You and me and thoughts on premade backgrounds

8 min read

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kuschelirmel's avatar

Soooo, I'm back in the middle of dA now with my shiny hat and so far, everything is great: I got a hearty CR welcome over at communityrelations, I found the admin tools are still where I left them (which is very comforting) and the DD suggestions are once more washing over me like a big wave, but the kind you just have to surf on (means: keep them coming!!!)... but some things are also slightly different which is not a bad thing, just something to make one think (well, some of the things are).

You & Me

For one thing, there's me who is different. Having a full time job now as opposed to still being a student in 2006/07 of course means I can't be around as 24/7-ish as I used to be. I'm not around the chats much any more either. But that doesn't mean you can't contact me if you need me. Or if you want to say hi, for that matter. But especially if you feel you could use my help [with manips or the community aspect or whatever] I do not want you to think "oh, I bet she's too busy to listen", because I always have a few minutes to spare to at least give you some links or pimp your contest/news article/whatever. I wouldn't have taken on the ^hat again if I didn't.

Just on the DD suggestions, I'm afraid I will in most cases not be able to get back to you. It's just too much and I'd rather help organize a contest or write a helpful news article than try to answer each suggestion. Please keep on suggesting (one thumb per note) - you don't have to do a write-up either (unless you like doing them, of course). If I like something enough to feature, I will find something to say about it for sure. You can read about why suggestions may not be chosen here (and scroll down). In fact, you don't have to put anything but the thumb or the link into the dd suggestion note. Quick and easy for you as well as for me :aww:

Photomanips & (Premade) Stock

And then there's the stock, that is different. Stock on dA is of such a high quality these days, it's amazing. So, naturally, with better stock to base your art on, the artwork itself will be of better quality (on a technical level, at least). You rarely see manips any more that use small/blurry/grainy/badly-lit images any more because our stockers are such a great bunch :love:

The other side of this development is the abundance of so-called premade backgrounds, which are basically photomanips that have little to no foreground (objects, buildings, people) and can be used like any other stock image. I'm not saying there is no need/want/market for this, because it would be a blatant lie. I'm not saying that you shouldn't use them either. But I've found quite a few manips to be rather disappointing, in that all that makes them special is the premade background (or the great stock photo). This is mostly the case when some point of interest (person, object, building) is added into the pre-exising scene and blended well, so that it seems the manippers skill would be more than enough to be responsible for assembling the background as well, but ta-da - when you look at the stock, you find out that the background came from someone completely different. To me, this is so disappointing because I see that the manipper has the skills, but not the interest or idea or creativity (or however you want to call it) to find images and put together the background themselves and instead takes a shortcut that is open to anyone (and subsequently will be taken by quite a few people whose images will look pretty much the same)...

An image like that can look great, no doubt about it. But I wouldn't feature it (especially not as DD, probably not in a news article etc) if the pre-made background is the most fascinating thing about the piece. If, on the other hand, the image lives on more than the premade, those kinds of resources are a great asset.

Credit where credit is due

What I also noticed - and it made me grin a deeply satisfied grin - is that crediting stock sources seems to be coming a lot more natural these days than it was 3 years ago. I very rarely have to set aside a DD suggestion for being without credits. And the incidents where google or other non-stock-sources are involved are not a big issue for DD suggestions any more. I know there are still loads and loads of (mostly new) photomanipulators who don't know better (and there's always some that just don't care), but all in all, it's waaaaay better than it used to be. And that is also thanks to the photomanip and stock commmunity who are tireless in their efforts to educate newcomers and who set a good example in their own artist's comments. Thank you :love:

Contest Time!

I'm currently holding a photomanip contest with great prizes and an open theme, which is "Light into the Dark". To find out more, please read the contest journal :love:

© 2010 - 2021 kuschelirmel
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BeehiveStudio's avatar
I don't like premade backgrounds because as you mention I love to show my skills in blending you know plus I have my own art style when it comes about colors and lightning.... So I think that photomanipulators should take backgrounds more in count at the end sometimes the background is what gives a huge impact to the whole scene...

hey darling I am so sad I could not include your contest in the last issue of #dArtzine but I would like to offer a zine feature to the winners if that's ok with you :kiss:

I have been a little busy I will send you some suggestions soon =D
kuschelirmel's avatar
:nod: indeed

that would be fabulous, thank you! I'll add the feature to the prizes :aww: (one feature for each 1st, 2nd and 3rd place? or one for 1st only?)

keep those suggestions coming, they're lovely :love:
BeehiveStudio's avatar
Nope darling all three places will be included in the feature :kiss:
tsheva's avatar
Welcome back! I'm glad you're at the helm for DD's again!

Premade's. I think I used one for our duel over at neo [link] and it's one of my favorite premades by Anarasha. I've used her premades a couple of times but as I rule I don't usually use them. I like making my own backgrounds. It can be viewed as a shortcut, which it is...I've seen a couple of pieces lately with premades and the object splat in the middle or whatever...

It's boring.

Premades can work but I don't suggest anyone using them in every single piece you make, there should be some type of creativity going on.
kuschelirmel's avatar
thank youuuu :glomp:

that was one of the first premades that popped up if I remember correctly, I think it's brilliant - but what people did with it was mostly not. Boring fits all too well...
tsheva's avatar
I agree.

Having your own style IS important though and that can be hard to do and find on DA.
KirstenLane's avatar
I like your thoughts .......... I may just keep them :plotting: :abduction: :la:
joannastar's avatar
I'm so happy to see you back with a hat! :love:

For myself, I started making premades because people weren't using my landscape stock. And after I started doing that, I found I was getting more uses across the board, not just on the premades but on the original photos they were made from. I can't say I'm thrilled when someone pastes a badly cut out foreground object into one of my backgrounds with no thought to blending at all, but on the other hand I enjoy making them, and it's a lot better than having made all that effort to make nice stock only for it not to be used at all.
kuschelirmel's avatar
thank you :love:

I was thinking about making some myself, just never really got around to it. It's not the premades themselves I don't like, it's some of the users who will take any shortcut they can find and even if they don't have to (because they'd be skilled enough to do so much more) :shrug:
joannastar's avatar
My favourite manips using my premades are:

But yeah, mostly my premades end up with non-shadow-casting horses on them. :giggle: Even when I made one specifically to make it hard to put a horse ON it (it has a pier) someone managed in a day. A horse with wings, no less.
kuschelirmel's avatar
lol I just earlier logged into my stock account and yet another person managed to put a horse in front of Niagara Falls :D It's not a premade, but it still seems to fit the bill *shrug* Same goes for the glacier picture... not that there was enough room for a horse to stand on, but hey :giggle:

Maybe I should try to get a bunch of good premade-use-manips together for a news article :plotting: thanks for getting me started :hug:
joannastar's avatar
Yeah when I went to Niagara (sadly before I had started stocking) there were tons of horses there. Just tons. The maid of the mist could hardly get through the water for horses :paranoid:

Doesn't [link] say horse to you?

But yeah, an article is a great idea. :nod: you can but try, huh!
kuschelirmel's avatar
:lol: it says "horse bucking" or "horse running" actually ;P

if you find any more good examples of premade bg used, shoot me a note :heart:
Elandria's avatar
I have mixed feelings about pre-mades. Some of them are very poorly made and thats reflected in the quality of artwork that gets created from them. They feel a little like cheating, and personally I wouldn't use them for my own art, not because I don't like them, but because I want to create my own artwork, with my own talent ( or lack of ) and gain the satisfaction of completing a piece of art purely by myself. Taking the original stock from scratch, working with them, setting the scene and telling the story, I get much much more satisfaction from that.
At the same time the excellent pre-mades at the top end of the scale are beautiful, and inspirational, artwork in their own right, and I can completely see why people would want to use them.
At the end of the day they are another "tool" in the photomanippers kit back, but they shouldn't be an excuse to only do half a job on the finished artwork.
kuschelirmel's avatar
yup, indeed - and that is exactly where my disappointment often comes from. people taking shortcuts where they wouldn't have needed to use them in the first place

As for the poorly made premades: there seem to be quite of few of those going around. That people still fave them and use them just shows they still need to develop their "manip-eye" so they can see that there is something off there. If they don't even see it in other people's work, how are they going to see it in their own? And subsequently, why don't they see the most blatant screw-ups sometimes? Like colours not matching even the slightest from top part to bottom part etc... how can anyone not see that stuff? And I don't necessarily mean see it and identify why it doesn't work together, but just see that there's something off...? oh well, the mysteries of manips :bucktooth:
phoenixleo's avatar
Hmmm, I like premade stocks but they are more like just like mostly photo-manipulated landscape/places type. I have wanted to use premade stocks, but then I don't see how they will fit into what I wanted to make. And being a newbie in photo-manipulation doesn't help with working with premade stocks as I won't be able to understand how something was made. I also like resurgere's stocks very much even though they aren't premade stocks, but act like a pack. When I work, my ideas change constantly or not, but I do have a general plan for what I want to do. So I like to pick stocks separately to see if they will fit or not. Occasionally I want some really good stocks, but they need to be bought, which I am unable to do so being a student, no income and all so I have to make to do with the second options. Even if they aren't what I wanted, I actually am satisfied with they very much for the finished work! So, I don't use premade stocks even if I wished I did but they don't mostly what I am seeking when I want something.
I also like doing some work in the background other than the actual subject if I need to just make something I like. Like, for this work of mine, [link] I actually spent more time searching for all the stocks, while I continued to think it up. I spent quite a long time on the background for this as well . And I could easily remove the model itself to make it a standalone work. Being a new starter at photomanipulation is great to work and experiment with backgrounds as I am doing.

Also, sometimes I find a work that isn't a stock, like the model itself in that link and in another work. So I asked for permission from them to use it and they were very kind to give me permission to use them :)
kuschelirmel's avatar
:aww: experiments for the win :#1:
phoenixleo's avatar
I actually found out I like some of the results of the experiments that what I was aiming for :la:
Demoncherry's avatar
In a way I am glad stock do now have it own cat for the pre mades.. Hell, I use them I guess more for the time saving qualities. Still, theres nothing more satisfying than making a photomanipulation from scratch.. I guess it's like cooking. Do I buy a ready made sponge and ice it myself for saving time, or do I crack out the eggs flour and sugar? We all know which tastes superior. :giggle:
kuschelirmel's avatar
Now that's the best analogy ever! :glomp: *sprinkles chocolate on the cake* :D :D :D

I'm also glad the premades have their own place now :nod:
OwlInTheMirror's avatar
I'm afraid I'm not a big fan of pre-made backgrounds. :-/ As scenes, some of them are fantastic and stand wonderfully on their own, but...

When I'm looking for stock, I find myself wishing that the pre-mades were in another category -- one that doesn't automatically pop up when I'm cruising for stock to put in my own picture. want to put together a (hopefully) unique background of my own, and I've seen so many of the pre-mades crop up in picture after picture. I suppose that's handy for beginners, but there are so many fantastic tutorials out there!! (Yours are awesome.) Even as a beginner, I didn't (don't?) want my picture to look like forty-seven other pictures but for the <insert focus subject>. I about had heart failure when I discovered I had inadvertently made a picture VERY similar to one by the lovely Emerald-Depths, and I seriously considered deleting it. Every time I look at it now, I think of her -- and that's cool, cuz she's very sweet and talented, and maybe I'll be lucky enough to pick up some more of her vibes. :D

Linking? Yes, I'm thrilled to see that our fabulous stockers are getting better credit and appreciation. That is awesome. I would still like to see the manipers list the particular items and link directly to the page where that particular piece of stock is located. There have been times when I see an item I might like to use, and the maniper only says something like, "I used stocks from here..." and makes a long list of links to the stockers' home pages. Augh.

And you? I think you're amazingly generous to be working a full time job, doing your own artwork, and still making us tutorials and donating your time to the community. You rawk!
kuschelirmel's avatar
actually, they have their own gallery (it was just recently created for exactly the reasons you state) here [link] :D Now let's hope those offering premades will move their older stock and put the new stuff there from the start :aww:

The "problem" of similar images can also easily come up with other popular stock - before the premades hit dA, there was that trend of goth girls at the stormy sea in the ruffled dress by =Falln-Stock... 99% of those looked the same :giggle: Though I must admit I tried creating one of those for fun, just to see if I could and I discovered it was harder than I had imagined and my own attempt just sucked :lmao: but I did learn a thing or two along the way, so goes to show that you can learn something through trying to copy others (if done deliberately AND not with the intent of passing it off as your own idea of course - accidental similarities are just that: accidental :shrug:)

The linking to indivudual stock images is a tricky thing - on one hand I love to see which images were the basis of a manip without having to search for them, on the other hand, having the stock right there without having to search when you are looking for stock to use can lead to the same probplem as above: a specific stock image becomes popular and overused while others that may have been even better for the composition go unnoticed because the search for stock was not a real search (as in using the search field with an appropriate term), but a "lucky find" through someone else's image... Also for this reason, manips with direct links to their stock get copied more often, simply because it's easy to get the pieces together. Personally, I find if I see one stock image used in a certain way over and over, it's hard to think of another way to use it, which is a shame.

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