Category Archives: Writing Tips

Top 10 WORST Things About Telling People You’re a Writer

  1. Everyone you know used to write in college. Seriously, even the people who didn’t go to college used to write in college.

 

  1. *snottily* “Have you published anything?”

“Yes.”

*gets offended*

 

  1. “Oh, no, I meant what’s your real job?”

 

  1. “What do you write?”

*Tells them*

“Well I think you’d do better if you wrote ____”

 

  1. (After telling them your story plot/idea) “Oh, so it’s like (insert overly popular movie full of clichés)?”

 

  1. “Writing’s a good hobby, but when are you going to get a real job?”

 

  1. “I’ll totally read your book when it comes out!”

 

  1. “What do you mean I don’t get a free copy? But I’m your (insert personal relationship label)!”

 

  1. “That must be so nice! I’d love to sit around and daydream all day instead of going to work.”

 

    1. “Can you write me something (for free)?”

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Making a GIF (PHSH Effect #16)

Don’t be scared! Making a GIF is not nearly as complicated as you may think!

Well, okay, that’s not technically true. It can actually get complicated, but that’s completely dependant on what you want to GIF. Don’t worry though, because this is just a tutorial, I’ll be keeping things simple, and you can always practice and work your way up to complicated later.

In the interest in keeping things simple, I’ll just show you how to make the GIF I teased in the last tutorial.

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Also, real quick, ‘GIF’ stands for Graphics Interchange Format. So, the proper pronunciation is to say it with a hard ‘g’ sound, not with a ‘j’ sound. Now that you know what it stands for, I hope you will start saying it correctly, because now you don’t have an excuse. (Unless you say ‘jraphics’, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume you don’t)

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started!

Step 1.

First things first, set up a new document/work file in Photoshop, and make it whatever dimensions you want. Then, using the Type tool, type some words for us to GIF, and make sure you type them all on different layers. Since I’m showing you the GIF I teased last time, I typed out This is a GIF on 4 separate layers. But it can be any text you want. (Or it can even be a picture, but we’ll get to that later)

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Step 2.

Next, go up to Window (in the top menu with File) and click on Timeline from the drop-down menu.

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Once you click on that, you should see a banner come up on the bottom of the window, this is called the Timeline. There should be 1 ‘frame’ with your layers already in it that popped up as well.

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Step 3.

Now that you have the Timeline open, you have to place each layer onto different frames. This is actually much simpler than it may sound. First step, is to take them off the first frame. To do this, simply go over to your Layers Panel, and hide the layers you don’t want visible in the first frame. (Click on the eye beside the layer to hide it)

The only thing visible in the first frame should be the word This.

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Step 4.

Now we have to make more frames. To do this, click on the Duplicate Frame button in the timeline. It is the button that looks like the New Layers button.

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To make this the 2nd frame, we are going to hide the This layer, and un-hide the is layer. You do this in the exact way you did to hide all the layers, but the hidden layer won’t have an eye next it. That’s okay, just click in the little square, and the eye and layer will appear, making the layer un-hidden.

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Continue to duplicate, and hide/un-hide layers until you have 1 frame for each layer. If you get confused, look at the frames – you should be able to see in the frame preview that there is only 1 word in each frame.

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Step 5.

Now that we have all the frames correct, we can check how the GIF looks. To do this, click on the 1st frame (to start the GIF from the beginning), and then click the Play button in the Timeline. Your frames should then ‘play’, and you can see if you need to fix/change anything.

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Step 6.

If you think your GIF is moving too slowly (or too fast), you can change the speed by clicking on the arrow that’s under the frame, next to the time, and then select the time you think will work best for you. Keep playing with it until you find a speed you need, and to check the speed, just Play the frames again until it looks right for your needs. (For the most part, I’ve found the default of 0.5 seconds to be sufficient)

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Now that you’ve got the timing right, you may want to change the Loop type as well, so that it continuously plays, instead of just playing once. In the Timeframe box, under the frames, there should be a Loop dropdown. Click on the drop-down menu, and select Forever from the list. This will make your GIF play in a continuous loop, well… forever. (If the default is already Forever, you can ignore this step)

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Step 7.

Now that you’ve completed your GIF, it’s time to save. But wait!

You can not save a GIF in the same way you’ve been doing (Flattening then saving as a PNG/JPEG). Well, okay, actually you can save it like that, but then it won’t play.

If you want to save the GIF to actually play, you’ll have to go up to File, then find Save For Web in the drop-down.

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In the dialogue box that comes up, make sure GIF is selected as the format, and leave everything else the default.

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Then, click the Save button on the bottom of the box, and then from there you can give the file a name and save it to wherever you need to, like any other file.

And there you have it! You now know how to make a GIF! I told you it wasn’t that hard. And the cool thing is the steps are exactly the same no matter what you’re doing.

So, say you want to make a picture move. Let’s say you want to make a rocket ship take off.

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The steps are exactly the same, except instead of using text, we’re moving a picture. And, it takes more frames. Also, because it’s just one picture (minus the booster flames), all I’m doing is moving the picture slightly between frames, so it appears to be flying.

Here’s what the PHSH work file looks like:

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Each time I moved the rocket, I placed a Guideline where the nose was, so I’d know how much to move it in the next frame. You can see here that I also changed the play speed twice. In the first few frames, it’s set at 0.2 seconds, and then after the ‘booster’ (flames) comes out the bottom, I changed it to 0.1 second, so it appears like the rocket sped up.

Go ahead and play with this technique – it is one of the more fun ones. You guys have until October to keep yourselves busy with GIF making, after which, I’ll be showing you how to create:

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How to Run a Blog

I’ve touched on some of these points already in previous articles, but I wanted to write this post to show you how to put them all together. Running a blog isn’t hard per se, it just takes some time and effort. It really just takes 3 steps to become a blogger, and though they may sound simple, the execution can be quite daunting, especially if you’ve never been self-employed.

But, don’t worry! I’m here with the below three steps to help make your transition a little easier.

 

Step 1: Come Up with an Idea

You can’t post articles, your opinions and advice about nothing, so first you have to think of what you want your blog to be about. It can be anything you’re passionate about. Lego? Cool! You think dinos would’ve been cooler if they wore fedoras? Sure, why not!

Whatever topic you pick though, it should be one that you can make multiple posts about. You can’t be a blogger if you only have 1 post. If you want to be serious about blogging and make it any sort of ‘real job’, you’re going to need to pick topics you can consistently post about, and come at with new ideas.

You can even pick more than one idea, if you just can’t bring yourself to choose. Like myself, I have different sections on my website for the different things I’m interested in: veganism, writing, and a new lifestyle section. I’m in no ways an expert on any of these topics – I never went to school and got a degree for any of them – I’m just a person who thinks (hopes) my experiences and opinions on these topics can help others who are on a similar path.

The point of your blog is to share things you’re passionate about, and maybe even help other people on their journeys, so you can make your blog about whatever you want. Find your reasons and topics, and go from there. Though, if you’re just starting out, I’d recommend starting with 1 topic, just until you get the hang of all the rest of it. Don’t want to overwhelm yourself when you’re starting out. Remember: you can always expand your blog to incorporate more topics/things later on, but it’s a lot harder (and looks worse) to let a part of your blog die.

 

Step 2: Get Organized

Now that you’ve got your idea, it’s time to think about how to put it into action. I suggest coming up with as many article ideas as you can and writing them down/keeping the list somewhere safe, so that you aren’t scrambling on posting day.

And, speaking of posting day: decide on a posting schedule. Most of the advice I had come across when I started out said to start out with posting just once or twice a month, until you get the hang of things. I thought that was way too little – after all, how was I supposed to drive traffic to my blog if I wasn’t posting regularly? – so I decided on posting roughly 5 times per month.

A month of posting for me looks like 2 articles, 2 short stories and 1 product review. The articles I try to rotate between the different sections of the website, so that I’m posting to each section ‘fairly’, and not giving more attention to one topic.

I realize posting five times in one month sounds insane, but when you break it down – 2 stories and 3 articles – it really isn’t that bad. I usually don’t count the stories as ‘work’ when I think about the website, because I’m a writer, and I’d be writing stories anyway. And yes, while I like all the topics I post about, it takes more work for me to write the articles than the stories. Stories I’m constantly coming up with, but articles require research and more planning so that I’m not just babbling on and on for a few pages.

Making posts coherent can be quite the task, especially when I’d rather be writing fiction. This is why, as said in my Time Management post, scheduling articles and making yourself a to-do list can be a huge help.

Not only will it let you make sense of all the ideas you just came up with, but it will also help take the pressure off yourself when you can see all the ideas planned out. This way, you won’t have to worry about the blog looking dead, and you won’t feel like you have to do everything right now. Having a set schedule (that you stick to) will also benefit your readers. Think of it like being punctual – if you post on a schedule, people will know when to expect you, and can then go ‘greet’ you (ie check your blog) consistently.

 

Step 3: Marketing

You can’t have people flock to your blog if nobody knows it exists! I know it sucks, but you have to market yourself. Post on social media and tell people why they should check you out. What new (or creative) ideas are you bringing to the table? Why should they change their routine to go see you? In what ways will you be making their day better (and feel like they’re missing out) by visiting your blog?

The truth is, people are selfish creatures, and don’t like change. Which is why you need to make yourself seem important enough for them to check out. Dazzle them with your new ideas, your polarizing opinions, or whatever you’ve got going for you. Be yourself, and people will flock to you. Even assholes get followers, so don’t fret!

This is (in my opinion) the hardest part about being self-employed. On the one hand, you don’t want to sound gimmicky/click-bait-y, but on the other, you want people to come to you, because you know you’re awesome. Unfortunately, it takes time to build yourself a following, and though it can be discouraging when you don’t get many (or any) likes/views on a new post, you have to keep going.

If you quit, you’re guaranteeing nobody will ever see your hard work.

Part of marketing is also learning how to monetize your blog. There are tons and tons of options out there, everything from Google Adsense to being paid by companies for dedicated posts, but as someone just starting out, I don’t want you to worry about that part.

You can worry about making millions once you have your blog established and a dedicated audience. No company will pay you to promote their product to no one, which is another reason getting good at marketing is a big help.

Do what you can with what you can, and a little pro tip: Don’t be afraid to pay for some ads! I know, I know, you may think that’s a cop out, or that you don’t have funds to do ads right now, and that’s okay! Just make sure you don’t discount paying ads as an option forever.

There are literally billions of people on the planet, and your manual posting can only reach so many.

Bottom line (and yes, I know it’s cheesy): keep going. Don’t give up just because it’s hard, or because it’s harder than you thought it’d be. Nothing worth having comes easy. Hard work does pay off. It just might take a little longer than you expect.


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Top 10 WORST Things About Being a Writer

10. When you’re writing in a notebook and start running out of space on the current line, but you have just one more word so you start writing the letters on top of each other so you don’t ‘waste’ a whole other line.

9. Having bits of stories in 10+ notebooks and having to go through all of them when you’re trying to find the one that you need.

8. In summer, when you finally find a good spot to write outside, and one day you show up and someone else is there.

7. When you’re in the middle of a scene and you’re suddenly pulled out because for some reason this song is 10x louder than every other song on your playlist.

6. When you get a kick-ass idea for a story in the shower, so you begin to repeat it to yourself and finish as quickly as possible, then run to the nearest paper and pen and desperately start trying to write down everything you just thought of before you forget it.

5. When you get an idea for a story and try to excuse yourself from the social thing you’re doing, but that is the same exact moment literally everybody must tell you something and no it most definitely can not wait. So you’re only half listening while trying desperately to hold onto the idea that you can feel is starting to slip away.

4. When you’re brain is going too fast for your fingers to keep up with when typing, so you end up missing a bunch of words, or end up with half of one word and half of another smushed together. (Or [in rare cases] end up with 4 different words smushed together into 1 giant nonsensical word)

3. Having to lower your music because you can’t hear your characters talking.

2. Knowing you 100000% wrote this idea down somewhere and not being able to find it even though you went through every notebook and Word document you’ve ever written in your life. Then finding it three days later once you broke down and decided to rewrite it from memory.

1. As soon as you decide to go to bed, your brain is a little shit and begins to think of all the ideas ever.


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Changing Eye/Skin Colour (PHSH Effect #15)

I know, I know, ‘you’re revisiting effects already? Does that mean you’re out of ideas?’ No, no it doesn’t. There’s no need to worry, I just thought I’d revisit this one, because I actually discovered an easier/more effective way to change someone’s eye colour, and this technique can be used to change the colour of more than just eyes! You can also do skin colour, hair, and pretty much whatever else you want!

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For this tutorial, we’ll be using the below black and white picture of an eye, but feel free to use any picture you like. Since you’re just starting, I’d recommending choosing a black and white picture to practice with, but note that this technique does work on pre-coloured pictures as well.

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Step 1:

Okay, by now you should know Step 0 is to always open a new work file, and to place your picture onto the document. After this, go over to the bottom of the Tools Panel on the left-hand side, and click on the button that’s under the Colour Swatches.

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Step 2:

Once you clicked that, go to your Paintbrush, and change the size/hardness of it, then begin to paint over the part of the picture you want to change the colour of. (In this case, it’s the iris) When you begin painting, it may turn red-ish/orange, don’t worry! This happens just to show you the part you’re painting. It won’t stay orange after you’re done this step.

For eyes, I like to try to get the size of the paint brush as close to the size of the iris as I can, so that I can paint with just one click, so the edges aren’t ‘bumpy’. Also, don’t worry about painting over the pupil for this step. We can clean up the paint later.

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Step 3:

Now that you’ve painted over the entire part you want to change, click the button under the Colour Swatches again, and you’ll notice the red goes away, and there should now be a slow-flashing dotted line around your image – this is showing that you’ve selected it.

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Step 4:

Go up to Select – Invert, this will now select the part you painted, instead of the part outside of that. (Don’t ask me why it defaults to selecting everything you didn’t paint, I have no idea)

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Okay, at this point, you can now change the colour by one of two ways:

Way #1:

Step 5:

With the iris still selected, go to the bottom of the Layers Panel, and go to where you’d make a colour a background, and select Solid Colour from the menu.

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Step 6:

After selecting the colour you want, at the top of the Layers Panel, there should be a box next to the Opacity drop-down that says Normal. Click on that to bring down a drop-down menu, and then select either Screen or Overlay from the menu. (Use whichever one makes the colour look the best)

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OR

Way #2:

Step 5:

Now that the part you want to change colours is selected, go to the top of your Layers Panel, and you should see a panel sitting on top with tabs in it, that are labelled Adjustments, Color, and Swatches. Click on the Adjustments tab, and then click on Hue/Saturation from the pictures listed. Hue/Saturation looks like a colour picker, and is beside the thing that looks like scales.

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Step 6:

After clicking Hue/Saturation, a panel should pop out, with different sliders on it. To change the iris colour, you can play with the Hue and Saturation sliders, until you find a colour you like. If you find that the colour is too subtle, (even with the Saturation on full), try checking the Colourize box at the bottom of the panel. This may help.

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(Back to both ways)

Step 7:

Once you have a colour you like, go to your Eraser tool, and erase the pupil, and if there is colour outside the edges/area you want to be coloured, erase that, too. If you used the Solid Colour method, you may get a dialogue box that comes up that says something about rasterizing the layer, or that it won’t be editable anymore, just click ‘okay’.

Once you have the edges/pupil all cleaned up, you’re done and ready to save!

I wouldn’t say this technique is easier than the other one, but this one is a lot more versatile, and as I said above, can be used on more than just eyes. It also makes it look more realistic, in my opinion. Once you’re happy with the pupil, why don’t you try to colourize the skin colour as well?

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Go ahead and play around with this effect, to see how it works best for your needs – the next tutorial will be coming Aug. 30th, so you’ll have plenty of time to master this one!

Next time, I’ll be showing you how to make a GIF! Oh, yes.

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Check out the rest of the photoshop tutorial series here!

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Outer Glow (PHSH Effect #14)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a relaxing holiday.

I thought I’d start off this years’ round of photoshop tutorials with a simple one, and work our way up to the harder stuff later on.

The Outer Glow effect can be used to create a wide range of different looks for text, in a not-so-complicated way. (Seriously, there’s only 4 steps)

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For this tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to do the first Outer Glow example, but feel free to play around with it yourself.

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Step 1:

To start, I’m just going to add a Black background, and some text. It usually doesn’t matter what colour the text is, depending on the effect you’re trying to create. For simplicity sake, I’m gonna use grey so you can see it. (In Example 1, I made the colour of the text black)

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Step 2.

After this, you’ll want to head over to the Layers Panel, and right click on the text layer, then select Blending Options. Go down your list until you find Outer Glow listed, and check-mark the box.

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Once you do that, you can play around with the Size and Spread levels, to adjust how the Outer Glow will look. Do this until you get your desired effect.

You can also change the colour of the glow by double clicking the coloured square at the top of the dialogue box, and then using the Colour Picker to pick your desired colour.

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If, for some reason, the Outer Glow is not showing up against your coloured (non-white) background, change the Blend Mode at the top of the dialogue box from Screen to Normal.

Step 3.

Once you’re happy with how it looks, click Okay to apply the effect to your text.

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If you need to change it, don’t worry, you can always re-right click on the text layer and go back to the Blending Mode options to play with things until you’re happy with it.

Step 4.

I’m pretty sure I covered this in the Intro, but just in case I didn’t: to save, you’ll usually want to save a PHSH file (with all the layers intact, so you can edit it at a later time without starting over, if needed) and a picture file (the one you’re going to post places).

To save as a PHSH file, go up to File – Save As, and then name the file something that you’ll remember, I usually save it as ‘Whatever Project I’m Working On UNFlattened’ so it’s easy to pick out of a list of files.

To save the picture version, go up to Layers (in the same menu as File), and scroll down to Flatten Image. Doing this will compress the layers into one (1) single layer, and will make the file you’re saving smaller. (Which is very handy if say, you’re uploading the picture anywhere that has a ‘file size cannot exceed x amount’ message)

Once compressing the layers into 1, you can go ahead and save it as a JPEG or PNG file. (Select these from the File Type drop-down menu that comes up under the File Name you want to save as)

And that’s it! Just 4 easy steps to upgrade your text. (I told you most of these were easier than they seemed!)

 

Next month, I’ll be re-visting an old tutorial and will show you how you can change/add colour to almost anything.

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Blood Drips (PHSH Effect #13)

A quick disclaimer:

While this tutorial isn’t too realistic (we’re not adding this effect to a person or animal), I still want to say that if seeing blood makes you nauseous, faint or is in any way triggering for you, please skip this tutorial, or continue with caution.

The purpose of these tutorials is to be helpful, not to negatively affect a persons’ health or cause anyone any harm.


This is the last PHSH tutorial for 2020, so please feel free to check out the other tutorials while you wait for the next one, which will be coming some time next year.

Keep an eye on my Twitter account for posting updates and anouncements!


Since we’re in October now, I thought what better PHSH effect to teach you then to add blood drips to an image?

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It also just so happened to work out that this is the 13th tutorial – it’s like it was meant to be!

As with most of these other tutorials, it isn’t actually that hard, once you know how to do it. There’s just a few very precise steps you need to follow. And, as always, practice makes perfect, so the more times you do it, the better you’ll get!

Let’s get into it.

Step 1:

This will either work on text or an image, but for the sake of this tutorial, I’m going to stick with a plain text layer. The technique is the same whether you’re doing a basic picture or something more complicated, so it’s best to start simple, and work your way up.

Starting with Step 1, which is opening a new document, and adding some type/a word to a layer. To keep with today’s theme, I’m just going to type Halloween. The colour doesn’t matter, but it may look more realistic to use a closer-to-blood colour.

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Step 2:

Using your brush tool (and a shade of red), hold down SHIFT and make vertical lines coming out of the ends of the words. (Holding down SHIFT will make the lines perfectly straight) You’ll also want to vary the length of the lines and the size of the brush you use, so it looks more realistic.

Tip: Before you use the brush tool on your Type Layer, you may get a dialogue box that says something like ‘you must rasterize this layer before proceeding, and it will no longer be editable as a Type Layer’. Just click ‘Okay’. This just means you can’t use the type tool to edit the layer anymore, but that’s okay. If you mess up you can always delete this layer and make a new Type layer.

Or if you like, you can paint the lines/drips in a new blank layer, so you don’t mess up the text.

Example:

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Compared to:

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See the difference? The varied length and size already is starting to look like blood!

Step 3:

Now that you have your lines, we’re gonna go up to Filter – Liquify.

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You may get a dialogue box that says something like ‘Liquify supports hardware acceleration to improve performance. Verify that ‘Use Graphics Processor’ is enabled in Performance Preferences.’ Just click okay, and then once it opens, set the following values in the Tool Options panel on the right hand side:

Brush Size: 40

Brush Density: 25

Brush Pressure: 48

Brush Rate: 28

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The lines you made may show up by themselves in the Liquify panel, this is okay! It’s just because I painted them in a different layer than the Type Layer, just in case I needed to change something.

This technique will work whether they’re attached to the word or not.

Step 4:

Now that you’ve set the Tool Options, select the Pucker tool from the left side menu, and drag it down the line you made, stopping just short of the end. Do this for all the lines you made. To do this step, we don’t need to keep the lines perfectly straight, because blood doesn’t drip in a perfectly straight line. So, try your best to make the lines look a bit ‘wiggly’ or just non-straight.

You may also have to hold the brush an extra second above the bottom, just so this part is the most puckered. (You can also change the Brush Size if needed)

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Step 5:

Now to make the actual blood droplets, use the Bloat Tool (directly underneath the Pucker Tool) and hold on the ends (or wherever you want blood drops) until you get the desired blood drop size.

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Repeat on all the lines, and then once you’re done, click Okay. If you need to, you can always re-pucker parts of the lines, or if you accidentally puckered part of the line too much, you can use the Bloat Tool to make it more even.

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Step 6:

This is looking pretty good, but they’re still not quite as realistic as they could be. So now, we’re just going to add a simple Drop Shadow to the layer.

If you need help in doing this, head back on over to my Drop Shadow tutorial.

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Be sure to un-check the box marked Use Global Light, and then play with the Distance, Spread and Size until it looks right for your document. You can also change the Opacity to 100%, and the shadow Colour by clicking on the colour square, and selecting a new colour.

I’m going to make the new colour a darker shade of red, instead of pure black.

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Once you’re happy with how the drop shadow looks, click Okay.

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If you did the blood drips on a separate layer like I did, then you will also have to add a Drop Shadow to the word Halloween (or whatever word you typed), because as you can see right now, it looks a bit odd to have a drop shadow on the blood, and not on the word.

These next few steps are optional, but I feel it helps take things a step further, and makes the effect look better. However, this completely depends on what you’re adding blood drips to, so it may not be needed. This is why I always suggest playing around with the effects, so you find what works best for you. That said, this is a Halloween themed tutorial, so I think the extra steps below help add that extra ‘creepy’ vibe.

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Step 7:

We’re going to go back into the Blending Options, and this time we’re going to click Bevel and Emboss.

Set the Levels to the settings below:

Inner Bevel

Technique: Smooth

Depth: 590

Up

Size: 10

Soften: 7

Shading:

Angle: 120, 30

Highlight Mode: Hard Light, Opacity: 63

Shadow Mode: Overlay, Opacity: 80

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AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Seris - PHSH Effect 13 - Blood Drips - Bevel and Emboss Halloween - phsh, photoshop, phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial

Then set the Contour to the below:

Gaussian (Round one that looks like a hill)

Range: 0

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Step 8:

And finally, we’re going to add a Gradient Overlay, with the below settings:

Soft Light

Opacity: 24

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And add it to the Type layer as well:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Seris - PHSH Effect 13 - Blood Drips - Gradient Overlay Halloween - phsh, photoshop, phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial

And to add just that little extra ‘oomph’ to the image, I’m going to change the background colour to black, so the red colour really pops.

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As always, don’t forget to save your work! (Both as a PHSH file, and as a JPEG/PNG)

Then you can use the image to show your friends, and keeping the photoshop file is always a must, just in case you forget how some of the steps, or if the picture file somehow gets corrupt, or you need to quickly go back and change something.

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And ta-da! That’s it. Not too hard, eh? I would suggest to practice this technique with different text, and then once you feel comfortable, to move on to actual pictures. Since this is the last tutorial of the year, you’ll have lots of time to practice!


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Top 10 BEST Things About Being a Writer

There’s a lot of things I absolutely love about being a writer. There’s definitely way too many to fit into one singular article – I mean seriously, we’re just that awesome – so today you’ll have to just settle for my top ten. These aren’t really in a particular order, except for #1.

  1. You can do your job from literally anywhere. Desert? No problem. Forest? No worries. As long as you have a pen and paper (or laptop) you’re good.

 

  1. When you have to fill out a comment card, or are starring at a blank screen, and think you have ‘nothing to say’ – only to realize twenty minutes later you’ve completely filled a page and a half, and are still going. (This is pretty much how I write all my articles, FYI.)

 

  1. Getting to pull inspiration from music. Whether that be pulling from the songs emotion, or creating a story from a line or favourite lyric, there are pretty much endless story ideas that can be inspired by songs. (And, sometimes, you get more than one story out of one song!)

 

  1. You can turn anything into a story. Conversations from those around you, random strangers on the street – even inanimate objects can have dark/obscure back stories.

 

  1. You get to learn a lot of unique things that the average person doesn’t know, and thus are a wealth of obscure information.

 

  1. Getting to ‘work’ in your pj’s. Seriously, it’s one of the best jobs because there’s no dress code. (Fun fact: I’m writing this in pj’s!)

 

  1. Non-writers just do not understand how you can work on so many stories at once, and how you manage to keep all the plot lines straight. (It’s just as easy as watching 6 shows at the same time)

Also, they’re always super impressed when they hear your word count. I love talking about my writing to my non-writer friends, because if I say something like, “Oh, I didn’t do very much writing today. Just 500 words.” They almost always reply with, “500?! That’s crazy!” I mean, yeah, they don’t know it’s only 1 page, but 500 words sounds way more impressive. (Kind of like the ‘1 month’ vs ’30 days’ thing. One month sounds a lot longer)

Also, some days you just need that little extra confidence boost, and they never fail to make you feel accomplished.

 

  1. You’re never actually bored, because you’re constantly thinking about plot lines, characters, your next project, etc. You always have something going on in your head. (Seriously, what do non-writers think about all day?)

 

  1. You can work through pretty much anything/have a constructive outlet for your emotions. Pissed off something didn’t go your way? Write about it. Got some great news and you’re bursting with sunshine? Go for it! Need to pour out all those intimate feelings you don’t let anyone see? Tell it to the page. The page is always there, and never judges. Some of the most beautiful pieces of work have been born from powerful emotions. (Though, that doesn’t mean you have to ‘be in pain’ to be a good writer!)

 

  1. We create something out of nothing. All. The. Time!

Seriously, think about it: until you took pen to paper, or your hands to a keyboard, that story didn’t exist anywhere else in the world. You brought that into existence. That’s so freaking cool! We’re like magicians!


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WFH: Time Management

*This article was written 20.04.29, when the corona-virus lock down was beginning to go into full swing in Canada. Please excuse any reference/comment that is no longer applicable.


Now that everyone is pretty much forced to work from home*, you may be scouring the internet trying to find ways to make it work. After all, you’ve always had a physical separation of your work space from your home, so how are you supposed to focus on work while wearing pj’s, and being so close to the dirty laundry?

Maybe you have set work hours from your job, or maybe you’re trying to start a work from home business and the line is a bit blurrier. Either way, you’ll need to know when to close your laptop and switch from Work Mode to Home Mode.

Walking the line between getting work done and having time to relax can be difficult for those who aren’t use to it. Fortunately for you, I’ve been working from home since I started my writing career, which was around 2016, and while I’m not a master, I’ve definitely picked up a few things.

The best thing tip I’ve found is learning how to time manage. Without time management, you’re pretty much lost in the sea of work and relaxing.

But, never fear! Below are the best tips to help you with your time management, so you can take some practical steps into getting things rolling.

 

Tip #1: Have Clear Work Hours

Scheduling your work hours is probably the #1 most important tip for being able to pull this off. If you don’t draw the line in the sand of when Work Mode begins and ends, you’ll constantly be feeling like you could be working when trying to relax, and trust me, feeling guilty for not working 24/7 is not conducive to a good work environment.

Whether you have set hours from your job, or you’re making it up as you go, set yourself work hours. I personally work (about) 10am-8pm. This will help ease your planning of say, knowing when to take a break and do some chores, or when to get dinner ready.

And don’t forget to allow yourself to take breaks within those work hours! You get breaks in the office, and your home office shouldn’t be any different. It’s okay to take a quick coffee/smoke/pee break during your work hours. Or, if you have an unexpected knock at the door? (Which you shouldn’t unless you’re getting stuff delivered) Get up! Don’t feel that just because you’ve set work hours, you need to be glued to your chair.

That’s actually not healthy at all! If you’re able, get up and stretch every few hours, or stand at your desk so you aren’t sitting all day. This will also help you feel less like you’re ‘stuck’ doing work. Just because it’s ‘business hours’ doesn’t mean you can’t take a quick break.

If you worked in an office and used to take regular breaks, do that at home! Try to keep as much of your routine the same, so it’s easier to stick to.

And, once the scheduled Work Hours are up? Get off your computer. I’m serious, especially if you’re starting your own business, I know how tempting it is to keep going. But then the next time you look up it will be 3am. Detaching yourself immediately from your computer once work is done is a big help in mentally keeping those work boundaries straight.

 

Tip #2: Schedule/Make a To-Do List

I know, I know, not everyone is great at scheduling, and not everyone likes to-do lists. But, scheduling stuff is honestly not as hard as some would make it seem. You can schedule literally as much or as little as you want/need to. If your brain will explode at the near thought of having to plan out your whole year (or week), start smaller!

Start with a to-do list for just today. Or, you could break it up even more by making a morning/afternoon (or hour by hour) to-do list. Everyone loves checking/crossing things off a to-do list – it gives you a sense of accomplishment, so go ahead and make one!

Now, again, if you are working a regular job from home, you may have clearly marked things to do, but if you’re a blogger, or similar ‘not real’ job person, this may be more essential to you.

As a blogger (and author!), I’ve found it imperative that I schedule my posts. Back when I started really getting into blogging and making my website functional, I would post 5-10 posts in a few days, and then wouldn’t touch it for a few weeks/months. That’s not exactly a good business model, neither for gaining fans, nor for your sanity.

Having a set schedule will take a lot of pressure off, so you don’t feel like you have to do everything right now, and it will give your fans a dedicated time to check in. It’s hard to see what’s new with someone you like if they post sporadically.


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I’ve found it helpful to list out everything you want to eventually get posted/done, and then organize from there what takes priority. For me, when I’m deciding on what posts to do, it’s actually kind of easy. Since I have a bunch of different interests, I cycle through them.

The way that works the best for me, is to list all the posts I want to (eventually) post, and then fill them in (rotationally) to an editable calendar. This helps keep me organized, since I plan out the entire year, and it takes the edge off my anxiety, because I know it will all get done.

For example, this post is scheduled for publishing August 3rd, but I’m writing it April 29th.  (Hello from the past!) That kind of advanced planning doesn’t happen by accident! Since I have the entire year planned out, it allows me to schedule posts as far in advanced as I need, thus giving me more time to do other things I enjoy. (Like starting the next book, or working on merch, or even just relaxing/having time to spend with family)

Being organized and scheduling my shit actually feeds my lazy side. If I don’t want to do any work at all and take a day off? Sure, I’m scheduled till August, so why not?

The one downside to this method is that you will eventually have to kick your own butt to make sure things are getting done. Which actually leads us into the last tip:

 

Tip #3: Discipline

Not everyone can thrive while working from home. I understand this kind of not-as-structured lifestyle is for everyone. But, I also think one of the main reasons why so many people fail is because they lack the discipline.

Having the ability to kick your own ass is a dying art, but it’s something you’re gonna have to learn to do if you want to succeed.

A lot of people in my life have complained to me about being ‘stuck’ working a job they don’t like, and thus they don’t have the life they thought they would. And, not to sound like a privileged white lady, all I can think is nobody forced you to get that job. Sure, there may have been people who forced you to get a job – but other people can’t force you to make decisions.

They can try to manipulate you either emotionally or some other way, but ultimately, it’s your life, and you just need to find the inner strength and courage to stand up for yourself and say ‘hey, this is my life. I’m going to do whatever I want.’ And if they don’t like it? Well then maybe you need to analyze what it is they’re adding to your life.

If you’re unhappy with your life, take some time and really think about why. Where did things go wrong and what steps can you do to change your life? It’s your life, you have the power to make yourself happy. Do some soul searching and think about what you want your ideal life to look like. What way of life would make you happy?

Once you see the figurative light at the end of the tunnel, start thinking about how to connect yourself from where you’re at now to there. What steps can you take – even if they’re small – to get yourself to your ultimate life? It’s never too late to make yourself happy, you just have to try.

Honestly it is that simple.


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Working From Home: Focusing

While I think I touched on this in my Top 5 Pros and Cons of Working From Home article, I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to perhaps the biggest/hardest part about working from home: focusing.

(If you live alone feel free to disregard most of the following)

When you’re working from home – especially a home that you share with others – sh*t is gonna get loud, especially around the time everyone else comes in from work. They just got back from work, so they want to relax with watching T.V., playing video games, and they most definitely need to cook dinner. You may need to call/text friends and family through out the day, go to the store and if there are pets you need to attend to?

And that’s not even mentioning digital distractions, like social media. So, with all these distractions, how are you ever going to focus? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated: You just gotta make yourself do it.

Whether this means waking up earlier/staying up later than everyone else so you can have a few hours of quiet, working with headphones on, or having a dedicated ‘work’ room (or space), do something that will allow you to get your shit done.

Is it fair that you may have to work around others’ schedules just so you can get what you want done? Not really. But what is the other option? Sitting there doing nothing day after day when you could be working? Everybody has to start somewhere, and one day when you’re in the middle of living your dream, you’ll thank your past self for taking the initiative.

Anything that’s worth getting is worth the work.

If interruptions are unavoidable/people absolutely need to talk to you, maybe try giving them certain times they can interrupt you. Like a short recess, it allows you a quick break from your work, and allows the people in your life to not feel like you’re blowing them off. As your list of things that need to get done grows, it will be increasingly good to schedule yourself breaks and check-in times with those around you, so you don’t go down the work spiral. It can be hard to keep to your scheduled breaks, but working constantly isn’t good for your health. And, there are studies that show that constantly working and not taking breaks can actually make you less productive.

I actually gave myself a ‘quitting time’ of 8pm. This may sound late, but since most days I wake up at 10am, it’s actually only 9 hours of work a day – which is only 1 hour more than the typical 9-5.

I also usually write with headphones on, so if people are talking, being loud, etc. it doesn’t usually bother me. And, if I need extra non-distractions? I just close my door. (My desk is set up in my bedroom.)

Everyone in my house knows that if my door is closed, not to bother me, unless it’s really important. Or, a less invasive way to get my attention? Shoot me a text! I always have my phone to the left of my computer, so I can see it light up. This system has been working since I started publishing books in 2016, and so far there haven’t been many issues. (This may be because my mom is also a freelance writer, so she understands the need for space)

However, as life tends to do, things won’t always run smoothly. No matter how many scheduled times/breaks, meetings times, etc. you have, some days it will just feel like people can not give you time to yourself to complete your work. I understand the frustration (trust me), but try not to let this get you agitated. Sure, it’s annoying, but these people care about you, and chances are they don’t realize they’re being annoying.

This is why having a conversation about what you need to be productive can help. (Instead of not saying anything and then blowing up at people when they do the thing that’s secretly been annoying you) I’ve found most people aren’t actively trying to be assholes/annoying, etc. so just tell them what you need so you can get things done.

Okay, I feel like maybe things got a bit muddled up there (I was actually writing this while fielding interruptions… go figure!), so in the interest of keeping things simple:

Ways to Focus:

  • Get up earlier/stay up later than others
  • Work with headphones on
  • Have a designated ‘work’ space (that people know not to bother you)
  • Schedule breaks/check-ins with people so they don’t constantly interrupt (or feel ignored)

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