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17 June 2007 @ 09:41 pm
Icon Tutorial for Lea  
This tutorial is really, really basic beginners stuff in Photoshop for making icons. It shows how to crop, keep things looking good, how to do quick and dirty cleaning and coloring to caps. Lea asked me to make it for her, so here it is. I linked to screenshots to make it less image heavy and again, beginner.

All the screenshots have more text written on them but that is assuming you don't know how to do what is explained. (Like where is the crop tool? Smudge tool? Etc)

1. I am assuming you already have your cap picked out and it is open in your workspace. The first thing you want to do is pick your crop tool and make sure that the resolution is set to 72 pixels/inch. This will keep your text later from coming up strangely in your workspace.

Screenshot of crop tool and where to enter resolution

2. Then you have to decide where you want to crop, where you want your focus to be. I did a center focus here because I am lazy with this tutorial. I don't recommend a center crop. It is boring.

Screenshot of cropping

3. After it is cropped, make sure that you change the image size to 100x100 pixels (Image-->Image Size). If it is over or under, pick the smallest side to make 100 pixels and use the canvas size tool (Image-->Canvas Size) to cut down the larger size. And make sure when you resize your image, you have constrain proportions selected!

Screenshot of how to resize
Screenshot of how to use canvas size

4. So this is our base: . It is dark as hell so let's lighten it up with autolevels.

5. First you want to duplicate your base (background). Right click on it in your Layers channel and pick duplicate layer.

Screenshot of how to duplicate a layer

6. Select Image-->Adjust-->Auto Levels. Now sometimes this layer looks good on its own. Sometimes, you can lighten it further by setting it to screen and playing with the opacity. Sometimes it might require a couple of screen layers (just duplicate them) to get a bright cap to work with.

Screenshot of auto levels selection
Screenshot of how to change a layer to screen

Our new base looks like this.

7. To give the base some depth, duplicate the layer again and set this one on soft light. I always duplicate the screen layer that has had the auto levels treatment.

Screenshot of softlight layer

Our new base looks like this. . It is a bit dark for my tastes so I lowered the opacity on the soft light layer.

The new base looks like this . Now their skin looks NASTY so here is a trick I picked up.

8. Save your work as a PSD file and merge your visible layers.

Screenshot on how to merge layers

9. Duplicate your merged base.

10. Increase the magnification to between 200-300%

11. Select your smudge tool and pick a feathery small brush. Like the soft 5-9 and set the pressure to really low, between 5-20, depending.

12. Now using the smudge brush with the shadows, gently move over the skin (just the skin usually!) of the subject to smooth it out. If it looks too smudged or strange, go back in the actions on the history layer and lower the pressure of the brush.

13. When it looks good, zoom back out. Now if you have sharpened your base, you might want to lower the opacity of this smudged layer so some of the sharpening comes through but not a lot.

Screenshot of all the smudging stuff

Our new base looks like this:

Now you are ready for coloring. I like to do a quick and dirty coloring using variations sometimes when I am not in the mood to mess with selective coloring. I found variations is great for beginners and you can get a good look without a ton of color layers. But at this point, it is whatever you want to do. Selective color, gradients, pattern fills, etc. This is just ONE easy way

14. So save your file as a PSD, merge your layers. Then duplicate your new merged base.

15. Go to Image-->Adjust-->Variations.

Screenshot of variations

16. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS PICK ORIGINAL! I can't stress this enough. Now it is just time to play. I wanted this cap to have a warm reddish feel to it so I picked my midtones button, then went darker, with some red selections, a yellow, and a blue. I used the shadows for more red, and I used more saturation.

Screenshot of variations menu

17. The cap looks really really red here but that is why we lower the opacity of the variations level until the coloring is really subtle. You can keep duplicating your base layer and changing the variations and their opacity. You can even change the layer type. This is the time to experiment.

Final Screenshot about variations

And this is our final base:

You can color it further, you can add text, brushes, etc. Whatever floats your boat.
Dudly Lajoiedudly_lajoie on January 19th, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
Er, stumbled upon this, needed to say thanks- because that was really helpful. =D I like making icons. Still new and haven't figured out how to do the nifty tricks icon-makers use, but still a lot of fun. So yeah, thanks.
Kelly: ATS: AWC Familyxlivvielockex on January 30th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
Not a problem. That's why I did this tutorial.

If you want some really great tips and tricks, I suggest joining icon_tutorial and good_tutorial. I wouldn't know how to make icons if not for that comm.

Edited at 2009-01-30 11:02 pm (UTC)