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Technical Aspects of Signatures

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# 1xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:17 PM
Introduction

This is a guide on the technical aspects of signatures (and possibly large pieces) giving you a basis and theory on each aspect and how to execute them well.

Table of Contents

I. Pre-Signature

A. Concept

B. Size

C. Stock

1. Choice

2. Positioning

3. Renders


II. Signature

A. Background

B. Blending

C. Colors

D. Depth

E. Effects

F. Filters

G. Flow

H. Lighting

I. Resources

1. Brushes

a. Installation and Customization

b. Brush Usage

2. C4Ds

3. Textures

J. Smudging


III. Post-Signature

A. Border

B. Composition

C. Text


IV. Other

A. Animation


V. Credits


VI. Updates


This post has been edited by xProphet: Apr 25 2008, 16:27 PM

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# 2xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:18 PM
I. Pre-Signature

There are many aspects of a signature to consider before starting. This section will cover those aspects. These aspects include the concept, the size and the stock choice of the signature.

A. Concept
Before you start a signature, you should have a basic idea of what you’re going to do, whether it is a mental picture you’re going to try to make real or a signature you’re trying to replicate. The concept is important because having a good imagination is key to making original signatures. Without a good concept before making the signature you have no idea what you are doing with the signature and have no plan, which isn’t bad all the time. You can start developing a concept after you choose a stock for your signature. A carefully planned out signature can lead to great success.

Example of a well-planned signature:
IPB Image

B. Size
Size is an important factor in a signature. Here on Gamereplays, the signature size tends to be around 400x100. If anyone chooses a different size, the height usually reaches a max of 140 unless it is a vertical signature. A signature can be up to 500x500 or 200x150 if you want it to be, there is no limit to size. You always want to start of your signatures bigger than you intend it to be. This is so you have more space to work with and you can crop off bits you don’t like at the end or transfer bits that would originally not even be there had you started with a smaller size into the area you wish to keep. If you start with a small size, chances are you won’t be able to make it much bigger without quality loss. Size is an important aspect of the signature because it determines how much room you have in the signature to work with and will most definitely affect your signature at the end. A well-sized signature should be big enough to include everything you want it to, like the example.

Example of a well-sized signature:
IPB Image

C. Stock
A stock is the image you choose to work with in your signature.

1. Choice
Choose your stock wisely, because it will determine how your signature ends up. Now stock choices vary depending on the size of your signature. For the average signature, you’d usually want to avoid a stock of a person who is lying down or someone skinny so that it has to be very small for the signature. A person lying down limits the amount of room you have to work with to make a background and the blending is more difficult. If a person is lying down, you normally cut the person off at the back, which make the bottom part of the signature just the stock and no background or you would add in what the person is lying on which then limits the amount of blending you can do because erasing what the person is lying on the person seems to be floating. A skinny stock is different from a small stock.

A skinny stock tends to be a stock where a person is sideways and doesn’t take up much room in the signature horizontally and therefore causes a lot of extra room on the sides and damages the composition. A skinny stock tends to be forehead-to-shoulder but still only take up a tiny amount of space width wise which is what damages the overall composition of the signature. A small stock is just a stock that doesn’t take up much room in the signature, but normally has a full body instead of the typical forehead-to-shoulders placements. A small stock isn’t always bad, whether it is a regular stock that is small or a sprite. A sprite is a pixel image, typically of Pokemon or Street Fighter characters. You want to choose a stock that doesn’t take up to much room in the signature. The stock you choose should be affected by the size of your signature.

Example of a good stock in a signature:
IPB Image
Notice how the stock doesn't take up to much room and it isn't taking up to little.

Example of a good signature using a small stock:
IPB Image

Example of a sprite signature:
IPB Image

2. Positioning
What good is a nice stock if you don't position it well? The positioning of the stock is very important because you will work around it. You can change it later in the signature, but that will be hard to do and require many edits. You want to position your stock mid-right/mid-left typically. This is to help with the composition. You want to resize your stock to generally have it being forehead at the top and shoulders at the bottom. This doesn't always have to be the case though. If you ever resize a stock and it doesn't fill up the whole signature, you can always fix that. All you have to do to fix it is either smudge it out or duplicate the stock (Ctrl+J) and move it over to fill the spot and then using the eraser tool with 20% opacity and 0% hardness, erase away. This blends them together. Don't be afraid to rotate the stock either.

Examples of poor positioning and sizing:
IPB Image

IPB Image

Example of good positioning and sizing:
IPB Image

Eraser settings:
IPB Image




3. Renders
Renders are cut-out stocks. They are generally better for beginners. Sites like www.gamerenders.com will have renders located in their forums for use. To use a render, right click on it > Save Image and then open it into Photoshop. It should have a checkerboard background meaning it is transparent. You can erase or cut out the credits if there are any and then drag the render into another document (you signature) using the move tool. You can also make your own renders using the pen tool.

Once you get more advanced, you will want to cut out your stocks yourself even if you intend to manipulate the stock around it for the background. This way you have more control over the effects you put into your signature. Rendering at first is a very tedious job, but with practice it becomes fairly easy.

a. How to Render a Stock
To render a stock for yourself, make a new document sized however large you wish your signature to be. Find a stock and resize it. This will let you only render the part you need and shortening the amount of time required to render it. Make a new layer and then fill it with an ugly light green color (around #00ff30) and fill the new layer with it. This will allow you to have your render against this background and due to the contrast, lets you see if you missed anything or if it is choppy. Move this layer underneath the layer with your stock in it. Duplicate the stock layer for backup and then hide it. Zoom in to about 200-300%. Using the pen too, click on an outline of the stock. Next, start clicking around the outline of the stock some more. If you come up to a curve, you can click across the curve, click in the center of the new anchor points and then while holding control, click on the new anchor point at drag it to make the curve. Hair is a tedious part of a stock to render and the curve trick can help you there. After you have your stock outlined in anchor points, right click > Make Selection (0 Feather, Anti-aliased, New Selection) and then go to Select > Inverse and delete. You should now have a render. It may be choppy or you may have missed bits, but you can also add more detail to the cut afterwards. If you accidentally cut out an important piece of the stock, you don't need to start over. Simply duplicate that backup stock, visibilise it and then erase around the part you need and then zoom in and cut it out. Then you can merge the two layers together. If you wish to save this, save it as a PNG-24 with Transparency checked.

Pen tool settings:
IPB Image


Recommended Rendering Tutorial

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# 3xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:19 PM
II. Signature

Now the fun part... the actual signature! This section will include most if not all popular tools used to create signatures in Photoshop. Please note that this section is written by different people so Photoshop version and writing style may vary.

A. Background
The background is huge when it comes to making an appealing signature. Most other aspects in this part aid in making the background more appealing. Generally, you would take a stock and place it into the signature and then make a background afterwards. A good, appealing background is made through a combination of many tools. The most popular tools used include the smudge tool and brush tool. Many other more complicated aspects go into the creation of a background and can be added during the process of making it or afterwards. These aspects include depth, flow, lighting and many more that are covered in this guide. A good looking background is essential in a good signature. Don't be afraid to use resources in your signature to make it look better. Not every signature needs to include a complex background - many can be very plain and still appealing.

B. Blending

C. Colors
This is a vital aspect that you need to learn. There are so many methods of coloring available in Photoshop that it would be impossible to cover them all in this guide. You'll learn the most effective methods shortly. First, you must understand the theory of coloring. The colors should match the theme of your signature. If your new and are thinking of making a signature with metallic colors, you can't (unless it's text or not the traditional signature). A term you should know and mainly avoid is monotone. Monotone is pretty much what it sounds like - one tone. This means that the signature is all one color without much variation. Monotone signatures usually lack depth and aren't to interesting to look at. A good way to avoid this is to avoid using Hue in the Hue/Saturation. trying to stay as far away from Color Balance, and avoiding high percentages when using the Photo Filter. These are the different methods of coloring (red=stay away from | green=good):

IPB Image

Levels: Levels can cause very dramatic changes in your signature, so you'd want to make sure you move the bars slightly. Levels is also a great way to make depth - and remember to change from RGB to Red, Green, or Blue on the dropdown.

Curves: Curves is a personal favorite. Experiment with this one - but again, make sure you don't change the "graph" dramatically. Be sure to change the RGB to Red, Green, or Blue like in the levels.

D. Depth

E. Effects

F. Filters

G. Flow

H. Lighting

I. Resources
Resources are items that you use to help you in the process of making a signature. These include stocks, C4Ds, brushes and more. Other resources include PSDs and Tutorials which can help you learn techniques and styles.

1. Brushes
Brushes are one of the most commonly used tools in Photoshop. As you get better, you'd want to drift away from using these as much as possible, but they are still great assets to the signature no matter what level of skill you're in.

a. Installation and Customization
Brushing is a tool like any other tool. It helps you create unique pieces, because brushing can be done in billions of ways. Adobe Photoshop© allow you to create your own unique brush. You can do that if you open a new transparent document. The size of the canvas depends on how many details you want in your brush, and how big your maximum brush size shall be.
IPB Image

It is best if you make it with 100% black, because then it is visible as it can be. (You can always change the colour later) You can create a brush in different contrasts like this one:
IPB Image

100% black was 100% black when brushing, but if you change it to 50% black and 50% white, then you get half visibility. You only had 50% black so it showed 50% visibility.
IPB Image

When you have finished customizing your brush then you have to go:
Edit>Define brush preset…

You can also download other artist’s brushes.
Some can be found in Graphics General Techniques & Support others on sites like:
http://www.deviantart.com/ or direct link: http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/app...ions/psbrushes/

When you have clicked the download bottom then save it on your desired folder.
IPB Image

You have an overview if you save your “file”.abr here:
C:\Programmes\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Presets\Brushes.
If you can’t recall what the name of you brush, then you can help your self by creating a folder in
C:\Programmes\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Presets\Brushes. Called “Downloaded Brushes”.

C:\Programmes\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Presets\Brushes\ Downloaded Brushes.

Now return to Adobe Photoshop©. Next step is to load your downloaded brush. Choose your brush tool and click the arrow no. 1 and after that click the arrow no. 2.
IPB Image

Then click on “Load Brushes”, this will open a folder. Open the desired brush. (This step has to be done once, not every time you open Adobe Photoshop©)

Once you have your brush you can do with it, as you want. Brush, smudge, erase, clone stamp, burn and dodge with it.

Lets stick with the brushing for now. Adobe Photoshop© allows to use different settings. Go to your brush palette.
IPB Image

Palette
Shape dynamics is a way to randomise your brushing. If you have a tablet then the Pen Pressure or Pen tilt is useful. The harder you press the more dynamics you get, and the more tilting you do, the more dynamics you get. This is selected in the 3-dropdown menus.
IPB Image

Scattering scatters the brush. You can select how long distance you want the brushes to be from the centre, and you can choose how many you want spread out from the centre.
IPB Image

A not so used technique is brushing with texture; in the texture bar you can define how visible your texture should be, which blending mode etc.
IPB Image

You can also rotate brushes using what is circled in red in one of the following images.

Before rotate:
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After rotate:
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Use a combination between all these functions when you brush. These functions are also used when making a smudge brush - so keep these in mind!

b. Brush Usage

2. C4Ds

3. Textures

J. Smudging

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# 4xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:20 PM
III. Post-Signature


A. Border

B. Composition

C. Text

Text is a very important thing when you are making a sig. It almost appears in every signature on the Internet. Text is important because it tells you about the signature. If you look upon an abstract piece then the text tell you about the “abstractnation of reality” is.

A text can be built in many ways, I will teach you my way of making a text.

Make a signature. First we start out with the making of the text because we cant place it before we know how big it is etc.

As I said before it can be made in many ways, but all the perfect texts have to fit the theme of the signature.
The theme of this signature [signature text] is future/robot/electronic/army, so first we need some fonts that fit these themes. Go to http://www.dafont.com/ and find them. On the site you have different categories, The “Techno” category is best in this case. Ones you have download the desired font, and saved it then you have to activate it. Move your downloaded font to this folder:
C:\WINDOWS\Fonts
Now Windows installs it.
When you are ready take your Text tool (T). Make a selection. Now you have to make up your mind what the text is going to say.
This is what we want it to say:

xProphet (because it is a gift for him)
Section 8 (because the stock was from a game called Section 8)

Now we have to make a priority what that should be the title and the subtitle.
The signature is about “Section 8” so that is obviously more important than “xProphet” biggrin.gif because he have nothing to do with the signature. The title should be more visible than the subtitle. You can do that in multiple ways. By colour, size, font, placing etc.
The text would be boring if you just wrote: “Section 8, gift for xProphet”. Shorten it, and separate it in 3 different text layers. Like this:
IPB Image
Now we have to choose a font. I prefer going with something simple. So choose a simple font for “Section” like: “Franklin Gothic Medium Cond” Boring? Yes. Go Window>character, A new box will appear. I do not like text where the letters almost touch each other, so change the letter wide to maximum (200) (1). Made all of them capital letters (2), and finally made them bold (3). IPB Image
Typed section.
IPB Image
2nd text is 8 because it is the other part of “Section 8”. But not to make the text completely boring, I have downloaded a font (http://www.dafont.com/ds-digital.font). It is digital and digital numbers does not stand alone even if it is only one number, and it is also typical army style to have 08 instead of 8 only. So we have to type “08” with our digital watch font.
It does not matter if I put this before or after “section”.
It looks like this now
IPB Image
Next step is the “xProphet” text. Putting the “xProphet” text into the signature, dedicate the signature to xProphet, instead of a signature that he just wears. So I think it is important.
But it is still a minority to the overall text, so make it small, and non-fancy. A size 6 with Arial.
I used the space that the big “08” made for me. It looks like this now:
IPB Image

Now we need to find a good location for the text. The text must not cover any main focal, often the face of the render.

This is a good spot:
IPB Image

Only thing missing is colour.
I often use the “Eye dropper tool” (I) to find a colour that match the sig. I do not want to steal focus from the render, so pick a nice colour that flows with the sig. In this signature I would go for a grey/brownish colour for “section”. “xProphet” text is till minority, so I gave it the same colour. Now we only have “08” left, and it would be dull if we choose the same colour too. Press “I” and pick a colour that is lighter than the others. The “08”’s background is darker than the background so the “08” can be lighter than the other texts.

Now the text looks like this:

IPB Image

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# 5xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:20 PM
IV. Other


A. Animation

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# 6xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:21 PM
V. Credits

Introduction - xProphet
Table of Contents - xProphet
Section I.A. - xProphet (CS3)
Section I.B. - xProphet (CS3)
Section I.C. - xProphet (CS3)
Section I.C.1. - xProphet (CS3)
Section I.C.2. - xProphet (CS3)
Section I.C.3. - xProphet (CS3)
Section II. - xProphet (CS3)
Section II.A. - xProphet (CS3)
Section II.B.
Section II.C.
Section II.D.
Section II.E.
Section II.F.
Section II.G.
Section II.H.
Section II.I. - xProphet (CS3)
Section II.I.1. - xProphet (CS3)
Section II.I.1.a. - Connecter (CS2)
Section II.I.1.b.
Section II.I.2.
Section II.I.3.
Section III.
Section III.A.
Section III.B.
Section III.C. - Connecter (CS2)
Section IV.
Section IV.A.
Section V. - xProphet
Section VI. - xProphet
Idea for the guide - xProphet
Coder - xProphet
Editor - xProphet

This post has been edited by xProphet: Apr 25 2008, 16:27 PM

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# 7xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:22 PM
VI. Updates

4/25/08 - Posted

This post has been edited by xProphet: Apr 25 2008, 16:27 PM

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# 8xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:23 PM
2

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# 9xProphet Apr 25 2008, 16:24 PM
Something that me and Ragnar started and with the help of some Voodoo members, are getting done. Been in the works for months already.

Please note that this is still under heavy construction.

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# 10MdK Apr 25 2008, 16:42 PM
Cant believe I just read all that. laugh.gif Very nice tips and advice there tbh.

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# 11xProphet Apr 25 2008, 17:19 PM
biggrin.gif

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# 12Connecter Apr 25 2008, 17:25 PM
yes we really need this to be updated biggrin.gif

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# 13Zonks Apr 26 2008, 01:57 AM
Wow theres some really nice stuff in their, not just for new artsists but for everyone. Good job biggrin.gif

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# 14HyperShadow647 Apr 26 2008, 04:20 AM
cool read, will help a lot of people out. keep it up thum.gif.

This post has been edited by HyperShadow647: Apr 26 2008, 04:21 AM

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# 15number45_ Apr 26 2008, 19:16 PM
Great advice guys. Looking forward to reading the updates thumb.gif

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# 16Evolancer Apr 27 2008, 23:52 PM
biggrin.gif Very good job here xProphet !

I just installed Photoshop and didn't know anything in sig creation. Now thanks to this guide I'm less ignorant. Thanks !

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# 17Kojho Apr 29 2008, 00:51 AM
goos stuff boiz

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# 18MAN BEAR PIGLET Apr 29 2008, 01:26 AM
gay. but seriously good stuff tongue.gif

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# 19BigSimo May 3 2008, 13:59 PM
Wow, this is looking great. Good stuff smile.gif

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# 20HyperShadow647 May 3 2008, 21:31 PM
In the process of reorganizing this section for something that I'm not allowed to talk about, we've decided to pin this excellent article, so good job guys! Just keep at it and don't let it fall to pieces tongue.gif.

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