Category: Image

Not quite #ds106

Not Quite #DS106


DS106 Daily Create for June 2, 2016: You look for a representation of DS106 in the world, and you find something close, but not quite it. Find something like that. (You had one ds106 job!).

I went for a walk yesterday while thinking about what to do for this daily create, and came across the following sign:Private road

That’s when it hit me: there are many, many things I love about #ds106:

  • the amazing people in the community!
  • the amazing learning opportunities that I’ve had that allow me to create art
  • the amazing people in the community that helped me to get over my fear that I wasn’t any good at art
  • the laughs, the supportive comments, the fun…yeah, you get it…the people!

And it is all possible because DS106 is an open course. People who are not officially registered in it can still see what’s going on with those who are, can see what they create, can engage with them and with those who are not officially registered and are doing it as “open” participants. I have learned so much and met so many wonderful people (many of whom I haven’t actually met in person but feel like I have), and this would not have been possible if it hadn’t been available to “open traffic.”

So I decided to create an image that says: you can get close, but not quite it if it’s not open.

My original image was pretty wise-ass, substituting “BS” for “DS” (as in, you know, bull****).

But I thought, well, sometimes it might be important to run a ds106-like course but keep it closed, only for registrants (and I thought of someone I know who did just that). And I decided I was being too nasty with my “BS,” b/c such a course wouldn’t really be “B.S.”

So I changed it to more like “close but not quite” as DS105. Almost there.


The process

I did this in GIMP. That’s what I first learned on in ds106, and it’s still my first love. I have access to photoshop now through my job, but I haven’t taken the time to work with it. And I can still do all I want (so far!) in GIMP.

  1. Upload original image and add “DS105” to the top, inside the red circle. I searched for a font on that looked somewhat like the DS106 logo, but it was okay if it didn’t really fit b/c, well, this was not quite it! I used “Plane Crash.”
  2. Use “clone” tool to erase the “Road” under “Private.” This image worked really well for this sort of thing, because there was so much white space I could use to clone.
  3. Find a font that looks pretty close to the font used for “Private” and add “Course” where “Road” was. Here I started by just looking through the fonts I already have installed. Font Book on the Mac lets you easily flip through them and see what they look like, so I just did the tedious thing of going through a bunch of fonts and seeing what matched more or less. The Consolas font did well.
  4. Adjust the colour of the new text “Course” to match the colour of “Private.”
  5. Adding the “Registrants” instead of “Residents,” and “Open” instead of “Traffic” at the very bottom were a bit trickier. I wanted to move the original text so that it fit better on the sign with the new text (when I tried to add “Registrants” in the place of “Residents” it didn’t fit in the space well without moving “only”).
    1. Duplicate the sign image so you have two (as per the screen shot below)Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 11.20.56 PM
    2. Use clone tool on both the first and second sign images to erase the words you don’t want: here, I erased “residents” and “through” on both images, because those were the words I was going to replace.
    3. Add “alpha channel” to sign image second from the bottom–this means that if you cut anything out of it, the space where you cut will be transparent and it will show through to the layer underneath.
    4. Add text to original image (not the copy of it on the bottom of the stack)–“Registrants” and “Open.” I used the Consolas font for this too, even though it didn’t quite fit as well for this section of the sign as for the section above it, but it’s pretty close.
    5. Move this text you’ve just created to where you want it.
    6. Select around the original text you want to move, on the layer just above the last layer (here, “only” and “no”) and use Edit -> Cut, then paste and it will give you a floating text layer that you can move around. Move the word where you want, and it’s fine because where it was just shows through as transparent to the white space on the image at the bottom, where the clone tool erased the original word. See the screen shot below, which is hiding the image on the bottom of the stack to show the transparency where I moved “only” and “no.”
    7. Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 11.27.46 PMAdjust the colour of the new words to match the originals as best you can.
  6. The much easier way to do the “registrants” and “open” words would have been to just clone out the whole of “residents only” and “no through” and re-type them in the new font and move them around from there. But of course, I only thought about that after I thought: hey, I know how to preserve as much of the original as possible and just move it. I think the effect would have been just as good to just add new text there rather than trying to keep some of the original and move it.


I like how this one turned out, and it was fun and pretty easy to do!

Where is Shakespeare’s head?

This image is on Flickr, here


The #ds106 daily create for April 23, 2016: It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! “Scientists have scanned Shakespeare’s grave and determined that his head is likely missing! Your mission – show us where Shakespeare’s head is!”

When I saw this daily create I immediately thought of an old #GIFfight from 2013, which used this Vader image. Then I used that image for another daily create in December 2013.

This Vader pose just reminded me of those old iconic images of Hamlet saying “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well ….”

I followed pretty much the same process as described in this blog post, including doing a transformation of the skull so it looked more like it was facing Vader.

Skull image is from here:

Taking my giant cat West

The ds106 daily create for February 19, 2016 was:

But I decided in the end to just use one cat (less work to cut one out of its background than two). I thought I might have to put the cat in the back of a pickup truck with the back door up, so I thought the one of Marco standing up would be better because more of him would be out of the truck bed.

I first tried to put him into this truck:

From, public domain
From, public domain

But when I made him into a giant cat, and put him high enough in the truck behind the back gate so you could see he was a cat, there wasn’t enough room for his head.

Then I found this image on Flickr:

SAAB 99 pickup truck, Flickr photo by John Lloyd, licensed CC BY 2.0
SAAB 99 pickup truck, Flickr photo by John Lloyd, licensed CC BY 2.0

Perfect–I wouldn’t have to put him inside the truck back door, which would require cutting the door out of the image and putting it on a new layer, on top of the cat!

Process steps (using GIMP)

  1. I opened both images (truck and cat) as layers.
  2. Then I used control-click (right-click) on the cat layer and chose “add alpha channel,” which allows it to be transparent if you erase part of it.
  3. Time for the eraser tool on the cat layer:

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 8.54.57 PM

4. After working with the eraser in smaller increments, I ended up with this:

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 9.30.26 PM


I just wasn’t really thrilled with the result. For one thing, it looked like he was listing to the side a bit.

5. I then went to Layer on the top menu and chose Transform -> arbitrary rotation and rotated him a bit so he wasn’t listing so much. But it still looked weird.

6. He needs a cat bed or a pillow, I thought. Otherwise it just looks like he’s sitting strangely on that truck. I found a picture of a pillow on Pixabay. I did the same as in step 2 to add an alpha channel to the pillow layer, and used the eraser tool to get rid of the white background.

7. But the pillow was sitting at a weird angle; it looked like it wasn’t really sitting flat on the truck. This time I used the perspective tool on the left menu of GIMP and moved the layer around with different perspectives until it looked better.

8. I then cleaned up the edges of the cat a bit more. I realized that if you make the eraser tool Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 10.10.14 PMbigger, using the brush that looks like the one with a square around it on the right, it will give you softer edges on your erasing around the image (rather than using a smaller brush, which gives harder edges).


And so, the finished product:




Amazing how he can manage to stay on through all the bumps in the road!


Captioning Frederic Remington

I had hoped to participate in the Western-themed #ds106 this term, and what with teaching a little less than usual I thought I’d have time. Not. Too many grant applications, research, award applications, and lots and lots of committee work. Alas.

But I did do today’s Western-themed #ds106 Daily Create: caption a Frederic Remington painting. The instructions were to “add a caption to the painting to bring the west into the modern age. Make it funny (yet stay respectful).” Well, not sure I brought it into the modern age, but I did try for the rest of those instructions.


The original is “Miners Prospecting,” public domain on Wikimedia Commons.

The one with the pan just looked so guilty…


I used GIMP to add the text to the image. I didn’t have any fonts that looked Western-y enough, so I went to and downloaded “Duality.” I felt like it mixed oldish-looking with a kind of sense of joking fun.

Every time I do this I forget how to add fonts to my computer so GIMP can use them. Fortunately, there’s the internet. This page was helpful.

The hardest part was picking a colour for the text that made it stand out and be readable, and yet didn’t just sort of fade into the picture as if it were part of it. The yellowish colour worked best, as it fit the aesthetic of the image better than like blue or something, yet also clearly looks added on (which was the idea!).

Vote philosophy!

The leadership at #prisoner106 has disappeared. Number 2 hasn’t been seen for a couple of weeks. My Super True Friend I am Talky Tina filled in for a week, but now it seems to be a free for all. Participants are still making art, though, because we are #4life.

During one of the recent weeks we were to make a campaign video to run for Number 2’s spot (playing off the “Free for All” episode of The Prisoner). 

I developed an idea for one and started working on it (I made my campaign button), but then . . . I found a way out! I escaped for a week. I’m still not sure how . . . I was out for a swim, flagged down a passing boat, and managed to get away with them. Rover didn’t come after me; maybe the disarray at the top in the Village means Rover is taking a break too.

I’m not sure where we went; I just know there were glaciers! I snapped a couple of pics.



It was a lovely time away, but then they turned on me! I woke up a week later, back in the Village. Someone must still be in charge, somewhere.


When I got back I was even more determined to run for office. We need someone who won’t just follow orders, who will ask questions and demand answers. Who better than a philosopher?


The process

I used the poster design from the “Free for All” episode, adding a couple of new elements such as the button and the tag line at the bottom.

I made this using GIMP.

1. I had the head shot already from the Village information card I made during week 1. I just copied and pasted that layer onto a new image with a white background.

2. I used the Filters menu, chose Distort (I think) and then Noise Generator to add some noise to the image. I wanted it to looks a little like it had been badly photocopied and blown up. I also used the smudge tool on my hair because the edges were too stark.

3. I used the eraser tool with a “smoke” brush to do the effect of the image fading out at the bottom and on the left side (this is what the images on the posters in the episode looked like, approximately). I also did some erasing at the top of the image.

4. I added a layer with the button I made earlier.

5. Then it was just text layers with the Village font and finis.

Village Philosopher Badge

This week in #prisoner106 we are to make a campaign video for running for office (the position of Number 2 seems to be unoccupied right now).

In preparation for campaigning I created a special badge for the Village Philosopher–that’s me! I need a special way to identify myself so you know whom to vote for.

I am not a number, I am a … Greek letter.


The process

I made this in GIMP.

1. Images used, each on separate layer:

2. Scale and order layers so the phi is on top of the penny farthing. I had it under the penny farthing for awhile and was scratching my head trying to figure out how to get the Phi image to not be transparent because the wheel spokes were showing through. Oh my gosh…unbelievable…complete brain freeze not realizing it was just a matter of layer order. Yikes.

3. Add a white background layer under both image layers. Add alpha channel to that layer. Use the ellipse select tool to select a circle on the white background layer, then go to Select->invert to select everything but the circle.

4. Go to Edit -> clear to get rid of the white stuff outside the selected circle on the white layer.

5. Add bevel. Use ellipse select tool to select around the white circle on the background layer (the following will only work if something is selected, I think).

  • Use filters -> decor -> add bevel
  • I used the max size for the bevel, 30px




1. When I uploaded to Flickr it had a red background:
The Village Philosopher

This was very puzzling, until I learned that when an image has a transparent background, not all file types will preserve that. png does (what I saved it as), but jpeg doesn’t. Not sure what happens on Flickr, but it doesn’t show the original image in the view window. The red disappears if you go to the Flickr page and download “original.”

2. I couldn’t get the bevel to look as nice as the one on the badge on the right side of this site. There is a way to make a bevel manually, but it’s more complicated. This auto-bevel script has little in the way of customizing choices. I think there might be another GIMP script that has more.

3. I don’t know why the bevel only shows up on the right and bottom sides. Must be something built into the script?



I tried playing with the “light and shadow” filter on GIMP, and got this one. Still not sure what to do to make the top left look like it’s standing out a bit from the background.


Pennyfarthing Drive

Pennyfarthing Drive

When I was out doing my design blitz in the Village the other day I discovered that there is a street called Pennyfarthing Drive in the Village. Well, of course there is.


Alternate version

I also did a red version. I’m not sure which I like better.



the process

This is really a “visual assignment” (last week) rather than a “design assignment” (this week), but oh well.

This was a problematic image to work with because it was not very light in the laneway where I took it, and there wasn’t much daylight left in the day. So the street sign didn’t stand out at all. I wanted to find some way to emphasize the sign.

First, I discovered the “burn” tool in GIMP (in the tool pane) and tried it out. I didn’t know what it did. On this b/w image it lightened things up. So I used it on the words on the sign, to brighten them.

Then, I decided to do a colour splash. This was a little tricky because I wanted two different colours, one for the sign and one for the lamp.

1. First, I duplicated the image a couple of times.

2. I added an alpha channel to the layer with the b/w image, and then used the “lasso” tool to select around the sign and then the lamp. I used Edit -> clear to delete the selection, leaving a transparent spot for each.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 10.54.24 PM3. I had two other layers with the same image. On one of them I used Colors -> colorize to colour it green, and I did the same on the other to colour it yellow. Only I discovered something: I had the lamp still selected on the yellow layer, and when I did “colorize” it just coloured the lamp, not the rest of the image. Interesting.

4. On the yellow layer I selected around the sign and did the same thing as in step 2 to make the sign on the yellow layer also transparent. That way it would show through to the green layer below it rather than showing the sign yellow.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 11.00.07 PM

Here’s a screenshot of the layers; the b/w on top, the yellow lamp, then the layer that got colorized entirely green.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 11.00.43 PM


Design Blitz in the Village

It’s design week for #prisoner106, which means time to take pictures that exemplify design principles. We were to take images of things that show at least five of the following:

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 10.07.40 PM

A nice set of resources on these design principles can be found here.

I’ve done a couple of design blitzes before; one was in Fall 2013 and another in Spring 2014 (that one is on the site with my teaching and learning portfolio; I should put it somewhere else because now that site just has my portfolio on it).

I really enjoy doing these because it helps me understand these design principles, and it’s just darn fun! But I was really busy this week finishing that teaching and learning portfolio (it was due this week for promotion, and now I leave it alone for a year until I find out if I’ll be able to move up to the next faculty level). So I didn’t get as much done on this assignment as I wanted.



IMG_1509I was drawn to the use of colour in this sign for a couple of reasons. One, because I think it’s used effectively to draw your eye to the titles of the different sections, and to separate out the elements in the image on the far right. But I also like it because it works on another level: it’s about water (blue) and how to deal with it in an environmentally friendly way (green).


I think this is a questionable use of colour in the words. When I put some type in different colour than other type it’s b/c I’m trying to emphasize something, to focus people in on some parts of the text rather than others. Here, I can’t tell what I’m supposed to be focused on. The white seems to stand out more, but could it really be that they want me to pay most attention to “your grocery list”?




The typography here struck me because it’s clearly trying to hearken back in time, but then when you look at the “established” date it’s just five years ago. There’s something interesting in that juxtaposition. At any rate, they’ve managed to capture a retro feel with the typography and the arrows around “distillery.” the wrought iron holding the sign helps too.



Minimalism/use of space


How much more minimal can you get? And yet, this is very effective. This place is tucked away in a part of campus not a lot of people go to, on the ground floor of a residence building. I think it’s pretty effective to let people know quickly and easily what can be found there. Once you get a bit closer you can see the name of the place (sign on the top left), but really, “food” and “coffee” are the most important messages.




I see this design all over Vancouver, especially at bus stops. Usually there is some kind of roof that stops the rain, but this one doesn’t have a roof…not sure what the point is, then.

This seemed to me to be an interesting example of balance–it should feel off-balance, because the right side is much longer than the left. But it still feels balanced, to me. There’s probably some complicated mathematical or physical principle for why it’s not heavier on the right than the left (or maybe it is?). At any rate, I like this example of a not-balanced balance.


Form and function


I don’t know if this really counts under the “form and function” header; this is a picture of a new earth sciences building on the campus where I work. On the bottom are panels of different sorts of stone, all labeled with the kind of stone they are and where the stone came from. It’s a building devoted to education that is itself educational.



IMG_1499The University of British Columbia is celebrating its centennial year in 2015-2016. I think this design nicely captures both the past and the future, even if the suggestion that UBC will live on infinitely is rather far-fetched.


This sign is near some apple trees that are nicely placed on campus where one might want to just take an apple and eat it. I like that they’ve put on the sign a suggestion that you wouldn’t want to eat the fruit anyway b/c it’s full of worms. That’s maybe not what they intended but it’s a message one could get even unconsciously, perhaps.


A collection of Cannabis dispensary signs

I found one, then another, then another within a short space. Two were on the same block. I took the image of the first one b/c it seemed a good use of a symbol:


The small plus sign on the left is a subtle connection of this establishment with medicine (as is the word “dispensary,” but that is already commonly used for these businesses). Putting it in green fits with the fact that this about a plant. And the large font for “CANNABIS” plus the smaller font for “dispensary” seems designed to catch the eye (it did mine). Of course, using “cannabis” rather than “marijuana” also indicates a more official, medical purpose.


This one also uses the green plus sign as a symbol, along with the word “clinic,” which clearly brings up the idea of medicine.


And what says “medicine” more than an image of a doctor with a stethoscope? And a sort of clever attempt at connecting “Canada” to “cannabis” in the name of this place. But why does it matter if we get the impression that it’s Canada-wide? (I have no idea if it is.) Maybe it seems more legit?

Also, this was the third one in just a few blocks and I was starting to take pictures of them just b/c it was funny after awhile to see so many ….


I can read tv (2.0)

One of the assignments for design week for #prisoner106 was to do the “I can read movies” assignment.

I have tried this one before, when I first started doing DS106 back in 2013; this was one of the first things I did in GIMP (not the very first, but I wasn’t that used to GIMP before I tried it). It nearly killed me. I spent all week on that one assignment, and came out with something that only looked sort of like I wanted. The basic design was pretty right on, but it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to.

Here’s my first attempt at this assignment:

What I made in 2013
What I made in 2013

And here is the blog post detailing all my woes with it. So many woes there were.

I was really reluctant to do this assignment again, but realized I should get back on that horse and conquer it.

This time I decided to try using a texture layer to make the cover look more like paper. I got the idea from this tutorial about photoshop. I use GIMP, but the basic idea is the same. Then Kathy Onarheim suggested this video tutorial by a former DS106 participant. That one was really helpful because it brought me to see that I needed to put the texture layer on top of the other layers. I had it below the text and other image layers and the effect wasn’t as good.

So here is “I can read tv” 2.0.

This image is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0
This image is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0

I liked the point in this episode that it all hinged on the watch of the guy who was supposed to be in Poland (was it Poland?). Maybe it wasn’t a single hour off, but the saying at the bottom seems catchier with just “an hour.”

Overall I’m pretty happy with this one, much happier than with 1.0.

The process

This one only took me about half the time of the first one (so like 3 days instead of 7!). I learned from the first version that when you try to import images into GIMP and re-colour them, things don’t work out so well. That’s why the hand and glasses on 1.0 are so pixelated. So I didn’t even try that. Instead, I managed to get the black background at the bottom by using a particular layer mode for the texture layer, as explained below.

1. I started with a white background, and downloaded this set of paper textures. The author says you can do whatever the [bleep] you want with them. S/he just asks for a link to what you used them in. Which I’ll try to remember to do when this post is finished.

2. Images used:

3. Fonts used:

  • Like with 1.0, I used “Dream Orphanage” from for the “I can read tv” logo. I also used it for the “Number” and “1/6” in the box, as well as the tagline at the bottom. I think I also used it for the “copyright” notice on the left.
  • For the title of the episode and the “The Prisoner Series” at the top, I used Mermaid from

4. The line and rectangle: I still am not terribly happy with these. They were too heavy in 1.0, and still too heavy in 2.0. I used the “rectangle” selection tool to create a selection and then fill it with the “bucket fill” tool. There’s probably a better way.

5. At first I just created the book cover with the paper background as is, so it looked like that background with the text and images. It felt a little like just a piece of paper rather than a book cover. So I took the advice in the video tutorial linked above and

  • desaturated the texture
  • played with different “modes” for that layer

The “difference” mode made the black background with the white image of the penny farthing. I liked that, but then had to change the colours of the text because they turned from red to a kind of teal colour. So I recoloured the text teal and then with the “difference” mode they turned red.

5. How I did the clock face:

  • opened as a layer
  • added alpha channel (right-click the layer, then “add alpha channel”) so it had a transparent background
  • selected around the clock face with the circle select tool (the clock face on that image isn’t a perfect circle, but it was pretty close), then used “selection -> invert” to select everything outside the clock face.
  • then I used “edit -> clear” to get rid of everything outside the clock face
  • scale layer and move to get it the right size and in the right place; I had to use the “eraser” tool to erase around some of the edges so that you could see the outside of the penny farthing wheel around the whole clock face (since it wasn’t a perfect circle to begin with)
  • “colorize” the layer teal so it turns red under the “difference” mode for the texture layer
  • change the opacity so you can sort of almost see the spokes of the penny farthing behind it

6. Now I had a purely black background, which looked something like this (this is an earlier version, which had the “public domain” icon in the place of the “copyright” icon, before I remembered I had to make this CC BY-SA b/c of the clock image).


But I decided I wanted it to have that off-white top like some of the original “I can read movies” images.

So I had to add some more complications. I just couldn’t leave well enough alone.

7. I added another layer of the paper texture and added an alpha channel (see step 5, above). Then I used the rectangle select tool to select just the part I wanted to have the off-white paper texture behind, and went to layer -> crop to selection. That meant I had a layer that looked like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 10.48.34 PM

So just the top had the off-white paper texture. Then I had to move the text and line/rectangle layers above it so the paper texture wasn’t covering them.

8. I wanted to make the top, off-white section look more worn and dirty, so I used several grunge brushes I had downloaded for GIMP and played around with size, opacity, colour, etc. I also did some brushwork over the penny farthing b/c it was too white.

9. Lastly, some of the black section was too light, and I wanted it darker. Since it was on “difference” mode, I had to use my brushes with a white colour to get darker patches here and there.




#prisoner106 Week 3 summary

It’s an hour before our week 3 summary is due, I’m tired, and I didn’t do everything I was supposed to do this week. I wonder if they’ll turn off the electricity to my bungalow? Only allow me as much food as my meager credit units for this week can buy? Send me back to the hospital?

During my visit to the hospital last week I woke up and discovered some strange blue stripes on my legs. This week I found, on my phone, another strange image, this time even more disturbing:

IMG_1465 (1)

I’m rather concerned, to say the least. And what could those letters mean? Why are there three F’s and only one B?

Despite this disturbing discovery, I did manage to do a few things this week:

Daily Creates

I made a poster for the Public Domain Review (daily create 1282, for July 13, 2015). After posting it as CC BY, I thought: silly me, why not post it CC0, which you can do on Flickr now? So I did.

Don't wait for your beard

And I made an image with “magical light” (daily create 1283, for July 14, 2015)

Ghostly lights

Prisoner photo safari

One of the visual assignments we were to do this week was a photo safari. Here are the photos I took while walking around The Village.

I got a little sneaky with a couple of these, and where it said “City of Vancouver” I changed it to “City of Village” or just, “The Village.” That was fun, but it’s kind of subtle (except on one where it’s pretty big).


Animating #Prisoner106

Though I plan to make more, so far I’ve done one animated gif of The Prisoner.


Now, it’s lights out in my bungalow. Will they come back on tomorrow?