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How To: Give Your Blog Layers! (Part 2 of GIMP tutorials)


You asked for it? You get it! Sorry it’s taken so long to get this post out. (Pretty much any post at all… Happy April!)

First… re-open GIMP. Are you lost? My first post is here. Make sure you know what’s going on in that post and know how it works, because this one is quite a bit more advanced. Also, feel free to play around with GIMP.

This time instead of giving step by step details of how to make a specific picture, this post is about how to use layering techniques and different styles.


This time instead of adding extra effects, while there’s plenty of that, I’m going to teach a little bit of how to make everything stack and fit together. This is called layers. In the last post, I skipped right past it even though we did a little bit.

Layers Introduction

On the sidebar, there should be a Layers tab. (Picture) If there’s not, go over to the gray arrow pointing left that is across horizontally from the layers button that is moused over in that picture. Click the gray arrow, mouse over add tab, and the third choice is Layers. Add that tab. (Picture) This will allow you to use more layering techniques rather than just painting or pasting things on the same level.

When you create a new image, you’ll see a new layer has appeared on your Layers menu. It is called Background. Right click this layer and click “Add Alpha Channel.” Think of a layer like a sheet of paper. If you add the Alpha Channel, it changes into a plastic sheet. This sheet can be colored or parts or all of it can be clear. Without this, when you delete something it switches the color to white or your selected background color. This completely erases it and shows the layer under.

If you click on a layer and drag it, it’s like putting the sheet of paper (or clear plastic or whatever) under however many pieces you drag it under. You’re changing the order you see them, basically. If one layer is on the top, it will appear on the top. Layers can be used to lift parts of an image up, sometimes so that you can apply built-in GIMP effects to that layer or use brushes, erasers, etc on that layer only.

These rules also apply to text layers. Text layers are clear except for the physical text.

If you have a layer selected and you use an effect (I’ll get to this next) or a paintbrush/eraser, it only effects that layer.

Effects and Filters

Effects or Filters are built-in to GIMP and add things to your image that you wouldn’t be able to do easily without it. The one that I use most is in the Blur section. (Filters > Blur) It’s called Gaussian Blur, and it is the simplest blur. I used in the last post, and it evenly spreads, or blurs, the picture as far as you set the “blur radius.” The higher the radius, the more blurry and the farther the colors move outward. I used this in the last post for the glow effect because if you use this on solid colors (on their own layer) it gives the edges a fuzzy look.

Vignette and Gaussian Blur

You can use Gaussian Blur to do many effects, and combined with layering, the possibilities are endless. One idea is framing pictures around with black fuzzy edges to give a vignette feel. To do this, make a new transparent layer, and use a sizable paintbrush to draw black evenly around the edges. Then use the Gaussian Blur effect to make it less dense and to spread the color (or, really, absence of color) farther inward. Change the width of the paintbrush for the width and density of the edges, and change the blur radius to adjust how far the color goes inward. Also, if the blur radius is high enough, the blur starts getting thinner, so be sure to keep these two (paintbrush and blur radius) in check.

Foreground Focusing

Layers and Gaussian Blur can also be used to create a better foreground-background effect than layers do by themselves. It’s very simple. Select something in the foreground by using either the free select tool (lasso) where you have to mouse around where you select, the scissors select tool (scissors) where you click points and it finds the most reasonable (usually) connection between them, or the paths select tool (dotted line next to fountain pen) where you leave points and it connects straight lines between them. After you have selected the item in the foreground you want to stand out, go to Select > Float. Then in the layers tab on the side of your screen, right click the floating layer and click To New Layer. Make sure to move this layer to the top or wherever you want it to be. Go back to the background with the original image and use Gaussian Blur. You don’t have to use this with images in the foreground and background, you can also use text.


Above the listed layers on the layers tab on the right side, there is a bar that says “Opacity.” This means how easily you can see through this. 0% means completely see-through, you can’t see through 100%. You can adjust opacity for a layer at a time, and sometimes this makes a good picture to cover up part of an image, but you can still see through. I’ve used this technique for some of the pictures to show you exactly what to click in these tutorials. (Example Picture)


I learned most of these techniques by playing around with filters and looking a couple things up (one of those being glow!) GIMP is really easy and fun to work with and layering really opens up your opportunities with it. If you want more help, or want something explained better, please, please comment!


Pirate101 Abilities – Where To Train

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Now we’ve all had a visit to the class trainers, but the question is, where should we train? Most Wizard101 veterans will say go for life. That would be Privateer, correct? But is that really the best choice? What about if we have ranged weapons? How should we train our points, and when? KingsIsle has done in my opinion a very good job of separating and balancing the Pirates’ classes. Some are more valuable to train, and some not. Some require a certain prerequisite, others not.

Many factors play into the training of new skills, powers, and abilities in Pirate101. Are you choosing the right abilities? Many arguable notices have been made for class training, and at the top of the list is, again, Privateer. Now why is this class so valuable to train?

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The Privateer’s abilities have proven to be a must in most people’s opinions for any class. The healing can change a life-or-death situation, and people who haven’t experienced similar games are still picking healing over other powers and talents. They choose it so that they can save themselves and their companions when they’re on low health. Of course, who wouldn’t want to do that? So, Privateer secondary training is rated top #1.

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The next class is where the choices split. Some people use this as their third class, and others their first, skipping Privateer. A Witchdoctor’s abilities can be very useful in combat. You learn minor damage and area spells, which can be casted from a distance. Also, Witchdoctors learn Jobu’s Breath, which is a very useful ability. A combination of these puts Witchdoctor at #2.

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Swashbucklers’ and Buccaneers’ talents are pretty much tied. They are alright, and give you quite a few damage boosts, etc. Swashbuckler gives you the basics of finesse- Sneak Attack, Walk in Shadows, Hurl Knife, and some Swashbuckler talents. Buccaneers give you some stat boosts, damage boosts, and a few helpful talents that are only available there or from Morgan LaFitte. This comes in very close with Swashbuckler at #3 and Buccaneer at #4.

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Sorry, Musketeers! The Musketeer secondary class is one of the least chosen, for a couple of reasons. A high majority of its talents only benefit Musketeers, as is with their abilities. One of the only reasons people would pick Musketeer for secondary (or third) class is for the talent Elusive. Elusive increases your dodge by at least 25(%) when your pirate’s health is below half. This leaves Musketeer at #5 for secondary classes. This doesn’t mean choosing Musketeer right off is bad!

Pirate101 Training Ranks:

  1. Privateer
  2. Witchdoctor
  3. Swashbuckler
  4. Buccaneer
  5. Musketeer

How To: Start Pirate101 PvP!

Start Pirate101 PvP!

So you’ve all heard about Pirate101’s basic PvP on the test realm. No? Check it out hereIt’s like Wizard101’s practice PvP. Now how do you get started? If you own the Cutthroat Bundle’s Castaway Island or the Boochbeard Bundle’s Volcano Island, then you can look for 1v1 PvP sigils in your house!

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Equip your best gear, and you’re ready to go! Press “X” on one of the sigils and you will pick which team you are on.

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After you’ve joined a team, you go to the respective sigil.

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Then when someone else joins, the timer counts down and the battle begins! You can also duel in two Skull Island rooms, the “Brawlin’ Hall” and the “Spar Chamber”. They are in the shopping area of Skull Island. These fights count as “Epic Battles”, so you get to pick all your companions!

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These are 4v4 dueling rooms, so the battles get even more intense!

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You can have 1v1, 1v2, 2v2, 2v3, etc just like in the Massive Fantasy Palace (Wizard101). Note that you do not get any “rewards” from these battles, they are just for fun right now! Also, only one team plans at a time in the battles. When the other team is planning, you’ll get this message at the bottom of the greyed-out battle board;

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And those are the basics! Log onto Pirate101 Test Realm if you’re a member, and get fighting! I also may have an advanced tutorial with video in the future.

Pirate101 Ships- Advanced Tips

Now that you’ve got the basics down, I’m going to have a little guide here with everything else you need to know about ships! First off, you’ll need to know how to fight other ships. This was also explained in the tutorial, but this will help you get better. 😉


Ok. To start you off, to attack a ship sail up to it. If you don’t engage automatically, click on the ship and your cannons will begin to fire. If you’ve equipped ship equipment on your ship…


(Click My Ship Equipment) …then your ship will have Broadside Abilities to use in Broadside Combat. (This is, of course, when you’re firing cannons at another ship.)


If you’re not engaged in combat, the first two abilities will be greyed out. This is because they are Combat Abilities, and attack another ship. So common sense is, you can’t use it unless you’re in combat. Here are examples of Combat Abilities.


Now, these may be really confusing at first. The text at the bottom is what the ability does. The 2x and 1x don’t matter much, just remember that the 2x does more than 1x. The number next to the hourglass is how long you have to wait until you can use this ability again, or the Cooldown Time. Look at the second ability. The number in the top left corner is it’s accuracy. That’s how often it will hit the enemy ship. The first ability has two accuracies, one for long range and one for short range. If will have 75% accuracy when you’re far away from the ship, and will do 100% damage (top right corner). If you are close to the enemy ship it will have 90% accuracy and do 120% damage. Combat Abilities are determined by which Horn and Figurehead your ship has equipped.


These look similar, right? These are Neutral Abilities, and can be used at any time. These are determined by the Wheel and Sails of your ship. The healing abilities (Wheel) usually have a longer cooldown time and heal your ship a certain percentage. If my ship had 1,000 Hull Integrity, (if you don’t know what that is, read this), and I used the above ability, Healing Bolt, my ship would repair 200 health. What’s the second ability though? Sails’ abilities are usually speed boosting abilities, or dodge abilities. This is a dodge ability. When your ship “dodges” an attack misses. So this boosts your dodge by 12%, but only lasts nine seconds, which is half of the cooldown time.


Take into consideration the level of the ship you’re attacking. Sail with friends if you’re planning to attack ships that are higher than your level. It works best if they’re on their own ship. If the level of a ship you’re attacking is too high, and it’s getting out of hand, you can use Boost Fuel to flee from the combat.


Fuel is burned at about 10/second, so be sure to fill up at docks! It boosts your ship’s speed if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, or need to get out of combat quickly. Press [Z] or click on the Boost Fuel icon to go extra fast.


If your Hull Integrity turns yellow (at 50% health), or your enemy’s does, two crossed swords will appear above the ship. You can fly up and press [X] on their ship to board them, or they will attempt to board you. This will initiate Deckside Combat. This is where you fight a normal battle, but the setting is on a ship.

How To: Upgrade Companions

Upgrade Companions!

Welcome to the first “How To” post! In this post series, I will be explaining the mechanics of how to do certain things in Pirate101. This time, I’ll tell you the schematics of getting companions, but have a special focus on promotions and talents! To start us off, here’s a picture of Companion Management. Go to the top menu, then the hook, them My Companions to open this or just press “U” on your keyboard. (This picture was posted earlier on this blog.)

Check out this post I have, it is also really helpful and has this picture! Continuing on; A Companion Promotion is when your companion has reached a specified level and is ready for an upgrade. In other words, your companion physically changes, and gets better! I believe the first Companion Promotion is Bonnie Anne. She goes from a Fox Musketeer to a Fox Sharpshooter. You have to meet her in a Tavern and do a small questline to upgrade her. Below is the original Bonnie Anne. (She is upgraded on the picture above.)

Once you use Companion Training Tomes to level up Bonnie Anne, when she gets to level 8 a gray exclamation mark (!) will appear by her name in Companion Management. This means she is ready for promotion, and you can go talk to her in a Tavern Cellar to start the questline.

Down the hatch! If there is a golden/yellow exclamation mark next to the companion in Companion Management, that means they are also ready for promotion! This companion is special though, you have to buy their gear on your own. It costs a hefty amount of gold to upgrade these companions, but it’s well worth it! You might ask, what does a companion promotion do, other than add some new gear? Your promoted companion also gains Epics, or Epic Talents. These are similar to Wizard101’s Cheat Spells. They include things like Double Tap, where a ranged attacker gets to attack two enemies if they kill the first one. Here’s an example of another.

Remember, those are called Epic Talents. There’s just Talents, as well. They boost your companion’s statistics a little bit. When your companion is ready for promotion, there will be a little lightning bolt next to their name (ϟ). You can click New Talent to choose the talent you want. They will be like Agile, Tough, Armored, etc. If you mouse over each it will display what the companion will gain if you train that Talent on them. Talents occur at certain levels, but quite a bit more often than Epics or Epic Talents.

Do you see all the buttons? Hope this helped!