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Hiywan's Story update, wallpaper and a tutorial

23rd February 2007 (14:22)
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The next chapter of Hiywan's Story is about half-done, but slightly stalled at the moment - although I have mapped out in more detail the plot twists and major characters to be introduced in the rest of the story. There will probably be a total of 30 chapters assuming each scene I've envisaged gets one to itself, so we're 10% of the way into the story. For those who may be wondering, the Shadow Men are currently pencilled in to show up not quite half way through; and the Scythe will also play an important role (you'll have to wait and see what that is, though :) ).

However, even though I'm not in a very literary mood at present, I am feeling more artistic; so I made some First Slayer wallpaper. It's currently set to be my desktop background, in the hope it'll inspire me to write more, or at least remind me I should! My own version says 'Hiywan's Story' as its text, but I also did this one with a quote from the show in case anyone else would like to use it. Behind the cut, I've also given a detailed tutorial on how I created it, since I've seen a few members of my flist express interest in such things lately.

(right-click and Save Target As on the image for the full 1024x768 version)

The screenshots came from http://www.screencap-paradise.com/buffy.php (thanks to elisifor originally introducing me to the site.). I use Photoshop CS, and the commands I used most often were Transform and the Opacity slider in the Layers palette. 

I started with a 1024 by 768 document with a black background, and pasted into this the screencap of Buffy in chains from 'Get It Done'. I used Transform to adjust its size to fill the window, and set the opacity to 50% so that the black background showed through. (I could probably have achieved the same effect using the Brightness and Contrast adjustment sliders, but I'm so used to playing with opacity that it's become second nature to do it that way). 

Next came the trickiest part: substituting a picture of the First Slayer in place of Buffy in the centre of the screen. I used a screencap from 'Restless', looking for one where Sharon Ferguson was shown in roughly the same posture and camera angle as Sarah in the original 'Get It Done' cap. I used the Lasso tool to outline her body, copied and pasted it into my picture, then zoomed in close and used the Eraser carefully around the edges to take out the remains of the desert background. I then used Transform to resize and position the First Slayer into the same place as Buffy in the original. 

Next, I temporarily hid the First Slayer layer and used the Clone tool (and a little bit of the Smudge tool) to get rid of Buffy and replace her with stone walls and floor copied from the other areas of the background. Once done, I added back the picture of Sharon and merged it with the background. As final touches, I manually painted in a manacle around her left wrist, and her feet (!) since these were cropped out in the screencap I used. 

The next step were the 'filmstrips' of the shadowplay from 'Get It Done'. I created these in a separate temporary document, because they're wider than 1024 pixels. Each cell of the filmstrip is a separate screencap, reduced in size, set to a very low level of opacity, and desaturated to take out the pinkish tinge in the original images. I then arranged them side-by-side and merged them into a single layer. The text (which is the words Dawn recites from the book in the episode) was then added to each image - and again I reduced its opacity and merged it with the filmstrip. Finally, I pasted two copies of the strips into my artwork (they overlapped it at each edge) and used Transform to alter the angle and position until they looked good (and didn't hide any important elements of the main picture). The strips now frame the central picture of the First Slayer, forming converging lines to draw the eye in towards her. I deliberately positioned "They CHAINED her to the EARTH" directly underneath her as well... 

That completed the main picture, but there were still a couple of extra frills to add. In the large and empty area at the left of the screen I added a close-up of Sharon's face, looking very scary; but positioned this behind the main picture layer and reduced its opacity to a very low level so it didn't clash with the main image. I did the same at the bottom of the artwork, with a shot of the Slayer Spirit (aka "black swirly cloud of demon dust") emerging from its box. This is actually two separate images: the cap of the Spirit emerging from the box had one of the Shadow Men standing in front of it, which would have focussed too much attention away from Hiywan in the centre of the screen. Therefore, I took an earlier cap of the box sitting alone in the centre of the floor, and superimposed the middle section of this picture onto the other one; then used Clone and Smudge to blend the two together. Again, this image was placed behind the main one and reduced in opacity. 

Finally came the main text. The First Slayer doesn't get many lines of dialogue, but "No friends, just the kill. We are alone" seemed to fit the mood of the image, with her trapped and chained... but still defiant.

This is how it was then.
How it must be now.
This is all there is.



Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 23rd February 2007 14:48 (UTC)

Nice design. I did find it a little too dark though.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd February 2007 17:05 (UTC)

Thanks - I actually prefer dark images as my desktop, so that the icons show up better. Then again, I'm using an LCD monitor - I've noticed that darker wallpaper looks much flatter and more drab on a CRT screen, and loses a lot of its impact.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 23rd February 2007 14:51 (UTC)
Oh wow! by eyesthatslay

Gorgeous wallpaper! Thank you. And one day I'll catch up on all the fic I don't have time to read... *is hopeful* It's such a great premise, but I haven't even got time to write, so...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd February 2007 17:14 (UTC)

Glad you liked it (I couldn't have done it without you, as I mentioned. :) )

It's an odd story to write, in a way, given that pretty much none of the characters are canonical... while I'm trying to make it credible and in-character that Hiywan could one day become the First Slayer we see on screen, there's certainly little to say what she used to be like as a girl... and all the other people are invented out of whole cloth. So it could, with a few tweaks, become a stand-alone non-Buffyverse story - although I think it could lose a lot of depth and resonance that way.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 23rd February 2007 17:36 (UTC)
Slayer by kathyh.

So it could, with a few tweaks, become a stand-alone non-Buffyverse story - although I think it could lose a lot of depth and resonance that way.
You know, this made me think of speakr2customrs's The Cloak of Mist:

"The Isle of Man, 1014 AD, a mixed Celtic and Viking community. In the aftermath of the slaughter at the Battle of Clontarf, with the islanders mourning their dead and anxious for the missing, a new Slayer must face a horde of undead Vikings to free the island from a dreadful curse."

Sort of the same thing - very much his own invention, but drawing on the Slayer 'verse for it's basic structure (Slayer powers, The Council etc.) Highly recommended.

Actually watchersdiaries might be just your thing!

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 23rd February 2007 15:48 (UTC)

Damn, this is gonna be more like a maxi-series. Can't wait!

(It's been a weird last few days, but I'm back to my paupertas opus. I really need to get out more.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd February 2007 17:19 (UTC)

If you got out more you'd write less, not more, though, wouldn't you? (Unless you use a laptop, or pen and paper to write).

Oddly, planning out each chapter in advance as I've now done actually feels a little uncomfortable, as though I'm stifling myself rather than helping things along. On the other hand, hopefully it means I won't lose the plot (literally rather than figuratively) and take the story off in some huge digression and not know how to bring it back.

Incidentally, when I wrote the lj-cut text ("she begged for us to stop. We did not then, we will not now.") I did think it seemed like the sort of link text you'd write. :)

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 27th February 2007 16:18 (UTC)

Gonna post Hiywan's Story to Mara's new site Daughters of Sineya? Cause you totally should.

*flails at feeling unable to contribute to your latest meta*

I'd eat your brain, but that would might cut into your future posts. Suffice to say I love it when you get all analytical, even if I feel horribly unimaginative in comparison.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 27th February 2007 20:04 (UTC)

*Is tempted to give Hiywan's clan a brain-eating ritual to absorb their enemies' powers, but then decides that would make them appear Evil to modern sensibilities.*

On which note, since Hiywan's clan considers a person to become an adult pretty much when they hit puberty (technically, after their initiation rites), this story could well have a bunch of 13 and 14 year olds having sex and babies all over the place. So does that mean I'll need to cover it in "Warning: underage sex!!" notices? Even though by the standards and laws of their own society, they're not underage? Hmmm.

Oh, and thanks. :)

Posted by: petzipellepingo (petzipellepingo)
Posted at: 27th February 2007 16:54 (UTC)
first slayer by splashbomb


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