Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Random Rant: My Crazy Busy and Sad last couple of months, My Adventures with Blog Designers, and New look...New giveaway!


So, for quite some time I haven't been very present on the blog. I've done things here and there, but I haven't been how I use to be, and for that I'm sorry.

A lot of things have been going down in my life. I'm 26 years old and just finished my third (semi-fourth cause I was part time my first year) year at University  Basically after the second year....things just get down right busy. 

I was also kind of sick, which just made all the school work and everything else kind shitty. But hey, I got a lot of reading done when I was in the hospital or at home sick. Sadly, I'm still trying to catch up on the reviews. 

And then there was the big thing...my dad passed away. He wasn't old either. So...that was super tough. And I tried to be tough. It happened during the third last week of school and I had four major projects due the next week and then exams shortly after. And...I decided to only ask for an extension on 1 essay, and 1/5 exams. I look back at it now and realize that was kind of stupid because I could have burnt myself out, but I wanted to get it over with. I take spring and summer classes every year and I wanted a break in between. So...ya. I've been busy.

But, now that I have some time on my hands I've been finally getting back to stuff.
I joined instagram! Click on the instagram icon here: 
Or on the upper right hand side of the blog to be brought to my account. 

Here are some pics:
















 I've had some posts (not many), but mainly I've been working on making the blog look better. 

I've always felt that my blog never looked the way I wanted it to. I like having all my stuff on my sidebars, but it junks-it-up and I finally decided to cut some of the fat. Now if only I could find a good code for a good blog roll/image scroll. I'll get to that soon and my sidebars will be even more organized. 

Anyhow I always said I would never pay to have someone create graphics for my blog, because I don't make money doing this so shelling out some money for it wouldn't be economically smart for this student. And, well, I kind of like the idea of making the entire blog MINE and even down to the images. 

But, I have to admit...I kind of started looking. 

I found some really sweet freebies. 
NoseGraze, a blog run by a young woman named Ashley, has some pretty sweet stuff.
I got freebies including social icons (with their psd file--I'll explain the importance of that later), as well as brush stroke images (they kind of look like clouds) that I used for the background for text. She runs a site called CreativeWHIM.com where you can download these freebies. 

Note: She also has this awesome Wordpress plugin called The Ultimate Blogger Plugin. Its awesome! It formats all your review posts for you. You simply fill out certain sections, click some drop down options and it generates a code for you to put in your post that. It can also create a blog roll, image slider, all kinds of sweet stuff. I realize now that a lot of the blog I follow use it. Sadly, it's only for Wordpress.

When it came to actual graphics (header and stuff) I thought I had given in, I was sticking to my guns. I was keeping the girl that I created in all the images. I'm sure you've all guess that she's kind of...me (ish). I have brown hair and green eyes, and I love the colours purple and orange. I also use to have short hair, but now I'm growing it out. 

I was being very specific. I wanted the graphic to reflect me and this blog. I didn't want some fancy graphic, or those graphics that have really tall skinny girls with long legs (that are never smiling and always look "posh" as I call it), or the blogs that just have the title in a nice graphic, cause that's just not me. Don't think I'm saying I dislike those graphics because I don't. I think they're all beautifully made, but they just don't fit my personality. I wanted as close to my geeky reality as I could get. And I wanted simple. Again, I hate clutter. 

So I messaged around. 

If you are interested in a design for your blog I recommend checking out this site (Customer Blog Designers). It has a list of many Blog Designers out there and I basically checked out the portfolio of every single one lol. 
Also check out some of your favourite blogs. If you scroll to the bottom of their page they usually have it listed who designed their blog. I checked out everyone that I followed lol.

But, after messaging people I learnt a lot about graphics. Basically a lot of designers manipulate existing images, they don't create them. And their extent of manipulation is colour and position change. And that kind of got me upset. Don't get me wrong that is a HELL OF ALOT better than what I can do on a daily basis. I couldn't change people position for the life of me. Well maybe I could, but it would take me days to get it right.

Anyhow, they gave me a lot of links to images that they can manipulate, but I would have to pay for the images on top of their package fees. And then there's the package fees. Like I said I searched around and was super picky, and the only designers that I liked had starting packages of $300 plus.  

Umm...that's 3 textbooks. 


Plus then the graphic image (if I was sticking to my guns about keeping the girl), AND they could contact the creator and get changes done (like replacing one object with another that isn't originally in the image) for about $20-$30 extra.



And then the designers that maybe could do something I like? Well their packages that had everything I was looking for (button, header, navigation bar, sidebar titles) were generally $150-$250. And most didn't include headers for special posts. And I like my special post headers. So....



So, after hours of surfing sites and emailing people I was basically on the verge of giving up...



But, then I got to thinking. 

All they do is manipulate images?
Ok well that's not ALL they do. To the people out there that design blogs and to the ones that create graphics...


I mean, I've seen some class A sites out there. Props to you.

Anyhow I started thinking...well I've made my previous graphics, and they weren't great because I hand drew everything first and I'm not the greatest artist, but that doesn't mean I can't manipulate them.

Basically...lightbulb!

So, I did some more surfing. But this time for illustrations. I guess you can always just search google images, but then you are technically using someone else's works illegally, and I couldn't find anything I liked that I could manipulate. So I looked back at the links some blog designers sent me. 

They were mainly from two sites, and I do recommend them both: iStockPhoto.com, and ShutterStock.com.

And then I finally found her (well who I wanted her to be) in the works of one artist. 
HeyHeyDesigns (click for her profile and list of graphics on iStock), and her wordpress blog HeyHeyDesigns.com. She had a lot of graphics and photography, and she had everything I needed!

If I could have used this one. I would have. But that would be a waste of money.

For those that may look into this, note that graphics are NOT CHEAP. You could pay $60 for one graphic. BUT, I came under what others quoted me, AND I finished all in one night (which is weeks before I would have received anything from ANY blog designer). 

Now, I will tell you that there are still somethings I couldn't do. HTML code and I are not friends, so sidebar title graphics...I have no idea how to put those in. I could make one, but put one in...I wouldn't even know where to start. Hell I don't even know how to centre the words for my menu bar right now. These are all things blog designers know how to do, or at least I hope they do. And one month (Ha!) when I have some serious time to waste, I'll google all that up so I will know how to. Or at least find a site that has a code I can past with my image (that's basically my life with regards to make this blog look pretty and be efficient). 

Anyhow, I checked out HeyHeyDesigns' Modern people collection and I friggin hit jackpot. I found about 6 images that I could use on my blog. But, I wasn't dishin' out the dough until I knew that I could do it. So I dished out a little dough and bought one image. 


(Sorry but I'm giving you one with the watermarks and nothing hi-res, because she really does deserve the commission from her sales)

The order included a hi-res image of this. It was so big it could probably cover my wall. 
I'll tell you something that I already found I didn't like. The image comes with a white background. For those out there that do image manipulation, and for those that don't, a lot of graphics that get made (like my old ones) have no background until they are saved as a jpeg or whatever image extension, at that time the graphic program manually add the colour you have listed as "background colour".


In this case white is my background colour, and black is the colour that I've using to write, drawn, fill, etc. 

Anyhow, not having a background basically allows you to add things to the image without it having a big white box around it. You could have her sitting on a table, a floor, on top of a bed, etc. So basically that meant if I wanted to have her on something or even something behind her I would have to cut away at the white background and crop as close as I can to her actual form. 
It's stupidly time consuming. Well it is for me cause I sometimes have no clue what I am doing. Maybe I'm doing this whole thing wrong for all I know. 
Anyhow...

Basically.

I was originally going to have an overflowing bookshelf in the back ground. But I was like hells no. That will take a lot of time. 

So I started changing things. Nothing big (cause I don't know how, otherwise the glasses would have been a goner. I do have glasses but I prefer contacts). Just colours.

So the image above became: 
Not bad. But, I had messed up the hair. It was a little too dark for my liking. 
But, at this point I realized I could do it! And It would be cheaper! And I would have it way sooner than getting someone else to do it! And I would have pride in the fact that I manipulated it and I am still the designer of my blog!


I guess I'm writing this to let everyone know that getting a Blog Designer might not always be the first step. Sometimes you should have a little faith in yourself! I'm not going to come out and say that everyone can do it, because some people just can't. I've seen my brother draw and "make things pretty", and lets just say if he tried my blog would have a duck for a header. But hey, there's no harm in trying it first!

Anyhow, after a little more tweaking (sometimes even just starting over), and with the help of some "freebies" from design sites I created my header:


I am very proud of this header! 
AND when I actually put it in effect this simple graphic and title actually makes my entire blog look less cluttered! It helps that I also removed the background image to the blog. I'm still going to work on my sidebar titles, and my menu bar, but they don't bother me now as much as they did before. 
Its pretty crazy what one graphic change can do for the entire blog. 

But I didn't stop there. I punched out a whole bunch on new graphics all in one day. 



Profile pic and button

(For graphics that I'm currently working on)

As well as the Random Rant banner above, the profile signature below, and...

A giveaway graphic (and yes I finally decided to chop away at the books and white background to be able to move her around).

Which brings me to my next part:

New Look....New Giveaway!

In honour of me finally pulling up my big girl panties and getting the kind of look I've always wanted, as well as getting back to BlogLife i'm hosting a giveaway.

The Giveaway is for a $20 (CND) from Th Book Depository. 


Click on the image to be brought to their site.

The Giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository delivers for free to your country. 

Just fill out the rafflecopter below!

 photo Signature11_zpsd46d1ce8.jpg

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