Westerns: The ride began for me

westerntownWestern = what does it mean to me?

Excellent question! I am not totally ready to deeply reflect or describe what Westerns mean to me or what I think they are, but I gotta get something down in this first week. Our scout Alan Levine – has a wonderful read or Sandy Brown Jensen a mesmerizing story teller,  both of which I would love to follow as a model – but will have to come back to do another day.

When I look at “Western” and how I have viewed them thru out my life I can pretty much sum it up as my imaginary world.  Riding a horse on the open range – adventure. I don’t remember ever thinking of the violence or the inequalities. I was always drawn to the outdoors – the views of the mountains, the hills, the desert, campfires, adventure and travel. The pioneer spirit. When I reflect now I think I saw the westerns as an extension of the pioneers. Wagon trains, discovering new territories and establishing new communities. Characters who faced challenges and overcame them thru relationships with others around them.

Westerns to me were people who were building and creating. Creating culture, society, rules, norms, towns. It fascinated me – and now with this journey of #western106 it does again.

smithjonesOther girls were watching Dark Shadows and General Hospital when I was young – I was watching Wild Wild West, Laredo, and Alias Smith and Jones. Alias Smith and Jones was a favorite show that I didn’t miss. Peter Dual and Ben Murphy were posters on my walls. Dr. Quinn – Medicine Woman, Little House on the Prairie – people who worked hard, respected each other, faced problems and were building community.

The Legend of Billy Jack – (Tom Laughlin) and the song One Tin Soldier – I’m not sure it was a true western – but it was to me. I  was a Billy Jack junkie and didn’t miss any of the film series.  I am not sure it qualifies as a Western – but it was a guy who wore a cowboy hat and usually out in the western USA taking on the bad guys.

I  watched Zorro. Bonanza and Gunsmoke were occasional watches but not followed faithfully. Wild Wild West was a favorite.  It think that was during my “spy and secret agent” phase, just with a Western theme.  The Lone Ranger, F Troop, Maverick – so the light-hearted as well. Cat Ballou with Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen,  and Jane Fonda I enjoyed as well.

littlebigmanI was  attracted to westerns because of the Native Americans and their stories. Dances with Wolves and Little Big Man.

Many of the stories and portrayals we now know were not correct. The stories would talk of nature, of spirituality, of being one with nature and family to me. I was always rooting for the Indians and for the cowboys who learned from them.

This path also led me to be a faithful fan of Kung FuKungFu West with David Carradine. Yes – grasshopper – I think this is a western.

The classics like Fistful of Dollars, High Noon – those did not hold my interest at the time. So they are on my list to see what they are about.

Yep pardner – this Western thing has a lot of trails to cover….and the good thing is – even if I can’t get a decent post about it now, having to try to get something down helps expand my thoughts and ideas and start to focus on what lies ahead in using the theme for some #ds106 art making……So affirmation as to the ds106  processes – doing them keeps the momentum and pace going.

Man with No Course – This is for the checklist. Moving down the trail.



Watch out for the Trunk! #giffight


This was just calling out too much fun! But by the time I got to it – so many had created and done such awesome solutions that it was intimidating to attempt and hard to think of something that might be different. BUT that is giving up and remembering this is fun and play and competition is with myself fueled by the ideas and work of others.

I am heavy into baby shower planning and creating for my daughter and first grandchild. Elephants are the theme around our parts now – so after creating invitations and book labels I moved on to this GIF, but continued the elephant theme.

I found a short clip, pulled it into PS and it came out to 327 frames. I scanned for a part that had movement and stayed as much in one spot in the frame as possible. Got down to 17 frames. Cut the cowpoke out of the image for the gif fight and put him on the elephant in different angles. I was able to get rid of 10 more frames as the movements were too small to make a difference. Added a horizon to the top of the frames after things were set so that it was the same and went into each frame. Final was to make each frame B&W and play with the timings.

This was fun. And also raises questions about Westerns on the plains of Africa???

The Trail of the making of Riding #Western106 Gif

Getting back into the rhythm of ds106 thru #western 106. I created a GIF as sort of a promo and then remembered – “document the process for self and others”  I am a little rusty- falling into some unfavorable avoidance lately – but here we go in trying to get back to better practice habits.

The ability to embed and respond with GIFs across social media and publishing platforms has delivered an abundance of tools to quickly churn out a GIF through generators such as imgur.com or giphy.com and many more. (Google it )

My wife tells me on Christmas I’m gonna be a daddy.

You can get some really great things from video and it is something to get excited about! It’s fun! And you can spend endless hours watching videos and searching for the right frames or looking at work other have done. I have handouts from first trainings I did on web design and html. One of the “no” things was anything blinking of moving – it was considered bad design. And yes it was at 72 pixels and clip art or light bulb “under construction” text. Things have gotten a lot slicker and its almost mandatory to have moving parts to capture interest. There are still levels of taste and best use. I do hate going to a page and things pop up every time I move my mouse and start playing…but a good GIF you can just watch over and over again.  So the quest is to create the one that does that for viewers.

But there is are still some highly creative and solid reasons to create animated GIF art from still pictures or non-video. When you need a GIF to communicate a thought, idea, a message and not just a witty response or comment it is time to get down to building. DS106 has many GIF artists of all levels of skill and the cool thing is how this community learns and builds and moves to next levels by working from each others work as well as responding with new creations.

A real idea bright shiny object to chase is ds106 GIF TV set up by @johnjohnston. You can watch for hours all the created GIFs and get ideas as well as levels to to try to achieve.

ds106tv http://johnjohnston.info/ds106giftv/

Creating a Simple GIF from Still Pictures with Static Background


Disclaimer: I have tried to be as close to each detail as possible -but in creating there are lots of re-dos and fits and starts that one just has to work thru in their own way. Hopefully I have given enough to help someone along. Things get a little fuzzy as the process goes on -but hope not too confusing.

Tool used was PhotoShop Creative Cloud. I have used GIMP as well and most of the steps could be done in the open source tool but how to get to certain functions will be PS specific in this write up. I do have the luxury of having PhotoShop obtained as retirement gifts so use it.

The #western106 GIF is a basic creation was made from 5 layers and the animation is 3 frames.
3 images to move, and a background and a text layer which become merged.


  1. silhouette of 3 riding cowboys opened as NEW in PS.
  2. Size was set to 400 pixels to start at a reasonable size for a GIF at the end of creation to avoid some of the inevitable tweaking for size condensing etc.
  3. The original picture had a solid white background. I only wanted the black silhouettes of the riders.
  4. Using the Magic Wand Tool (fourth down from the top of the tool tray use control to switch between quick select and magic wand) I selected white background areas and hit delete. You will need to “unlock” the layer to delete background. TIP – I usually go up to Layer>Duplicate Layer so that I have the original layer just in case I overdo, delete too much or decide later in a process that I need to add another layer of a differently tweaked original. You can use Edit>step backwards – but sometimes that is just not enough. I continue one section at a time until all of the white background is gone. TIP – If the image seems too small to work with or the areas seem tight go to the bottom of your window and increase the size to 300% or more. Return down to a % that fits in the window when you are done.
  5. After the background was deleted. I selected the remaining image with the Quick Selection tool – same place as magic wand -but switch it back by using control.  I then positioned the image in the frame where I thought it was going to look best.
  6. Go to Layer>duplicate layer or keyboard Command J. Do this 4 times. You can name the layers anyway that works with your thought processes.
  7. I started with layer 1. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, I selected around the image.
  8. With the second layer also in view (turn layers on with the eyeball icon left of the layer name in the layer panel on the right of the screen) Go to EDIT>Transform>Rotate.
  9. Hold the shift key while rotating the image left or right. This is also the step in which if you want to change perspective, scale, skew etc.
  10. Click on the check mark in the upper bar of your window to set in place.
  11. You can now turn the eyeball off and on from either layer and see how it moves. Adjust as necessary.
  12. Move to layer two and rotate and position.
  13. Move to layer three and rotate and position.
  14. You now have your moving image and action and will go forward in creating your static background.
  15. Before you bring in your background – go to WINDOW>Timeline
  16. When the Timeline Panel opens there is a menu in the upper right corner of the small window.
  17. Choose Make Frames From Layers.
  18. Go back to Menu and make sure New Layers Visible in All Frames is checked. I also check Create New Layer for Each New Frame.
  19. Locate the image you want to use for your background. It helps to have it as close to the same size as you can. With this project I used a download from my sister-in-laws Flickr page at the medium size – so it was just slightly bigger than the 400pixel square. I knew I was going to play with size and point of view to get the right amount of sky, foreground and horizon in the spot I wanted.
  20. TIP: Save yourself lots of futzing. While it seems excessive it is easier in the end. Open a new project and set the canvas to the same size as your GIF – do the steps below and all your adding of text etc. and tweaking and merge it down to one layer. Copy the layer and then paste it into your GIF project. OR do a SAVE AS and you have a duplicate project – create your background using similar steps below and then export out as a quick JPEG, open, copy and paste into your original project.
  21. To create your background – There are several ways to bring the picture in -the easiest have found is that I open the photo on my machine select all>copy. I then go to PS click in the window and PASTE. A new layer is created automatically. Since it is the background move the layer to the bottom of your Layer list.
  22. In this project I add text so there was another futzing around to do. You could eliminate this futzing if you created your background exactly as you wanted it and then brought it in – Which I strongly encourage. Using the Text Tool (The “T” in the tool bar) and then click on your background and insert a text box.   I edited my text worked with the font, size and color and then also used the Word Art Feature to make it a WAVE form to lay over the mountains in a better perspective so it didn’t look pasted over the top. When I had this the way I wanted I selected the background and the text layer. Went to Layer>Merge Layers. It then becomes one. 
  23. After pasting your background into your project (remember it is now a new layer and should be put at the bottom of the layer list) Adjust scale and position to where you want it. You can click on one of the other layers to see where things fall. you are only actively working in the layer you have selected (background)
  24. Click the check mark and set in place.
  25. You will see the background now added to the each frame in the timeline – You did it!
  26. Now just set your timings for each frame the default is no delay – very fast. This takes lots of tries depending on your creative make up and decision making skills – me I like to see lots of options and tend to try many and save multiple versions until I find one that really sticks with me.
  27. Set the loop to FOREVER. Use the play and stop buttons to view.
  28. Go to File>Export> Save for Web (Legacy) and work with the file size if needed by adjusting colors etc.
  29. Save and then upload to wherever you are going to view or open via the file menu of your browser.

THEN if you want to get really spiffy – add sound! @mdvfunes added sound to this GIF–  it adds a whole other realm to the outcome-  love it. Read how to add sound from @johnjohnston on his blog.

Here is the PSD File if you want to see it or use it. You can also download a GIF and open it in PS or GIMP and see layers that were created. This helps me in dissecting and trying to figure out how someone else may have created something. Sometimes the most fancy really are the simple ones and others – NO WAY can I figure them out even with dissecting! But I will keep trying. 🙂

LINKS I have used to GIF learn (no particular order of preference):


Inspiration Links:

  1. http://gifitup2015.tumblr.com/
  2. http://gifadog.tumblr.com/
  3. http://jjgifs.tumblr.com/
  4. http://mbransons.com/
  5. http://iamtalkytina.com/category/ds106/assignments/animated-gif/august-2013-gif-challenge/
  6. http://rockylouproductions.com/blog_wp/
  7. @RonaldL who posts in the G+ Community and Twitter


Who’s in dem dar hills?

The burg saloon will be busy on Saturday nights for the next 3 months. Grab a glass and sit awhile.

New hands are arriving from the East with head scout @phb256 Paul Bond from UMW. They are getting their connects set up and starting to ride in. These pups are earning their keep and will be workin sun up to sun set and then some to earn their actual.

The Open range folks are circling with head scout @cogdog who is bringing along a later arrival from the south (Mexico) in February. Cowpokes in this bunkhouse tend to work smarter and not always harder while balancing with other ranch and range responsibilities. Extended cattle drives often have them absent for a spell, but they come back with all sorts of new fangled thangs to share.

Wild Toady

There is also a gang up in the hills that is lookin’ fer trouble in #western106. Not sure what they are going to be doing.

Wild Toady is gathering the gang – 106 Outlaws. He’s got a lot of history in wranglin in these ds106 parts.




Charlene of the Hills

Charlene of Hills showed up. A strong woman who has mentored many a lady and is here to make sure once and for all everyone hears of the strong and brave women of the western front.


She also shared the info of the daily Internet Kid comic strip for a daily funny and thought provoker posted to Twitter by @dogtrax

Dixie Hawkins – Queen of BuncoRanch106

Dixie Hawkins has her BuncoRanch106 running smoother than molasses and is lookin for some fun.

Expected on one of the next stages is @iamTalkyTina. A true friend.

The Lawman Shaw is Upholdin’ the Law where the Law needs upholdin’.

And the UnderTaker is ready for any business that may come his way.

Looking forward to meeting the others as they roll on into the bunkhouse or at the saloon for a drink and jawin.

This open range work can get exhausting – so looking to pitch the fork and turn the hay to keep things going if I can help – but also at a pace of balance in life as well.

Out on the ranch you can plan all you want-  but a change in the wind and skies, or  a train or stage robbed, can throw all those plans out to shrivel up in the desert. So remembering to relax with the flow of the current and paddle harder when needed to make sure the gang doesn’t go over the edge to the big jump from too much playin is on the docket.

Most of all – do what I can when I can but don’t go riding off into the sunset with hat over my eyes. Thar’s plenty of open web to keep everyone running at whatever pace keeps a bounce in thar giddy up. It will all be daisy.

Lots of stories to be made, seen, and heard ahead.  Yee Haw!


Headin’ up and Movin’ Out! Sign on to #western106

So this is my invitation to all – JOIN #western106 today!

I am a true believer and #4life fan of #ds106 spirit and connection. Just adding another shout out and reach to round up anyone who is interested in some art making and learning fun.


#western106 begins on January 11, 2016 officially, but like many #ds106 adventures timelines are only there to help one organize and to facilitate connections. You are in charge of you and your own learning.

There has been a flux of activity already in anticipation – even that @jimgroom guy is shootin out awesome stuff in #ds106 style. Scout out the traveler blog list as it grows and see who else is riding along. Then add yourself!

I am encouraging anyone who has ever thought they might like to jump into #ds106 to do so now in #western106. Don’t let the activity of #4life bulls scare you away with some of their fancy creations and deep reflections – they do that because they want too and sharing is the new actual – this ain’t no shoot out or competition (well there may be some along the way just fer fun). Some of them just been practicin more out in the back 40 longer, but can always learn new tricks from the colts. This wagon train is stronger and will travel farther with as many different travelers that join on. This is the ultimate time to become a part of a diverse community AND to share and contribute. When you bring together a wide range of skills, experiences, and viewpoints in one focus the wealth and richness is exponential!

EVERYONE GAINS! If y’all scratchin’ yer head on what is this – start here.

As #western106 is saddlin’ up folks on the range have already been yammerin’ and talkin’ about media protrayals, history, inequities on the serious side of life. But also been playin’ and havin fun with creatin on the lighter side.

@cogdog – Alan Levine is a man with no course and is ridin’ as scout and leading the posse in focus.  If you are a kindly sort of cowpoke – keep an eye out for buying him a drink at the saloon for his efforts.

@cogdog has set up a ranch and bunkhouse for gathering and sharing that makes creating together as easy as shootin fish in a barrel. The Western106 Ranch is a great place for bein schooled in how to ds106 create and new folk fresh on the western trail will get their sites in place for some sharp shootin.

As ds106 seems to create #4life members those who are Looking Fer Trouble are meetin up at the 106 Outlaws with Wild Toady. This gang may not be present in some of the Blog riding camp round ups – but will be creating and adding to Ranch work of #western106 along the hills.

Hitchin’ up on the trail will be @phb256 Paul Bond and his UMW one room schoolhouse for more creating and collaboration. And if that ain’t enough – @cogdog is co-wrangling a herd at Universad Sagrado Corazon with Antonio Vantaggiati that will hitch up to the wagon train in February2016.

If ya ever wanted to be a cowpoke, poke fun at cowfolk, or preach n’ teach about the horrors of the past – while you create art western style learning a heap of digital skills, history and life load up that wagon and saddle up!

See you on the range and in the bunkhouse!
What are you waiting for.

Hitch your wagon UP!

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