New featured images – The rest of the categories
When I started blogging about my featured images (Astronomy), I was culminating a series of other steps that I had taken to even getting to this point. Since then, I have added other images (headers and websites, governance, writing, and anything goal-related). What remains to be covered are miscellaneous items (quotes, humour, etc.) and reviews.
I have a category called “family” and for a long time, I’ve used a simple symbol of a house. It’s a cute clipart image, kind of almost gingerbread-ish in its feel. But it doesn’t really say family to me. I have another one, a logo of two pandas together that my wife and I used for our wedding theme which I quite like. But it’s only two pandas — no image for our son. We called our son cub for quite some time, but a few years ago, he decided he’s a penguin. So even finding three pandas wouldn’t solve the issue. No, he’s a penguin, and we’re pandas (although my wife is converting slowly to being a penguin too). With a little graphic magic, I combined two images, and now we have 2 pandas and a cute penguin together in the same photo. That’s my new family image. And I guess I need one for just Jacob. Maybe a penguin by itself. He chose a bunch of penguins he liked (besides the Linux mascot), and I chose from those options one with books since he’s always reading. Technically, I think it is an owl that someone recoloured to match a penguin, but it’ll do. I can use the original “house” emblem for any house- and home-related posts.
I confess that for the next few types of posts, I haven’t decided exactly on the format / layout of those posts. For example, I like to post humour to my site, but here’s the issue…Let’s say I post a quick humourous item or joke. I’d like it to be easily shareable on social media. To do THAT, and have it so people don’t have to click through to read it, it has to be some form of graphic. Like an e-card maybe. But if it’s a graphic, then Google doesn’t index it. So, suppose I had 25 jokes about monkeys. Google wouldn’t find them. Nor would my own website search engine. Because it would just know there was some graphic attached, and unless I add “monkey” to the page or post title, it would never know. Unless I *also* add the text to the post (a second copy, or in the ALT-TEXT of the image). But even then, there are no guarantees the image is shareable across media platforms easily. Does that matter for choosing an image? Nope.
I have up until posted them with an image of a court jester / clown. The image hasn’t always resized well, and blends in on certain backgrounds, but overall it’s decent. So I thought it would be a no-brainer just to use that one. But in the interest of “due diligence” to my blog, and my commitment to being anal-retentive, I looked for another possible image. Just to see what else I might find.
After a bit of searching, I actually found six other possible images. I have an image of a stuffed monkey, just the head, and it is REALLY cute. It automatically invokes a smile. But there’s nothing about it that says “joke” or “humour”, just makes me smile. So I eliminated that one. An obvious option is the laughing emoji, but I feel it is too obvious. A version of Mike from Monsters Inc. with his tongue sticking out is a serious contender, as we really enjoyed Monsters Inc. with Jacob. But not strong enough. There’s a great one of Groucho Marx fake glasses, nose and mustache image but it doesn’t look right on anything that doesn’t have a white background.
Which left me with it narrowed down to three. As I said, I do really like the original jester, it is a transparent image and when it is on a white background, it’s great. His eyes and mouth are white, everything looks normal. If you put it on a dark blue background, his eyes and mouth go blue, and it looks ridiculous. Like a badly developed polaroid. I tried and succeeded in filling his eye sockets with white, but it just doesn’t resonate enough with me.
I found a cute jester’s hat embedded in another option and I cropped it out, but the colours seem more sombre than festive. So that was out.
What was left? Kermit the Frog. PolyWogg, frogs, it’s not easy being green. I’d be hard-pressed to find another image of a laughing frog. So why not? Oh, right. It’s trademarked. But I really like the frog tie-in. So…umm…what if I take the jester’s hat, add it to my PolyWogg frog logo, brighten up the colours a bit, and try to merge the two? And add the Groucho nose, glasses, and mustache? Umm, no. Too much. Okay, just the jester hat on the PolyWogg logo.
I then have three inter-related ideas. One is about “learning” (the process of learning), one is about “ideas” (a bit more abstract), and one is about “libraries”. Libraries may in the future be more about the business of running a library, perhaps closer to the idea of public administration and governance, but for now, it is mostly just about books. And on top of that, I have a fourth one that I want to create which is to sub-divide my existing “book reviews” into the formal book reviews themselves and other musings while simply reading.
Let’s start with the library side of things. I have some images of stacks of books, lots of bookshelves or bookcases to choose from, etc. Even one of a librarian at a desk (in male or female options!). But many of them don’t say “library” strong enough to me. A library book truck would be a great image, and I struggled to find one online that I liked. But something in the back of my mind made me think I’d seen one before and discarded it at one point because I was looking for a bookcase at the time, so I re-searched my own clipart collection. And BAM! There it was. Perfect.
Reading is also relatively simple. I have another image of a frog reading that is very similar to the one of a frog typing. It’s quite cute and I’ve been wanting to use it for something, so this seems like a good option.
For Ideas / Thinking, I had an image of a businessman sitting at a desk and thinking. It works “okay”, but it seems almost depressing. Like he’s sad. I like more the idea of happy or fun than sad. The idea, no pun intended, that ideas are about sparking innovation and new thought processes. So I found a new one of a cartoon man getting a lightbulb above his head. It’s a bit cheesy, but it works.
Learning is a bit more of a challenge than I thought. There are LOTS of images of students in classrooms, little kids going to school, ABCs and 123s, apples, actual schools, graduation, presentations, diplomas, etc. And none of them resonate with me. Each one is too specific to one type of learning environment. You know what resonates with me? The idea of someone who has gained a lot of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, learning for learning’s sake. A wise old owl. Maybe sitting on a book.
My website also has some recipes on it, and that is a relatively easy category to represent. I have a cartoon panda eating out of a bowl with chopsticks. Perfect for “pandas” trying new food.
I thought photography would be easy. I have two images that are relatively straightforward. One is simply of a camera with a couple of snapshots behind it. It’s okay, nothing special. Another one is a funny one, with a older photographer aiming the camera to take a picture but all the film has unraveled out the bottom of the camera. Unfortunately, the funny image is not the right dimensions (very tall and slim). Searching for new ones, I found some more with cartoon photographers, but they were all similar — tall and thin dimensions. There’s one that works but it is relatively bland (b/w drawing with orange backpack and orange flash from the camera). A re-colorized version turns it from a black ink drawing to a blue ink drawing, which isn’t bad. A possible contender. There’s one of a meeple (dough-person) with a gold camera, but recolouring didn’t really help. I thought I hit jackpost when I found images of a tree frog using a camera. A frog that looks like my master logo using a camera? What’s not to love? But they’re not great layouts or styles.
I’ve harshly come back to a choice between either the blue photographer or a camera. I’m not a huge fan of either one. I decided initially to keep both, one for process and one for actual shots, until I stumbled over an image I’ve had for years in my clipart and just wasn’t using. A cartoon photographer taking a shot. Crouched down, so the dimensions look right. Perfect. I added another one of a dark sky landscape to cover astro imaging too.
I have a large collection of meme topics. Lunch notes, astronomy, books (already covered below), humour (already covered above), movies (already covered below), music (partially covered below), and TV (covered below). For the ones not already covered, I’m working on an outline that has a common look and feel to it, which will likely be a combination of the humour image above and some layout options. For some kids-oriented ones, I’ll go with a simple little knight with a sword.
With those all covered, and a few options to play with some layouts here and there or add pictures, etc., one thing I definitely do NOT have covered is any sort of image to represent quotes. A simple quote bubble is sufficient.
For my reviews, I have a book review symbol that I have always liked, so that one is easy. I have tried to come up with a way to put the book cover for the books under review in a good layout that would replace the featured image, but the styling options and extra work that goes with doing that are really not worth the extra hassle. Instead, I’m going to style the book covers within the review itself, and leave the book review symbol out to the left, as normal.
For television reviews, I have a similar issue. I want the logo for the show, but too challenging to style it properly and consistently in the featured image location. Instead, I’ll style it inline with the content, leaving me to include an image of a man slouching in front of a giant TV. I’ve used it for awhile, and I find it amusing. Definitely not the image of a professional TV critic, nor do I want to be one. So it works for me. And it’s good that it does, because there are more than 250 posts related to TV reviews on my site, almost 20%. I’ll be seeing this image a lot!
For music reviews, I will follow a similar format to the above. I have an image I’ll be using for each year of reviewed music, or perhaps an album cover, but I’ll style those inline with the rest of the text. For the featured image, I’m torn between two images. Both have old-style radios as the main image, but in one, an older man is listening while in the other, it’s a young boy. The old guy has a bit of a creep feel to him, so I’m going with the happy innocent boy just enjoying his music.
My last review category is movies, and while I would like to have way more on the site than I do, I don’t really have an image that screams “pick me, pick me” to represent those reviews. With the decisions above to use books, TV logos, and music covers all inline, and to use a regular image as the Featured Image for each sub-category, I do in fact need to find one.
I have a collection of images…39 in total. And I like them all about the same, which is “not much”. Ticket stubs. Ticket agents. Videocameras and camera operators. Directors, producers, actors. Clapboards. Film canisters, film strips, even a premiere style logo. The only one that excites me is an old style GIF of a movie projector. Way back when I started my site, “motion” wasn’t that common…there was even an ad running on TV for web design where someone was showing a website where the logos were on fire (with flaming letters) and the average designer saying “I can’t do that.”. But the projector actually is a moving GIF. Incredibly common now, of course, but for the time, I thought it was akin to magic. I’d use it except I don’t want one image moving and the rest not, plus the image looks like it was designed for an 8-bit Atari game console, not a modern website.
I really want something that sparks the fun of movies. The magic that I felt as a kid. Popcorn comes close, in a way. There are better pics of projectors online too. Maybe curtains. Or movie seats. 3D glasses. Hodge podge images with multiple elements. Images of genres from western to classic, sci-fi to Oscar winners. Home theatre setups. Tapes, DVDs. Surprisingly few that showed actual movie theatres or cinemas. I expected a lot of marquees and premiere images. Not what I wanted, but I expected them. I did peek at one, but the dimensions were so far off that when reduced to FI size, you couldn’t really tell what it was. I kind of liked one that just showed three movie seats, but the dimensions / proportions were off again. I found a REALLY cool projector image, cold metal with light coming forward out of it. Except of course the background is full black. On a black BG, it could look awesome; my site is NOT black. Sigh.
In the end, it came down to three options. One is a movie projector image from the original collection. It needs the BG removed, which is easily done on this image (couldn’t do it on the projector one with the black BG). The other two are of seats in a theatre looking at the screen. One, done in dark blue, shows the audience waiting for a curtain to open. Pretty dark though. The other is done in red, the screen is there and ready for projection, with bright, empty seats. And yet neither quite look right. I tried merging the two — a nice screen from the red image on top of the curtain on the blue image. Nope. Okay, both gone. That leaves me a projector!
Whew. That is a LOT of images for a final “miscellaneous” grouping. Now, on to actually using them all.