Setting Up Your WordPress Blog :: The Essentials in Less Than an Hour.

Starting a WordPress blog? Read this and have your website up to par in less than an hour.

Also, this tutorial assume you already know how to make posts, pages and categories. If you don’t know how to do these things, look them up first. Here are two good places to start:

http://codex.wordpress.org/Pages

http://codex.wordpress.org/Manage_Categories_SubPanel

Hey Guys,

So recently I helped my friend out by recommending way she could tighten up her blog a bit. I thought that actually these points could help anyone starting a WordPress blog; these tips are for anyone starting to blog and who wants to start out with a base level of quality. These are very easy steps and I have images to guide you through, if you found this post helpful PLEASE show it your friends.

Hyperlink EVERYTHING

Hyper-Linking is really important because not only are you helping your readers out by saving them work, but your also sourcing content and potentially gaining referrals (when a website sees you have linked to them, and therefor link back to you).

In the image below, I have selected the only tools I use from the visual editor on the New Post screen of WordPress (the visual editor is by far easier to use for people starting out, don’t worry about the HTML one).

Click Image For Full Size

These are the only button I use, and all I think the basic blogger really needs; I won’t explain them all in detail because most of you will be familiar to most office-type document programs (For many of you this means Microsoft Word). However the WordPress interface makes it easier to hyper-link than you may be used to.

See below step-by-step instructions on hyper-linking (Image will probably have to be viewed full size as it’s very long, sorry!).

Click Image For Full Size

1) Click the icon that looks like a chain.

2) The hyper-link box appears, leave it for now.

3) Go to your desired website, select the address and click ‘copy’.

4) Right-click in the address bar and select paste (Make sure there is only one ‘http’)

5) After link is pasted just click ‘Add Link’ it’s that easy!

6) You will know your word has been linked to something if it turns purple and is under-lined (The text will also become a different colour on your blog, this depends on your blog theme).

So that’s all there is to hyper-linking; it’s quick, easy and very useful! Use it for ANYTHING that links to another web-page. It doesn’t even have to be the address itself, it can also be a single word. It is often popular to link to web-pages in these two styles:

Visit Matt Knight’s web-site.

Check out Matt Knight by clicking here.

Have A Contact Form

The internet moves fast, we don’t want to be wasting time copying email addresses and then pasting them and then… Jeez, I’m bored already!

Contact forms make it easier for your readers to contact you directly, plus it means that you don’t have to give out your email address to any potential deviants (NOTE: WordPress does not promote deviancy!).

WordPress actually offers a very comprehensive tutorial on adding contact forms, I promise that all it essentially takes is two clicks.

I just wanted to include this as a note, because it’s very tempting to just post your email address and leave it, but I promise this is a lot better way to promote contact with your readers, plus, it just plain looks better.

Read the tutorial here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact-form/

Have An About Page

You’ve heard of friendly faces right? Well you’ve probably never heard of friendly names, that’s because putting a face to a name creates another dimension to your blog, it grants it humanity.

An About page does not have to be labored over, going over each detail until it’s perfect. It needs to be short and to the point; people aren’t going to try and trip you up, usually they just want to know a little about the person who’s website they are visiting.

Below I’ve mocked up my ideal About page, there of course are a lot of variations on what you can do, but I feel these are the detail that MUST be included-add any personal flair after you’ve administered these steps.

Click Image For Full Size

The picture says it all really, but here’s a few more details.

i) The school/ organisation area is a place to ground yourself in reality, there’s no need for any real detail here.

ii) In the picture of yourself, make sure it’s you and only you. People don’t want to be trying to work out who you are from a group photo and make sure you are smiling! (If you don’t have picture of yourself anywhere else on the blog, this is a really important addition).

iii) When you add some personality to the page, keep it concise and relevant; if you blog about films say what you love about them and perhaps mention your favorites but don’t talk about directors or effects you like-this about you, not about your subject. This applies to any subject: art, culture, gaming… anything. Talk about why you’re invested in your subject area and leave it at that.

iv) ONLY list skills that employers will recognize; there is no need for school grades here. Mention things that will make people respect your opinion. The majority of you probably won’t have these (I know I don’t!) in which case just try and win over your audience with this space; just be nice.

v) You may think you’re the most original person in the world, but you’re probably not. Have a look at other blogs before adding something you think is funny and original. This isn’t a set rule, but it’s often nice to stand out if possible. For my blog I added a list of things you shouldn’t know about me, it’s a dig at myself and I hope it reflects good humour! I’m sure though you can think of much better ways to promote yourself, so experiment and be creative!

Have A Homepage Tab

By default WordPress gives you this; so don’t be stupid like I was and delete it, because you can’t get it back! However if you do, you can apply my very (un-elegant) solution. It’s straight out of the idiots guide to blogging, but it does the trick. Simply create a Category called ‘Home’, add it to your menu and and then tag EVERY post in this category. If you have a lot of posts already, just give up on them (apart from your 5 most recent) they are just lost to cyber-space, move on. As long as you remember to click this category before you publish no-one will ever know!

So, that’s it. I hope this post helped you and if the clock ran over one hour I’m sorry, but there are no refunds. If you have any questions just leave a comment on this post or of course you can message me via my contact form.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Light Painting: Post Editing Tips

Hey guys, it’s been a long break for me and I know the blog is pretty bare at the moment. But my exams are over and I hope to start posting regularly once again!

So I see that online there are a LOT of tutorials of home to do light painting; I think it’s a wonderful effect and you can read a couple of great tutorials of how to do it here, here and here. This tutorial is for intermediates and does assume some prior photo editing knowledge.

Now light painting is a fantastic medium to create stellar images, usually people like to write their name or super-impose something like a flower; personally I love the abstract patterns that can come from swirling your light around in the dark. However this is inconsequential to this tutorial, as there are plenty of resources to create your photo I’d like to show you the process I went through to get my shots looking a little more polished.

I am using a free programme called Paint.net which is a fantastic free alternative to Photoshop. The interface is very similar and only lacks a few of Photoshop features (Though as Photoshop advances, Paint.net does not). I strongly urge you to download this programme here.

Step 1. So you have your shots, but you might have som stuff in the background obscuring it, in this case, there is a computer screen. I am going to clone stamp it out, if you aren’t familiar with clone stamping I suggest you read this tutorial here. In light painting if you’re just looking to erase (which I recommend) look to set your anchor point in a dark patch that is near the object you want to get rid of, there may be darker patches on the photo but there will always be subtle balance differences and choosing an area near your object just makes it easier. See the photos below for a step by step example.

(If you’re worried that you can see the area affected by the clone stamp, it’s ok we’ll be addressing that next)

Step 2. Now we are going to balance our light and dark areas in the best possible way. There are two methods in doing this, you can use the brightness and contrast adjuster, or you can use the luminosity adjuster on the curves tool. I actually use both,because I find the curves tool better for fine tuning whilst the B+C effect is better in more general usage. You are only going to want to make very subtle changes so that they don’t look typically ‘edited’, this is a common problem among editors. There is an old saying that goes ‘If you can’t tell what the editor did, they did a great job’. I can’t really tell you how to adjust your own photo, but I will just show you the settings I used for my own.

Step 3. Now this photo is already looking pretty nice, I was lucky in this shot that the trail came out a nice gold, but your colours always won’t always pop this well and this photo can still use a little colour adjusting. You can do this by boosting the saturation slightly, however my prefered method is to use the curves tool again, by just booting the colours slightly you can really make those colours stand out, which just look great against the black background. For this shot I’m going to boost the yellows, but like the previous step have an experiment and see what looks best for you, I’ll post an example with some vivid greens that look great with an approximation of the settings I used.

You should be at a point where you are happy with your shots, personally to just give them that final, professional feel, I like to trim about 5 pixels or so off the top and bottom but that’s completely up to you. Here are two full resolution examples of my own shots, please leave a comment with any questions or links to your own light painting photo gallery.

[CLICK HERE TO VISIT MY FLICKR PAGE]

Peace,

Matt  :)

Tips and Hints that EVERYONE Should Know About After Effects.

Click the image to go to the tutorial

Hey Guys,

Here is a repost of Topher Welsh’s tutorial featured on aetuts+ about how to streamline your After Effects operations. If, like me you are wanting to get a job in design we must all acknowledge that a lot of projects will be tight to a dealine, this tutorial helps you shave of those valuable seconds; iterating all the keyboard shortcuts and other tips to help streamline you work process. As someone who has been using After Effects for about 8 months now, I still knew less than half of the tips in this tutorial and I’m sure it will benefit a great range of people that take the time to read it. You can view the tutorial by clicking the banner or clicking here.

Peace,

Matt  :)

 

 

CGI VS Real Life

Go to AEtuts+.com

Hey Guys,

Here is a slightly old tutorial from AEtuts+ that shows you how to use expressions to control the movement of individual letters helping to create a realistic simulation of the word dangling from rope. Whilst the tutorial itself is very good it also leads me onto a point that I would urge you to listen to.

I have seen many, many videos on the internet during my internet browsing experiences, and though I would never claim to be a master or expert of motion design or film, I would say that the best video effects I have seen are the ones that are stripped back to their most raw elements. To clarify, if you learn the lessons of this tutorial you will no doubt benefit from the skills it demonstrates and I would still urge all readers of this article to learn those lessons-but also consider, how would the effect of the dropping letters be comprimised by just setting up the effect yourself and filming it?

As our species’ technological advancements race ever faster towards the future, look back at the most basic skills you may of learnt when you started filming or creating videos; is it fair to say that we are letting CGI (computer generated effects) overly dictate the way we insert challenging effects into our film, tv and advertising?

These thoughts came to my mind because I have seen this effect replicated in a similar way by an amatuer filmaker on his vimeo account (watch it here) and though his props are fairly cheap, I genuinley thinks it looks better the way he did it (please leave a comment letting me know what you think by the way!). A more commercial example of this is the blood effects in The Expendables; for anyone that hasn’t seen it, Stallone for some reason decides to replicate all blood splatters digitally. Sadly for Stallone the blood effects look very, very cheap-clearly identifiable as CGI even for audiences who aren’t familar with what to look for; this is only one example of many other injustices by film companies, substituting the real for the simulated.

So that’s me done; don’t get me wrong, I still have a huge interest in computer effects and would love to work in design in the future but is there a line which we, as designers must become aware of, so that we can stop ourselves from crossing it?

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Peace,

Matt :)

Tutorials Seen in my Showreel.

“We Can’t help Everyone, but Everyone can Help Someone.”

– Ronald Reagan

Hey Guys,

As this site has just launched and chances are no one is even reading what I am writing I suppose this is kind of pointless, however I will continue anyway. Anyone that has used this site will hopefully of checked out my showreel and hopefully enjoyed it too. However I fully confess to be a complete amateur design artist and I cannot take full credit for all of the work presented. Whilst all content was generated by me, several clips were based very closley off of tutorials with only minor changes. I will credit all tutorials in this post and if anyone decides to follow them, leave a comment with a link to what you came out with.

The first clip in the showreel is a title I made for a montage trailer (Back when I was still editing gaming videos), the title looks sweet but it is more of less just a copy of the tutorial for realistic fog on aetuts.com. You can watch Sachin man Joshi’s amazing tutorial on realistic fog effects here.

The next tutorial I would like to credit is videocopilots ‘animating a still’ lesson; the effects they present in this video help bring life to any still image and whilst I didn’t use all the effects demonstrated it was massive influence on my ‘Pakistan is Drowning’ project (repeated several times int he showreel). You can watch Andrew Kramers amazing tutorial on animating a still here.

There is a shot towards the latter end of the video of a 3D audio spectrum evolving and changing changing colour, whilst I input the colour change to correspond with the pitch shift, the 3D spectrum itself was an incredibly technical peice of design work that took me many attempts to get functioning correctly. However as this tutorial is mainly based on expressions (a particular weakness of mine) I had to copy the expressions to the letter, the only creative input I had was the colour and camera work. You can watch Satya Mekas genius tutorial on 3D audio spectrums here.

Finally I would just like to acknowledge a more general tutorial; whilst colour grading is subjective the mood and feel of a particular shot/ photograph you still need to know which tools to use. I benifited greatly from watching a few colour grading tutorials and then experimenting but as an all round tool overview this tutorial will suit most needs. You can watch Hugo Tromps useful tutorial on colour grading here.
Please leave a comment linking to any tutorial based work you have made and let us know what you think of the tutorials listed above.

Peace,

Matt  :)