Thursday, August 31, 2017

Zios Rises Again + New Land SOON?

Hey Jammers! What an awesome update we have today– I'm so excited to talk about it with you!!! ^____^

It all opens with news of an amazing new change in The Lost Temple of Zios... a change concerning the temple's resident.



The statue of Zios, the "father" of Jamaa in AJ lore, has been mysteriously restored by the Solar Eclipse! Rather fitting, too, considering that Zios looks like an artistic depiction of the sun. 



I had originally thought him to look like the Mayan sun god, but now I realize that Zios is the spitting image of the head of Viracocha, the father of the Incan sun god! Just look at that image... AJHQ took direct inspiration from this exact depiction.

According to Wikipedia, "Viracocha created the universe, sun, moon, and stars, time (by commanding the sun to move over the sky) and civilization itself. Viracocha was worshipped as god of the sun and of storms. He was represented as wearing the sun for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and tears descending from his eyes as rain."

That last sentence reminded me of something from an AJ animation about the Alphas...



In this part, Zios was sinking into the ruins during a rainstorm. Rain was coming down and dripped into his eyes, coming out like tears. Do you think this was a hint? Ooooh that would be so cool.

You should read more about Viracocha. I wonder how much of his myths were considered by AJHQ to incorporate into Zios. One super interesting thing I read says that the widely-depicted image of his head is actually just his mask, and that he is very self-conscious about his appearance beneath the mask!

If that bit of information was used in the construction of Zios, I wonder if the statue of Zios in the Lost Temple is not actually a statue, but his mask...

What does Zios look like without his mask? Does he look like a tiger? Does he look like a plant? DOES HE LOOK LIKE CLARK STACEY??? IS ALL OF THIS JUST AN ELABORATE METAPHOR ABOUT THE CEO OF ANIMAL JAM???? ARE THE ALPHAS ALL JUST SOME STAFF MEMBERS????

*ahem*

Ok, back to the update...

There were hints that something involving Zios might happen during the recent eclipse update. Nothing was explicitly stated in the Jamaa Journal, but "mysterious subtle changes" were hinted in the description of an AJHQ Instagram post. 

What I noticed within these subtle changes was the fact that during the eclipse, phantoms would not come out of the statue of Zios like they normally did when Jammers slept around it. There was also a beam of light on both the Mira and Zios statues. Perhaps the light "cleansed" the ruins of phantoms, allowing the statue to be restored! 

We don't know much for sure, but things are sure to change and reveal themselves soon...

In other news, we are soon approaching Animal Jam's 7th birthday on September 9th, which also happens to be National Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day. That day will mark 7 years since Animal Jam came out of beta testing! To celebrate, AJHQ has provided us with goodies in the form of not one, not two, but SEVEN THEMED CAKES!!!



They also give you a gem bonus of 777 gems, more than enough to buy all these cakes representing the "seven wonders of Animal Jam", each costing 77 gems at vendors throughout the land.

I guess AJHQ was so caught up in the "7" theme that they didn't make a cake for Sarepia Forest. Or the oceans. But I'm not complaining, I think all of these cakes are really cool! This will be just like the mystery of the Beta Panda Banner. Only this has a clearer explanation. XD

In even more news, something has finally happened that I have been waiting for for a year, it seems:



Yes, friends, GOATS ARE COMING BACK.

But I'm not excited because I am in particular need to become a goat, oh no. It's because of this odd message they left before leaving that I have not forgotten since:



That kind of message was so specific and so unusual... I surmised it to be an early clue for the discovery of a new land. Or, as "boat" might imply, a new underwater area. 

In this post, I theorized that once goats do return, they will bring back with them word of a new land

That was almost a year ago.

Next update, we might get word of a new land.

See you in Jamaa, and get ready for a new year of Animal Jam!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

AJ Blogger Resources + Tutorials

Hey Jammers! You might not be able to tell from my current layout, but I know quite a lot about blog design. *cue laugh track*

Alright, I'm not saying I'm an expert, but having worked on this blog for 5 years I've picked up some tips and resources that will definitely be helpful for new AJ bloggers, or anyone who wants to put together some pretty AJ graphics. 

These resources and tips will focus on design. Thankfully, Animal Jam has a lot of pretty art and icons that can be used as buttons and sidebars for your AJ blog or graphics, so we're already one step ahead! :)


Part 1: Planning




Before you change your blog layout, it might be a good idea to draw what you want it to look like. It doesn't have to be complicated, all you need are the basics. 

Do you want your banner to have a big leaf behind it? Do you want your page tabs to be centered? Do you want one sidebar, two, or none? Do you want a little "About Me" box... or do you want it to be an "About Me" circle? Anything you want, you can probably do it.

If you'd like, you can also make a list. It might look like this:


Header
- Centered
- Big leaf behind text
- Some kinda AJ font

Page Tabs
- Centered
- 5 tabs
- Nature-y background behind each tab

Posts

- Aligned to the left
- Centered post titles
- Pink background

Sidebars

- 1 sidebar to the right
- Square "About Me"
- Popular posts widget

...Or, if you're not picky about the layout, you can just wing it and see how it goes. :)

Part 2: Graphics, Backgrounds, and Fonts

If you haven't noticed already, Animal Jam uses some nice graphics. Sign-board buttons, icons, items... you can easily cut them out and use them on your blog like a collage!


Sometimes making these images transparent can be a pain, especially if you don't have Photoshop or any other software, but that's alright! Other Jammers with access to those programs have posted hundreds of these useful images to the internet for you!

RESOURCE LINK: My personal favorite place to get pre-made graphics is the blog Animal Jam Graphic Central. Ran by awesomepanda868, the blog is currently inactive, but it's a treasure trove of well-organized AJ icons and backgrounds you can use. Just remember to credit the creators. ;)

You can also find backgrounds, albeit of a more limited selection, on the official Animal Jam wallpaper page.



Fonts are a bit of a different story. Above are the two main fonts used on AJ, DigitalDelivery and TikiIsland. On AJ, DigitalDelivery is used in content text, like in chat bubbles or in Jamaa Journal articles, whereas TikiIsland is often used in titles and announcements.

I know downloading these fonts will allow you to use them in Photoshop or other image editing software when putting together your graphics, but you might not be able to use them in most free web-based image editors. Actually, it depends on what editor you use. I'll talk about that later.

RESOURCE LINK: Downloading these fonts is simple, but different for each one. I've only downloaded TikiIsland because (I think) it was easier to download and the last time I checked, DigitalDelivery cost $100, but Animal Jam Archives provides you with free download links to both. I'd trust this site because it's run by snowyclaw, a Jammer who now works for AJHQ.

There are different ways to install these fonts depending on your computer, so I suggest you look up an article specific to your system on how to download fonts.

And remember, you don't need these fonts to have a cool-looking AJ blog. They're just an added extra! :)

Part 3: Get your Graphics Together! (Without Photoshop)

Okay, so you got your transparent blank board, courtesy of AJ Graphic Central...


You got the coolest screenshot possible of your best animal, too...


And you've also downloaded the font TikiIsland.

You want to make a little "About Me" picture to put at the side of your AJ blog. How do you do that, if you don't have Photoshop?

RESOURCE LINK: In short, you find a good free online image editor. For this tutorial, I'll use PicMonkey. I don't personally use it, but I think it's a good free replacement for Photoshop.

Before you start, make sure you crop your screenshot if you want the crocodile to be in focus.

So on the home page, click "Edit an image" and when it takes you to the editor, upload the image that will be behind everything. In this case, the black sign:



Now click the "Overlay" icon and upload your screenshot.



Great! Now about that font...


Click the "Text" button and click "Yours". Then, search up your chosen font and select it to use it!



Make it a little bigger...


Add another text box below, and you're good! If you think you're done, that is. These are just the basics. If you decide to use PicMonkey to put together AJ graphics, you'll inevitably figure out how to do more.

Part 4: Coding, but Easier – Page Tab Tutorial

A few days ago, Violet AJ asked me about how I replaced my page tabs with images. It took me a while to figure that out when I started this blog, so I thought I'd tell you all how I do it.

The secret is... it's all one image!


I made this graphic in Photoshop from a mix of icons, boards, little string things,  the TikiIsland font, and a stick.

If you're wondering why it's tightly cropped except for a blank space to the left, it was to push it into being centered beneath the header. Use transparent space to your advantage!

In Blogger, there is a "Pages" gadget in the layout design area that you probably use:


Well, I don't use that gadget. Instead, delete that gadget and replace it with an HTML gadget:


But what do we put in that "content" box?

The HTML to an image map, of course.

RESOURCE LINK: Image-maps.com allows you to put multiple links into one image. Link to each of your pages within one image! This allows you to have more control over the design.

To make an image map, go to that website and upload your image.



Because each of the areas I want to add a link to are rectangular, I'd click "Create Rect". In the same way, if you want to add multiple circular links to an image you'd click "Create Circle".

 When people click the board that says "Home", it will take them to whatever link you write under "Map URL". In this case, it will take them to AJ Stream's home page.


Same thing with my codes page.


When you've fully linked the image, click "Get Code" to copy and paste the HTML code into your Blogger HTML widget. It'll look something like this:


And once you save your widget, you'll have a really cool looking page tab!

If you don't use Blogger like I do and use WordPress or something like that, you can still make an image map and get the code. You'll probably have another way of uploading it to your blog, though.

Final Tip

If you want to do something with your blog, Blogger, WordPress, or otherwise, look it up. There will most definitely be a tutorial for that somewhere, and if there isn't, you can easily find enough information to do it yourself.

It all depends on what you search. I'd suggest keeping it as generic and simple as possible. Instead of "how can I put backgrounds behind widgets in blogger?" search "blogger widget background" to find more resources.

Also, I may not be an expert, but ask me anything if you're having trouble with your blog's template. I think I can answer a lot of your questions.

That's all for now, Jammers– I'll see you in Jamaa! :D

Monday, August 28, 2017

Eclipse Jamaa Township Land Map

Hey Jammers! I've been working on this new land map for you for yesterday and this morning. As of this one, my eclipse land maps are 2/3rds finished! 


I'm a little bit happier with this one than my Zios map. What do you think?

As is the last land map, this is two thirds the size of the actual land, Jamaa Township in this case. It's 1307 x 1604 px, making it the perfect size for a background for your computer or AJ blog!

If you do use this for your AJ blog, I'd really appreciate if you wrote "background credit to DoomyPanda" somewhere small on your template. I worked really hard on it. =^_^=

I guess you could also use parts of this land map in a YouTube channel banner. As always, just credit me somewhere. 

Next up on my list of land map to-do's, eclipsed Appondale! :D

Peace out~

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Eclipse Zios Land Map

Hey Jammers! The reason I haven't been posting for the past week is that I've been making whole land maps of the eclipsed lands: Appondale, Jamaa Township, and Temple of Zios. And I didn't know when I started, but making land maps takes a LOT of time!

I'm still putting the finishing touches on Jamaa Township and Appondale, but this morning I finished The Lost Temple of Zios!


The full resolution of this image is about 2060 x 730 px, which is around 2/3 the size of the actual Temple of Zios. Because of this size, you can use this image as a desktop wallpaper or a background for your Animal Jam blog!!!

I worked really hard on it, so if you do use it for your blog you can write "background credit to DoomyPanda" somewhere small on your template. :)

The land maps for the eclipse-darkened Appondale and Jamaa Township are on their way, but I'm going away until Saturday so stay tuned until then!

See you in Jamaa~ =^.^=

Monday, August 21, 2017

Jamaa Eclipse Secrets?

Heyyo Jammers! Happy day of the solar eclipse (in the USA, that is)!


Aside from a pretty banner, it seems nothing much is different in Jamaa from the last few eclipse-y days... or is there?


"(Graham) also has noted that he has been detecting some subtle changes in Jamaa, but the source of these changes, or what these may mean, is still a mystery."

If you're not aware, this is from an official AJHQ Instagram post around the first day of the eclipse celebration. 

Since then, I've looked all over Jamaa and aside from the Zios statue, I can't find any subtle changes.

Maybe these changes are more subtle than I thought... maybe just a few plants changed! I'm in the process of making land maps of the eclipsed lands, so after they're done I can compare them with normal AJ.


Is anyone in North America gonna try and see the eclipse for themselves? I'm gonna try, but because I don't have protective eyewear I'm just gonna look around the ground and see everything go dark like in Jamaa.

Sometimes other animals get confused and go to sleep early when the sky goes dark. It actually makes sense when you think about it, because the first time they see an eclipse might be the only time they do, depending on their lifespan and whether or not they travel a lot.

Another thing on AJHQ's Instagram page is this featured eclipse "fan art" by dustyfablesaj:


Just wanted to share it because I love it a lot and it inspires me. ^____^

ONCE AGAIN, HAPPY SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mysterious Glow of Zios

Hey Jammers! According to Lostfairy, as well as all of Jamaa, my theory of a traveling eclipse across Jamaa has been proven wrong, for two reasons. The first one being that no new lands are under the eclipse today.

The second one being that a third land that I forgot yesterday is under the eclipse, which isn't necessarily a bad thing....


Yes, friends, if you didn't know already, The Lost Temple of Zios has also been beautified by the 2017 solar eclipse! I'm going to make a land map of it soon, once I get a membership and a flying animal. 

I just noticed something super cool about the above screenshot. Can you guess what it is?

I'll give you 5 seconds to think...

.

..

...

....

.....

Time's up! 

Did you notice that the fallen statue depicting Zios, the symbolic creator of Jamaa, is glowing from within?

It gets even cooler when you realize that Zios is based off of artistic depictions of the Mayan sun god...


And Zios is glowing, during a Solar Eclipse... I wonder if this signifies anything.

While writing this post, I went online to see if something different than swarming phantoms might happen if you sleep by the statue.


Oddly, nothing happened. We got about 3 people to sleep by it and not one thing changed.

Unless...


Maybe the eclipse armor has something to do with it. MAYBE YOU NEED TO WEAR THE FULL SET TO MAKE THE STATUE DO SOMETHING.

I'm a nonmember at the moment, so can any of you members who have the full set go try it out and report back if anything happens?

Another cool thing in the Lost Temple of Zios at the moment is that the full eclipse is visible from the Chamber of Knowledge observatory!!!




But remember your protective eyewear, kids. B)

See you in Jamaa!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Bee Eclipse

Hey Jammers! Looking at my blog right now, I know what you're probably thinking:

"Wow, this is really ugly"

And you are correct! It is hideous.

But for now you'll have to stare at it because I am not yet done with this blog's layout. I have graphics to make, HTML to figure out... all of it will take a few days to finish because even after 5 years I am still a n00b.

So grab your protective eyewear. Not only to shield your eyes from this layout, but also... from the Eclipse in Jamaa!!!


The lands of Jamaa Township and Appondale are clogged with Jammers admiring the lanterns and newly-revealed night sky, because today is the first day of Jamaa's 4-day eclipse celebration! And it's no wonder there's a celebration– a solar eclipse has not been visible across the USA since 1979. And AJ is based in the USA.

(On an unrelated note, do you see that green plaque by the lantern? Yeah, I do not remember that being there. O_O)

You might be wondering why only Jamaa Township and Appondale are under the spell of night. It isn't explicitly stated anywhere, but I think the eclipse is going to move across Jamaa in the next few days, so Kimbara Outback and The Lost Temple of Zios might be next.




A little touch I like is the glowing light sources. They make everything seem so sleepy and mysterious...

There are also fun facts scattered throughout the region for you to click on. They have cool pictures of eclipses:


The effect of the moon covering the sun looks really cool, like a hole is in the middle of the sun. Or the sun turning all black. Or, like the photo below, it can look like a bite was taken out of it: 


Not everyone in the USA will see a total eclipse (the moon making a hole in the sun) during these few days. Some will only see a partial solar eclipse. Still cool, though!


The above photo is of an annular solar eclipse! I looked it up B)


I thought those glasses were a weird blob across the sky for a second and I was confused. X)

If you believe you might get a chance to see the solar eclipse, local papers or online news sites might have some info about where and when to see the eclipse in your area. Times and dates may vary!

AJHQ also provided some useful information about eye-safety in this recent edition of the Jamaa Woodslab:


Don't go gazing at the sun without eye protection, or it will hurt really bad after a while, you will get an eye sunburn (those are real), and your vision will suffer for it. And regular sunglasses will probably not be enough, so I suggest you go to that NASA URL in the image above.

There are also a few themed items that come along with the eclipse:


And some others that may or may not be related:



If you're wondering about the bee stuff, it's National Honeybee Day in Jamaa again!!!


I kinda wish they celebrated the generic World Bee Day on May 20th because the honeybee is only one kind of bee. There are loads of cool bees in the world that don't get as much attention because they aren't held captive by humans for profit.

Additionally, while the honeybee is a wonderful pollinator who should be respected, they are not native to North America and have less of a positive environmental impact (in N. America) than native bees.

Here are some cool North American native bees:

This one is a (very) Fuzzy-legged Leafcutter Bee. Mothers make nests that look like tubes, with the baby eggs lined up within. Each baby tries to hatch in an order, from the entrance of the tube to the back– just a nice orderly way to make it easier to emerge.

Sometimes, though, a little baby egg "sleeps in" and hatches a wee bit late. In that case, the earlier hatchlings nip the baby gently so they know to hurry up on their way out into the world.

This precious native bee is the endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee. The reason for their endangered status is a sickness brought over from Europe by humans that has reduced their numbers by 87%. Additionally, they have to put up with the struggle from human pesticides. 

If you can, don't use pesticides or buy food made with pesticides in order to help this bee survive. The ecosystem is counting on you!
This special bee is a male Cuckoo Bee! Male Cuckoo Bees and female Cuckoo Bees team up to hunt for food. The species that they eat do not regard males as a threat, so the male Cuckoo Bee disguises the female with his scent so she can hunt undercover. Cool, huh?


Is that bee at the beach? Did his friends bury him in the sand and leave him there while they went and got ice cream? What jerks...

Thankfully, this bee is not stuck, but he is on the lookout. He is a Lasioglossum Bee at the entrance of his underground home. He lives with a few male roommates and one female, and it's his turn right now to guard the nest from predators and make sure his friends are safe. Antennae fixed on the wind, he's doing a great job!

All these bees live in North America and are beautiful and extremely important for the ecosystem. If you're lucky enough to see one (or remember seeing one), comment and tell me! 

Some other AJ news:



There's a new free educational AJ app, pixel painting is accessible in the Art Studio, and all plushies can now explore the deep oceans!

Before I go, here's something interesting I heard about solar eclipses: other animals are amazed by them as well. I just read that around 15 years ago a scientist was observing a solar eclipse in Hawaii, all the birds loudly talking, but once totality came (when the moon completely covers the sun) the birds all went silent. 

Have you ever experienced something like that? I've personally never seen an eclipse of any kind in person. 

That's all for now, see you in Jamaa! :)

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