Saturday, April 9, 2011

Auldsbel TMW poster

Those who know me know I love open source software. Being able to edit code (even if you don't really know what you're doing or don't consider yourself a programmer) has huge advantages over closed-source software. I think one of the reasons why I like The Mana World so much is the fact that I can edit both the scripting code and if I really wanted to delve deeper I could check out the source code for the server back end.

Because I also run a Mana World server I thought I'd put some effort into promoting my Mana World server: (It also happened to be 5am in the morning and I was fairly restless). I'm not an artist, but I do know a few things about using graphics-related software (e.g. using layers, masking, cropping, etc.). I use Ubuntu Linux (I gave up on Windows in my desktop several years ago because Linux has so much more to offer) which meant I wasn't about to use Photoshop (besides, it has a huge price tag). I've used Gimp for about 8 years on and off, mostly for photo editing and manipulation. This was the first time I tried to use it for something that would exist in Print. I like the style of ads Apple came out with several years ago to advertise the iPod, so I decided to do something similar. I could have used Inkscape, an open-source vector graphics program I'm also familiar with, but I chose Gimp because: a) I wanted to learn more about Gimp (with each project I tend to learn new things), and b) I knew I would be able to do more because of the wealth of features in Gimp (it's more mature).

I started with a black background layer. Then I made several sky layers (changing the mode of one of the layers to Overlay) to darken the sky. The great thing about layering is you can just turn on and off layers - letting you play with your image a bit more. The mode of a layer can also affect what's below the layer. I only changed layer modes on a couple of layers.

One tool that came in quite handy was the lasso select. After blowing up a screenshot of one of my characters on the server and a skeleton I created a new layer and used the lasso tool to trace around the characters, which I then filled with white and pasted as a new layer on my already created image. Using a few more layers I rotated and flipped a couple more of the same characters, brought down the opacity and skewed the characters to form shadows of the characters.

The last step was the text. For the title I used a font not included in Ubuntu. For the rest of the text I used the Impact Condensed font at different sizes. The font used for the title had some spacing issues I didn't like, but Gimp lets you adjust both the spacing between letters (kerning) and lines (line space).

I saved the poster in Gimp's .xcf format to maintain all the layer information. The printed result is much better than the screenshot I've included above.

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