Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Simone - Unmasked

Capping Simone
It's been two months so I want to throw something new up here.  I'm changing up the format a bit though as I really have no interest in critiquing any particular cap.  I could do another popular 'hawt' cap, but it would follow about the same formula;  I no longer get turned on by this, I can't get into the story because of this or that, I like the image selection, I am disappointed by my own writing and find it lacking.... bah.   I've written that a few times now, so there's no need to do it again.  I briefly thought about taking one of my clean (or at least cleaner) caps and giving it the 'unmasked' treatment, but it would really come down to a similar write up.  I can't get into this story because of this or that, I like the image selection, I am disappointed by my own writing and blah blah blah.

So instead, I'm going to wax on about one of my favorite cap artists.

Miss/Mistress Simone

If there was a single cap artists that shaped my own internal design philosophy more than others, it would have to be Simone.  Before I accidentally slight anybody out there, yes I honed my design style(s) using many MANY inspirations.  And I wouldn't say that Simone especially inspired my writing style (although I did try to emulate her voice on several occasions).  Many MANY friends were inspirations to me.  What I'm going to talk specifically about is how Simone's designs influenced mine, and how I used that to cap her back.

When I talk about a design philosophy, I'm not talking about a particular design style.  I'm not talking about a set of design tools that I used or that I borrowed from Simone.  The philosophy behind much of my designs was really quite simple;  Elegant.

I entered the cap world long after the 'Image with White Space next to it and black text over that space' was the current style.  A lot of the styles were still variations on that (using background colors, colored fonts, different fonts...) but there was a subset that really were pushing cool innovative designs.  Simone was one of those innovators.  I often looked at her caps and said to myself "I'll know I 'made it' when I can make something as good as that".

For the longest time I admired Simone from afar.  I started capping in late 2009 and didn't make my first cap for Simone until 2011. The biggest reason was her designs.  I simply thought it would be hard to impress her.  This wasn't completely unique to Simone.  I capped Dee early as she drew me into the Haven, but later when I had my chops I found it intimidating to make caps for her.  I wanted to emulate her humor and short quick writing style.  When I capped Jennifer I wanted to cap her hot sexy style.  When I capped Bren I wanted to emulate her sold story chops.  When I capped Smitty I wanted to emulate his over the top gonzo style stories.  But none of that was really my 'thing'.  Yeah, I was getting a well deserved reputation for hot sexy stuff like Jennifer, but that still wasn't what I was best known for.

For the most part, I was a designer.  I didn't accept it at the time... hell I'm not sure I was even consciously aware of it... but that's what I was.  A designer.  And that's what Simone was;  a designer.  So if I tried to impress her with a cap and failed... well then the very thing that I was hanging my hat on was also a failure.

So that's a lot to live up to, and I avoided it like any intimidated person would.

What finally broke that dam away?  Simone of course.  She capped me.  I was a firm believer in the 'you cap me, i cap you' rule set so now I was obligated to cap her back.  I was both excited for the opportunity and scared of what might become of it.  I'd failed on several caps before, but this was more important.

The cap I made for Simone was "I name you Chloe"

I had a long complicated story to go along with this, and that made it all the more difficult to cap.  There was just no way I could encapsulate the entire story, so instead I focused on the core of the story utilizing several of Simone's characters, and of course... the design.

I think this is probably my 'golden age' of design.  Yeah, the designs got more interesting later, but this was a good solid and consistent time for me. No revolutionary designs, just good solid evolutionary changes.

And this is where our capping relationship really took off... she liked it.  My heart swelled, and I finally felt comfortable with something... my ego.

I still fought the ego off as much as I could, but when Simone said she liked this cap, I knew that I had what it takes.

Over the years I've capped Simone 9 (10?) times.  I'd say I knocked it out of the park on 6 times and fouled it off the rest. The times that I succeeded were when I focused on a good solid design and wrote a story that went deeper than "Mistress Simone owns a slave and is feminizing him".  She still liked those stories, but I really enjoyed digging down and trying to incorporate her lesser used personas.  Here's some caps and links to their individual posts:

Please Wake Up (multi panel, click through to see them all)

Earning A Name (multi panel, click through to see them all)

Taking Out The Competition

We're all SLAVES to something

Striving for perfection

Simone's Selfies


Simone's Birthday Gifts

I'd say that Simone brought some the best caps out of me.  Not simply these caps that I made for her, but caps where I borrowed her voice, or tried to emulate her graceful elegant story telling methodology.  And of course every time she made me sit back and go 'wow' with some new wonderful design I found myself inspired to renew my own design tool set.

I still visit her cap blog when she has a new cap.  Even if the stories no longer call out to me, I am still wholly impressed by her layouts and style.  Even her image selection makes me smile.  You can see her image selections on her tumbler blog where she just puts up raw images... many (from what I understand) are ones that she wants to cap.

It seems fitting that someone who pushed me and inspired me so much would do so after I had sworn off capping.  I've been over this before, but I stopped capping for two reaons.  1) I didn't feel like Caitlyn any longer and was tired of 'Jetering' it.  2) I didn't want to keep getting pulled into this heroin like high of striving to make caps.  But seeing the raw images that piques Simone's interested did the same thing to me.

I made this cap for her awhile back and emailed it to her.  I figured this is a good place to show it off and hopefully have everyone understand that no... I'm not back.  This was a one time inspiration from someone who inspired me for so long.

See you in two months time!


  1. Hey Calv! :)

    Ouh boy, this resonates so much with me. I think I started somehow like you, but I looked on you. I wanted to go and show that fresh stylized style. I went from so-so to an acceptable level. I'm still improving because recently I started using Photoshop - Finally -

    I went on a long hiatus recently due to medical problems and losing interest all together but now, I'm back. Not that I can't do it like before, but still back.

    Anyway. The point is that anytime I look at a caption I want to see some kind of set rules in there, some normalized style but without losing the spark. Know what I mean?

    Stylized doesn't have to mean like a robot. When I saw my first caption I thought it was kind of horrible, uninspiring, chop job of the worst type.

    Then you have Evie - Currently Elysia - which has a normal paint style of caption, but shows that it is professional without the sparky details. The text is just spot on many times too! You also have Jennifer, which have her own style without the fancy bits. What I want to say is that you don't have to show a complex caption to attract attention, but it adds to the text is that has a job well done.

    One has to find his/her own style. Yours gravitates in design, and you rock on that! but as you say "Simone set the standard model in my opinion". Many people wanted to emulate that.

    Good to read from you

    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

  2. You know, I could easily make a post like this for you. There have been many times you've pushed me due to your innovation and your ability to tell such powerful stories. Your pursuit of great design shows and what I love most about it is the great care you take.

    I've enjoyed almost too many of your captions to count - you've opened me up to new ideas and shown me new ways to approach ideas: both old and new. Mostly, I just loved sharing the desire to create with you. So many people have had some effect on my caption work and you are definitely high on my list.

    This is beyond flattering. I'm honored and blushing.