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The Ladder // A Sociatal Commentary.

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avatar Beverly
Level 65 : High Grandmaster Explorer
3,321
A recent interview with an acquaintance made me realise that I personally have had a very distorted view of improvement, progress, and popularity over the years. Perhaps you do as well. I hope that this will help others find more confidence in themselves and more satisfaction with their work.

Part I: On Stages
I can recall viewing Oblivion's skins long before I even became a member of PMC, and my heart twisted in a curious combination of envy and respect for her incredible skills, particularly when it came to shading and ombré. I was flabbergasted at how one person could possibly possess so much talent. It wasn't until many months later that I realised Oblivion had joined PMC a good three years before I had even known of the website's existence. Was her first skin a masterpiece? That's not for me to judge. (It's far better than my first one, though. x3) However, a very large difference can be found between her first skin and those she presently creates.

We're talking about stages here. Very few people join PMC, or any other skinning website, and post an impeccable (or even reasonably pleasing) first skin. Almost all of us have been there! Don't get me wrong, there are some who have a rarer level of talent, and thus their first skins are generally going to be more organised.

Almost every skinning journey begins on a discordant note. For some of us it's worse than most. But my point is, you're going to inevitably feel discouraged and worthless when you are first starting out- that's perfectly normal, and trust me, it will pass with time.


// On a slightly separate note, let's elaborate on "worse than most". In the past, I have been honoured to know several skin stealers who have turned their journeys round completely. Before your jaw drops at the words "honour" and "skin stealers" in the same sentence, let me explain.

These individuals have honestly realised the errors of their ways and decided to change their purpose entirely. This included a painful round of public confessions, apologies, removing of stolen skins, and occasionally a temporary ban. Was it easy or pleasant? Certainly not. But was it worth it? Yes indeed. They have all later stated that although the skins made by themselves were considerably worse in quality than the ones they had stolen, it gave them a healthy sense of pride and satisfaction to know that it was their work and not someone else's.

In other words, please don't judge someone's first works as a measure of their ability or future. Not only is it an unjust assessment, it is also incredibly discouraging to someone who is just starting to learn the ropes of the skinning world. Rather than focusing on the negatives of the skin, why not try to locate something positive- even if it's simply the colour palette used or the unique eye design? Everyone, both brand-new and veteran skinners, needs to hear an uplifting word now and then.

Constructive critique should never be confused with criticism. The former is done gently with help and support as the motivation, while the latter is given in a bitter or sarcastic context. Please don't ever treat anyone with a critical mindset. Think before typing something into irrevocable print. Would I want this said to me?



Part II: On Progress
Progress is an extremely diverse term. Its appearance is going to differ in each and every individual person- sometimes it shows itself quickly in large leaps and bounds, other times in tiny, almost imperceptible steps. We all tend to acknowledge the leaps and bounds with rounds of applause. Why?

Well, for one thing, they are the most glaring of the two extremes. And for another, our minds tend to associate "progress" with being something that is measurable, obvious, and dramatic. But actually, if we delve a little deeper into that subject, we can find that that sort of progress is common and extremely overrated.

I've come to realise that many of us have a distorted view of progress in general. We pay very little attention to the baby steps of it, although oftentimes these require the most effort. For some of us, we find it very difficult to learn new shading/ombré/hueshifting concepts; and if you're anything like me, you may especially struggle with originality. The skinning community has existed for over five years now. Many ideas that were once original have been done to death- even "non-teen" and "non-human" skins. (How many times have we seen the Grim Reaper now? How about the hosts of fantasy/sci-fi characters- yes, even the Star Trek cast?)

In other words, we tend to disregard what is stereotypically viewed as "worthless improvement". We even do this sometimes with our own skins. But sometimes the smallest changes- a shift in hair shading (hello, relatable here), brighter/duller hues, or perhaps a face design- can be the most valuable, and make all the difference in the world between mediocre and truly appealing.
Part III: On Originality.
Here is going to be a very unpopular topic.

By all technicalities, "original" is also a diverse term and means many different things to everyone. But to be frank, there has to be a line drawn somewhere, and sometimes this is done very scornfully. I've seen the same skin concepts done over and over until the public as a whole is tearing their hair out in exasperation. This is most commonly found in "new and exciting" game/cinema/anime/book characters. Here are some familiar examples:

1. Elsa (Frozen)
2. Chara/Frisk (Undertale)
3. Ken Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul)
4. Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid)
5. Steve/Alex (Minecraft)
6. Many FNAF animatronics
7. Many YouTubers (Markiplier, Dan x Phil, jacksepticeye, etc.)


That isn't to say that a new and unique twist can't be taken off these characters or franchises. But what I am saying is that these subjects are far from exciting anymore.

What I also find interesting is that when someone does step outside the box and skin something unusual, it receives very little recognition, unless the person has already established a name and following for themselves. Particularly when it comes to media characters, you can find very few skins relating to the lesser-known ones. I have a first-hand experience with this. Dr. Beverly Crusher is my favourite character from the American television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not including the several versions I have made of her, there were exactly five skins of her posted to PMC. I can't begin to express my disappointment. Here are some examples of some other obscure characters:

1. The Pevensie children (Chronicles of Narnia)
2. Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones)
3. LoTR characters (NOT Hobbits)
4. Marnie (When Marnie was There)
5. Arachne (Greek mythology// Look up her story, it's worth it.)
6. Talwyn Apogee (Ratchet and Clank)
7. Elenwen/Astrid/Aela (Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls V)
8. Laura Brehm (Music artist// Again, look up her songs!)
9. Ben Gates/Abigail Chase (National Treasure franchise)


I'm sure you all can add hundreds of other characters and concepts to that list. As I've said, it's only an example. But why would we choose to skin an extremely overrated character, when we could find an obscure one with just as much detail, vibrancy, and interest?


// On another note, let's talk about classes of skinning. By "classes", I'm referring to "teen", "non-human", and "anime", among others it would take too long to name.

On teen skinning. There is nothing innately wrong with making a 2x2 pixel-eyed creation with long hair, animal ears, boots, and jeans. However, this concept has been done to death. Neon-coloured hair, garters, and animal onesies may have been creative at one time, but they are that no longer. However, I do know of several "teen skinners" who can cleverly add a new band to an old hat- for example, IcarianPrince, Ene, and Felinka.

On non-human skinning. Congratulations for your perseverance! I know from experience that this genre of skinning is difficult to grasp and consistently execute. However, as a result, there are elements of pride and superiority that occasionally hitchhike for that journey. Sadly, many non-human skins are just as mediocre- if not more so- than the teen skins that they tend to mock. For instance, FNAF animatronics, Jake the Dog (Adventure Time), dwarves, elves, etc. However, many non-human skinners have found a way to skirt the stereotype- for example, Paradisical, Kefka, Drzzter, EYE GUY, etc.

On anime skinning. Here is a rough genre to evaluate. Sadly, it may tie evenly in reputation with the teen skinning genre in terms of originality. I've found that anime/manga culture is exceedingly popular among skinners, and by itself there is nothing wrong with that. I like the art styles of manga chibis especially myself. However, anime is so extremely popular that skins revolving round it are bland, commonplace, and expected. (Think Asuna Yuuki, Ken Kaneki, Ruby Rose, Yuno Gasai, and even Yandere-Chan.) However, just like the other genres listed above, there are skinners who splendidly portray lesser-known anime/manga characters- for example, Ene, Crescendo, Aobi, and hoshizora.


Please do not take any of these comments as cruel or unfair. I have purposely attempted to list each genre of skinning with equal faults and virtues.

Part IV: On Popularity.
Diamonds and favourites are thrilling gifts when we first begin skinning. Depending on the individual, they can translate to a hundred different things: acceptance, pride, satisfaction, approval, or just simply exhilaration. However, we all inevitably reach a place where that adrenaline rush of "new and exciting" withers. We find ourselves wanting more, more, more. Speaking again from personal experience, I can remember when 5 diamonds was an incredible feat, back when I was just starting. Now 53 diamonds seems like an utter failure sometimes. Isn't that illogical? Humourous? Perhaps even a little bit prideful?

Exactly. I'm more than willing to admit that I've longed for popularity myself- we all have, I think, at one point or another. But no matter how hard we try, it isn't something we can force. It has to be given, from the hands and hearts of others, and therefore it has to be treated as a gift; not something "owed" to us. Each diamond counts, because it is one more than we had before. As absurdly simple as that is, it's the plainest truth. With that mindset, we suddenly find that numbers make very little difference at all. The same concept goes for favourites and subscribers as well.

The popreel is both a blessing and a curse, in my own opinion- please take that only for what it's worth. While it does make it easier for skinners to be known (and even for other skinners to find them), it also breeds a great deal of envy, greed, dissatisfaction, and feelings of worthlessness. I know this sounds very theatrical, but it's true. I can remember being a very new skinner to PMC, and every time I viewed the skins on the popreel I felt despaired. I'll be completely honest with you- my first popreel meant entirely too much to me. Perhaps you've been there before as well.

Digging a little deeper into the subject, all of us have an innate desire for acceptance and approval from our peers, and even more so, those we look up to and admire. But we have to keep in mind that those people are just that- human beings, exactly like us. Contrary to stereotypical belief, a number of subscribers/diamonds does not render anyone omnipotent or omniscient. Oftentimes, when you actually have a conversation with said person, you will find that they are uncannily like you- having their own set of insecurities, doubts, hopes, and dreams. They will often be the first to admit to you that they are not the confident and flawless person you may have perceived them to be.

Now, let's discuss levels (also sometimes called ranks). As my good friend Havingfun_ISKEY very wisely pointed out in her blog, levels on PMC are relatively meaningless. Why? Well, for one thing, there are very few boundaries set in place for that system. Experience points are most commonly earned via diamonds and favourites. In and of itself, there is no problem with that whatsoever. Unfortunately, I've seen entirely too many stolen skins (posted both here and on other websites) that have received enormous amounts of recognition. So, in light of that, it is possible for someone with pages of popular, stolen skins to gain a very high rank here on PMC. I've seen several examples of this recently.

Let's approach levels with a different angle now. Please ask yourself a question, and even more importantly, please be absolutely honest. Would you be more likely to look at the skins of someone who was a Level 50, or a Level 5? I think many of us would choose the former. But why?

Unconsciously, we tend to assume that because someone has a high rank, that automatically makes them popular, trendy, and respectable. Too often in the digital world, popularity = integrity. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Please don't fall into that trap- it leads to far too much disappointment and resentment. Also, never, never judge a book by its cover when it comes to levels, experience points, and (really) all forms of popularity. I've encountered many skinners with lower levels that have absolutely stunning creations, but are often overlooked due to their low rank. For example: Hauntingly, MissOmega, Oceanelle, SenpaiFever ♥♥, Keekclipse, etc. (NOTE: 25 and below are most often seen as "lower levels".)



I've rambled for a long while, I know, but I hope these concepts have been helpful to someone reading this today. Thank you for enduring these philosophical meanderings. :)
CreditHavingfun_ISKEY- inspiration
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  • Rivanna16
  • Level 47
  • Master Ranger
  • December 18, 2016, 2:37 am
This is really nice, Beverly! I bet a lot of people will benefit from reading it. I thought it was very thoughtful. Although I must admit I personally don't really relate as much as a lot of people probably do. I haven't really had any self worth problems on pmc or otherwise, but nonetheless I bet people who do will enjoy hearing this.

Oh and one note about the skinner categories you listed: Where exactly would I fit in? Because I'm not exactly a teen skinner, or a non-human skinner, or an anime skinner... :p
  • Beverly
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Explorer
  • December 18, 2016, 4:16 am
Thank you!

You're probably a more original skinner in that sense- you have a nice variety to your skins. :)
  • Rivanna16
  • Level 47
  • Master Ranger
  • December 18, 2016, 10:38 am
Np :D

yeah, I guess so! thanks!
  • Leila
  • Level 45
  • Master Vampire
  • December 11, 2016, 5:04 pm
First, I write... then I read... just to say I wrote second comment!! <3
  • Leila
  • Level 45
  • Master Vampire
  • December 12, 2016, 3:16 am
Firs I write a comment (to be first) and then I read what she wrote xD
yeah me too.
  • Beverly
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Explorer
  • December 11, 2016, 5:05 pm
I don't understand..
I'm just stating my opinion:

1)You get EXP for downloads and views too (*cough it's the lazy way to level up.)

2)I am happy for a friend who gets to popreel

3)My Lolbit skin was my first popreel, but I don't expect more x3

4)Minecraft is a place where you can be and build anything

5)like you said, some people envy the high level persons, I have a friend who literally put on his prpfile that says he doesn't support him

6)You have stated my life the first time I was a member of PMC!xD

7)This blog should be PM'd to every new member of PMC! :DDD
  • Beverly
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Explorer
  • December 11, 2016, 4:15 pm
Ahh, I don't even know how to respond to this. xDD
Lol, I tend to ramble too xD

Also, what's hue shifting?
  • Havingfun_ISKEY
  • Level 60
  • High Grandmaster Princess
  • December 11, 2016, 6:20 pm
Something you use to create more professional palettes.

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