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Atmosphere: How to Make Your Own #ThursdayAesthetic
ThursdayAesthetic Atmosphere photo showing trees and mist

#ThursdayAesthetic: Atmosphere (The Shadows at Sunrise) Including Tutorial!

Blog Novel The Shadows at Sunrise

Hey friends, ready for some atmosphere?

So, I’m finishing up a writing retreat (more on that in another post) and wanted to share something new. This right here is my first #ThursdayAesthetic, a fun writery Twitter hashtag by author Jessica James. The idea is simple: share your WIP’s aesthetic based on that week’s theme, and of course, check out those by other authors. So, I did one for The Shadows at Sunrise, my current rewrite.

Theme: Atmosphere

Here’s my attempt, as found on Twitter!

Choosing images was tougher than one might think — especially for a nebulous theme such as “atmosphere” — and I mostly downloaded them from Unsplash (with the exception of the pumpkins on iron railings photo). As for choosing the excerpt… well. I wish I could’ve picked a longer one, but even Twitter’s doubled character limit wasn’t enough to save me from vagueness! The expanded excerpt would’ve read as follows:

David’s heart was beating fast now. Answers were finally coming, though he was finding it difficult to grasp Lucian’s meaning, which kept floating out of reach like a feather caught on a breeze. In a moment, he’d know why he was the way he was. He found he was holding his breath and forced an exhale.
Lucian dropped his voice.
“You were born in a parallel universe, David. It’s where I come from also. It’s where you and I must return.”
Silence spread between them like snow. David’s mouth was dry. Nothing else existed but the words Lucian had spoken.
Parallel universe.
“You’re right,” David said. None of his senses seemed to be working. “I don’t believe you.”

Sharing this sort of thing is pretty scary, given how anxious I am about the whole thing. I’m doing my best to continue sharing though, and nerves or not, it was fun. That’s the main thing, right?

I’ll let the images speak for themselves like a great big tease, but I hope they help to convey the heavy, foreboding, somewhat sorrowful atmosphere present in The Shadows at Sunrise. Plus, you know… pumpkins.

Kinda Sorta (Photoshop) Tutorial

If you’re curious how I did this, though, here’s what I did:

  1. Create a Photoshop canvas with dimensions 1300px to 1485px.
  2. Drag the vertical guides from the document’s rulers (View > Rulers) to a point about 1 cm from the canvas’ left edge.
  3. Select the entire left side of the canvas using this guide and the Rectangular Marquee Tool, then fill it in black (or a border colour of your choice).
  4. Copy this leftmost black border, then paste into a new layer. Paste as many as required; I needed three more, in my case.
  5. Drag one to the rightmost side of the document to act as your right side border.
  6. Select all of your pasted border layers. Then, with the Move tool selected, click the “Distribute Horizontal Centers” option on the toolbar to distribute your pasted borders in a grid format. They look like the boxes aligned in different arrangements between “Show Transform Tools” and 3D Mode. You’ll find these options on the toolbar as seen below, only when the Move tool is selected.Screenshot of photoshop toolbar with distribute tools
  7. You may, at this stage, want to group all your border layers so far in a layer folder.
  8. Repeat this process for your horizontal guides, dragging about 1 cm into the document from the top edge, pasting copied layers, and distributing them into your grid using the “Distribute Vertical Centers” button. Arrange these layers into a new folder too, if you wish.
  9. After this, it’s simply a matter of pasting your selected images below your guide and cropping them to fit into each box.
  10. It’s a good idea to ensure your images follow a similar colour scheme, for example by using filters, in order to fit your mood. I used Fotor Photo Editor, a free app on the Mac App Store, but you can use whatever you’re comfortable with.

It’s as simple, and as complex, as that. You can also make the grid have as few or many photos as you like, though I imagine less is more (and I personally think nine images is kind of a sweet spot), or arrange them in cool ways, such as an uneven pattern or, as I saw on one person’s tweet, with triangular points meeting in the middle. I also added the novel’s title to the center image, while I’ve seen some people add quotes or simply having the photos arranged with no text.

Wrapping Up

I hope the above tutorial was of some use to you, though I recognise it may be somewhat intermediate in terms of Photoshop skill and I am, by no means, an expert. I’m sure there’s a MUCH easier way to do this! If you don’t have Photoshop access (or simply hate it), you may also be able to easily create something similar by using the online tool Canva. I use it for work sometimes and can’t complain about its features.

Anyway! That about wraps this up for this impromptu blog entry. Have you created an inspiration or aesthetic collage? Link me in the comments, I’d really love to see it! Likewise, if you have any tips, tricks or alternate ways of creating your collage, let me know in the comments below and hopefully someone can use your wisdom.

Until next time, take care.

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