Nova the corgi

The following posts are photographs I took for my photojournalism class. I’m learning photography! 🙂
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Want to be in a comic book?

You can turn a picture into vector art that mimics comic book inking! All you need is Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

lauren 3 photos

Here is a picture of my sister-in-law before and after I added effects.

STEP 1 – Select the picture you want to use.

I chose a family tree illustration I made. If you look closely, you can see the hair and fingers intertwine in a form of Celtic knot. The reason I want to turn this into vector art is because the only picture I have of the drawing is very low quality. In order to make it bigger, I need to change it to vector art to avoid it becoming blurry.

family tree 6











STEP 2 – Open the picture in Photoshop, select “Adjustments” and then “Brightness/Contrast.” 

The goal is to create a stark contrast in your picture. Play around with the extremes to see how your picture changes. Make sure to click “preview.” The settings will change based on your picture.



STEP 3 – Go back to “Adjustments,” and select “Curves.”

  • You’ll notice the three little eye droppers at the bottom of the pop up window.
  • Use the darkest dropper to select the darkest part of your picture. You may want to try selecting lighter areas to see how you want your picture to change.
  • The right most dropper is for selecting the lightest shade of your picture. Again, play around.
  • You’ll also see lines pop up in the box above the droppers. Click and drag on these to watch your picture lighten or darken.



STEP 4 – Save your picture as a Photoshop PSD file. Do this by changing the format under the field where you name your file.

STEP 5 – Open up the PSD file in Illustrator.

STEP 6 – Click on the tiny arrow next to “Image Trace,” and you’ll see a drop down menu.

There are many tracing options. You can click on each and then undo to see the different effects. I chose “Low Fidelity Photo” for my example.


family tree 3 JPG

My picture after using the trace option “Low Fidelity”

STEP 7 – After finding the trace option you like, hit the “Expand” button.

This changes the shapes in your photo into vectored shapes, so you can manipulate them.



STEP 8 – Ungroup vectored shapes by right clicking and selecting “Ungroup.”

The expand button automatically groups your vectored shapes together. In order to manipulate your shapes, you need to ungroup them.



STEP 9 – If you want to recolor your image, it will be easier to regroup groups based solely upon like coloring.

  • You can do this manually, but it takes forever! Thankfully, there is an easier way!
  • Click on a shape of whose color you want to change.
  • Click on “Select” and then “Fill Color” or “Fill & Stroke”.
  • Once your shapes are selected, right click and select “Group”.
  • Change the color of your shape grouping.


Here are some pictures of a different tracing effect “Black and White Logo.” I changed the coloring using the steps above.

family 9 JPGfamily tree 9 JPG


STEP 10 – Want to save your image to upload on your blog? You need to export it as a JPEG file.

  • Before exporting, I would recommend saving your picture as a PSD file, so you can change it later.
  • To export, select “File,” then “Export,” and select JPEG under the “Save as type” option.910


Thanks for reading! To see another example of this effect, check out another of my posts “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane! It’s…”

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…

hero's journey introduction






What do Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Percy Jackson, Superman, Batman and Dorothy, the savior of Oz, have in common?

Here’s the cool thing about literature–it’s life. And I don’t mean that in a “I’m an English teacher, and my subject matter is the most important topic in the universe” kind of way. I’m referring to the fact that what humans write about are universal themes; common symbolic steps; everyday fears, hopes, obsessions–our collective experiences, our archetypal journey.

Ever notice how books and movies reflect society’s nightmares? For example, The Dark Knight’s Joker embodies the American fear of the terrorist, the anarchist and the unpredictable foe. Ross Douthat of the New York Times writes:

“[The Joker has] solidified the Batman movies’ status as a cultural touchstone for our era of anxiety. Every human society has feared the anarchic, the nihilistic, the inexplicably depraved. But from the Columbine murderers to the post-9/11 anthrax killer (a literal mad scientist, most likely), from the Virginia Tech shooter to Jared Lee Loughner, our contemporary iconography of evil is increasingly dominated by figures who seem to have stepped out of Nolan’s take on the DC Comics universe: world-burners, meticulous madmen, terrorists without a cause.”

Read the entire article “The Way We Fear Now.”

As villains reflect our collective fears, the heroes we create are ingrained with our ideals and values.

It’s all about archetypes, but I’ll get to that later. Don’t let the word “archetype” scare you. It’s a fancy way of referring to patterns.

Want another scholarly term to throw out at parties to impress your friends? Try “juxtapose”. Look it up.Joseph Campbell

Basically, the hero’s journey was coined by Joseph Campbell who devoted his life to studying mythologies from all over the world, and he recognized certain prevailing patterns (archetypes) shining through the lives and experiences of the characters within these stories.

Fun fact: Joseph Campbell is one of the reasons Star Wars is a success. George Lucas consulted Campbell when struggling with the script. Han Solo was a slimy, green alien before Campbell came onto the scene and told Lucas to try a mythological approach in his writing.

Take a minute to watch this animated Ted Talks’ video describing the hero’s journey. It’s one of my favorites:

Mind blown? Right? I know. It’s all connected. You’ll never be the same again.

Back to my initial question: What do Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Percy Jackson, Superman, Batman and Dorothy have in common?

These characters follow a heroic archetypal journey/pattern. Similarities include:

  • Orphans/family (mostly father) issues: Think of how many Disney movies feature orphans or have heroes with a single parent. Batman, Harry Potter and Superman are orphans. Where are Dorothy’s parents? I’m sure you’ve all seen Star Wars–those daddy issues are iconic.
  • Unusual birth: Most of these heroes are special and don’t really belong where they are in their humble beginnings–these heroes have a past setting them apart.
  • The wise guy: Each hero has a wizard or mentor guiding them through their perspective paths. Dumbledore, Gandalf, Yoda, Rafiki, etc. I could go on. These mentors are usually spiritual guides and impart their apprentices with wisdom and magical items.
  • Magical weapons: Invisibility cloaks, light sabers, ruby slippers, lions, tigers and bears–oh my!
  • Struggle of good and evil (antithesis): Cosmic struggles of opposing philosophies exist here (light vs. the dark side–heroes vs. villains). There is conflict. The knight must defeat his adversary, the dragon (which is also symbolic–hold on to your hats and keep reading through the series!) before he can return home–if he hasn’t changed too much in the mean time. Will home be the same? Will he be able to adjust to normal life?

fairy tales quoteSo remember: you are the hero of your everyday experiences. You have a story–an epic one. You have your own hurdles, but you do not struggle alone.

In the words of one of my favorite Doctors, “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”


10 poems that look like what they mean

Great examples of visual poetry and typography!


By May Huang

Poets employ various means to get their message across in their poems, ranging from rhyme scheme to alliteration. However, poetic meaning can also be translated visually through a form termed “concrete poetry;” indeed, numerous poets experiment with line breaks and typography to present their work in a way that ‘looks’ the way it is supposed to ‘mean.’ Here are 10 poems whose meanings lie in their appearances:

1) George Herbert – Easter Wings


Published in 1633, George Herbert’s Easter Wings is the oldest concrete poem in this list. A poem about flight in its metaphorical sense, Easter Wings aptly takes the form of a pair of wings (the likeness is even more remarkable if you rotate the poem 90 degrees to the right).

2) 40-Love by Roger McGough

The English poet Roger McGough sends readers’ eyes travelling to and fro the way a tennis ball would across…

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Essential writing skills: lessons in dialogue

Once you know the rules, you can creatively break them for effect. Great post on using misspelling stylistically.

Matthew Wright

I realised recently that my standard conversation in any take-away always goes something like this:

“Hi, I’ll have a Super Glob Burger, hold the ketchup thanks.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand the question.”
“Could you repeat that please?”
“You mean, do I want chips with that? Yes please.”

My Adler Gabrielle 25 - on which I typed maybe a million words in the 1980s. My Adler Gabrielle 25 – on which I typed maybe a million words in the 1980s.

What does that tell us about writing? First point is that it’s obvious who was speaking – all without a single “I said”, “he said”, or anything else.

More crucial is the mis-spelling. I did that deliberately. What impression does it give of setting and character? A bored burger slider? Background clatter? Me having trouble figuring it out? All of the above? I didn’t say – and that’s important, because it makes the reader think. However, mis-spelling is a trick authors…

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Essential writing skills: he said, she said – without adjectives

Great thoughts on showing not telling!

Matthew Wright

Have you ever tried writing dialogue without all the ‘he said’, ‘she said’ nonsense? It’s an effective technique, though it’s easy to say ‘do this’. Harder to master.

Ernest Hemingway ( J F Kennedy Presidential library, released to public domain) Ernest Hemingway ( J F Kennedy Presidential library, released to public domain)

Hemingway set the gold standard – half-page strings of dialogue, often without any directions at all as to the speaker– and it was usually clear as to who said what.

The reason he took that angle is that the onus is on writers to show, not tell – and how better to show than by revealing the esssential meaning through the dialogue, rather than making the reader wade through instructions about it? Hemingway was the absolute master of the technique.

How did he do it? Any dialogue that’s well written should, ideally, speak for itself. The character of the character, shall we say, should come through in the choice of words…

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If it’s worth a thousand words, prove it!


Flickr is a fascinating site which showcases extensive creativity and talent. If you need inspiration and love photography, check out Flickr’s explore option or Google image search works just as well.

Find a picture you connect with and feel you can write about. Choose a format (script, poetry, short story, etc.), and off you go!

Writer’s block already? Things to ponder when analyzing your picture of choice and brainstorming…

  1. What is the conflict?
  2. Are there contrasting elements? What does this contrast reveal?
  3. What can you compare? Use figurative language like a simile or metaphor.
  4. What other perspectives could you play with? Choose a different angle than most writer’s would. How can you utilize personification?