Sir Graphics Blog the Third.

November 13, 2011 in Graphics

Welcome to… The graphics blog! Come join me as we take another stroll through the intricate and intriguing world of graphics.

We are onto number 3! I know it’s been awhile since the last one, but I broke my laptop unfortunately (well the screen and keyboard). However now I am using the TV as a monitor and have a wireless keyboard, so all is (somewhat) well. The thought of having to write a blog using the on-screen keyboard was far, far from appealing.

Sig Of The Week?

SOTW 27 – Logos


- H@rdcore

SOTW 28 – Hope

- Duke Oscar

Congratulations to our winners! Remember, anyone can enter on a first come, first served basis. SOTW 29 – Technology is the next competition, you can find the information on it here: I encourage everyone to enter, no matter what your skill level, it’s good fun.

Other stuff?

So let’s have a browse of some recent works by our talented GFX’ers.

- geremy

This was the winning piece of the halloween contest to design a halloween themed banner to be used on the forums and I must say it was a very impressive piece. It kept to the style of the previous banner that suited the layout, and yet made it completely different. For comparrison, here is the original banner and the halloween themed banner together:

I think it was very well done, and deserved the first place he got. Congratulations!

- ruxika

This piece I personally found to be quite creative. The pop-out adds good depth but also the background helps to enhance it too. I like the somewhat aggressive colour-tone and I think the longer you look at it, the better it seems to get. The over-all atmosphere is consistant throughout the piece, which can be quite tricky to maintain. Good job with this piece, I hope to see some more from you in the future.

- Clinda

I thought this was a really good example of how lighting affects any and all graphics or art. I really liked both the strength and subtlety of the lighting here, and how the lighting was used to create depth. The only thing that I didn’t like about this piece, was the flow (the “direction” of the piece). Most of the top “graphics” pieces you will see, have a consistant flow, for example in this piece (which is simply awesome):

- blane

You can see the flow from left to right, by the use of the text, direction of the character, effects, and so forth. Clinda’s piece flows in two directions, from the bottom to the top left, and the top right. This creates a “dual focal” which means your eyes have to look at two places to see the piece. The best pieces of art or design, tend to have a single focal point (unless it is intentionally part of the “art” to not have one). Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most notable for use of focal points, such as in the famous “last supper” artwork:

Everything leans towards Christ in the middle, for example the hallway narrowing towards him, the light behind him, the faces looking at him, and so forth.

But, I digress. I really liked Clinda’s lighting, and if the focal was a bit more defined it would make a really great piece in my mind.

The rules to make, and habits to form.

For beginners in sig-making, here are a few rules and guidelines, that I believe will help you on your way to becoming a great GFX’er.

Rule 1: Do not use 1 colour.

What this rule means, is to avoid using a single colour-tone for example the difference between:


A single colour-tone like that really makes it look an amateur piece and hard to look at, it tends to make things less clear as sections are no longer defined by colour. You should also try and avoid using too many colours, as then it can get messy. It’s best to usually stick to 2-3 colours, and colours that mix well together.

Rule 2: Avoid the spam

What I am referring to here is the act of “fractal spam” or “C4D spam”. This is when you crowd a piece with “fractal” effects such as these:

or C4D’s (Effects made in the program Cinema 4D) such as these:

The use of these kind of things is common in Sig-Making and when done right can produce very good depth and visual effects, however a common mistake (one I have made myself many times) is using too many as you go, ending up with a cramped and messy piece. It’s the difference between these for example (two of my pieces from awhile back):

The first one I used a few fractals, but only sparingly (the rest was smudging) and in the second one I used a lot of fractals and effects. The second one has too many effects, and makes it look “messy” and “unorganized” in a sense. It’s hard to focus on what you are supposed to be looking at, when there is dots, light flashes, colour splatters etc, everywhere. As in all things, you want to achieve a balance. A perfect piece is one that will balance flashy effects, with simplicity.

Rule 3: There are no more rules.


Well, there are others that float around, but my point here is that those are the two most important things; colour, and balance within the piece. Rules such as the “rule of thirds” (render/focal placement being off-center) have merit to them, but I believe they are more personal preferences than general “rules”, however I think artists and designers rather globally all agree on colour and content balance. If you wanted to make something abstract, you could throw some wild “spam” in there, but that’s getting into the realm of art and not “design” as such. There is a difference between the two, but Sig-Making falls under the “design” category. If you have good colour and balanced content, you can experiment with anything you like. Borders, effects, filters, layer adjustments, renders, stocks, textures, the world is your oyster. The constants however will always be: Colour, focal points and content, regardless of the piece.

Habits to form:

These aren’t “rules” as such, but useful habits that should be automatic actions and reactions.

1: Save, save, save. The most frustrating thing that can happen when making anything is for your pc to crash (or the programs) or you accidentally turn it off or whatever, and lose all your work. Always, Always save at regular intervals. You will save yourself a lot of frustration.

2: Take a break. When you make something, every 20-30 minutes just take a short break. Get up, walk around, get a drink/food/whatever, play a short game, something. Then, when you come back it will give you a chance to see the piece again from a different angle. When you are making something it is hard to always see it in perspective as you have been looking at it for so long. Taking a short break, then coming back and looking at it from a new angle, can really help to show up anything you might have otherwise missed.

3: Ask for help. The tribal wars graphics forum is a great place to ask for help if you need it, don’t be afraid to put your hand up with something and say “I’m stuck, help?”. No-one ever got far on their own, we all had to learn from someone to begin with. Learn the basics from others, then afterwards you can start to experiment and develop your own styles, but use the knowledge of others to gain that base level first.

4: Embrace failure. There will be many times when people look at your piece and say something negative about it. You should learn to take heart from this, see it as a challenge, strive to better yourself, not just get disappointed and quit. It’s 5% talent, 95% work. Put in the hard yards, take the criticisms, learn from it, and you will find yourself improving quickly if you can do that.

So there’s a few things to think about. Whether you just want to make sigs for fun, casually, or whether you actually want to go into graphic design, these are habits that if they become second nature to you now will really pay dividends later on.

Harbs Section

I’m going to have a bit of a rant here about something that has been infuriating me lately and is mind-boggling to say the least. Facebook.

My god! What is wrong with the world? Just tonight my sister had some facebook argument with her boyfriend, broke up, and lost 2 friends (as in genuinely lost as real friends, not just “contacts”) who commented on her status with something she didn’t like.

I’m 18, I have always grown up with computers, mobile phones, all that, yet I am able to distinguish between on-line and real life. Why do so many others struggle? It’s not just with facebook, it’s anything to do with digital media. Even people texting each other has caused big drama’s and arguments. Perhaps though the sole blame doesn’t like with the use of such mediums, but perhaps in an actual failing of the English language itself (I can’t really speak for other languages, because… I can’t speak them). Things such as “you, your, you’re” for example, or “it, it’s, its”, “their” and “there” all these sort of things that you learn in school, from the time you learn to write. Obviously mistakes will be made by everyone here and there, but when people start writing in job applications and official letters “can u pls…” You know there is a problem.

It’s even more astounding when the people who write and speak like this are in their 30’s – 60’s. It makes me wonder that if they are the last of the “previous” generations (who would actually learn things in school) what kind of future do we, and generations to come, have? Naturally as I blogger I greatly enjoy writing and using the English language (or any language for that matter), I think it’s mankind’s greatest feat that is so severely unappreciated by society today. No other species has developed a written language like ours (unless there are some little green men running around out there somewhere) yet the majority of people these days cannot even tell the difference between “you” and “u”. Don’t even get me started on the butchering of our language with “lolspeak”.

Gargh. Anyway, that’s enough of my ranting (what’s a blog without a little rant?). I hope you enjoyed it and again, apologies for the delay with the laptop troubles. Now that I am sorted I can continue my blogging for the lovely graphics forum and Tribal Wars as a whole.

Bye for now!
– harb.