September 10, 2011

File Cleanup

Slowly but surely I have been working on going through my computer and trying to clean up and/or organize my files. It is a slow process made a bit easier by the fact that I usually do a decent job of keeping things organized a bit as I go along.

 Problems only arise when you don't set aside some time to clean things up. My video folders are very squared away and I regularly go through my documents folder to clean things up. Today I started to tackle my pictures folder.

 It's not too bad since I usually organize things as I add them to my laptop. I have a lot of files I need to edit and tweak before re-sizing and renaming. Then I come to my WIP folder. I like to use several temp folders in each directory as temporary repositories. WIP stands for Work in Progress.

My pictures WIP folder is a mess. I have tons of files of multiple projects in different states of progression. Looking at a folder full of pictures is easy enough. Trying to go through a series of PSD (photoshop) files is difficult because instead of using Windows explorer I have to open them up in Photoshop.

Part of my morning was spent simply opening files and looking to see if they were of any use to keep around. If it was, I filed it in pretty much one of three places: my WIP folder (or a sub-folder of that) for files I was still using, my Source folder for base files I used in other projects, and my Finished folder where I could keep a copy of the completed project.

I figured maybe I could share some of these finished projects. I watermarked them because most all of them have elements I used with permission from the IP owners.

This project was an emblem for our home gaming groups.  My wife did this as a line drawing which I scanned in and then colored.  I didn't have Photoshop back then and used some free program to do the fill work.  I wish I could recall the program, but I cannot.  It did have a cool feature where it went from light to dark.

These days, if you don't have access to Photoshop I would recommend using Gimp instead.

Another project was a mapboard I made for playing HackMaster Basic.  First I overlaid two different types of grids, an 1/2" isometric triangle underneath a 1" hex grid.  Around the edges are a simple count track going up to 100.  The board was printed on vinyl at FedEx Kinkos.  For actual game use we had to throw a piece of acetate over the top.  That stuff runs anywhere from $4 to $7 a running foot (6' length) and works great.

In HackMaster Basic, there are two basic movement rates for PCs: 2.5' and 5'.  Different speeds are multiples of these distances.  In game, 2.5' multiples essentially move 5' intervals every other second. This map board let them move every second and the centerpoints of the hexes made it easier to draw straight lines and right angles.

Jolly Blackburn made this awesome graphic of Gordo, Weird Pete, and Squirrely driving Pete's POS VW Van to GaryCon.  I asked for the graphic to make a big magnet we wanted to get made up.  We made one for our GaryCon after Gary Gygax passed away, but I'm not sure where that file is.  The GaryCon these guys were attending was named after the fictional Gary Jackson.  Now that there is a real GaryCon is just an example of life imitating art.

We gave out a lot of these and you can see several at Jolly's house and the KenzerCo office.

One of my projects this last spring was a a joint effort with Jolly on producing a Monster card for HackMaster basic.  Jolly did all the heavy lifting in producing the basic card.  I took his work, did some cleaning up so I could turn the card into a form.  I had to tweak things to make the card fit into a specific format.  First there was a 9-up card and then a big sheet for professional printing.  The 9-up card sheet was turned into a PDF form for folks to type out the monster stats.

It was my thought that with some print-on-demand that KenzerCo might be able to sell this product at little cost to themselves.  I whipped up a custom storage box to go along with the cards.  three sealed boxes of cards were made.  Jolly was given one to show to the rest of the D-team, my wife got one for home game use, and I kept one for posterity (still sealed up).

This is just a stamp I made up to use in Adobe Acrobat to denote HackMaster PCs that were pregens.  I made bunch up from raw stats that were perfectly playable, but I was asked to make a set of pre-gens with far superior stats.  In case anyone thought of trying to pass off these characters as their own (it HAS happened), I thought I'd best mark them appropriately.

On the KenzerCo forums, Jolly created a fake tourism ad for a place that exists in the Kingdoms of Kalamar game world.  He challenged  the forums to do the same so I threw this postcard sized "ad" for the hamlet of Drakesville, where I placed my first HackMaster Basic Learn-to-Hack adventure.

This last winter Jolly posted a picture of himself after he spent some time snowblowing his driveway and a path out to his writing shed.

Oh....I had to have fun with this!

This was my initial effort.  I ran Jolly's photo through a cool piece of web software that basically antiques it.  It is called the Bakumatsu Koshashin Generator and the page is in Japanese.  Since I use Google Chrome, translation isn't a problem.

Photoshop was very useful in copying parts of the text and manipulating it to spell out Jolly's name, but I wasn't very happy with the results.  I thought I could do better.
Starting from scratch, I did some research on the alternative old west that is the Aces & Eights campaign setting (another game from Kenzer & Company).  I used that information to recreate all the wanted poster's text so it made sense.

This was the full-color version.

This would be the antiqued version.

It was fun going through the old files and remembering the projects I worked on.  There is no way that I'll be confused with a professional graphic artist, but I have enjoyed dinking around with Photoshop.  Hopefully you got a kick out of these projects yourself.

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