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Pre-orders are now open for my snarky but still helpful book on being an artist. The book is available for $10 through gumroad and will be releasing on March 18th 2019!

Have you ever wanted to learn to be an artist? Fantastic! This book will show you how.

Have you heard “I wish I could draw…” or “I can’t even draw stick figures!” one to many times while selling your work at conventions? Of course you have. Point them at this book and send them on their way. (Or contact me about reseller bundles at contact@Katy-L-Wood.com, because I am totally down with you buying copies of this to include your own advice in and sell.)

This book contains nearly 60 pages of helpful art advice to kickstart your life as an artist. You can even get a custom, one of a kind, art cover! Could be a doodle of a cat, could be a portrait of a beautiful lady, could be a landscape. It’s a surprise!

Also, the first 40 pre-orders will get a FREE vinyl sticker of a dumbo octopus in a top-hat, because who doesn’t want that?


Pre-Order Here.






I love you most

Journal Entry: Sun Feb 10, 2019, 8:03 PM


I'm really enjoying this valentines day initiative! It is so great to see something so community focused going on. :eager:

With that said, here's some lovely forest art I've found and enjoyed recently! I'm a Colorado girl through and through, so I grew up exploring the forests and mountains and they always feel like home. #ShowYourHeart


forest by H-i-ll

All Alone by Aiggy

Landscape #21 - black and white gel pen, A4 paper by Michal-Nabzdyk

A fight over the golden crown by XGhastX

Lesovik by VITOGH


Skin by SimplySilent

Wrapping up 2018 and moving into 2019

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 8:49 PM
That was a YEAR, wasn't it? I mean. Damn. Pretty sure it was actually five years, if we're being perfectly honest.

There were a lot of highs and lows for me this year, both artistically and personally. It was my first year really navigating adult life without major depression, which was interesting to say the least. I discovered a lot about my working process and how to keep myself motivated and not overwork myself. I ended up feeling like I've finally gotten my feet under me, even if the year ended on a nasty note thanks to my mother and step-father kicking me out because their dogs destroyed their kitchen. (Great parental logic there, right?)

I started off the year with a big list of goals, and a plan to keep track of them via a little thing called "Launch Codes" that a few other alumni from my college were doing. It was meant to be a way to be more open about our creative processes and help connect with one another over what we were doing and what we struggled with. I think I ended up being the only one who stuck with it, but it was still fun. Even if no one ever read my weekly updates (now condensed all into one post to keep my blog more organized) it was still nice to do.

So, let's wrap it up!

What I learned about myself as a creator this year:
  • Setting up a calendar for myself works much better than using To-Do lists. I think lists are a bit to abstract to be helpful to me. I need to have concrete reminders and blocks of time to do things. Google Calendars are my best friend. I usually just schedule out a few days in advance and go from there.

  • I work best when I'm doing one type of thing a day. For example, only doing comic work on Monday, then writing work on Tuesday, then marketing work on Wednesday, etc. I struggle switching between to many things in day.

  • I work really well with the structure of long-term projects like comics with nice, defined schedules and deadlines.

  • I've gotten much better at the "fuck it, it doesn't need to be perfect" mantra.

  • This is something I've known for awhile, but I'm still adding it here because it is still true: I can function at either 100% scheduled down to the minute, or 0% scheduled at all. Nothing in between. Gimmie a week of tightly scheduled work or set me loose in the forest and pick me up in time for whatever deadline there is. Either way I will have the project done. But the second you try to schedule half my time and set me loose for the other half? Nope. Nothing will be done ever.


Accomplished this year:
  • 64 single illustrations. This includes all 31 days of Inktober (my first time completing it!) and some concept/style sheets.

  • 36 webcomic pages. The first complete chapter of my first large comic, Gunpowder & Pine Part 1!

  • Thumbnailed the 36 pages of part 2 of said comic.

  • Modeled Vivian's house in Sketchup to use for reference in the comic and other illustrations her house features in.

  • Modeled a couple other sets for comics and such in sketchup.

  • Made a couple tutorials on using sketchup for creating reference images.

  • Greatly improved my ability to draw people without relying quite as heavily on reference.

  • Started over on the Kith and Kin series, renaming it the Glory is Poison series. I'm much happier with the new direction, even if restarting was a super hard decision. The first book is fully outlined and I've written about 21,000 words on it. The second book is mostly outlined, and the third book is loosely outlined.

  • Worked on my paranormal novel Haunt. I didn't get quite as much work done on it as I wanted, but it did help me develop a new outlining method that I love. I've got about 24,000 words on it.

  • Played around with a couple other novel concepts totaling about 8,000 words.

  • Wrote a couple short stories.

  • Started working on an art portfolio book.

  • Started working a couple short story comics. Both have been thumbnailed, and I've started painting one of them.

  • Joined/got accepted into Girls Drawin' Girls.

  • Started working on a sarcastic "How to Art" book because the amount of times I hear "I wish I could draw!" at conventions finally made me snap.

  • Exhibited at 3 conventions.

  • Taught a writing and art club at a local High School.

  • Developed a new style that allows me to get things finished much quicker and still be really happy with them.

  • Did a really fun career day presentation at a local High School. My powerpoint was called "how to be a writer and not die."

  • Found a fun retail job that doesn't kill me (Home Depot Paint Department). I'm still looking for something better paying, but this is something I don't mind sticking with in the meantime since it doesn't drain my soul! I will, however, be moving into another department within the store at the start of 2019 because it pays a little better and will be full-time by summer at the latest and will have a better schedule.

  • Moved back to the Denver area. Not WILLINGLY, but whatever. I hated living in the Springs so I'm glad to be back.


Goals for 2019:
  • Save up enough to put a down-payment on a house/condo/apartment/townhome. I've done the math and, even if I stay with the Home Depot, I can afford something on the smaller side. Just gotta save up and then get the ball rolling towards the end of 2019!

  • Finish the second chapter of Gunpowder & Pine, and maybe even the third chapter!

  • Publish the first chapter of G&P. It is all laid out and nearly done! Just gotta finish another exclusive illustration for it and then decide which convention to release it at.

  • Finish Glory is Poison books 1 and 2 and get the third book outlined.

  • Finish Haunt and edit it to the point is ready to query.

  • Finish the two short story comics I started in 2018, and maybe squeeze in another one or two!

  • Get into at least two zines or short story collections.

  • Read more, and get better about posting book reviews at least some of the time.

  • Get better at sending out newsletters.

  • Post more educational stuff like tutorials.

  • Build up my Patreon more.

  • Get better at drawing animals, because they are one of my weakest areas. Much time shall be spent at the zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in 2019.

  • Get better at drawing action/motion based poses and scenes.

  • Get better at drawing landscapes. I'm decent at them, but I want to build up my visual library for them more and up my speed with them.


I won't be doing public weekly updates for 2019, but I'll still post progress updates on my big projects.

Let's do this!


Let's talk dA and permanency (and custom boxes)

Journal Entry: Thu Nov 29, 2018, 8:13 PM


Journal



I've touched on this a little in some of my other discussions about Eclipse, but I wanted to delve into it a little deeper because of something that happened to me last night on tumblr. As I'm sure many are aware, tumblr has kind of gone nuclear lately when it comes to dealing with their various problems. The biggest issue for me as both a creator and a user is that the search function on tumblr is just...broken. Anything with a link, anything with a seemingly random set of tags, no longer exists in search. Kinda. There really seems to be no pattern to it. 

And it isn't just in the overall tumblr search, oh no. It is within blogs as well. I can no longer search my own blog for my own content. Last night I had someone ask about one of my book projects and where to find information on it on my blog because they couldn't figure it out. So I went to get them a direct link to the main info post and guess what? I couldn't find it either, not in the official search function. I had to manually scroll back through MONTHS of stuff to find it and give the link to someone who was interested in my content. How many other people do you think have looked for my stuff but given up without asking for help? How many potential fans have I lost?

And while this problem, for me, has become most serious on tumblr, it is true in some form of many other social media sites as well. Within hours, minutes, seconds of putting something up it is GONE. Maybe, maybe, the search functions can bring it up again. But there's a good chance it will require some jiggery-pokery to get the search to maybe, possibly bring the right thing up. And that's only if the person looking knows what TO look for, and is willing to spend the time figuring it out.

This doesn't really matter much for day to day chatter, but for my art? For my stories? I can't have them just be gone the second they're put up. I can't hope new potential fans will know the exact right bits of jiggery-pokery to bend the search engines to their will to MAYBE find my content and MAYBE follow the progression of my stories in a way that makes sense.

But deviantART doesn't have that problem. The search may not be perfect, but it doesn't randomly exclude things just because there's a link involved or something. And even then, I have my profile. I can make a custom box with my projects and important information and leave it there. It doesn't get pushed down by other posts, it doesn't go away, and it is one of the first things people see when they look at my page. I don't have to dig to find important things about my own work on deviantART because they are all right where they should be. My art is in its own section, my blog is in its own section, my random chatter is in its own section. Nothing is intruding on or pushing out anything else.

I know danlev has recently put out a poll about the usage of custom boxes, and the most recent changelog for Eclipse has mentioned on-going discussions of alternatives (and y'all know full well I've jury-rigged up a solution of my own), and I wanted to contribute to those discussions with this journal. Custom boxes (and other widgets that haven't been transitioned yet) are important because they are permanent parts of our page. They set deviantART apart as a place where things stay. Where creators can have an actual, real hub for our work rather than frantically throwing things into the void and knowing they'll be swallowed up within minutes.

Also, gonna be totally honest here, this was not just about not finding my own content. A hour ago I was trying to find a really awesome Captain America AMV I reblogged recently and couldn't and I was super mad because it was awesome. BUT I FOUND IT. WATCH AND CRY WITH ME.


How to Customize on Eclipse: Tutorial

Journal Entry: Wed Nov 21, 2018, 2:13 PM


Journal



UPDATE: The tutorial has arrived! Check it out here:


To see what I'm doing you DO have to be in Eclipse mode, so here is a preview of it for those who can't see Eclipse yet:

Capture by Katy-L-Wood

And here is the tutorial:
Eclipse Profile Tutorial by Katy-L-Wood

And here's some samples of other styles of boxes you could make!

Eclipse Info Boxes Samples by Katy-L-Wood




Some Thoughts on dA in General

Journal Entry: Mon Nov 19, 2018, 10:44 AM


Journal



I've been thinking a lot about my use of social media over the last year and which platforms are best for me, especially in terms of growing my audience. I left dA a few years ago because I felt that it was no longer supporting where I wanted to go as an artist and a person. Community engagement had dropped significantly and the site wasn't updating. I could post something on dA and the same exact thing on tumblr and I'd get three times the engagement on tumblr as I did on dA. So I focused my efforts there, for a while.  But then I had twitter too, it was great for connecting with literary agents. Then I had an instagram for just personal use but eventually started using it for professional use because apparently it is good for that. Then I had a facebook for connecting with larger groups like AANI and Girls Drawin' Girls, among others.

It was, and is, a lot. And every single one of those platforms has let me down in various ways. I have TWENTY-SIX add-ons to make tumblr moderately functional. Twenty-six. And it still mostly sucks these days. Just last night they removed support for posts with links in them, even links to things within our own blogs. If you have a link in your post it will no longer show up in search and it only MIGHT show up in tags. And this isn't the first time tumblr has done something of that sort. So any artist who wants to link comic pages or chapters together, or link to further information about a project, or link to a print shop, or anything of that sort can no longer do that and have their posts be visible to any new eyes. Exposure now relies solely on people who already follow you sharing your work. Don't have a ton of followers already? To bad for you. 

And that's not even touching on the porn-bot issue. I recently had a post go viral (it is near 150,000 notes, last I checked, in under a month) and AT LEAST a thousand of those notes are from porn bots hijacking the post, deleting my content, and inserting a link back to their porn-site. There is no viable way for me to report that many bots, and that's just on one post. There is also no way for me to get their content off of my own post other than reporting it. So, with no way to report it due to the extent of the problem and no way to remove it myself or even just hide it, I end up having a ton of porn attached to my work forever. Great.

Facebook is just an unmitigated disaster of harassment and way too many features, plus tons of behind the scenes rules that restrict things in weird ways. Not to mention how complicated their privacy settings can end up being.

Instagram is, supposedly, good for art as well but it has its own bot problems. I don't care if I get a hundred comments if they're all just the heart-emoji from some bot programmed to comment on everything tagged as illustration. And most of my art looks terrible at the ratios allowed on Instagram.

I've got no way to share much permanent information on twitter due to how bite-sized things are. I have to just link to my personal website and hope people might visit. The lack of permanency on there makes it hard to keep track of anything as well.

Art Station treats comments almost as an after-thought, shoving them into a tiny sidebar. And community? What community? There's no central hub for just talking with other artists.

But deviantART, even with its flaws, doesn't have nearly as many of those issues. Yeah, it has some porn problems and some bot problems, but what website doesn't anymore? At least on dA I can hide porn/bot comments on my own work. At least on dA the bots get banned, even if it takes a little while. And I don't have to use a few dozen add-ons to make the site work for me. At the height of my use here I think I had maybe three add-ons? And I ended up not needing them anymore because those things were officially built in. (Sticky menu and non-naked comments are two of them, if I'm remembering correctly). I don't have to cram my art into a square. I don't have to carefully portion out tags to make sure Facebook doesn't decide to assign less value to my post due to the number of tags I used.

On dA I can have a homepage with all my important permanent information, I can have my posts show up in the search even if I link to things in them, I can hide porn/bot comments and easily report them, I can join groups, I can post art of any size, I can can easily make small updates and big updates, I can easily interact with other users. So, even with its flaws, it is still the one place that covers everything I'd like to have in one spot.

For everyone who has issues with Eclipse, I'd like to invite you to think about a few things. You don't have to answer any of these, just take a minute to consider them.

  1. On any other social media site you've used, do you know who the staff are? Is there any built-in indication of which profiles belong to staff members?
  2. On any other social media site how often have you gotten multiple posts, if any, about major feature changes or updates from the site itself rather than some article on another website?
  3. On any other social media site, when something updates, how often have you seen a dedicated feedback form?
  4. For those who have been on deviantART for 10+ years like myself, how many new features have you experienced? Remember when we couldn't see actual previews of art in our inbox? Remember when groups were just regular profiles run by a handful of people with no official support? Remember when we couldn't change our usernames?

Eclipse is a beta. It is a beginning. It will take time for it to be ironed out and completed. It took a long time to get here, and it will take a while to finish. This staff is more responsive than any other site's staff I have ever experienced and better about listening to what its userbase wants as well. Just because they don't immediately do exactly what you want doesn't mean they aren't working on it. Building a new site from the ground up is HARD, especially at this scale. I'm sure they'd love to wave a magic wand or use a nice little template and call it good, but web design doesn't work like that.

Does Eclipse have problems? Yep. Have they made mistakes in how they've rolled out the beta and in their direction with certain things? Yep. Are they working on fixing those things? Yep. Is it gonna happen overnight? Not a chance. This is a YEARS long endeavor and we're only part-way through it. Give it time. Give constructive feedback. The staff are listening.


Eclipse Beta Thoughts

Journal Entry: Fri Nov 16, 2018, 9:45 AM


Journal



Now that I've had a couple days to play with the beta, and to read over other feedback and discuss it with people, I wanted to collect my general thoughts together in one spot. Firstly, I'd like to say that I'm coming at this as a long time deviant, a former volunteer, a current senior member, and as someone who left the community for a while and is now jumping back in. I'm also a professional artist, including work in graphic and web design, which I think is important to note since this new site seems to be trying to cater to more professional artists with Eclipse.

So, here we go:

MOBILE FIRST SHOULD NOT BE MOBILE ONLY

It has been touted over the years, and again recently, that the majority of deviantART's users are mobile users and Eclipse has been designed with that in mind. However. I am very curious as to what types of users are using mobile vs. desktop. I would argue that the general user who is here mostly to browse, collect, and interact probably does use mobile for those purposes because mobile works fine for those purposes (or...err...it would if the mobile dA worked, but you get my point). But the artists, especially the more professionally inclined? I would put good money on them being desktop users the majority of the time. Not just because of dA's functionality on desktop, but because that's where our art is. That's where Photoshop and SAI and Kirta and Illustrator are. That's where our scans of traditional art are. That's where our editors like Grammarly and ProWritingAid mostly are. Yes, there are more mobile art options now like the iPad Pro and mobile Cintiques and the like, but much of the process of finalizing those artworks and prepping them for upload is still a heavily desktop based process.

And I'm sure we all remember the disaster that was Windows 8 attempting to be mobile-focused. The users heavily rejected it and Windows 10 ended up rolling back and reworking a lot of factors about Windows 8 to make it more balanced between desktop and mobile because mobile-first didn't work. Eclipse seems to be getting very similar blowback right now. People don't like the mobile first approach. It is bland and dull and, as has been pointed out, makes dA look like every other website on the web. What happened to being deviant? You can have a mobile-friendly design without it looking cookie-cutter. You can have a night mode without going full black/grey. You can have a mobile-friendly design that is also desktop friendly. That's what deviantART needs to do.

What I'd like to see:
  • Different color scheme. Keep a little of the dA green. Old versions of dA were darker than the current one is, so go back to that a little in the night-mode.
  • Fixing the spacing issues that are clearly an artifact of the mobile-only approach. Things are WAY to spread out on desktop. Everything takes far too much scrolling around to see it well.
  • Use a mobile/desktop balance approach, not a mobile-first approach.

LOSS OF HTML/CSS SUPPORT

danlev has given this reasoning for the removal of HTML/CSS support:

"IMO, this one is most important: Journal Skins can't exist in a mobile app world. While the DeviantArt app needs an uplift itself, it gets a lot of usage. An app will never be able to support freeform HTML and CSS. No app is able to do this. Our current implementation loads Journals as a webpage in a new window, and it's a horrible implementation, but the only thing we can do with Journal Skins. This new editor is structured, no freeform HTML/CSS/classes, so it's built in a way that can extend natively to mobile." Original Comment

This is good reasoning. This makes sense. However, there's still a lot of issues with it. Firstly, this is something that should have been stated up front, not just commented on rotane's journal. People would still be upset, but at least they'd have some explanation.

Now, with that said, I still disagree with the removal of support for custom boxes and journal skins. Those are a HUGE part of the deviantART community. They may technically be a hack, but they're a supported hack. We have a built-in journal skin selector, after all. Skins and custom boxes are the main reason many people are subscribed users. To just take them away with zero replacements even mentioned was a bad move.

As a professional artist, the current profile page layout in Eclipse does not provide nearly enough options. I can't have my journals separate from my general update feed, so I can't leave up important general information without it getting pushed off the page by tiny updates. I can't create a box with all the info about my major projects. I can't highlight important information about community projects I'm working on. I can't easily highlight a single deviation I'm proud of. My profile is no longer a hub of information about me as an artist and community member, it is a gallery with tweets slapped on the side.

What I'd like to see:
  • I would like the staff to take the time to research the common themes in custom box usage and collate that into three or four replacement widgets for Eclipse. Custom boxes may be custom, but the way they're used does have themes. Turn those themes into official widgets that will be properly supported in mobile so that people can still have customization options without using unsupported freeform HTML and CSS.
  • Same thing with journal skins. Figure out the most common themes and turn them into three or four official layout options for journals.
  • Make our profiles a hub again. Let us customize them in a way that is mobile supported.

CONVERSION? CONVERSION WHO?

There's so much in the new version that is HIDDEN and it bothers me. One of the things being pushed with this version is more of a focus on premium content and commissions, however, that has not translated into the actual Eclipse build at all. They said we could put "Open for commissions" on our profile, however, it only shows if you have the "about" widget on your main page, and even then it is just a little footnote at the bottom of the widget. And premium content is now hidden behind a regular download icon with no visible indication on the deviation pages that it is even there. Neither of those things are conversion friendly.

If you want to get conversion, users actually clicking on and interacting with things, then the things you want them interacting with need to stand out. That's basic design. That's why buttons and links are contrasting colors and different fonts are used for different things. Eclipse fails at this across the board. Not only for commissions and premium content, but in other areas as well. The "View More" buttons generally don't stand out, if they even exist where they should be.

What I'd like to see:
  • Eclipse needs to be more conversion minded. Make buttons and links stand out, make commissions and premium content stand out.

HIERARCHY OF INFORMATION

The order of information in Eclipse is just...weird in many places. Kinda scattered. Things that are information are not in the areas where that information should be (example: the size of a deviation is not in the information section of the area below the deviation). Rather than having themed information all in one spot for easy access and reading it is dropped in seemingly at random. A big part of the two suggestion mockups I've made so far ((profiles and deviation pages) was just rearranging things that were already there to be in a more logical order.

MORE ALPHA THAN BETA

Eclipse is a HUGE thing. It is rebuilding the site from the ground up and that takes a long, long time for a site of this scale. And I get that they needed to start getting feedback, but this beta still feels underdone for a beta. There's a lot of basics that still don't work (editing certain widgets, lit previews, thumbs, multiple pages like the forums, etc.) and that makes it very hard to accurately asses Eclipse from a beta standpoint. It also gives inaccurate expectations of people trying the beta in that people expect a more finished product with bugs, not a half-finished project that only kind of functions.

There should have been further alpha testing to develop this more before it was released to beta. It almost sounds like there was supposed to be, given the sign-up to access it in danlev's journal, but then suddenly it went to beta a day later? Why even have the sign-ups at all?

CONCLUSION

I think Eclipse has a ton of potential. There is some great stuff in there. I'm elated at the ability to assign characters and locations to my deviations, and being able to sort things into original art vs. fan art is FANTASTIC. Plus, trimming out the redundancies in the categories system is a long, long needed update. Header images are great as well, though a little big right now, and the shop page on profiles is delightful. All of this is a great base to build on, but right now it is a base. It is not deviantART and it is not going to serve the needs of the majority of its users, especially Core users.

I'm excited to see where this goes, but for now I will be sticking with the old site for the majority of my time here and just diving into Eclipse to go bug hunting.


Eclipse

Journal Entry: Fri Nov 9, 2018, 1:59 PM


(Formally Katara-Alchemist. Haven't the faintest clue if my profile still informs you of that years later...) Oh man am I excited for this, honestly. I love deviantART. It was everything to me as a growing artist, and I was really sad when the community died off a handful of years ago. I wanted to stay, but it just wasn't worth the effort. Other websites were doing more for me, community wise, than deviantART was. Between that and dA's lack of updates, I just couldn't justify staying here as I tried to build up my artistic career.

But damn did I miss it. Other sites I went to were better than dA was when I left, but none of them have ever close to matching dA in its height. None of them have everything I wanted in one spot, either. I have an online shop here, a blog there, a micro-blog another place, etc. etc. I share my finished art one place, my in-progress art another, my literature still another. It was, and still is, exhausting. I always found myself thinking fondly of dA. Having a single page with all my stuff easily shared there! Having a variety of formats I could upload things in! Having a highly flexible homepage! Having built-in polls! Having built-in commissions! Having actual threaded comments! Having the ability to delete/hide spammy comments on my work (looking at you, tumblr porn bot infestation...)! No pinning a different thread every month in hopes people would find the important information I wanted them to see! No awkwardly trying to adjust themes to have an informative but still tiny sidebar! No seeing things out of order! So many things!

I missed it like crazy, especially when I'd become so frustrated with other sites not having what I needed all in one spot. I'd poke my head in here every now and then, see if anything had changed. But for a long time, nothing had. It was still the same old same old dying community. No new updates. Lots of new broken things. And then! And then! Wix bought out deviantART! As a long time user of Wix for my personal website, I was very excited by this, though cautiously so. I hoped it would mean dA would finally get some new life breathed into it, that it would finally update to be a modern website and one that could foster a regrowth of the community. However, for a long time, nothing visibly happened. There were rumblings, sure, but nothing changed on the face of things.

So I waited. Kept poking my head in. Tentatively started browsing the site again, posted a status update or two and chatted a little with some old friends.

Then, finally, it happened! The big update was announced! Eclipse was finally on the way! And holy shit does it look awesome. I've only seen the preview article so far, but even that has me ridiculously excited. The whole thing looks beautiful. deviantART has finally grown up.

I can't wait to get my hands on the new version, and once I do I will be jumping straight back into this community. So, to danlev and Heidi and Moonbeam13 and every other staff member who has been involved in this update and who stuck it out to get us to this point, thank you. You've got a long time member and former volunteer very excited to be back here soon!


Maybe...possibly...maybe back?

Journal Entry: Mon Apr 9, 2018, 7:18 PM


I'm rethinking how I use social media and, at the end of the day, deviantART is still the only place that offers everything I want in one spot. And, despite there not being any major updates to the site in years, it's still a pretty stable platform. So I'm gonna give this another, tentative, go. Gonna upload a few test pieces and see what sort of response I get, and then go from there.

I'd also love to connect with any of my old followers who are still hanging around! Who's here? How y'all been? What're you working on?

Not Back, but...

Journal Entry: Sat Dec 31, 2016, 11:24 AM


Not coming back to deviantART but I've still got over 600 watchers here (...why? lol). So I figured I'd drop back in and post a little update for anyone still interested in seeing my work. I've got a lot planned for 2017, including the launch of my book "Bound by Kin" (why aren't italics working when I click the button...) in June. If you subscribe to my newsletter on my website you can read the first two chapters of the book for free! I've also launched a Patreon recently, and I'll be posting one chapter a week of "Bound by Kin" every Friday until June for my $5 subscribers, so you can also read the book early that way. (Lots of other goodies on my Patreon as well.)

I'm also launching my new blog in 2017, and that will be through my website. There will be lots of short stories, stuff related to art, writing, and reading, a series on modern fandom, and other little things. Should be fun.

You can also find me on twitter and tumblr, and a few other places that are linked through my website.

Off to 2017 we go!

Calling It

Journal Entry: Tue Nov 17, 2015, 8:50 PM


I'm just gonna call it on dA at this point. I've been coming on less and less as of late because it just isn't a fun nor useful place for me like it used to be. I don't hate it here or anything, I'm just board. I'll probably still poke my head in on occasion, but I really won't be around anymore. If you still want to follow me, my most active site is Katy-L-Wood.tumblr.com 

Thanks for all the good times, guys. It was a fun nearly 9 years. :heart:

The newish tag system

Journal Entry: Mon Apr 6, 2015, 10:18 AM


Yes, yes, I'm talking about this again. It has come up again a couple times recently when I was talking to various staff members on their journals or mine, so I figured I'd put together a better breakdown of why exactly I don't like this new system, because it's a bit much for a single comment.

Alright, so, in this new system the tags don't use spaces. I've yet to hear a decent reason for this, and that bugs me, because the lack of spaces just doesn't work. Plenty of sites do have tags with spaces (tumblr and youtube, to name just a couple) so it is totally possible, however I do understand that the framework of some sites can make it incredibly difficult to add a tags-with-spaces system in. None the less, I think it would be worth the effort and here's why:

For the purposes of this example we're going to use the search term "Kith and Kin" because it is a small tag no matter how you input it, which makes it easier to see exactly what is going on. (Also it's a tag I use frequently, so it's easier for me to see what's going on related to one specific artist or artwork.) So lets say a random user comes across the site and wants to search for stuff related to my book project "Kith and Kin." Logically, they'll type in "Kith and Kin" into the search field. Not "KithAndKin." But here's the thing, when I submit my work, I can't tag "Kith and Kin," only "KithAndKin." And guess what? Even though they're sort of the same thing (and the new tag system seems to want you to think they're the exact same thing) they bring up two TOTALLY different sets of results. Here's a screenshot of the first few lines of results for each of those search terms:

Kith and Kin search screenshot by Katy-L-Wood

KithandKin search screenshot by Katy-L-Wood

Both are set to "Popular All Time" in all categories. Both have no changes in the tags EXCEPT the lack of spaces. And yet, each one brings up something almost TOTALLY different. "KithAndKin" brings up only 38 results, while "Kith And Kin" brings up 234. Any deviations that are repeated across each are at completely different areas of the page. All those "______Lockwood" pieces are mine. Notice how differently they're ranked across each version of the tag? They're more popular on the tag I have to use because of this system; the "KithAndKin" tag. But in the more logical version of the tag, the one the average person will use when searching the site, "Kith and Kin," my pieces are lower on the page and buried among other stuff. But, because of this system I CAN'T use that more logical tag to better place my pieces in the path of the people who are looking for them. I instead have to use the tag without spaces and hope people find my work anyways.

Obviously this is going to be true for all artists across the site, and to me that's not okay. This is our artwork and we need to be able to make it as easy as possible for people to find it, especially those of us who hope to someday make a living off of our artwork. I just can't get behind a tag system that doesn't let us do that.






Sorry I couldn't get these up on Instagram like I promised, guys! My phone decided it no longer wants to function up there.



But anyways, here's some pictures of the area around where my character Vivian's house is. The location is the setting for around half of at least one book in the series that I have created Vivian for. It is the Williams Fork Valley area of Colorado which played host to Ute Indians along with a few other tribes and there was at least one large battle there. The battle ground is now under the Williams Fork Reservoir though. There were also frequent Ute horse races in the area, though the track can no longer be seen.

The first couple days of Memorial Day weekend were solid rain. I have been going up there since I was born and I've never seen such constant, heavy rain. I thought I wasn't going to get a chance to take photos, but I managed to bribe my sister into coming out with me despite the rain and got my first round of photos despite the horrid lighting and constant rain. Then, the next day, it cleared up into beautiful 70 degree weather and I was able to go out for about four hours and got some good shots.

My family has lived up in this area for four generations now. We helped settle the area and still own quite a bit of land up there. There is one big family farm left, and one smaller one that technically isn't active anymore but the part of the family who owns the big farm still uses the small farm's land for grazing and such. We've owned several cabins in the area over the years, but they one we're at now we've had for about 20 years. It is the only place that I have had for my whole life due to how often my parents each moved around, so this place is more home to me than anywhere else. I grew up here playing in the mountains and the creeks, learning to hunt and camp and so much more. The whole family uses the cabin, though some more than others, and it's a HUGE family. Grandparents had ten kids who pretty much all married and had kids. There can be twenty or more people up there some nights, especially during hunting season. Some of my fondest memories are everyone piling into the "garage" (which is more of another livingroom/kitchen) and sitting at the mismatched tables and having huge, home cooked meals from fresh meet and vegetables and berries and everyone trades stories and talks and it's just amazing. I'm so excited to be able to write a story that takes place here and draws from those stories.

Vivian's Mansion 1 by Katy-L-Wood


A view from the road that goes by Vivian's house.

Vivian's Mansion 2 by Katy-L-Wood


A road up to the top of the mountain behind Vivian's House.

Vivian's Mansion 4 by Katy-L-Wood
A little ways down the road from the location of Vivian's house.

Vivian's Mansion 5 by Katy-L-Wood
The view from Vivian's front door.

Vivian's Mansion 7 by Katy-L-Wood
Driving down towards the reservoir.

Vivian's Mansion 9 by Katy-L-Wood
The reservoir.

Vivian's Mansion 10 by Katy-L-Wood
The reservoir and a bit of the family land over on the right.

Vivian's Mansion 12 by Katy-L-Wood
One of the other farms in the area. Can you see the face in the snow capped mountain? There's actually
three faces in the mountains up there, and they're all facing the same direction. Makes me want to
write a story about giants.

Vivian's Mansion 13 by Katy-L-Wood
On the way to Vivian's house. And the ATV my little sis was nice enough to cart me around on
so I could take these pictures. Such a good little sis.

Vivian's Mansion 14 by Katy-L-Wood
Closer shot of that old barn. It has been there my entire life, collapsing more and more every year.

Vivian's Mansion 15 by Katy-L-Wood
Can't get closer to the barn though, since it's in someone's field. Might go ask for permission
some time though.

Vivian's Mansion 16 by Katy-L-Wood
Sadly there is a ton of beetle kill in the area, but it's still super beautiful.

Vivian's Mansion 18 by Katy-L-Wood
The road to Vivian's house and the mountain it sits in front of.

Vivian's Mansion 17 by Katy-L-Wood
Last but not least, we've got this creepy thing. There's a few different abandoned trailers in the
area, but this one is the weirdest. We are SURE that this one is abandoned. However, every time we visit
it there are different bones hanging out front. Nothing else changes except the bones. No one
goes in the trailer, no one uses the wood in the shed, no one does anything except move/take/add
bones to that railing.


So once again we have a brand new feature that has been released to everyone, and a lot of people are up in arms about it. This is more than understandable, the system is buggy and it doesn't work quite right for everyone. But for many people it does work well, and many people do like it. They don't speak up though, because they are happy with it so they don't have as much reason to speak up as the people who are having problems.

Think about the last ten products you bought that you liked and worked well, did you contact the company that made it or leave a review on their website or something of that sort? Now think about the last ten products you bought that you didn't like or were broken or whatever, what did you do? My guess is you complained, either through a review or a return or something of that sort. My point is, unless something is wrong people don't generally speak up. This makes it seem like many more people dislike a new feature than do, because the people that do just aren't speaking up.

That's not to say your points aren't valid if you're having issues, they totally are, but there are better ways to discuss your issues than leaving rage comments on update articles. There's really nothing the staff can do with a rage comment, it doesn't tell them anything. But if you leave a good, constructive comment, there's much more the staff can do with that. A constructive comment allows them to know exactly what your issue is and discuss it. But how do you leave a constructive comment on a new feature? It's much the same as leaving a critique on a piece of artwork.

Bugs
First off, lets talk about bugs a little bit. There will always be bugs with new releases, no matter how long they've been in beta-testing. When things get released new bugs come up because suddenly there's a ton more people using the feature and they all have different browser/computer/internet/browser extension combinations. The staff gets rid of as many bugs as possible during beta testing, but some slip through the cracks. The staff are only human (as far as we know, anyhow ;) ) and things can slip through the cracks.

You also have to realize that there is no magic button that fixes bugs, if there was there wouldn't be bugs. They take time and skill to fix, it doesn't happen overnight. The bugs have to 1)be found, 2)be figured out, 3)be fixed. Some bugs will also take priority over others, for example a bug causing a broken submit button is generally going to be looked into quicker than a bug causing the submit button to be slightly off center. Just because a bug isn't fixed immediately doesn't mean the staff aren't working on it.

If you experience a bug the best thing you can do is report it to the help desk. When you select "Bug Report" from the drop-down you'll be met with a list of instructions on how to try and figure out the bug. If you do these before submitting your ticket you may be able to figure out what's causing your issue and better explain it in your report. It is better to submit a bug to the help desk than just leaving a comment on the update article. A comment about a bug on the new feature article is easily missed and your bug may not be addressed as quickly. A bug report ensures that the staff will see your issue.

When submitting a ticket on a bug please be sure it is actually a bug and not just something you don't understand, or feedback that isn't related to a bug at all! Incorrect reports slow the help desk down and make it harder to get to the real issues. If you're ever unsure if something is a bug or not, I advise visiting the help chat and talking with someone in there about it. They'll be able to help you figure out if what you're experiencing is a bug and what to do about it. You can post your non-bug related feedback on the journal about the feature, your journal, deviations, etc.

"My ticket was marked as resolved but the issue is still there!" Just because a ticket is marked as resolved doesn't mean the issue is fixed, this is usually stated with the ticket but I'm going to put it in this article as well.

Please note that if this ticket is set to resolved this does not  necessarily mean that your issue is fixed, but that there is no further  reason for the ticket to remain open as we have collected all the  necessary information we need in order to look into the situation.


Leaving constructive feedback.
Leaving constructive feedback is a lot like critiquing a piece of artwork, but not everyone knows how to do that, so here's a quick breakdown of how to leave good feedback.
:bulletpink: Start by actually using the feature. I really don't think I should need to say this, but I do. I have seen lots of comments from people who rage about a new feature and then come back a few minutes later and sheepishly admit they actually really like it but hadn't tried it, they were just complaining because everyone else was. I've also seen people who refuse to try a new feature just because everyone else is complaining about it, but they still feel the need to complain as well even though they haven't tried it themselves.
:bulletpink: Report any bugs and report them as discussed in the previous section. Bugs are not part of a feature, they're bugs. They have no reflection on the actual intent of the feature.
:bulletpink: Figure out what you like and don't like. Figure out why. If you can tell the staff WHY you don't like something it will make your comment much more helpful to them then just complaining about the feature.
:bulletpink: Tell them. Leave your comment about what you like, don't like, and why on the journal about the new feature, write your own journal, make a poll, etc.
:bulletpink: Leave suggestions about how you think those parts you don't like could be made better.

Let's take a look at some constructive comments from the newest feature release, the new submit page, to get an idea of what a good comment looks like.
"I didn't have the new submission page until now, so today was my first  time using it. I don't have any complaints. It works just fine for me  and there are a few options that make things easier (like being able to  submit to multiple folders at the same time). The only annoying thing  about it is the color, it would be nice if it could be changed to  deviantart green."-X-Spread-Wings-X (View the comment here.)


"Quicker? No. Its not x.x if anything it takes twice as long...maybe even  triple that time! Its laggy and I'm still waiting for the screen to  change to give me the rest of my options! Mind you, I started trying to  submit my work at 11:39-11:40 and its now 11:48!!! Its not my internet  because every other page I'm loading is snapping right up! Its not even  the rest of deviantart! I'm browsing through art, chatting, faving and  commenting with ease! I had read all the comments before about this when  it was being beta tested and heard testimonials from my friends who had  it and I knew the majority of it was negative! I was willing to give it  the benefit of the doubt cause some days I do like to submit with  stash...mainly cause the preview for the image is bigger...but looking  at it now, experiencing it...they were right so far! Unless these issues  are cleared up I feel this new addition is just going to keep sinking  in the list of failures deviantart has produced

...
I do like that the image is larger when previewing. Big help and I can  actually see if I've grabbed the wrong file (such as a corrected file  opposed to a flawed one). If by some miracle you revamp this and improve  upon it...please keep that.

Submitting to all those folders 8D I  LOVE THAT. I do not have to go back into my gallery and  reorganize...THAT IS JUST BRILLIANT! Keep that."-AllegedStitches ( I have shortened this because of how long it is. You can view the whole comment here.)


"I will start by commending dA on a few features of the new submit  page (which to me is about three months old and has improved since the  initial release). The ability to submit to multiple folders is an improvement  over the old form, the categories are searchable and give a decently  better idea of what is expected per each category, the enlarged  thumbnail is considerably more useful than the... nail-sized thumbnail  of the original page... and most importantly, to me, you can now  retroactively make deviations group-exclusive as well as easily submit  group-exclusive scraps (I love you guys so much for this you have no  idea).

That all said... the page is painfully slow. I imagine by  "quick and easy" you mean "to fill out", which also isn't necessarily  true in practice because it takes some time for it to register that you  uploaded a goddamn image. I am consistently finding, particularly on  slower networks, that the auto-save feature shared between the submit  form and sta.sh delays the submission (and editing) process  considerably. You could probably save so much time (and necessity to  re-upload things) by making that particular feature optional.

Yes.  I want an off button for auto-save. I really really really want an off  button for auto-save. Believe it or not, Firefox has this ingenius  add-on called Lazarus which remembers all the text I type for me.  Amazing, I know. And would you also believe that it doesn't lag?  Absolutely astounding. And by golly, it works on multiple websites.  Imagine that.

Snark aside. Auto-save. I don't want it, I don't need it, and it gets in my way; let me turn it off.

Aside  from that, I will put forth the same complaint you have been receiving  since day one-- change the color of the layout. We all want the  deviantART standard green, give us the deviantART standard green. It's a  color change. How difficult can that honestly be? Or at the very least  do me a favor and change the color behind the thumbnail. You kinda  defeat the purpose of that preview if I can check the transparency at  that stage because your background is white."-Yoriden (View the comment here.)


Those are all good examples of constructive feedback. The first one also shows that you don't need to write a ten paragraph essay to leave constructive feedback, which is an important thing to realize. As long as you are coherent and give constructive feedback the length doesn't really matter. These deviants used the feature, decided what they did and didn't like, explained it in a well organized manner, and told the staff about this in a format the staff can actually use to look over and make decisions about what direction to go.

But the staff don't respond to my comments, so why does it matter?
I'm going to throw in a little personal experience here to try and explain this one. This morning I woke up with around thirty comments and replies about the new submit page in my inbox, only thirty. It took me about half an hour to read through all of them, since I like to read through all my comments/replies before I respond so I can address the urgent ones first. When I actually started replying to all the comments/replies it took me nearly two hours to get through just those thirty. Can you imagine what it's like for the staff who get hundreds at a time? There's no way they can answer every single comment, many of them saying nearly the exact same thing. They have more important things to do, like actually fixing the issues that are occurring. Would you rather they didn't fix the issues quickly, and instead spent hours responding to every single comment? The staff do read over every comment, but they don't have the time to respond to every single one. This doesn't mean your issues aren't being addressed, in fact it means they have a better chance of getting addressed because the staff are delegating their time towards actually fixing them, rather then just telling you they're going to fix them.

Be patient.
Features will be buggy when they come out, they will have rough edges. These aren't things that can be fixed overnight. Give the staff some time to iron things out before you start jumping down their throats with death threats. Not that you should ever do that anyways, but the point is that things need time. The staff didn't intentionally release a system with bugs just so they could sit back and laugh at everyone else who was having issues, they're doing everything they can to find and fix the bugs as fast as they can. You just need to give them a little time. The best thing you can do is leave constructive feedback, file well explained bug reports, and not clog the help desk with feedback that belongs elsewhere.

Volunteer related stuff!

Journal Entry: Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:45 AM


Journal



Journal


Okay, time for some specifics! Here's some things I can help you guys with as a CV:

As a community volunteer for the chats and forums, there's lots of things I can help you with around the site, so here's a quick breakdown of them.

:bulletblack: Need a thread locked or moved? See a thread that you think breaks the rules? Send me a note about it and I will take care of it!
:bulletblack: Need help running or promoting a contest? Shoot me a note! I'll be happy to help you run the contest, donate a few prizes, or just help you promote it.
:bulletblack: Need help promoting your group? Note me!
:bulletblack: Need help promoting anything else? Note me!
:bulletblack: Need help figuring out a feature on the site, or just site help in general? Feel free to note me and I'll direct you to the best way to resolve your issue or show you how to use the feature.

When you note me, please put what kind of help you need in the subject line. If you need a thread locked or moved, say so, need help promoting a group, say so. For contests, please fill out this form as well:
Link to any contest info:
Theme of contest:
Contest start date:
Contest end date:


All this info can be found on my page as well, for easy access.

Groups You Guys Should Check Out


:iconcommunityrelations: Is the the home of everything community related. It's the main group me and the other volunteers use to keep everyone updated on the different projects we're working on. There's lots of cool articles published through here, so I highly recommend watching the group!
:icondevbug: Is the home of the beta-testers and beta-testing related projects. It will keep you up to date on any beta projects that are occurring.
:iconhq: HQ is another big community group that publishes lots of helpful articles, including the weekly site updates. Every deviant needs them on their watchlist!

Current Projects Going on Around the Community


The holiday season is always a big time for community projects, so here's just a few of the ones going on right now that you should check out!

ginkgografix is hosting her calender project again! fav.me/d5mpqci Be sure to check it out for daily challenges, cool journal skins, and awesome prizes!

Arichy is collecting points to help give lots of awesome presents to lots of awesome deviants, but they need donations to reach their goal! Check here for more info: arichy.deviantart.com/journal/…

bradleysays is hosting this year's "(RED)" contest in support of the fight against aids. There are three categories: deviant stamps, journal and gallery skins, and deviant IDs. The deadline for entries is December 31st. Check here for more info: ladygagz.deviantart.com/journa…

lilvdzwan is hosting a vector/vexel contest and an extraterrestrial contest. Info on both can be found here: vexelove.deviantart.com/journa…

Endorell-Taelos is hosting a winter themed contest. You have all the way to February 28th to create your entries! You can find more info here: fav.me/d5gnv71

TiaVon is hosting a contest to draw your OC with their OC Anouk. The deadline is March 1st, and you can find more info here: fav.me/d5aozyw

TheLastHuzzah is also hosting a winter themed contest! You must draw one of your OC's with one of TheLastHuzzah's. The deadline is February 28th. Check here for more info: fav.me/d5d5qqm

Muro-For-Membership is hosting there next muro for membership contest on December 15th! Be sure to go check out the group for more info.

Lintu47 is hosting a contest with the theme "Let it Snow" with a ton of amazing prizes to be won. The deadline is March 1st, and you can get more info here: lintu47.deviantart.com/art/Let…

AzizrianDaoXrak is hosting a "Pay it Forward" project. They're looking for point donations to help gift premium memberships to other deviants as well as nominations for people to receive them! Check here for more info: azizriandaoxrak.deviantart.com…

Current Personal Projects


Digital Painting Tutorials Collection


I have run two premium membership giveaways in the past few months and my rules are always the same: Fave the article about the contest, you must not have a current membership, and you must give me a reason as to why you want the membership. In each contest the most common reason has been wanting to receive critique. This somewhat baffles me, because it's so easy to receive critique without the fancy platform. You don't need that to get critique, and trust me, it doesn't guarantee you're going to get it. I have a ton of my pieces critique enabled and I'm lucky to get one good critique every couple months. But despite that it is still the most common reason I hear when it comes to wanting a membership. So I've decided to put together a little guide as to other ways to get critiques to help people get the feedback they want to see.

Groups for receiving feedback and critique.
:iconprojectcomment:  is a Group of many projects centered around comments, but, more importantly, constructive comments. They have a lot of different ways set up for you to revive feedback from multiple people, and the feedback you get is very helpful.

:icongetwatchers: is a group created to help artists increase their audience, get more feedback and watchers by getting more exposure. If you're willing to put in a little work, this group can really help you bring in new viewers.

:iconcritique-it: believe's constructive feedback is one of the mainstays of deviantART's thriving community of artists and writers. They feel that the exchange of information and knowledge is just as important as amassing :+fav:s and :+devwatch:s. And, they feel that every deviant, regardless of symbols, can and should participate in that exchange.

There are a huge amount of groups that are set up to help you recive feedback of all sorts. One of the best ways to find them is to search from them here: groups.deviantart.com/?qh=&sec… or look through the affiliates of other feedback based groups.

Ways to let people know you want critique without having access to the critique platform.
One of the best ways to show people you want critique is through the use of plz account versions of stamps asking for critiques. Put them in your artist comments to let people know that you're open to receiving constructive feedback. Here's one good example:
:iconcritiquemeplz1::iconcritiquemeplz2::iconcritiquemeplz3: The code for this one is :iconcritiquemeplz1::iconcritiquemeplz2::iconcritiquemeplz3:

Other Critiquing resources.
Still wishing you could get a critique on the platform to have those nice star ratings and a gauruntee of at least 100 words? Try linking to this guy in your artists comments and asking people to use it to leave you critiques. hellsplumber.deviantart.com/ar…

The thumbshare forum is a good place to go as well. There's always at least one or two threads there offering critique for non-premium members. Check in there every few days to see what new threads pop up. forum.deviantart.com/showcase/…



I hope this helps some non-premium members realize that there are other ways to get critique without having a membership. The critique platform really doesn't add that much with so many other resources for giving and getting better feedback.

:iconhappywaveplz: Hello everyone! This document will break down several things related to creating visual and written suggestions on deviantART! The topics we will cover are:
  • What is a deviantART related suggestion?
  • What types of suggestions are there?
  • Where can I make a suggestion?
  • What should I consider when making a suggestion?
  • How do I make a visual suggestion?
  • How do I make a written suggestion?
  • What are some examples of good suggestions?
  • How can I get recognition for my suggestions?

What is a suggestion?

A deviantART related suggestion is a visual or written representation of an idea that you believe would improve the functioning of deviantART in any way. You can design a whole new feature you would like to see, or you can design a change to an old feature.

What types of suggestions are there?

There are two types of suggestions: visual and written. Visual suggestions are visual representations of ideas on how to improve the site. They are a clear, concise representation of how you believe a new feature could look and function, or how an old feature could be improved. There are several methods to create them, which we will go into in a bit. Written suggestions are written ideas of how to improve a feature or create a new one. They are clear, in depth explanations of how you believe a new feature could look and function, or how an old feature could be improved. We will go over the best way to put together both types of suggestions in a bit.

Where can I make a suggestion?

There's lots of places where you can make suggestions!
  • You can submit visual representations of suggestions to this gallery.
  • You can submit written suggestions to this gallery.
  • You can post suggestions to the suggestions forum.**
  • You can post suggestions on the weekly site updates posted at hq
  • If you would like to suggest changes to the category structure such as new categories or new subcategories, you can do so here.
  • If you would like to suggest changes and improvements to the forums, you can do so here.
  • :new:You can now suggest ideas for how the site gathers and collects feedback from all suggestions in this shiny new thread from haldron!
**If you submit to the suggestions forum, please be sure to read the common suggestions sticky at the top of the forum!**

What should I consider when making a suggestion?

There are several important things to consider when making a suggestion. If you take the time to consider all of them, it will help you create a better suggestion!
  1. Is this something I personally would find useful? It's much easier to back up your idea if it is something you personally believe in, and would really like to see.
  2. Is this something that I believe other people would use and enjoy? Have I talked to these people about it? Talking to other people about your ideas can help you flesh them out and figure out potential issues as well as ways to deal with them.
  3. What are some of the possible issues with this idea? Can I come up with something that covers these possible issues? Know what people might say straight from the beginning so you can have those issues already addressed before you even make your suggestion.
  4. Would it actually improve the site for a majority of users? There's a lot of cool things that could be done on deviantART, but some of them would benefit so few users it wouldn't be worth the time it takes to make them. Don't be discouraged though! You'll be surprised what people may find useful. 

How do I make a visual suggestion?

There are several ways to make a visual suggestion. One method is to use a program such as Firebug for Firefox or Chrome's developer tools. If you aren't experienced in using something like that though, since it does require some HTML and CSS knowledge, you can use an image editing program to build your suggestion! Programs with layers work best for this, I would recommend one of the Photoshop programs or GIMP, which is free. You can, however, use a program as simple as MS paint! The example of a visual suggestion given later is one of the most popular visual suggestions out there, and it was made in MS paint. We will only be going over how to create a suggestion in an image editing program, due to that being the only way I know how to make them!**

**If someone is experienced in Firebug or Chrome's developer tools and would like to write a short guide to using them to be included here, feel free to note me and I'll put it in!**

How to make a visual suggestion in an image editing program:
  1. Get your idea down. Make sure you've gone over the section on what you should consider when making a suggestion.
  2. Open a new document that is big enough for your suggestion. Don't be afraid of making it to big! You can always crop it down later. In this document sketch out a basic idea of what you want your idea to look like. This will help you figure out what elements you need to find around the site to build your suggestion.
  3. Find your elements! To build your suggestion you will need to screenshot the different elements already found on the site that you need. This helps your suggestion blend with what the site already looks like, which can make it easier for people to understand what you're trying to suggest. You can create elements as well, just try and make sure they blend with the site. You can pull these elements from anywhere, just because the area you screenshoted was a comment box doesn't mean it has to be a comment box in your suggestion! With this tutorial I have included a collection of pre-made elements for download! A full list of these elements can be found in the artists comments.
  4. Paste your screenshot into a new document. Copy the elements you want to use from the screenshot and paste them together in your suggestion document. Pull as many screenshots as you need to build your suggestion.
  5. Use the text tool to add in or adjust any text in your deviation. I, personally, use the "Verdana" font since it is the closest my computer has to the font deviantART uses.
  6. Once you've finished your suggestion you have two options: either submit it and explain everything in the artists comments or break it down within the suggestion which can be done using arrows and text, numbers on areas of the suggestion and an explanation on the bottom, or whatever works for you!
  7. Promote!

Another thing to consider when making a visual suggestion is if you want there to be added functionality for premium members, or if you want it to function the same way for all levels of membership. It isn't necessary to make it have an extra premium function, but it's something to consider!

Here's a few screenshots of what my setup looks like, to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about:

Screenshot 1 by Katy-L-Wood

Screenshot 2 by Katy-L-Wood

On the right side you can see my different layers that I've used. Make sure you keep things at least semi-labeled, it helps so much when you start having a lot of elements.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me and I'll be happy to help you out!

How do I make a written suggestion?

Written suggestions take less steps to make, but they also require a lot more explanation due to not relying on visuals to help explain. Start by going over everything you should consider when making a suggestion which I listed above. Then open document in whatever text program you have on your computer, or stash if you so choose, and then write down your suggestion. Be sure to cover these things:
  • What do you want to see? Describe it as best as you can, people need to be able to picture the idea in their minds.
  • How would it function? Would it have more functionality for premium members? Would it have the same functionality for premium and non-premium members?
  • Why do you think it would be useful?
  • Address potential issues.

What are some examples of good suggestions?

'Self Suspension' from DA by ViscountDevil

This is a good suggestion for several reasons. It blends well with the site, it is very clear as to how it would work, and there is a good breakdown of all the different aspects of the suggestion in the artists comments. It is also something that has garnered a huge interest from the community.

Paid Name ChangesDear deviantArt Staff,
I've been virgino0owhore for nine years. While I understand I can just create a new account if I want a new name, I feel that this is a waste. I would have to move every piece of work over to this new account, re-favorite over 3,000 favorites and rewatch my current watch list. It's simply not worth it all because of 14 letters. 
Not to mention, I lead a club against name wasting, making getting a new account hypocritical. It seems more practical to allow members to pay to change their name. This prevents the wasting of names that can't be removed because they have history on them. It also gives deviantArt a new revenue source. 
Naturally you couldn't choose a taken name but, the act of paying for a name change is common in internet society and amongst gaming communities as well. The price varies but is usually around 15 U.S. dollars, and whatever that may translate into. 
How would a user change his/her name?
:bulletgreen: They could access

This is a good written suggestion because it very clearly describes all aspects related to the idea. Issues with the idea are also addressed very clearly in both the suggestion itself and the artists comments. 

How can I get recognition for my suggestions?

One of the best ways is to submit your suggestions to relevant groups! A few good groups to submit suggestions to are:
If you submit something to the visual or written suggestions gallery, don't hesitate to create a thread for it in the suggestions forum and link it in the site updates as well! Let people know about the idea, and encourage them to give feedback.

Not everyone will like your suggestion, so be prepared for that as well. Don't let it get you down though! Just take what they say and keep it in mind for your next suggestion or a revamp of an old one that didn't go as well as you liked!

You can also recommend your suggestion for a Daily Deviation, or recommend another suggestion that someone else made for a DD to help them get recognition! The current community volunteer for thedeviantART related gallery, who suggestion DD's can be recommended to, is bradleysays! Be sure to read his DD suggestion guidelines before you suggest something! Don't be discouraged if your suggestion doesn't get accepted as a DD though, it doesn't mean it's a bad suggestion.

In conclusion!

If you guys have any questions at all, feel free to ask me! I will be happy to help you out. I hope you find this guide helpful, and if there's anything you think could improve it, please tell me so I can take it into consideration!