I don’t know about you, but any time someone offers me a little break from the daily grind of reality I jump at it. I will absolutely put the casual in casual Friday. Throwing a Halloween party? Expect me! When Wizards of the Coast announced their new “Ignite Your Spark” contest, I could not wait to get my Nissa on! Nissa is one of the only female planeswalkers I have ever felt a connection with. She has a purpose I understand — saving her land from the evil Eldrazi, saving her people, facing the question of how far do you go for the ones you love. When is darkness right to deploy? These questions have faced humanity since the first sword was forged. Now I get to catch the spirit of Nissa, have fun, and possibly win cool things. Yep, I’m sold.
I don’t have crazy cosplay skills or infinite funds to do something stunning like @cspranklerun would create, so I decided to keep it simple and enlist my graphics partner in crime for a simple assist. First thing to entering any contest it to make sure you understand the rules:
Your photo and caption must also conform to the following:
- Photo size must be the same dimensions as a Facebook cover photo, i.e., 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels high.
- Photo must be in .JPG or .PNG file format.
- Only one person (Entrant) can be depicted in the photo.
- Text caption must be 200 characters or less.
- If your photo contains words, the words must take up less than 20% of the photo.
- It should be clear from your photo which Planeswalker character you are auditioning to stand in for.
- Entrant must own the copyrights in the Photo Submission and text caption entered in the Contest; in general, this means that Entrant took the photograph and wrote the caption.
- Photo and/or caption must not contain any nudity; sexually explicit, defamatory, obscene, threatening or harassing material; messaging promoting hatred toward groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity; material that infringes any other person’s intellectual property rights; or any depictions of dangerous or illegal activities. Keep it safe, clean and classy, people!
The big basic rules were make sure that the picture is of you and that you took the photo. It didn’t say anything about graphical assist, so I was pretty sure enlisting my brilliant buddy @theproxyguy to help wouldn’t be a big deal. But it’s always better safe than sorry, so I took to Twitter:
@Revisedangel absolutely! Just one person can be in the image itself though.— jonhickey84 (@jonhickey84) July 1, 2013
I had a few thoughts about how to do Nissa. I had a white corset from my wedding dress that I was hoping to use along with Josh busting out his digital skills to make it green like Nissa’s. Actually copying her facial marks shouldn’t be too complicated, but first I had to find some makeup that might do the job.
I didn’t want to go with straight black face makeup because Nissa’s heart is still green. She may dabble in black magic to protect her people and homeland but she still has an emerald soul. I decided to mix a little of the emerald green (called lucky charms) eyeshadow with the brown for just an added bit of darkness.
Next step was finding one of the larger eyeshadow brushes I can find in my heaping mess of makeup to apply the triangle markings on Nissa’s face. This part probably took the longest of the whole endeavor. Remind me to organize my makeup this weekend.
Once I had all the tools and makeup ready it took about five minutes to get the markings close to how I wanted. I think the center marking on my forehead is probably too large compared to Nissa’s, but that could just be because I have a big forehead.
My daughter had these little emerald stick-on studs that came with her My Pretty Princess makeup kit she received for Christmas. I decided to acquire them, because if you can’t use your children’s princess accessories once in a while, what good is life? Unfortunately they weren’t very sticky. I wanted one at the tip of each triangle as an accent, and ended up having to use my fake eyelash glue to hold them in place.
Then it was time to get dressed and one last check to make sure I looked somewhat in theme with Nissa and not Koth.
Now we are getting to the hardest part of any picture: getting serious. Figuring out how a planeswalker should stand or what they would be doing with their hands is complicated y’all. When I get nervous I have a tendency to do my Wonder Woman pose, which obviously is not good when trying to depict a prideful and regal elf who is also ruthless.
At some point I realized Nissa would probably not be wearing a neon green mustache bracelet, so I removed it. I stood in front of the mirror a few extra seconds and tried to make a face that seemed ruthless yet prideful. This is really, really hard. Mostly because I can be very forceful but never ruthless. I am not even sure what a ruthless face should look like. I thought about Nissa some more and decided I would try for sad strength. Her home is being destroyed by the ultimate annihilators, which must bring a type of deep sadness mingled with strong resolve. I decided to reach out with my hand, igniting my spark for the first time in Nissa’s absence. Preparing myself for oncoming battle.
Once I had a picture that was passable for “Nissa themed” I shipped it off to @theproxyguy to be planeswalkered out. I told him I didn’t want anything too advanced done to the picture, just a more suitable background and little bit of spark power. He shipped me back this!
If you are like me and want to enter but don’t have tons of mad cosplay skills, don’t worry, you can! Just a little effort and a few layers of the good ol’ Photoshop and we are in business! There are tons of easy ways to emulate your favorite planeswalker. So borrow your sister’s/wife’s/girlfriend’s makeup and get started! You have until September 4, 2013, at 11:59 pm EST to enter!
Here is a little tutorial to help if you have never tried altering photos before:
Creating a Planeswalker
@TheProxyGuy: Let me begin by offering apologies if the tech-speak starts to get a little thick. I will try to convert Photoshop jargon into layman’s terms the best I can. If I fail, again, I apologize. This is the unedited original picture Heather took for the “Ignite Your Spark” contest:
The task at hand? Turn this into a cosplay of Nissa.
Always start with a plan. What do you want in the finished product? Shooting from the hip, while allowing for more creativity, can be time-consuming and discombobulated. I wanted a foresty background, to saturate some areas of color, and add a special effect.
First up, a background. Google Images yielded some possibilities, and I went with a mossy forest. After some layer masking to block out the wall behind her, we arrive at:
As the picture continues to evolve, I’ve added a Hue/Saturation layer to highlight certain areas that needed more pop. I’ve also touched up her eyes and lips by using the Dodge and Burn tools.
The next step is the special effect. With the position of her hand, I thought a glowing orb/spell being cast would fit well. A simple circle with a Satin layer effect, an outer glow layer, and a bit of layer masking, and it’s starting to come together.
The final push involved adding some shading to the ball, as well as the radiant light. The finished picture in the wide format, ready for submission.
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