5 Tips for Better-Looking Pack Deviations
Hello! I'm Pwassonne, and today I'll be writing about pack deviations. Packs are the easiest way to distribute multiple files in one deviation. They consist of an archive file (often ZIP) with several images or other files in it. Packs are often used to distribute stock images, such as brushes and textures, as well as wallpapers and emoticons. They can also be used to post tutorials if said tutorials don't fit in a single file or if resources are included. Since packs make it possible to include several files in a single deviation, they are also great for selling Premium Content.
Whether you're selling a pack of files as Premium Content or distributing it for free, you will probably want it to look good, so that people want to download it, and you will also want to make it practical and easy to use, so that people who download it find it useful. How do you do this? Here are five simple tips to get your pack deviations to the next level.
You may NOT repackage and redistribute my resources in any way, shape or form.
You may NOT plop a brush down onto a plain or transparent background, with nothing else on the page, and redistribute it or sell it. This is the same as redistributing the brushes/images themselves. Placing the brush onto a product or within a design is fine, of course.
You MAY use my resources within your own design, painting, etc and do whatever you like with it (provided that proper credit is given, as below).
You MAY NOT redistribute any of my designs as rubber stamps. I have plans to do this in the future.
Tutorials from this site may NOT be redistributed in any manner. If you would like to put them up in a forum or somesuch, contact me first.
Provide credit to me somewhere. If used
Tip #2 - Work on a preview image
Preview images are super important. Not only are they mandatory when you submit a ZIP file, they are also the first glimpse people will get of the contents of your pack. If you are selling Premium Content, previews will attract or deter potential buyers, and if you're distributing free content, well, you still want people to download and use it, don't you?
The goal of a preview image is to let people know what is in the pack. For wallpaper or stock image packs, you can use a part of one of the wallpapers or stock images as background, or make a mosaic-like view of all the images. Same goes for texture packs and emoticon packs. Brush pack previews should include the brushes and focus on them as much as possible; try to make something visually pleasing as an example of what can be done with the brushes. Try using a visually appealing combination of colors and/or a textured background.
For a tutorial preview, a picture of the finished product, whatever it is, would be a good starting point, but don't forget to mention somewhere that the deviation is a tutorial, so that people don't assume it is just about the finished product. If your tutorial is neither for pictures nor for items that can be photographed, for instance if you're doing a writing tutorial, you can start from a picture that hints at what the tutorial is for (for a writing tutorial, you could use a picture of pages covered in writing). Make sure you have permission to use said picture, if it isn't yours.
A plot is the pattern a story follows, the most common being:
All successful (read: popular) stories have patterns. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's complex, but all of the stories read or told often enough to remain in the popular mind of any culture have a pattern, a plot.
Here are some examples of simple plot patterns
American Dream Version:
He became very rich.
The Heroic version:
He became the leader of his people.
He died in the middle of a glorious battle to defend his land, and became a legendary figure that would never be forgotten.
Aristotle's Elements of a Greek Tragedy - simplified:
Act One: He rose to glory.
Don't forget to label your preview with a clear title. The title of your pack will be more visible if it appears directly on the preview image than if it's just there as a deviation title, because the preview will attract the eye more. Make sure the title constrasts with the background, so that it's legible, and make sure it is big enough, ideally so it can be read even when viewing the preview image as a thumbnail. Another important thing to keep in mind when making a preview picture for a pack is that a preview should not be misleading. It should focus on the contents of the pack. Which also brings us to our next point!
Tip #3 - Make a list of contents
The deviantART FAQ encourages giving a detailed description of Premium Content, so as to avoid any misunderstanding which could result in disputes. I would recommend doing the same for free packs, so that people don't lose time downloading something they don't really need.
List the contents of your pack in the deviation's description. Don't be afraid to go into detail, as details are precisely what viewers will be looking for. If the files are in proprietary formats (such as Photoshop's .PSD) and/or can only be read using a specific program, say so. For example, Photoshop .ABR brushes can also be used in recent versions of GIMP, but not in older ones. If you're posting a wallpaper pack, don't forget to mention the size of the wallpapers.
Also include any information you think is needed to use te files properly. However, be careful not to make the description too long. For instance, you may want to link to tutorials rather than include a full-length one in your pack's description.
Tip #4 - Give credit where it is due
Please also keep in mind that most stock artists do not allow redistribution of their work as is. Stock is meant to be used to create new art. Packs should focus on your art, or your stock. While it may be okay to use someone else's font or texture in your previews, including other people's art or stock in your packs probably isn't a good idea - even if the artist happens to allow it, a Journal feature will usually promote their work more efficiently than a pack, not to mention that redistributing other people's content is not what deviations are for.
Artists sometimes also have guidelines on how they want to be credited. For example, some artists prefer to be credited with a link to their main site rather than to their dA account. Please read the guidelines and follow them as closely as you can. If you disagree with an artist's crediting guidelines, please don't use their content. (Obviously, this applies to all deviations, not just packs, but I think it is still worth mentioning). When crediting an artist who doesn't have any guidelines, simply link to their dA user page (or their personal art website if they have one). It is also considered good manners to credit even artists who don't require it.
Tip #5 - Organize your files
Ever come across a pack with such cryptic file names that you had to open all of them in order to find the one you were looking for? Chances are you don't want people to have such a hard time finding their way through your own packs. Here's how to avoid it.
The most important thing to do here will be to give every file a clear and relevant name. Don't use code names that only you can understand, extreme abbreviations or just numbers. Avoid special characters such as letters with accents or non-roman characters in file names, because not all computers can read these characters. If you're going to include your username in file names, put it at the end of the names, so that the information used to tell what is inside the file is at the beginning, making it more visible when viewing the archive in a small window.
I also recommend sticking to a single naming format for all the files in a pack. If the first file in your pack is named
wallpaper_nightsky01_by_pwassonne, the second is named
nightsky2_wallpaper_by_pwassonneand the third is along the lines of
pwassonne_wallpaper003_nightsky, chances are people will have a hard time finding their way through the pack. Sticking to a format also makes the alphabetical sorting of files more relevant, increasing both the impression of order and the actual navigability.
That's it for today! I hope you enjoyed this article. As a last word, I'd like to add a little disclaimer. If you feel something I've said doesn't work for you, by all means do what you think works best, as you know your own project better than I do. Also, if you think I've said something wrong or omitted something important, please comment and tell me!