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06 March 2005 @ 12:34 am
Too much ice cream is bad for the tummieee.  
I know a lot of icon-makers already are well aware of how to improve an image/cap, but for those who don't, I'd like to share a few of my personal steps. These are the steps that I ALWAYS apply on each and every one of my icons even before I add textures/brushes/gradients/etc. Here you will learn how to take a really bad cap and turn it into something [I think] probably ten times better.

This tutorial is for Photoshop 8. There are a few things on here I'm not sure will translate to other programs, as PS is the only program I've ever had. [ edit ] Thanks to julia_thorne13 for informing me that it can be translated to PSP, thanks![ //end edit ]

Take this cap. It has only been cropped --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com

And we'll learn how to make it into this --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com




As you can see, the first image is really ugly. It's not sharp, and dark, among other things.


01 Start with this.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
______________________________________

02 Sharpen it by going to Image > Sharpen > Sharpen.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com
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03 Take the smudge tool (under the eraser tool indicated by a hand with a pointing index finger) mode: normal, strength: 10%. Zoom in to about 500%, using a round, soft edged brush about 4-9 px in diameter, smudge the cheeks, foreheads, necks, noses, clothes, etc, of Olivia & Elliot. Only avoid the eyes and lips. Try to smudge the background more than the people. That will make the background more blurred, which makes the people stand out.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com
______________________________________

04 Then sharpen the image again. Sometimes sharpening it again is too much. If that is the case, go to Edit > Fade Sharpen and adjust the percentage to your liking. If you are using a program that does not have a fade sharpen, then you can duplicate the layer and then sharpen the duplicated layer. Afterwards, you can adjust the opacity of your sharpened layer (duplicated layer) to your liking.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com
______________________________________

05 Now here is the part where I'm not sure if other programs will have it or not. I learned this nifty nifty trick in my advanced Photoshop class. Go to Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight. The default setting should be shadow: 50%, highlight: 0%. I left it at the default setting and clicked OK. You can adjust the shadow* to your liking, but I wouldn't mess with the highlight.
*This tool removes the shadows in a picture. It's really useful for taking away the shadow on a person's face, as well as brightening the picture.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Note: This only works for PS CS. For lower PS, go to Image > Adjustments > Variations and choose lighter once or twice, or thrice. That will brighten the image. The colors will be flatter than if you use shadow/highlight. But don't worry, cause you can crank up the contrast in step 6 to give it more color.

Here is the result if you use shadow/highlight. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Here is the result if you use variations. Image hosted by Photobucket.com
______________________________________

06 Nifty eh?? But *yawns* the colors are dull, boring, flat, bleh. Hmph. We'll fix that. Now, add a new adjustment layer by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast . . . Crank up the contrast to about 30, or whatever suits your icon.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com
______________________________________

07 I thought the faces were too yellowish (because of the high contrast). So add another adjustment layer Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation. First, in the edit box, choose reds and decrease the saturation to -10. Second, choose yellows in the edit box, saturation: -10. And lastly, choose magentas in the edit box and also decrease the saturation to -10.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com
______________________________________

08 Now for the last step. Add another adjustment layer Layer > New Adjustments Layer > Selective Color. In the colors box, choose blacks, then go down to the slider for black and increase that to 10%.
*This darkens only the blacks in an image. It's great for darkening hair and eyebrows to make them stand out more. It's like applying make up, only not really. ^__________^

Image hosted by Photobucket.com --> Image hosted by Photobucket.com




And you're done! Now you have a really nice base for you icons. Add gradients, brushes, creativity, and you've got yourself an awesome icon! <3


Before: Image hosted by Photobucket.com After: Image hosted by Photobucket.com
 
 
 
my dreams will match up with my payterra_katta on March 6th, 2005 09:19 am (UTC)
:o Amazing! Simply amazing! Thank you so very much. XD

It's going in my memories. Go SVU! XD
Meeps!: veronica marsdark_soul_lost on March 6th, 2005 09:34 am (UTC)
You're very welcome. =]


SVU rocks my socks. >_________
Julia Thornejulia_thorne13 on March 6th, 2005 09:21 am (UTC)
I was planning on doing on of these (with the sharpen and smudge tools) but you got it covered so I'm checking that off my list! Thanks so much and awesome tut. Really clear. And, just like to add, it's basically translatable into PSP, which is good!
Meeps!dark_soul_lost on March 6th, 2005 09:24 am (UTC)
Oh really?? That's awesome!! I wasn't sure about PSP cause I've never had it. I'll edit my post and tell ppl that, so they'll know! Thanks so much!
Julia Thornejulia_thorne13 on March 6th, 2005 10:33 am (UTC)
No problem! I've got to be of use somewhere! XD
A sexy, fun bitch who just bought you a piñata!: my life is now completeloverly on March 6th, 2005 10:09 am (UTC)
great one :D
Japejapewierd on March 6th, 2005 12:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that.
doctoreveldoctorevel on March 6th, 2005 12:46 pm (UTC)
This is so fantastic -- and it's great info to use with non-icon pictures as well.
And: Blue eyes - lil_buttonmotorcitysky on March 6th, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this. I knew how to do most of it but not all and the part I didn't know really makes a difference.
Andmotorcitysky on March 6th, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC)
I was just trying it out. The only part I'm having trouble with is Step 5. Image>Adjustment>Shadow/Highlight. I don't have the Shadow/Highlight option. I'm using PS7 too. Any ideas, please?
Meeps!: joaquindark_soul_lost on March 6th, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to mention that I use PS 8. But don't worry!!! I know another way to do it!! Go to Image > Adjustments > Variations and choose lighter once or twice. That will brighten the image. The colors will be flatter than if you use shadow/highlight. But don't worry, cause you can crank up the contrast in step 6 to give it more color.

Here is the result if you use shadow/highlight. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Here is the result if you use variations/b>. Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Andmotorcitysky on March 7th, 2005 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for your help, I'll try that :)
Artemisluna_dea_82 on March 6th, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC)
This is great. I didn't know how to do it as much (most of the time I never thought about it, and just reading a few steps help me carry out my own way of doing it. <3 ya for it :D
Lubaba, Lu[lu], Babalu, Lubabs, Lubarubixcubashunemo711 on March 6th, 2005 03:06 pm (UTC)
Learned a couple things as I went along, of course. Simply divine tut!
Annie: SHIA!! <3 || by meburningbeacon on March 6th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC)
I ♥ you. Adding to memories. =D
zandra_x on March 6th, 2005 04:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Excellent basics, adding to memories.
Nudel: scannerbakednudel on March 6th, 2005 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, this is great, also adding to memories...

except I use Elements and it doesn't have the Image>adjustments>shadow/highlight.. :(

unless it's hidden somewhere else in Elements? anybody?
Meeps!: mirandadark_soul_lost on March 6th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
Eee. I posted this for someone up on top, but here it is, to make sure you see it.
I forgot to mention that I use PS 8. But don't worry!!! I know another way to do it!! Go to Image > Adjustments > Variations and choose lighter once or twice. That will brighten the image. The colors will be flatter than if you use shadow/highlight. But don't worry, cause you can crank up the contrast in step 6 to give it more color.

Here is the result if you use shadow/highlight. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Here is the result if you use variations/b>. Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Nudel: goofballbakednudel on March 7th, 2005 02:58 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! You're a doll to take the time to explain this!
Meeps!dark_soul_lost on March 7th, 2005 03:41 am (UTC)
^_____^ I am here to help. Besides, I feel sorta guilty for not putting that I was using PS CS earlier. Then my sister yelled at me for not doing that, and she even told me I should write a sorry post for it. =[ Ahh, so awful. =]
Angieangeline_dark on March 6th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC)
Amazing tutorial! I'll denfinitely add it to my memories.
la Contessalacontessa11 on March 6th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you, that was very helpful!
Wendyamizada on March 6th, 2005 06:12 pm (UTC)
This is great!! But I gotta ask, what version of PS are you using? I can't for the life of me find the Image>Adjustments>Shadow/Highlight. I don't have that in my list.
Meeps!: jack - fly high and prouddark_soul_lost on March 6th, 2005 11:03 pm (UTC)
(I posted the same thing for the person up on top, but just to make sure you see it too =])
Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to mention that I use PS 8. But don't worry!!! I know another way to do it!! Go to Image > Adjustments > Variations and choose lighter once or twice. That will brighten the image. The colors will be flatter than if you use shadow/highlight. But don't worry, cause you can crank up the contrast in step 6 to give it more color.

Here is the result if you use shadow/highlight. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Here is the result if you use variations. Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Wendyamizada on March 6th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much :)
sara c: STABLERmiss_sarac on March 6th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
I'm assuming you have Photoshop CS?!?

I've added to my memories-THANKS!
Meeps!: eric szmanda - fallingdark_soul_lost on March 7th, 2005 01:46 am (UTC)
Ahh, yes I do. I forgot all about that. When I was writing the tutorial, I just thought to mention that I have PS, but not which version. Then it became apparent when it came to the shadow/highlight thing. Blah! But if you are using PS7, then just go to Image > Adjustments > Variations and click on lighter two or three times. It will make the image brighter, but the colors will be very flat. Then in step 6, you can up the contrast and that will intensify the colors again.

*g* There are always different ways to do one thing. =]
Greyflowersx_greyflowers_x on March 6th, 2005 07:25 pm (UTC)
Fantastic tut! As someone who's just started playing around with PS, this will be very useful. I always wondered how people took such dark and grainy screencaps and turned them into vibrant, gorgeous images. I'm definitely adding this to my memories... Thank you!!
Andrea: Proud Dorkrather_helpless on March 6th, 2005 10:06 pm (UTC)
it's like a face lift for photos :) good job

concerning the shadows/highlights thing for some of us .. I played around with it a bit and did a help search and I THINK you have to use curves or levels instead and play around with it a bit .. it does create a little bit of a different look .. kind of a little more pale and dark
also when using curves or levels go into options and change the algorithms and play around with it a little
Meeps!: michael - feeling excluded??dark_soul_lost on March 7th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC)
I am really really bad with curves and levels, so I almost never ever use it. But if you are really good at it, then hurray! What you could do though (because I am so SO lazy and curves and levels are just too much for my small brain to comprehend, *g*) is to go to Image > Adjustments > Variations and click on lighter about two or three times. This will leave an image with flat colors, but when you up the contrast in step 6, then the colors will become intense again.
sad lizard jackson just wants a friendqueenitsy on March 6th, 2005 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm such a beginner at actually using more than crop, add text that I've been really overwhelmed trying to figure out where to start, and this was a huge, huge help. It's the first tutorial I've ever really tried all the way through and actually understood. :)
Meeps!: gimlidark_soul_lost on March 8th, 2005 12:59 am (UTC)
You're very welcome, I'm so glad it helped. I remembered the first time I got PS and tried making icons. All I did was crop and add text. No gradients (what are gradients?) no brushes (brushes? huh?) and no one to teach me to do anything at all. It was pretty bad, considering I didn't know where to ask for help (this is when I didn't know about icon_tutorial and such).
teh stunt double: Book definition Bully_spindrift on March 7th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you, sweetie. Saving to my memories.
Anxious Audrey: Amanda Tapping by chlexaudrich on March 7th, 2005 02:06 pm (UTC)
That's super - thank you so much!
{saves to memories}
seven eight nine67th on March 7th, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC)
Adding to memories/favourites, this will definatly help with some of the shoddy caps I seem to make.

And yay Elliot and Olivia! SVU all the way!
Meeps!: nick & cath - in the gloomy darknessdark_soul_lost on March 8th, 2005 12:55 am (UTC)
Haha, if the caps are bad, I'm sure it's not your doing. My SVU caps are the worst, cause the DVDs look sooooo bad when played on the computer. That's why I try to find ways of improving my caps to make the best of them. And I figured, why not share this with others? There are ppl who can benefit from my tutorial.


Yay for SVU!! <3<3<3
future media darling: dom + sex and candysobota on March 9th, 2005 03:57 am (UTC)
*kisses* You rock serious kasbah!
lonelytroy on March 9th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC)
wow. thanks for the tip.
Angie: DHr/'feelings' - vampiress87cynnabug on March 11th, 2005 10:13 am (UTC)
Without even looking at the steps (although I should have first, eh?), THANK YOU so much for this. I have been wringing my brain all to pieces, trying to figure out how people get the 'natural' look, and yet, the look where nothing's been done to it. (proverbial_icon is a great example. Crisp, clean, overall natural looking, but darn it, how was that look achieved?!) So, really, this is so appreciated, you have no idea. And I know exactly what I'll be trying this out on.

*bear hug* Again, thank you so much, and hopefully, I'll be able to convert it to PSP without too much cursing and crying.

Meeps!: eric szmanda - fallingdark_soul_lost on March 11th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm, it looks like proverbial_icon did a lot of sharpening in her(?) icons. Probably three or four times, depending on the sharpness of the original pictures. But with caps, I'd say the icons were sharpened at least 3 times. Probably twice the first time to sharpen the edges, then smooth out the other parts using the blur or smudge tool. Then sharpen again. A little too sharp sometimes for my taste, but overall, very awesome icons. She didn't just stick to one style, but several, I like it. And she's got creativity. That rocks.

I think julia_thorne13 informed me that it can be translated to PSP. I think the step that you won't be able to follow exactly is step 5, with the shadow/highlight. But you can always use levels/curves/variations to achieve pretty much the same effect. So no worries.
Angie: 'Book Freak' - withpaperwings_cynnabug on March 13th, 2005 10:06 am (UTC)
Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that it's translatable. Odds are, every tutorial is...you just have to know your program like the back of your hand. Which...therein lies the problem. Levels and all that...make me lose my mind, and I'm still learning stuff about PSP, so I see great big 'nyah nyah, I kick your butt' sounds being emitted by my computer. *g*

proverbial_icon...those kinds of techniques amaze me. And it's almost like...you want to know how it's being done, but on the other hand...knowing and being able to do it yourself might ruin the feeling of awe. Cause...seriously, there's tons of techniques and stuff I'd love to know how to do, but I kind of don't want to know, because then, what amazes you one time, if you learn how to do it, that may take that feeling away, and you're just left with 'well, gee, that's easy to do. Nothing special there.' You know? If that big run-on sentence even makes on iota of sense. *g*

Meeps!: soccer - michaeldark_soul_lost on March 14th, 2005 06:08 am (UTC)
Ha. Levels & curves are the devils. I hate them, cause I have no idea how to work them. But there are a lot of different ways to achieve the same effect. That's why you should always play with the program to see how it works. Too bad they don't offer a PSP class where you live, then you could take it and learn a bunch of nifty little things you never knew before! Like me! Only I have PS, so I took a PS class.

Ahhh, I ALWAYS want to know how to do a certain effect. I am curious like that, and not knowing kills me. And if I see a tutorial for that style that I want to make, but it doesn't work with my specific icon, then I will get frustrated and start stabbing my computer. >______< But you do make sense, you do make sense.
Angie: Mann - <lj user=" title="Angie: Mann - " />cynnabug on March 15th, 2005 09:37 am (UTC)
Too bad they don't offer a PSP class where you live, then you could take it and learn a bunch of nifty little things you never knew before! I wish so much there was something like that around here. I'd probably be scared to take it though, since odds are it'd be one those 'learn by showing', and the teacher would probably be big on making people do stuff, and then show the class so the class could then comment. *shudders* Always hated classes like that, and I'd end up having nightmares for weeks because of them. *g*

And if I see a tutorial for that style that I want to make, but it doesn't work with my specific icon, then I will get frustrated and start stabbing my computer. >______< Grrr, yes. That's one of the worst things about tutorials. Of course, if you're determined to use the tutorial, you pretty much end up doing weird things to the icon to get it work and it's just a big hassle that ticks you off and makes you depressed.

Isn't being an icon-maker just ever so fun. *g*

Meeps!dark_soul_lost on March 16th, 2005 06:18 am (UTC)
Actually, my PS class isn't like that at all, and I have a feeling if you have a PSP class, it won't be like that either. As for my class, all we do is go to class & the professor goes over the assignment & teach us many nifty things that otherwise we probably would never find out about. Then he gives us assignments to complete, with detailed instructions. The next time the class meet we just put our assignments into our portfolio & that's it. Other than that tutorial & presentation he made us do, I don't think there's much give-your-stuff-to-others-so-they-can-give-you-their-critiques kind of things.

Grrr, yes. That's one of the worst things about tutorials. Of course, if you're determined to use the tutorial, you pretty much end up doing weird things to the icon to get it work and it's just a big hassle that ticks you off and makes you depressed. Yeah, that happens to me a lot, especially with the styles that don't work with all icons, but with only a very few (I stress FEW) icons.