but I have a suggestion for the spring theme. Which might be more appropriate if their weather is like mine. LOL It's froma Mutts stip but it's super cute. It's two dogs (or cats in this case) sitting on a hill and looking into the distance saying "common spring". The entire thing is BW except for a small circle of spring color in the distance.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
Themed sigs while 'different' to others on the board are based on something and so don't show much originality.

Plus things like the polaroid one you did for catloverin_ks etc have been done before in a slightly different manner. I have a polaroid one myself and made one for someone last year too, and there are a couple of people on the board with similar ones - things like that are sigs everyone has and wont hold much weight when looking for a job in graphics

You could try playing with the tutorials at good-tutorials.com and learn how to do different things for backgrounds
I think this is good advice, if you stop thinking about it and try to learn something new, inspiration will probably come back. Or go and admire the work of the graphic designers at http://browse.deviantart.com/
Some of it is amazing.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anakat View Post
Or go and admire the work of the graphic designers at http://browse.deviantart.com/
Some of it is amazing.
DeviantArt is great, I am sure you will get plenty of inspiration there and you can download textures and brushes etc for making backgrounds / bases
post #11 of 23
Rob, I have to say I am a fan of your 'themed' sigs...they are different. The themed ones are great for showing the owners or cats/pets personalities...or for a bit of humour.

Its probably easier to be more artistically creative with a non-themed sig which emphasises the cat(s) and focuses on colours/designs/fonts. These type seem to show off the cat more.

But I'm all for your themed sigs - so dont stop! If you are in a rut, give it a break as icklemiss21 said, and let the inspiration come back to you over a little time

Its the other way round with me...Im full of ideas but dont have the technical photoshop skills to implement them (yet!)

just thought of an idea...sig saying 'its spring time!'...if you had a pic of the cat leaping you could add spings to its paws and a few spring flowers in the background...(???)
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by minxie View Post
Rob, I have to say I am a fan of your 'themed' sigs...they are different. The themed ones are great for showing the owners or cats/pets personalities...or for a bit of humour.

Its probably easier to be more artistically creative with a non-themed sig which emphasises the cat(s) and focuses on colours/designs/fonts. These type seem to show off the cat more.

But I'm all for your themed sigs - so dont stop! If you are in a rut, give it a break as icklemiss21 said, and let the inspiration come back to you over a little time

Its the other way round with me...Im full of ideas but dont have the technical photoshop skills to implement them (yet!)

just thought of an idea...sig saying 'its spring time!'...if you had a pic of the cat leaping you could add spings to its paws and a few spring flowers in the background...(???)
That's a good idea, but I have to put 6 cats in the sig and all the photos are pretty "standard" shots, I guess you could say. No action shots
post #13 of 23
I think your newest signature about recovering Catnipaholics is one of your best. Not only is it cute, original and creative, but it's the best quality signature you've done IMO.

If I were you, I would use this dry spell you're having to continue to work on the quality. Play with some of the cool things you can do with Photoshop.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HopeHacker View Post
I think your newest signature about recovering Catnipaholics is one of your best. Not only is it cute, original and creative, but it's the best quality signature you've done IMO.

If I were you, I would use this dry spell you're having to continue to work on the quality. Play with some of the cool things you can do with Photoshop.
What do you mean by best quality? It does to me look smoother than some other sigs I've done, but I didn't do anything different that I can think of. My other sigs aren't that bad of quality but I *think* I know what you're saying. It may be just the overall design of it because it was supposed to look more professional, like an actual PSA ad. I think depending on what you're doing for a sig that's sometimes hard to achieve.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReesesPBC View Post
What do you mean by best quality? It does to me look smoother than some other sigs I've done, but I didn't do anything different that I can think of. My other sigs aren't that bad of quality but I *think* I know what you're saying. It may be just the overall design of it because it was supposed to look more professional, like an actual PSA ad. I think depending on what you're doing for a sig that's sometimes hard to achieve.

I don't think you're other sigs are that bad of quality. I think you used some poor quality photo's on some of the other signatures. Sometimes that's all you have available to use, though. I like how Icklmiss especially can work on those poor quality pictures to hide the bad quality, if you know what I mean. She can take a tiny grainy looking thumbnail of a picture and work with it until you can barely tell it was a bad quality picture in the first place. Me, I usually will not work with a bad quality picture.

I just think your latest signature is excellent.
post #16 of 23
I basically remake the picture with way too many layers blurring and sharpening by hand. It takes forever and I usually make a busier background with similar rather than contrasting colours so it doesn't make the kitty 'stand out' so much.

Like you a lot of people won't (or can't) work with them but as a sig helper I want to try so that everyone who wants a sig gets one.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yeah the current picture I used, It was of a higher resolution before I shrunk it. It's something I can control with my sigs, but not with others, unless I do some editing, which never ocurred to me to do before, so I'll work on that. Usually I still the picture as long as it's usable. If it has alot of noise, is dark or whatever I will usually fix it, but I have never gone as far as sharpening, using multiple layers etc..
post #18 of 23
I never have less than 3-4 layers per cat for a sig, to me working on the cats and making them look less harsh and more soft like they would in real life rather than a camera with auto macro is all part of getting the sig perfect. I spend more time working on the cats than the backgrounds.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
I never have less than 3-4 layers per cat for a sig, to me working on the cats and making them look less harsh and more soft like they would in real life rather than a camera with auto macro is all part of getting the sig perfect. I spend more time working on the cats than the backgrounds.
So each layer is each a sharpened or blurred layer to different degrees with different opacities?
post #20 of 23
Yep, depending on the cat. I often rebuild ears etc to put them where I want them if part of them is cut off, and made my own whiskers brush using some of the kitties whiskers I found on the floor after a fight to add them in (although the grass like brush turned sideways works well for that too if you turn down the scattering).

If the pic is really bad, I cut out small areas at a time, feathered well and work on each area, and then when I have one area perfect, I use the clone tool to fix the area around it, fix the colouring etc on that then do the same for the next area. Once I have got the kitty looking as best as I can, I merge all the layers and make a couple of copies at low opacity setting some to screen and soft light depending on how dark the original image (and my background) is and then usually fix the eyes again because they don't match the correct colouring and I like them to look quite natural
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
Yep, depending on the cat. I often rebuild ears etc to put them where I want them if part of them is cut off, and made my own whiskers brush using some of the kitties whiskers I found on the floor after a fight to add them in (although the grass like brush turned sideways works well for that too if you turn down the scattering).

If the pic is really bad, I cut out small areas at a time, feathered well and work on each area, and then when I have one area perfect, I use the clone tool to fix the area around it, fix the colouring etc on that then do the same for the next area. Once I have got the kitty looking as best as I can, I merge all the layers and make a couple of copies at low opacity setting some to screen and soft light depending on how dark the original image (and my background) is and then usually fix the eyes again because they don't match the correct colouring and I like them to look quite natural
How do you go about rebuilding an ear becuase I have a sig I need to do where most pics I have, the ears are cut off.
post #22 of 23
I draw a triangle, feathered with the area I want the ear to cary on and use the clone tool to make it look cat like, going in lines upwards then smudge the fur from the original cutout upwards to make it look natural
post #23 of 23
Another way to rebuild an ear, which I find quite easy and usually always works, and it only works if you have at least one full ear of the cat, is I take the lasso tool and highlight the top of the complete ear, and then I copy and paste it to a transparent back ground. Then I paste it on to the top of the partial ear, then I "Flip Horizontal". The I work with it until it fits perfectly, sometimes you have to rotate it a bit, but I have had 100% success rebuilding ears this way. One time I was working on one of my rock and roll graphics, and part of one arm was missing. I wanted to put him in the middle of the picture, and because he had both arms bent in the same direction, I was able to rebuild an arm using that same technique.

Here is the picture where I created one arm, using the other arm.


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