s_c_baker wrote:I'm a dabbler alone in graphic design, but I'll bite, Martin.
Hey! If I ruled out kissing, then biting is definitely out of the question! (Besides, I've seen the teeth on donkeys! Ow!)
I actually love the effect on your name. It's simple, but attractive. Good design--cheaply done, maybe, but still good.
I figure whoever Microsoft paid for their WordArt effects is a better graphic designer than I am. (Yes, that's a low bar.)
The flat blue doesn't work, and although I'm not much of a font snob some people will probably kill you for using Times New Roman in any kind of graphic design (that is what that is--right? Times New Roman?).
Don't recall, honestly. I played with over a dozen fonts there. I've found a real problem when you have too many fonts installed: it can be hard to choose, simply because there are so many, and you lose track. What I need is a simple tool (and it's probably out there) that will let me look at the same text in multiple fonts simultaneously. Most tools will only show you one at a time, so: A) you have to remember what you liked about the last one as you look at the next one; and B) you have to remember which one you liked as you look at other choices. "No, that still looks bad. What was the good one again? I forget..."
Heck, I could write that tool in a weekend. Maybe I should, if I can't find one out there.
You could try adding a drop shadow onto the text, although I'm not sure how you'd affect that in PSP (I have photoshop through work, and use that instead).
Drop shadows I can do in PSP. It's one of the only text effects I can still find. But every time I tried one, it seemed to make the text fuzzier.
I'd definitely recommend a different font. Generally speaking, you want to stick to a common font family--if not a common font--in your text layouts. This is most noticeable
Thanks! I hadn't heard that advice. I'll try to take it to heart.
Regarding the bell, your artifacting around the handle is pretty noticeable:
I still have trouble seeing it. I guess I really lack the eye for this. But I think I could fix it with a filter, if I could see it.
Presumably this is because you had to cut out a background from the image, which is damn hard to do.
I'll look; but it's amazingly hard to find decent close up pictures of brass bells with wooden handles. I don't think there's a wooden handle to be found at that wikimedia link! (I don't insist on cherrywood as it says in the story, but I'd at least like wood.)
There also appears to be some weird perspectivey stuff going on with that bell handle--it looks like the base of the bell is at a different angle, or something. I can't figure out why.
Hmmm... It's a photo, so it's "reality"; but sometimes reality can have a weird perspective.
Finally, I don't like the gradient in the background. Why not just use a flat colour?
I started with plain white. It just looked -- empty, somehow. Sparse, and not in a good way. So I experimented a while, and came up with the gradient. I kinda thought it made the bell and the shadow look like they were sitting on something.
My original had it on a wooden desk; but I could never get the composition right on that one, especially with the shadow.
Okay, finally finally--graphics nits aside--the image doesn't really grab me much. It's just a handbell. The stars in the background are nice, but the image as a whole really suggest to me what it has to do with the story blurb. Can you somehow add a bit more narrative into it?
Hmmm... The bell is the unifying symbol in the story, which is why I went with it. That, and I could basically create it by composing images. More narrative would require some actual art skills (and mine top off at stick figures).
In addition, I'm having a hard time deciding which scene would make a good narrative image. I have one scene very clearly in my mind, but it's the freakin' last line of the story! Talk about ruining the surprise!
For something more narrative, I'll probably have to hire an artist who could read the story, identify a great visual scene, and draw that; and that isn't in my budget yet.