In Another Dream
If you're afraid... why not just stay in your dream world? If you want to get away from pain and sadness, it's all right.
- dream world
- reality is overwhelming
- dealing with change
- mysterious girl
- lost & trapped
- quiet resolutions
- everyday courage
- My Dream Girl
- everything, actually
- CSS columns
- alternating content div styles
- coloured scrollbar
- This shrine is yet another proof of how you can expand your horizon by taking part in a community of like-minded people.
I first learned about CSS columns because dubiousdisc had mentioned them at Amassment's forums, and had been wanting to use them in a shrine ever since. When I saw Stefi's revamped network shortly before work on this shrine was started, that desire grew even stronger.
Lucas' network received a recent revamp, too, and makes perfect use of manga panels. (In case you didn't know, layouts using manga panels have a special place in my heart, and online TCGs that use black-white manga images for their decks are my favourite...) It's not just in the way they are placed, but also how boldly they differ from each other in shape and size. Along with the heavy black borders, it recreates the manga experience in a very authentic way. I had mostly avoided simple black boders up until now due to the dominant aesthetic trends in my early internet years, and it would seem that it entirely slipped my mind that they are one of the many elements I love about manga.
That aside, up until now, with the exception of my network, I had always used uniform sizes for any content images on my shrines. There are shrines where more than one image template was used, but never was there full liberty with image sizes. Here, the width of images used is fixed, but their height varies – another outside influence.
- Aku has said a lot of very insightful things at the forums over the years, especially regarding design, and especially by challenging certain ways of doing things, that have influenced me a lot in my approach to shrining. Shrines have been around for a long time, and they've evolved a lot in that time. Still, there are elements that go so far back that you might not have ever thought to question them or try doing them differently, instead believing them to only exist in a fixed way. That's where having discussions with an entire community and speaking your honest thoughts are important, and I'm so very grateful that Aku made all those posts, and that the forums are around for me to backread! ... While I'm at it, the following are some of those posts that contributed to my way of shrining in general as well as this shrine in particular: "Content or design: which comes first?", Choosing a subject for one pagers, What makes a shrine a shrine? (follow-up)
Most recently, I made a forum topic to ask about text-align preferences, which was a very interesting discussion that made several people reconsider and experiment with different things. Aku's post in that topic made me realize for the first time that a wide content area for paragraphs of text may be difficult to read. Before, I had always thought that because I tend to write so much, I'd need as much content space as possible to delay my dread at the sight of scrollbars getting smaller and smaller.
The usage of columns and the specific way other texts and images are arranged outside of columns on this shrine are thus a result of two things: wanting to have as much horizontal space as possible to show off the images that inspired me to make this shrine in the first place, and avoiding paragraph width to be too wide.
- As said in the link above, I've been having repeated crises about my texts being so long – not because I can't keep it short, but because there is so much I want to say. My negativity about it (even though nothing makes me happier than long texts by others) is a consequence of a lot of impressions as I grew up, and I can't really help it. Still, I am so so so grateful that people at Amassment are so very understanding about it when it comes to that insecurity, and always take the time to talk me out of it, and even go as far as regularly assuring me that they like the things I write. (Thank you so much, everyone!)
It's particularly hard when it comes to one page shrines, as I think that they are associated with shortness and concise presentation of a subject. After making a bunch of one page shrines I was unsatisfied with – the experience with In Control being particularly crushing – I even thought that I'd swear off one page shrines for good, and accept that they aren't my format. Revamping Joker's Wild (my very first shrine and my first experience with one page shrines) shortly before this shrine, however, made me see that I could create a design that works great specifically due to the one page format, and that would not be anywhere as effective if the content were spread across several pages.
The concept for In Another Dream and all the sections came about almost immediately when I finished reading the manga, and I knew that this absolutely had to be a one page shrine. I love that most sections look very different from each other, and I want that difference as well as the topics of the sections to be a surprise to visitors as they scroll down (which is why I didn't include a navigation, at least for now). I think that surprise element as well as the way things flow together while having their own distinct look are elements that make one page shrines unique. Even though the shrine ended up being quite long, I cannot imagine splitting it up, as that would rob it of its vision and identity.
Above, I said that one page shrines are (at least as far as I am concerned, I admit) associated with shortness: When I think of them, I think of introductions and overviews, even though plenty of shrines that have been made show that the format doesn't dictate content, and that analysis can go just as deep within the span of a page. And as yet other shrine creators have shown, designing a one page shrine can be something very fun and very creative. What I hadn't truly thought about – due to being ruled by the fear of pages turning out "too long" – is... that nobody said that one page shrines can't be intended to be long: Not in the sense of "so what if it gets very long?", but in the sense of "I am making a long shrine with a lot of content, and its layout will be the one page format", if you understand what I mean. With this shrine, I hope to show that one page shrines are truly "just" a format – one that isn't necessarily associated with any particular kind of content, length or depth.
- Other major motivations behind this shrine were the following things: 1) Inoru's hoodie and striped stockings as well as the rest of her wardrobe, 2) wanting to write about Naminé, and also to squeeze those Kingdom Hearts poems in somehow, 3) wanting to show others that one scene in Angel Sanctuary that I'd never get to highlight otherwise, 4) wanting to design the Characters section.
As you can see, what I truly love about shrines is how "whimsical" the content included can be. I love being surprised by things people decide to include in their shrines, and I love surprising people. What makes a shrine unique and personal are the things we associate with and feel about the subjects we cover, impressions based on our own unique background, especially with regard to stations in life and media consumption. Phantasms is by far the longest section on the shrine, and in total, six other fandoms are covered on the shrine. I think it's really great when a page on a shrine introduces you to related things, because when you decide to experience that other thing, your view of it as well as your memories of it will always be linked to the subject of the person's shrine. By including your own associations on a shrine, you affect the way people experience or look at something, and leave them with a piece of you that will be remembered.
- This shrine was a joy to work on from start to finish because everything clicked with me, from graphics to writing, coding and designing. (The bulk of it was written across... about two days, because a lot of it was free writing, rather than research or summaries, which are things that are always very tiring for me to write.) There is not a single element that was tedious to work on, or that I didn't enjoy. (Link buttons don't count, they're the devil's spawn, always and in every universe.) I can't claim this for any other shrine I've made, though Strength of Heart and Dornenkaefig come close.
To say without reservations that I dislike making layouts would be a lie: I dislike making layouts, but that's because I'm not good at making graphics. What I do enjoy is coming up with a cohesive design, placing all the elements, cropping images and playing around with CSS. A few weeks prior to starting work on this shrine, I tried really hard to make a layout out of one of my favourite images of one of my favourite characters, sitting on it for an entire day only to fail in the end – not for the first time either, as I had already tried to work with the same image for my network layout before, with similar results.
The feeling of not being able to pull off something that you admire so many others in the same field for is very crushing and discouraging, especially if that feeling also applies to other things in your life. As I was struggling a lot with other issues at the time, that failure hit me particularly hard. I thought that I'd stop working on shrines again for a while because I couldn't stand the thought of having to use one of my "basic" layout headers for a planned shrine subject that is dear to me; after all, you want the things you love to be beautiful, to be the best there is.
When I randomly read a bunch of manga series some time after that, however, the drawings in them inspired me, Chikyuu wa Boku ga Mawasu being one of them. Looking at those drawings made me want to try my hand at making a new layout – not just because the drawings were so beautiful that I wanted to feature them in some creation, but because I knew that they were something I could work with. The only other time I had ever felt like that was with current network layout, Wither & Bloom. Another similarity is that both these layouts were created following a flash of inspiration after a period of feeling down about layouts.
Creation is a process of constant learning, refining and improving. On that note, it's important to have a good grasp on your strengths and weaknesses. To name an example from my language studies: I've always felt that one of my biggest strengths lies in seeing when a construction may sound awkward, or be grammatically tricky or incorrect, or use expressions that aren't quite what I'm going for, and finding a workaround. Rather than insisting on having a sentence be a certain way, it's often better to rewrite it and choose another construction that flows better and that I know to be correct. Language is flexible like that, offering you multitudes of options – and so is art.
Making layouts, for me, comes with limits specific to me: I can't make elaborate graphic edits, I'm not good at image transitions, I hate setting fonts, I'm bad at cleaning, I can't do redraws, I don't really use decorative brushes. Some of these limit the very pool of images I can work with, and I've been conscious of them in every layout I planned or made in the past decade. (Just imagine: You see a gorgeous image of something you love that you'd absolutely want to use in a layout, but you know that it just isn't right for you.) Over the years, I've picked up some new skills, so there's definitely room to improve... But not all fronts can be worked on if I don't want to spend the time on them. Still, none of those limits I've mentioned are necessary in this shrine's layout, and the design is quite pleasing, if I may say so. That's what I mean by finding a workaround.
I think it's essential to keep in mind that no matter how much we admire other people, their creations, and specific elements in their creations, what works for them is not necessarily what works for us. We all come from different places, have different skillsets, sense of aesthetics and things we are comfortable with – and we all have things that we struggle with and feel insecure about. Just because you can't "pull off" or replicate something you admire doesn't necessarily mean that you're missing something essential in your own approach... so you should try not to beat yourself up over it, and instead focus on the things you enjoy, acknowledge your own strengths and gracefully accept praise when it comes your way.
Somewhere out there, someone else is admiring you for possessing things that seem to be out of their reach, or that they're trying hard to work towards. If you can, cheer them on and lend them a helping hand.