paian: Close-up of Daniel's eyes (daniel eyes)
[personal profile] paian in [community profile] icontutorial
Going from this to this:

in Photoshop CS4 for Windows XP to fulfill a claim for [community profile] fandom20in20.

I started with this 'Enemy Mine' screencap from Dedicated to Stargate SG-1:

I changed the image resolution from 3px/inch to 72px/inch (Image Size, uncheck 'resample') so that I'd be able to use text if I wanted to. Then I changed the Canvas Size to double the height of the image (canvas extension color was grey, and I chose the bottom center box so that the additional canvas would be at the top) and then cropped using the Crop Tool set to re-size to 100x100. Now I had this:

Because I was reasonably sure I'd be laying a texture over the background, I didn't bother using Vanishing Point or doing any cloning or blending to extend the background up or add sky to fill the square; I just smudged the trees/sky around and upwards using the Smudge Tool, with a round brush setting of 0% hardness and probably about 13px. [ETA: Photoshop CS5's Spot Healing and Fill tools look very cool, and have the potential for much awesome usefulness in extending backgrounds for iconmaking. Download Squad demonstration is here.] Now I had this:

I wasn't sure how much I'd want to sharpen, if at all, but with this high-pass filter sharpening technique I knew that I'd be able to dial it down a little if I needed to. So I duplicated the last layer (Control-J), set the new layer on Overlay, went to Filter > Other > High Pass ...

... and input a radius of somewhere between 0.5 and 0.9. Now I had this ...

... which was too sharp. I fiddled with the layer opacity until Tiny!Chaka!Face! looked clear but not oversharpened to me, which turned out to be 58%. Now I had this:

I stamped (Control-Alt-Shift-E) all that into a new layer to do some smudging to soften things up a bit and smooth out rough-looking and overbright pixels. I used the Smudge Tool with a round 0% hardness brush of varying sizes depending on what part of the image I was working on. I had it zoomed to somewhere between 400% and 600% at this point. I considered smudging the whole background around to make some swirliness to go under the texture, but I was liking the people and the line of hills and trees in the background, so I didn't go wild with the smudging. Now I had this:

Time for texture now. I made a new Pattern Fill layer and chose a very plain texture so that I could see Chaka's edges clearly as I masked out the background. I lowered the opacity of the Pattern Fill layer to maybe 10% or 20%, clicked on the layer mask icon to select it, and painted over Chaka in black with a hard round 9px brush, making it smaller or larger with the [ and ] keys as needed. Then I brought the opacity of the layer up until I had a nice mistiness that made Chaka stand out but still let me see the background elements. I already had a set of [ profile] erniemay icon textures loaded as Patterns -- I make pattern sets out of textures I like ([personal profile] hsapiens turned me on to that) so I can load them and swap different ones in and out of the same Pattern Fill layer quickly and easily -- and I tried a few until one gave me the effect I had in mind. Unsurprisingly, it was a pretty subtle, smoky one:

Once I decided on an opacity of 76% for that texture layer, I had this:

I picked a color from the base image and added some text in a fairly plain sans-serif font (Lucida Sans Unicode 12 pt) so that it wouldn't draw attention away from Chaka himself or keep the viewer from noticing the misty background figures. I stretched it out to 120% in the Horizontal Scale in the Character palette so that it would fill the space a bit better without being bigger overall. To make it stand out just a liiiiiiittle more from the background without being glaring, I added an Outer Glow effect, and to blend it in I set the layer on Multiply. Then I fiddled with the opacity of the layer, the opacity of the glow, the contour of the glow, and the color of the glow. I was happy with the opacity of the text itself and the Linear default contour of the glow, but the glow was too strong and bright, so I settled on a glow color of #827552 (colorpicked from Chaka's coat) and a glow opacity of 61%. Now I had this:

I liked it, but I wanted to brighten it. Instead of fiddling with Levels and Curves, or stamping what I had and setting duplicate layers to some combination of Screen / Soft Light / Overlay, I did the brightening with a texture, because I also wanted a little bit more color and texture in that mistiness. I made a new Pattern Fill layer and tried textures until this one from that [ profile] erniemay set popped for me:

Now I had this:

I felt it was finished, but I thought it might also look good with a thin border, so I stamped what I had, went to Layer > Layer Style > Stroke, and added a 1px inside black stroke to get this:

I liked it visually with the border, but I didn't like the 'boxed-in/trapped' implication the border gave thematically, and for the [community profile] fandom20in20 claim I wanted the character to stand out, which Chaka seemed to do more in the borderless one, so that's the one I submitted.

That's it! Here's the layers palette:

on 2010-05-01 10:44 pm (UTC)
stripped: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] stripped
Thank you for sharing! There are things I need to play with.... I love your icons, but have never had luck getting mine to do that with the textures, so now I have ideas for playing.

on 2010-05-02 08:12 am (UTC)
majoline: picture of Majoline, mother of Bon Mucho in Loco Roco 2 (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] majoline
Thank you for this tutorial! I'm late to the party due to the huge amounts of tabs open right now :S

Thanks again for sharing :D

on 2010-05-04 04:55 pm (UTC)
sleepwalkerfish: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sleepwalkerfish
Totally awesome tutorial, this. Thank you especially for pointing out the high pass filter, I had absolutely no idea, and sometimes sharpening properly is quite difficult. (I use the "fade sharpen" option in the Edit drop down menu, but this is the real thing, much smarter.) \o/

on 2010-05-06 07:09 pm (UTC)
antares_dw: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] antares_dw
Thank you very much for explaining step by step. Even if I use another program, it gave me some new ideas for icon-making!


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