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 [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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:






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