An Unusual Valentine

The Valentine design assignment asks us to

Create you very own Valentines Day cards. Go ahead and make a funny spoof valentine that would make people laugh! Use at least one image and modify it in some way to create a cool effect. Afterwards, go ahead and send that baby out to people who would get a kick out of it. You can be sentimental if you want to, but funny cards are prefered!

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To make it, I followed the process.

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I started off with a random image I had on my computer, which I pasted into a Drawing in a document on Google Drive. For more details on this process, reference my other posts: its really not that complicated!
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Then I clicked on the textbox option, which lets you draw a textbox wherever you want with editable text.
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I drew the textbox by dragging the cursor to expand the textbox. To move it around afterward, just select it by clicking on it, and then drag the textbox until its in the desired position.

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Click on “More” while the textbox is selected, and it gives you the text editing options.

Soundtrack of the Mind

I combined the audio assignments Sound Effects and Poetry Reading, which respectively say:

This is a short and simple assignment. Most everyone uses freesound for various audio assignments, but sometimes, you cannot find quite what you are looking for. This assignment is to upload your own sound or sound effect to freesound, preferably something which is lacking.


Poetry is meant to be read aloud. Select a poem – it can be a personal favorite or one you find randomly – and read it aloud in a way that itself makes it a story. Then at the ending of that poem extend it or connect it to a story — this has to be more than just reading a poem to be a story.

I think they work better together and in the context of a story, since the sound effects can be used to tell a story and the reading of a poem can in and of itself be a sound effect, especially with a very abstract poem like “Aquatic Nocturne” by Sylvia Plath.

It goes like this:

Aquatic Nocturne

deep in liquid
turquoise slivers
of dilute light

quiver in thin streaks
of bright tinfoil
on mobile jet:

pale flounder
waver by
tilting silver:

in the shallows
agile minnows
flicker gilt:

grapeblue mussels
dilate lithe and
pliant valves:

dull lunar globes
of blubous jellyfish
glow milkgreen:

eels twirl
in wily spirals
on elusive tails:

adroir lobsters
amble darkly olive
on shrewd claws:

down where sound
comes blunt and wan
like the bronze tone
of a sunken gong.

As mentioned previously in this post and this other post, I love Sylvia Plath’s dark and intense poetry about subjects like depression and alienation. But I also love some of her more beautiful, gentle poems on subjects such as the children, beekeeping, and the ocean. In particular, this poem uses beautiful language that evokes the sights, sounds, and motion of the marine landscape, which I incorporated into the story, as well as resembling the vivid, sensory, surrealist tone I like to give my writing. The title itself is especially poetic, since a nocturne is a song that praises the nighttime.

To create the work itself, I recorded a number of different sounds


A Slightly Ingenious Way of Exposing the Setting

The most useful piece of media in my story would have to be the poster I made based on the Design Assignment Vintage-ify A Place. Its pretty interesting to begin with.

Richmond Outside and Firefly Design, Inc. teamed up to create vintage-like prints of some favorite spots along the James in Richmond, VA.  Based on the WPA National Park posters of the 30s and 40s, these RVA posters add retro flair to some of the city’s popular spots.

Is there a jewel in your city or town?  What about an infamous spot?  Is there a fictional place that deserves its own retro poster?  Get to work!

But it also works perfectly for my story to subtly explain about the setting. The story centers around the fountain in City Square, where the protagonist discovers a special secret: there are dolphins who live in the water. However, introducing this place is a little hard; I’m tempted to get sidetracked explaining what it looks like and its history. This poster can do that without forcing the information on the reader, but instead presenting it in a visually-interesting way that lets the reader explore the information, and making it easy to find for reference. I will be using this strategy in my “real” writing (stuff written for the sake of publishing).

Here’s how I did it!


Step 1: Import Image

Because this is a full length tutorial, I’m going to include everything. That means finding the image is included too.

I went to Google Image Search and googled “dolphin fountain”, then selected images that are “Labelled for reuse with modification” on the menu bar, according to Google. The search yielded these results.

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I selected this image.


To see it up close, first I clicked on the image.

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To import this image into WordPress and for editing in Google Drive, I right-clicked for the menu that allows you to copy the image URL.

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If this doesn’t work for you, you can just open up the website and click on the picture, or try the Open image in new tab option on the same menu, then copy the URL from the box.

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As promised, it should open a new tab.

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Just copy the address in the address bar above the image by right-clicking for this menu, and clicking on Select all. Alternatively, you could just right-click and hit Ctrl+A on your keyboard, assuming its a PC.

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Then of course, hit Copy!

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To import the image, paste that URL address as follows into a Drawing in a Google Document on Google Drive.

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And the image is successfully imported into a Drawing.

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Step 3: Overlaying Text

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A Little Slice of the Starry Night

Using Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting The Starry Night, I did the visual assignment Adapt an Artist’s Work for my final project story. The assignment asks us to:

Adapt a famous artist’s work to change or reinforce its possible message.

Here’s what I did:

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I incorporated it partly because I couldn’t photograph the moon in the right phase on such short notice, and partly because the painting style goes nicely with the surreal aesthetic of my story.

This is the original painting.


I found it on the Wikipedia page for the painting.

If you click on the image, it tells you the copyright info. In this case, its available for any use.


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With that, you should be able to take any image of a piece of art and adapt it with a Drawing in Google Drive.

Mermaid-Marine Biologist

I decided to incorporate video into my story by doing the Your Dream As A Movie Trailer video assignment, but from the perspective of my protagonist instead of myself. Once again, it serves an expository purpose in the story, providing background information without adding any more to the word count and what feels like an excess of explaining things.

The assignment says:

We all have a dream of what our life could be. We find this in children especially. But we all hold dreams of what we may become.

Through photos and videos, music and text, put together a :30 trailer to tell the story of your life dream. I used iMovie for a template and created the dream of my child, who wants nothing more than to go into outer space. I created a short story arc and filled it with magic and wonder. It doesn’t have to be about how you will achieve that dream, just what it will look like on your journey there or what it is once you have it. Use your imagination to tell your story, however you dream it up.

This is especially relevant to my story because the protagonist’s desired career represents something important about her perspective, her ambitious and independent personality, her flaw of stubbornness, and her motivation, as well as the conflict with other people that results from her revealing herself. In short, basically its very her.

In the story, its explained as being her school project, and its mention is used to advance the plot as well as to characterize another character (her brother) by his response.




A Concise Ending to a Long-Winded Tale

So maybe my word count ballooned out-of-control, in part because I wanted to make sure to thoroughly develop a conflict. So I was inspired by the 1 Second Video assignment to finish off my story quick, wordless way that would leave the future vague but the conclusion clear. Its a little longer than one second, but operates on the idea.

Its a fascinating assignment that poses a single, simple question:

How much of a story can you tell in a 1 second video? Inspired by this:

I took a video of myself writing out the words that the protagonist leaves the world before going on her quest.

To Read More: My Clever Little Add On

Although its not technically part of my narrative, I added on one more assignment in the design category. Its called Book Artist, and as per the name it asks you to:

Re-design your favorite book cover!


In GIMP/Photoshop/any image editor of your choosing, create a new book cover for your favorite story! Imagine that there’s a new, special edition of the tale coming out, and YOU are the special, super awesome artist who has been chosen to design the new look!

In this case, instead of using a favorite book, I used an imaginary book that contains my story and what happens afterward.

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I made my tutorial in slideshow format this time, just to change things up one last time. It was a little more effort, but probably a lot easier to navigate that cumbersome long posts.

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A Day in the Life of a Royal…Dog

For 3.5 stars of my Video Assignments, I picked an assignment called What do Pets Think About? Here’s what it says to do:

Your pet cat, dog, turtle, snake [fill in name of pet here] spends a lot of time with you, do you imagine what they are thinking about? Create a series of video sequences of them that show them in contemplative mode, then record over that the narration of what they might be saying to themselves. Pad with an fun opening title, ost to YouTube, and wait for fame and fortune to come your way.

As I mentioned in one of my Week 1 Posts (wow, forever ago!), I have a gorgeous, charming dog named Arthur. To be honest, I chose this assignment partly because it will be somewhat easy for me…I’m always imagining what Arthur is really thinking. In fact, its a source of endless frustration for me that Arthur refuses to learn to talk, so me and my parents will habitually say out loud what we think Arthur is thinking when no one is around. Some families bond over camping or dinner or shared interests…we bond over narrating my dog’s thoughts. Because that’s totally not weird.

To do this assignment, I first filmed Arthur a few times during our walk. But then I went down to get some final footage, only to see him dancing around in the wind before a thunderstorm. It was just too cute not to film, and it ended up filling up my whole minute of video. And a little weird…what kind of animal enjoys bad weather? My kind apparently.

I used Windows Movie Maker, which you can download here. Its a fun, handy software, and for me its been very intuitive, so I apologize if I am scant on details. In some cases I literally could not think of any more steps to retrace with screenshots, especially since I showed the basics on my other Video Assignment post.

Add Title

Click the Add title button on the Home tab. In the screenshot below, I moused over the button, which tells you its name and what it does in a little box.

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You can type the title and adjust the text afterward by just clicking on the textbox that forms.


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Experimenting with transitional effects

Windows Movie Maker does not disappoint with options to experiment with (one area I feel a lot of online services are lacking!). I changed the length of the title, as per below, by just clicking on the “slide” of it on the right-hand side. Untitled document (2)

Under Video Tools, you can also add an opening transitional effect. I played around with all of them before picking this one. Untitled document (3).jpg

And naturally, you can adjust the length of the opening transition as well, just like with the title “slide” earlier. Untitled document (4).jpgUntitled document (5).jpg

Add music

I chose some music by Emancipator, a great musician that makes music without lyrics (since I needed no lyrics to interrupt my narration). The song is called Greenland, the first track on an album called Safe in the Steep Cliffs. You can listen to it below.

I don’t know that its the perfect choice, since I don’t listen to much music without lyrics. (Actually, I found this musician only because his mother was my 7th grade English teacher!). But I think it adds to the dramatic feeling of the footage.

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Experimenting with the Soundtrack

If you click on your soundtrack (the green graph-like thing under the “slides”), it opens a new tab called Music Options. There you can adjust where the music starts and ends, among other things. I wanted the music to stop before my final “slide” that says “Coming to a theater near you!”, so I moved the cursor to see what time that was at, and then typed that time into the Final Point area. You can also adjust with up and down arrows, but that takes a while in cases like this where the soundtrack you downloaded is much longer than the video.


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And, of course, the best part: narrating what I know Arthur is thinking. Its the same drill: I moused over the Record narration button for the little window to pop up that tells you what it is for this screenshot. Then I clicked on it and spoke into my computer’s microphone.

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My final work was posted to YouTube:




For 4.5 stars, I did the Narrative Ambiance assignment, which asked us to:

Take a favorite poem, inspiring quote or passage from a book (or even a movie monologue, if you like!) and record yourself reading it. Then set it to original video you’ve recorded with some kind of music or sound effect in the background. The final video should be at least a minute long.

The goal of this assignment is to tell a story that evokes a specific mood–sadness, joy, hope, anger, fear, peace, wonder–and to do so not only through the literal meaning of whatever you choose to read, but through your use of original video and music or sound effects. Be creative! There’s a ton of different ways to interpret this assignment. When you write your blog post about it, tell us what mood or feeling you wanted to convey, what you want the viewer to take away from your video, and how successful you feel you were.

It should be fairly obvious why I chose this assignment: I love reading and writing. I decided to read one of my favorite quotes. Its by author Jack Kerouac. I’ve only ever read his novel On the Road, his most popular work. Its a little strange, to say the least, but a great read; its considered a “modern” (that is, the 20th century or contemporary sense of modern) classic. This quote, on the other hand, comes from Lonesome Traveler, a collection of short stories he authored based on “a compilation of Kerouac’s journal entries about traveling” according to Wikipedia. I actually found it on Pinterest, of all places. Its pinned on my board for art-sy stuff, named “Artistic Visions of Solitude“.



One of these days I’m going to read Lonesome Traveler though–like Kerouac’s other works, I connect to the mixture of alienation, wanderlust, and desire for freedom that living in the impersonal modern world leaves me with. One day I’m going to travel the world just like he did and hopefully write something at least a fraction as great as his works…But first I’m going to do this assignment.

For this assignment I used Windows Movie Maker, which is loaded onto most Windows computers. I’m sure Mac has a similar program, but I don’t know anything about it, so the tutorial on this assignment is really only going to be helpful to show you how I did things.

First, I hit Title to add a title. The little window entitled Add title appears when you mouse over the button.



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I came up with my weird-sounding title from an interesting term I found that means:

A great desire for or obsession with freedom.


It doesn’t fully describe the mood I’m trying to capture, but it does go with the ambiance. I wanted the aesthetic of On the Road and the nomadic visions of Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, but a little gentler–essentially the aesthetic of the story I want to write one day.

To adjust the duration of each piece, you just go to the tab called Edit to adjust as follows:

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I also added credits for my video by choosing from the different options for credits. At this point I also found myself wanting to adjust the text with the text editor, which comes up whenever you click on the text box on the slide. Experiment with different fonts, colors, sizes, transitions, lengths…I did ultimately settle for simpler stuff, but there’s a lot you can do with this software.

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I put a music track over the opening credits.

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Then I added my video via Add Videos and photos. Its a video I filmed a while back while on vacation, available here on YouTube as below.

It seemed appropriately peaceful and serene, but also a little lonely and dull, just right for the idea I wanted to convey.

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To add the words narrating my video, I clicked on Record Narration. If your computer has a microphone, you can record it directly into the software.

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To add credits with music at the end, you follow the same exact process as for the beginning, which I described earlier. That’s all I had to do. By “all I had to do” I mean I spent a good while on it, but I wish I had more time to take a decent, non-shaky video instead of using this one of something scenic.

Oh, and here’s the actual completed assignment!