Year End Triple Troll Attack

The Assignment: ds106 visual assignment #138 is the Triple Troll Attack. It was one of the more popular assignments with my class last semester. Perhaps that was because it has a simple premise and can be easily completed. Here’s the description from the assignment bank:

The assignment is to take a photo, a quote from a different character than the one in the picture, and a name from a third character different from the other two, place the quote in the picture, and “sign” it with the third person’s name. The three characters are to be from three different, but similar in genre, series. It’s known as “troll quoting.”

An important element of the Triple Troll Attack is to have some thematic thread connecting the three trolls. Such was done wonderfully by one of last semester’s students with a Disney Triple Troll.

The Process: Again working with Gimp and Inkscape, this process was more time-consuming than it would have been with Aviary or Photoshop. But I am pleased with the result and feel that I’m starting to make some progress in learning to manipulate images and text so I consider it time well spent.

The first step was to think of the three characters who comprise this Troll Attack. I’ll save discussion of that for the next section of the post. As I had the quote in mind before beginning the assignment I needed to come up with the person to wrongly attribute the quote to and an image for third troll. I selected Karl Malden for the third troll because I’d already decided on Mr. Rogers as the second troll and needed a picture of someone named Carl (even with a K) for the third. This shot of Karl Malden as Father Barry was selected because it was the highest resolution image I could find in a Google image search. Also, I love his performance in On the Waterfront.

This brings to mind the issue of using Creative Commons licensed images in ds106 assignments vs. found images on the web that might be held under copyright. I am persuaded by Stephen’s explanation in the disclaimer he gave for a recent assignment to the point of feeling that I too will not bother to issue a disclaimer. Instead I will quote from his blog directly:

You might ask, what about the Creative Commons licensing and all that. I think my use of these images falls very much within the bounds of fair dealing – it’s a derivative work, it’s used for educational purposes, it makes social commentary, I earn nada from it, and I do not impact on the earnings of anyone else. I’m not going to run this disclaimer every time – I shouldn’t have to – fair dealing is my right, and I’m exercising it.

Once the image was secured, I opened it in Gimp and used Free Select Tool to separate Father Barry from the background. I made this a new layer and made the background layer all white. I originally used a soft grey background but felt that the stark all white would work better with the layout of this blog.

I then searched the DaFont site and came up with Neuton Cursive, downloaded and installed it by pressing the install button after opening the unzipped file. This was another unnecessary step. But I’d just learned about the DaFont site today from MBS’s awesome She’s a Witch post and I wanted to use it while it was still fresh in my memory.

When I opened up InkScape, the font was there and I copied the text of the quote and added Fred Rogers’ name.  That would be the one and only Mr. Rogers. I exported PNG files in a couple of different sizes just to have a comparison.

My reason for doing it this way is that at one point I heard that vector graphics are better for working with text than bitmap. I don’t know exactly what this means but I assume that the font edges stay truer and sharper the longer they remain as vector. Once getting rasterized in a bitmap, they lose the sharpness each time the image gets resized. If somebody can explain this better or correct my explanation on this, I’d be much obliged.

Anyhow, I then opened the quote PNG in Gimp, copied it and pasted it as a new layer on the Father Barry image with white background. I played with moving the image and text around a bit until deciding on the current layout. The original idea was to have the photo on the right and the quote on the left – but for some reason I decided against it.

The final step was to resize the image (this is where I probably lost any benefit gained from doing the text as vector first) and exported it as a PNG and uploaded it to this blog and began writing this long post.

The Story: There actually is a story to the quote and the additional trolls. But I’m afraid that will have to wait. I intended to have this post complete before the end of 2011. But it’s just now 11:30 pm and I have a few other things to tend to. I will let you, the dear and devoted reader, attempt to decipher the actual speaker of the quote (the first troll). Please leave your guesses in the comments. I will attempt to explain the story that led me to select this quote and the three trolls in a follow-up post.

Thank you and have an awesome 2012.

9 thoughts on “Year End Triple Troll Attack

  1. Lots of reflection here Lo; ready to bring your A game in 2012, I see! I do not know the triple quote genesis but await your further explanation or another’s guess. In the meantime, mon ami, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

    • Thanks Giulia and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too.

      I’m thinking of doing the explanation as an audio thing. Hope to have it ready in a day or so.

  2. Thanks for the explanation about the fonts and reminding me DaFont is there – I struggled with the Psycho poster and got very frustrated with Gimp. I have downloaded Inkspace but it isn’t very intuitive for the non-graphic-y person.

    With this photo, you do want the image on the left, because the face should be looking toward the center of the image rather than off the page, so your “some reason” was right.

    Also thanks for Stephen’s quotation – I wasn’t familiar with it and I tend to repurpose rather freely, as you may have noticed. The justification aligns with what I think, but haven’t articulated.

    • Thanks Lisa – I think I went a little over the top in several directions on this. There could have been several easier and quicker ways to do it. Doing the text bit in Inkspace is a perfect example.

      Seeing the great things Michael Branson Smith has done with Adobe Illustrator this past year has prompted me to learn more about working with vector graphics. I agree that Inkscape doesn’t offer the most attractive or intuitive interface hence making learning to use it a labor. For me, I began with a simple tutorial linked to from the Inkscape site which helped me figure out a few tricks. The one I began with was Simple Text Tricks.

      I appreciate your explanation of why the placement of Father Barry works better on the left than the right. I concur. There was another issue with an awkward bit of blank space to the top and left when the text was to the left of the photo.

      And as for Stephen’s quotation, I’m glad you picked up on that. I find his explanation very useful. I wonder if it will hold up in the SOPA era we seem to be entering.

      • Lisa is spot on. I found a great resource on understanding the placement of characters in a scene- it is not random, but deliberate– see Ebert’s How to Read a Movie

        And I have to say your assignment warms me because On the Waterfront is one of my all time favorites, and for much more than the “I coulda been a contender” speech. So many brilliant performances and telling the story of the times.

    • You’re a scamp Alan. I took the google bait on Sekulovich! Well played.

      As mentioned above, I’ll attempt to explain the troll in the first slice of the year. Not surprisingly you play a part in the story – albiet just an enabling bit part this time around. Stay tuned.

  3. Great way to ring in the new year with a ds106 assignment. Any resolutions? Maybe to continue to explore more “hands-off”teaching styles?

    I this quote from the same essay, “As the acceptant classroom climate becomes established, the facilitator is able increasingly to become a participant learner, a member of the group, expressing his views as those of one individual only.”

    I love this. So much respect for evening the interactions between learners and teachers. Anyone can be either at any time.

    • Thanks MBS. I was planning to neither make or declare any resolutions this lap around the course.

      But as you identified another great line from the 1st troll’s “Freedom to Learn,” I suppose I’ll make a resolution to read as much of his work as I can this year.

      Anyone who would say,

      This whole train of experiencing, and the meanings that I have thus far discovered in it, seem to have launched me on a process which is both fascinating and at times a little frightening. It seems to mean letting my experiences carry me on, in a direction which appears to be forward, toward goals that I can but dimly define, as I try to understand at least the current meaning of that experience. The sensation is that of floating with a complex stream of experience, with the fascinating possibility of trying to comprehend its ever-changing complexity.

      Is someone I should pay closer attention to.

      So yeah, 2011 ended with a groovy momentum that has me looking forward to working and sharing and learning with some amazing people.

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