Meeps! (dark_soul_lost) wrote,
Meeps!
dark_soul_lost

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
Tags: downloads: tutorials
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