Sunday, April 13, 2014

Everything Is All Right

A good friend always helps make things all right!

When I cap someone my honest best case scenario is that they enjoy the cap.  Enjoy it for a moment, enjoy it for awhile, or enjoy it forever.... so long as they get enjoyment out of it.  Most of the time I hover around those first two, between 'a moment' and 'for awhile'.  But occasionally I hit a different chord... I make something that gives more than just enjoyment.  I believe I struck that chord with the last cap I made for Kate Southerland ("Man's Man").

When Kate first responded to the cap on the Haven, it was what I really enjoy seeing.  She expressed in wonderful words that she enjoyed the cap.  Mission accomplished.  But then almost two weeks later, Kate responded again.  Here is what she wrote that second time;

Caitlynn, I've revisited this series often since you gave it to me...for a lot of reasons.

First, for the obvious:  I can't imagine a series that fits one of my most powerful fantasies better.   The images are so well selected...mirror images for mirror a mirrored mind.  The writing is...superb (a word that is, perhaps, used to often but fits perfectly here).

The second reason took a while to dawn on me....finally it hit.  I LIKE YOUR ALPHA FAR FAR FAR BETTER THAN MINE.  Don't get me wrong, I like "The Dominata" series a whole whole lot and I'm proud of the work.  But, it's a sledgehammer approach to alpha-male domination.  Yours is a scalpel in a brilliant surgeon's hands.

My alpha's are a caricature.  Yours is nuanced and textured.

Mine are bullies.  Yours is coolly confident, and utterly assured.  

Mine are utterly selfish.
Yours understands the world and how it should work; and he is generous enough to offer his subject a glimpse of both sides before he settles "her" into the life she was destined to lead.

Mine displays only the aggressive violent aspects of the soul of "manhood."
Yours transforms the aggressive to the assertive, the violent to the disciplined, the arrogant to the confident.  

I have to fix the Dominata.  I like the series, and where it can go, too much to leave it so...unfinished.  I don't know how yet, but I'm working on it.

Those first few paragraphs made me swell with pride.  She not only enjoyed the cap for a moment, but was at the very least enjoying it for awhile... maybe even into that special 'forever' territory.  But as I continued reading, I got... I know... almost hurt.  You see, I may do so begrudgingly but I do accept that people enjoy my caps.  I have an eye for design and it seems that sometimes I can write evocatively enough for someone to really get pulled into the narrative.  It makes me happy when I can strike that balance. But I never... never Never NEVER, want to make anybody think any less of their work.  Especially work that I myself enjoy.  And I did enjoy Kate's Dominata series.

I don't think caps should ever really be compared against one another.  First and foremost, how would we judge caps?  Design?  Story?  Layout?  Photo selection?  Narrative?  Something far more ephemeral? Some cappers can hit one or two of these characteristics, while others can wrap them all around their cute little fingers.  But everyone creates using their own internal toolbox.  And more specifically, everyone creates with their own voice.  Just because we like someone else's voice more than our own, never EVER means that our voice is any less than theirs.

There are many cap artists and authors that I absolutely adore.  I love seeing/reading their creations and feel a pang of jealousy because I know I just don't have their same toolset and could never write with their voice.  For a long time I tried to mimic their styles... sometimes in design, but most often in voice.  I never succeeded, and the caps I made were 'less' because of it.  It took a lot of experimenting to realize that to make good caps I have to use my own toolset.  I have to use my own voice.

A good example of this is Smitty.  He writes (wrote?) with a verve that I've often tried to emulate.  His caps are (were?) always visceral and over the top and in your face.  And while I think I can write 'nasty' fairly well, I couldn't get close to his caps and stories.  It almost felt like his caps could reach out of the screen and slap you in the face.  This is one of the many things I like in caps... this is one of the many things that I can't create in caps.

I tried to emulate his style.... I even made a character for his universe.  My intent was to make someone as excessive and exaggerated as his own 'Smitty' character.  The result... well 'The Technologist' isn't but a shadow of 'Smitty'.  Sure, the character ended up being a good foil for Smitty, but that wasn't my intent.  I think the character only really started to shine in the latter caps I made using him.  When I accepted that I couldn't write like Smitty.  When I wrote with my own voice.

So to hear that Kate enjoyed the cap I created her filled me with Joy.  Then hearing that Kate disliked her own cap (or liked it less) because of the cap I created for her filled me with regret.  There were points where I honestly wished that I hadn't created the cap.

The only solace I can take away from this experience is the hope that Kate will continue to explore and either find the voice that she wants to have, or at the least accepts and enjoys the voice that she already has.

With those thoughts in mind, I started to work on another return cap for her.  I knew that she liked the Alpha cap I made for her, but honestly I didn't think that I could match her enjoyment a second time.  Let alone top it.  So I started as I often do, by re-reading her preferences.  One thing really stood out to me; Kate has different names for different scenarios.  Now often cappers will have different personalities that they enjoy seeing capped and will even occasionally have seperate names for these personalities.  But I believe this is the first time I saw a naming structure based more around a scenario.  The 'name' that caught and kept my attention was Klaire.  As Kate put it:  Klaire - for a girl struggling with the transformation.

With that statement as a guiding point, I went looking for images.  As Kate doesn't have a rating system built into her preferences, I went with something that I enjoy and that I haven't capped a lot of lately.  Blowjob (YAY!)

I didn't use fuskator, instead choosing the randomness that is Google Images.  Using the search term 'Beautiful Blowjob", I found this image:

There was something open about her expression.  With her eyes closed I could see several things going on... unwillingness, submission, enjoyment, contentment, sadness, happiness.... all manner of emotions and scenarios.  Knowing that the story would color the image, I decided to start writing.  I knew that eventually 'Klaire' would end up kissing someones cock, but I'd let the story decide how she felt when she got there.  And as this cap was about the struggle, I didn't even want to go into the transformation itself.  That would just take up valuable text space... so I made her just mysteriously wake up transformed.

I wrote a couple paragraphs about her struggling to convince family and some friends that she was really 'Curtis', but after reading those paragraphs I realized that this isn't the struggle I had in mind.  I then went into her just trying to live her life while searching out what happeend to her... but that too didn't sit right with me.  I realized I needed someone else... someone that could either push her (making her struggle against them), or better yet someone who could support her (making her struggle against herself).  While writing this, I was also chatting with Daphne (greatgooglymoogly on the Haven).  We were chatting about how neither of us seem to get into our female persona's all that often.  Here's how our chat went:

caitlynmasked: My last caps were about three weeks ago. I'm actually working on another one now, but I'm not sure I'll finish it up. Just not getting the tone right for the story.

Daphne: Nice.

caitlynmasked: How about you? Any new caps or stories recently?

Daphne: Unfortunately no. Note nought in

Daphne: Not enough time or motivation

Daphne: Haven't been able to feel that girl side lately, you know?

caitlynmasked: I can understand that. It's hard to find my Caitlyn side, even when I go looking for her.

Daphne: You'll always be a pretty girl to me :)

caitlynmasked: *blush*

Daphne: My pretty little redhead

Months ago I would have been very pleased to hear someone call me their pretty little redhead.  But at the moment I was struggling to find 'Caitlyn'... so hearing Daphne call me that really took me aback.  I was almost fully in 'Calvin' mode, so I don't see myself as pretty, little, or redheaded.  And I certainly don't think of myself as "someone's".

As my mind went all a flutter, I realized that this is EXACTLY the mindset I needed to be in.  It's the mindset that Curtis/Klaire was in.

Once I fell into that mindset, the story just fell into place.  Sadly I didn't get the chance to thank Daphne as I fell right into the story.  As I was starting to write about the date I still didn't know if she was going to kiss her date's cock, or Colin's.  That's how fast and unfiltered I was writing.  I was honestly getting a kick out of the story and enjoying it flow from some dark recess of my mind and onto the screen.

I was very happy to see the way it ended.  It felt sweet.  And after re-reading the story, I felt that the image lived up to it's previous billing.... it fit the story and I could see the gratitude and love in her expression.

Now, one thing I liked about this image was that it was perfectly laid out for a story on image style layout.  I could have the story fit up into the upper left corner and not even have a text box under it.  But a quick scan of the story (and the realization that I didn't want to edit any of it out), made me realize that having it fit into a quarter of the image was pure folly.  In fact when I used up all the left hand side for the story, I still could only fit 3/4 of it.

And of course with finding this on Google Images, I didn't have the opportunity to select another image from the set.  I had this image and this image alone.  I tried another trick I learned for Simone... expanding the image off to one side, giving me more space for the story.  Sadly, it didn't work out.  Yes, the story fit, but now the complete emphasis of the cap was the story, with the image almost being an afterthought.  And even if it didn't feel that way, the paragraphs were FAR too long.  At the least, I'd have to break them up into two columns, further de-emphasizing the image.  Here is where I stopped working with that idea:

I hadn't even got the point of evening up the paragraphs or lining it up just right, and I was nowhere close to deciding how to deal with the portion of the text over the stocking.  But instead of trying to figure out those issues, I just dropped it.  Thankfully I saved it so I could at least show you what I originally attempted.

I was at this point while chatting with Simone via Yahoo chat, and trying to figure out a way to get a second image for a second panel.  I could find images of the model, but none that would work with the oddly beautiful photography in this image.  It would feel exactly what it was... a last deperate attempt and adding more space to a story.  I didn't intend to walk away (either from the cap or from the chat with Simone), but sadly the world pulled me from capping.  I didn't get another opportunity to work on this until this morning.

As I didn't find success at locating a suitable 'second' image to use, I didn't even bother trying.  No matter how it turned out, I was never going to be satisfied with how the image cap ended up looking.  So instead of working down that path, I utilized something that the orignal photo offered me.... size.  I could zoom in to display just her eyes, and not blur or distort the image at all.  Was it good?  No.  Was it acceptable?  Barely.

But that's all I needed.  I split the story in half and started working it into the space the image provided.  I added the text box under it as I still had to deal with the text over the stockings, but I blurred the edges of it to give it a more dreamy feeling.  I actually struggled a bit with where to place the title, so it's more or less a compromise too.  I probably should have shrunk ti down some more so that it didn't overlap her nose in the first panel, but I was already beyond 'loving' the cap.  I just wanted to finish it up and post it for Kate to see.

So... I think the story side of this works really well.  It's only drawback is that it tells what could really be a lengthy story.  Even though I didn't edit any of it out, I feel that I could flesh it out quite a bit more.  The design... well no new ground here and as I stated earlier, I gave up on making it special.  I can just hope that it's good enough.  I really do hope that Kate and all of you out there like it!


  1. The caption is of course artistic beauty, particularly when one looks at how you arrived to the final product. There's something in the story that just floats along. It was a joy and it had a sweet celebration in the end that pulls from all elements including the image.

    But I am most impressed with the process. It's like reading the notebook of a philosopher or an artist as they create. It tells you WHY as well as HOW. Your blog should be required reading in caption theory. I'll be signing up for this class.

  2. How wonderfully romantic and loving. I love it Caitlyn! Thank you again for an amazing caption.



  3. Wow Caitlyn what a nice story
    You put into words and describe just how a true friend would be

  4. I don't think that comparing work is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, when I first started captioning, I just sort of threw out ideas with reckless abandon. It wasn't until I read Evie's captions which simply sizzled that I realized how much erotic potential a cap could have. Then I stumbled upon your blog and discovered the thoughtful process behind the design, and later Sammie and Simone's work which inspired me to improve my description and really paint the story. I think all the aforementioned, yourself included have served as inspirations to me at some point and I strive to make better works in light of what I've seen and come to admire.

    1. I agree with you in this type of example Kendall. While I still consider “comparing” to be bad, I do realize that creativity doesn’t work in a vacuum. You have to see other things and other people’s takes on things to really spark your creativity.

      The area I have a problem with is comparing two caps and being able to definitively declare one as ‘better’ or worse yet ‘best’. Only the individual reader can decide what is best for them. Everybody has a particular story/storystyle/design/layout that they prefer. That doesn’t make one cap better than the other though, especially for the creator of said caps.

      Many people try to put me (or more specifically my caps) up on some kind of pedestal. I’m uncomfortable with that though as I don’t think my stories/voice/designs/layouts are better than many others. I can pour my blood, sweat, tears, and soul into a cap and still find it lacking when compared to the caps that I truly enjoy. If I traveled down that type of comparison road where I declared their caps ‘better’ than mine, I’d stop creating all together. Instead I try to simply enjoy their caps and make caps as best as I can. And if they enjoy my caps more than their own, then we simply have a self-empowering circle that inspires us both to create better and better caps.