stripped: (*HUGS* kurt and mercedes)
[personal profile] stripped in [community profile] icontutorial
This is going to be a somewhat rambling tutorial, because I made this icon after 11pm last night and I want to not just show you the techniques I used, but also take you through the thought process that led from "I like this image" through some not-so-happy accidents and into where it ended up.

This is the icon we'll be taking apart:

And I did this using PS CS4 on a Mac.

This is the original image (resized only, so it'll fit decently here):

The first thing I did, of course, was crop the image:

Then I used a layer adjustment / curves to apply the following:

to get the light and color adjusted image:

I got that particular curve effect by starting with a an auto adjustment, then tweaking the three channels individually until it looked the way I wanted, then grabbing the overall bar and swinging it out to brighten it. I prefer brightening an image this way because it doesn't lighten it at the same time. Also, whenever I drag the top of it out to the left, I drag the bottom slightly to the right to lend depth to the shadows.

If I'd wanted a simple icon, I would've stopped here. Cropped and light/color corrected, it's a decent image. But I wanted more so I started playing around...

My first thought was HEY this is an adorable loving icon, let's put a heart around them! So I picked out a grunge heart brush and stamped out a mask, used select / transform to let me scale it to just the right size, and filled it with a rainbow gradient. Which got me this:

Ew. So not right. So I made THAT layer invisible and started thinking again.

And this is where I started to get lucky. I was going through the icon brushes I have from Mutsie's brushes and stamped out a mask with one thinking that it would highlight the center of the image and oh hey, it had something decorative off to the side. Imagine my surprise to realize that was a G clef!! The thing is, after I put in the pastel rainbow gradient fill (at 53% opacity), Kurt's face was obscured.

Okay, pause and back up here. I keep saying "stamp out a mask" or something similar and have realized I'm not sure how actually show, pictorially, what I do with that. So let me at least try to explain.

Pick the brush you want to use, then either click the quick mask button on the toolbar, or choose Select / Edit in Quick Mask Mode. Then stamp the brush onto the image; it'll look red. When you exit quick mask mode, everything that wasn't stamped red will be selected (you can inverse your selection if you'd rather fill what you masked).

At this point, you can use a layer / fill of some kind to put information into that masked space. If your brush had grey areas as well as black, those'll come out half tone. We'll talk about making brushes another time... I'm still working on that one myself.

So anyway, when I say "stamp out a mask," I mean doing the steps above, then using a layer / fill / gradient layer (or solid color, or pattern) on top of that.

Also, once you have an area masked that you like, I HIGHLY recommend saving your selection. Under Select / Save Selection... that way you can get it (or its reverse) back at any time.

Now, moving on... where were we? Oh yes, Kurt's face was obscured and I was cranky. So I tried to figure out how to fix this problem and decided that maybe flipping the image horizontally would do it. So I used the Edit menu to flip just the base layer (Image transforms do all layers, Edit does only the active layer) and got this:

This... had potential. No one was obscured, the colors were nice, but Mercede's arm looked RIDICULOUS in reverse. So I sat back and thought a moment, and realized, I needed a different crop. More importantly, I basically needed a crop which was rectangular and would fit into that space in the middle of the mask and give me more of the dark space off to the right "behind" Kurt for the clef to show and not cover him up. But I still wanted some rainbows on his face.

So I did a new crop and pasted it into a layer below the curves layer, hid the original crop, hid all the adjustments, and took a look:

Okay, we're getting there! I added the pretty pastel rainbow mask over it...

Oooooh yes, that's almost it! Except now I was losing some of the effects because of the bulk of the background being transparent, and that might translate oddly on some backgrounds, so I added a layer under the image layer and filled it with a medium gray...

And that was it, I was done. And happy.

If you have any more questions or would like any points above clarified, please ask away!!


Icon Tutorials for Everyone

May 2014

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