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01 August 2010 @ 11:51 pm
♥icon tutorial:light waves.  
I'm going to be a senior tomorrow ♥, too busy lately to make icons, but somehow I slacked off for three hours to write this up. OOOO! WE HAVE A NEW LAYOUT♥ I kinda like how the post options are on the side now.
making this icon: from this image.
written with Photoshop CS5, should be translatable to any photoshop with photo filters and curves.
difficulty: as difficult as you make it, I tried to be as through as possible for beginners, I wonder how well I accomplished that.
Done for teachelite a community dedicated to helping icon makers improve.
Well, apparently, I was supposed to make a tut for anything other than coloring and texturing, which really didn't leave me with that many options(also because I thought it would be a horror to write a tutorial too complex). I already did blending, image duplication…all that fun stuff. So lets try something slightly different, something rarely even use on icons, but I once did on large pieces… Once I saw the image I was assigned, I thought the effect would fit.
Here's two examples of the effect on larger pieces: click me and maybe also me! if you are bored. from way back...more than three years ago.

step one.
open a canvas. File>New(Ctrl+N) and enter in 100px for both height and width, unless you want one of those irregular icons, nothing against that. But I wasn't feeling irregular today, so I went with the "normal" 100x100 box.

step two.
crop position your image. Well, I am a firm supporter of dragging your image onto the icon canvas instead of using the crop tool because you can always move the image around if you aren't satisfied with the crop. Before moving the image, I also duplicated the image layer(Layer>Duplicate Layer) as "security" in case I resize, and if you didn't already know, shrinking an image and then changing your mind later one that the image is way too tiny...then trying to remedy it by dragging out the corners in an attempt to make the image bigger will give you a pixelated, low quality(aka disgusting) image.
Resizing from a big to small is ALWAYS better than from small to big as shown below:

Well, for this image, the image wasn't good quality anyway, and her facial features weren't defined enough even for a medium crop, and much more unsuitable for a close crop(too bad, I would have liked to focus on her lovely makeup). The image was a good size, too bad most of it was the background. So what I was left with was a far crop, which I intended to do also because I am have an obsession with negative space(negative space isn't blank space, it helps define your focus point). I did like the background, it has a nice smooth snowy texture to it, so I duplicated the original image and moved the picture(using the transform tool which is the black arrow cursor with the pointed crosshair, press V if you are a shortcut person) around to give a nice background for my image.

the background for my icon(taken from the background of the original image, it's kinda like "recycling" because it saves me the energy of finding another background that would match)

and then my main focus, the girl, because however shiny the background is, doesn't seem very intriguing to the eye.
duplicate the original image, drag the of her to layer on top, and shrink the girl into a troll, or gyspy, or tinkerbell...however you like to think of it with the transform tool again.

my layers so far:

step three.
I don't know about you, but the shrunken girl's background is clashing with the shiny dusty background I had for my background(bg) layer. So my solution is to erase the clashing background! Get the polygonal select tool( and roughly outline the subject like I did below:

Apply a slight feather on the selection(Select>Modify>Feather>Feather Radius:5)

Then apply a layer mask, I LOVE layer masks, unlike just erasing they allow you to instantly bring back parts you erased without completely undo-ing your previous action.
We would like to see what we've selected(the girl) so pick Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.

My icon so far looks like this:

step four.
adding motion!
Okay, the background's dust gives off a dirty feeling rather than a fantasy feel I wanted to attain. I would like to give some vertical motion to my focus. I decide to go with a slight motion blur on my background layer. Select your background layer then apply motion blur, I went with the settings below, but it really depends on what forward/backward motion you want to give your subject.

step five.
coloring. The image as it is seems too pale for what I have in mind, I want something more intense, icier, more blue(because it's my favorite color). As a quick fix, I opt for a photo filter(Image>Adjustments>Photo Filter) or you can also click that yin/yang icon on the bottom of your layers palette:

my settings:

to add more contrast, I also add a Curves(Image>Adjustment>Curves/Ctrl+M) layer for contrast, it's pretty much trial and error from here(well, not completely..but I generally know what I'm doing from experience):
my settings:
I modified the RGB curves to add contrast:

if you are the type of people who NEED absolute figures(dam, you need to be more flexible!)
my RGB points: (Output:33, Input:96),(Output:192, Input:181)

my RED point: (Output:87, Input:82) -to give the girl back some of her skin's reds so she doesn't look like she has frostbite.
My BLUE point: (Output:56, Input:107) -to decrease the blue levels
I left green alone. not a fan of greens.

So far I have this:

step six.
fixing my contrast explosion with...a texture!
okay, I overdid it with the contrast, but no worries, we're going to fix it with a light airy texture which I am going to take from her dress:
I duplicated the original image I dragged it to her dress so I have the velvet texture, and dragged down the layer right under our Curves layer from the last step.

We aren't going to have a dress for our icon, so lets set our dress on Screen blend mode!
I don't want all of that texture since its lightening up the girl's face too much, so I add a layer mask like we did in step three but instead of Reveal Selection, select Reveal All instead since we did even select anything this time around.

See the layer mask icon next to my dress layer?
We are going to erase the parts of the dress that are lightening up the face and some on the right corner since its lighting is shifting some of my focus from the girl to the blank corner. I take a soft 68px 0% hardness circle brush set on 26% opacity and erase away~(make sure your foreground color is black)

After erasing, here's what I have, the gray blots on the layer mask tell me where I have erased, which is generally in the middle where the girl's face is and in the corner as I mentioned earlier was being distracting.

step seven.
finally all the prep work is done. Now for the light waves. I just use the shape tool to draw two pen shapes.

it's kinda like I slashed my icon:

Because photoshop won't let us filter vector shapes, let us rasterize our shapes, hold down Ctrl and select both shape layers.

They should be highlighted like the image above.
Then merge the two layers(Layer>Merge Layers/Ctrl+E)

you should end up with only one rasterized shape layer as shown above.

step eight.
time to twist the shape. I tend to use shear(Filter>Distort>Shear).

then I blur it slightly(Filter>blur>blur more), its really up to you what you do at this point, I like to make it random by using wave(Filter>Distort>Wave) will using my Transform tool. Just play around until it looks like a ribbon?
After playing around with it, I finally settle for this:

step nine.
so it still looks like some glow snake on a girl, which doesn't really do much, actually, it probably does more harm than good since its a distraction.
To make it fit into the icon, I go for a layer mask again as we did in step six, and erase parts of the "ribbon" that I dislike. What I am trying to aim for is trying to get the glow to wrap around the girl. I don't mean to be ambiguous, but at this point it's all up to doing what feels right.

^just showing the layer mask, you can see that I've erased bits of the "ribbon" to give the illusion that it is wrapping around her.

step ten.
my subject at the light wave still doesn't look too integrated, and it still lacks a bit of motion.
I use the smudge tool to blend in the two:

be sure to make a new layer before you use your smudge tool(Layer>New>Layer...)
While smudging, I tried to follow the "motion" my light wave was going, as I've show in red:



and without the smudging:

for the people who really don't care for reading and just want to take the psd and run:
download psd.(because more power to you if you can learn with a psd, I thank you for scrolling all the way down here though, I just put the link way down here because I kinda wanted to show off all my hard work, XP)
yeah, finally...YOU ARE DONE! If you are still not at the icon you like, don't let me stop you from modifying your icon further~
if you have any uncertain areas where I've been too vague, feel free to leave me a comment, or better yet, look in a photoshop manual!
whom the gods love dies young.vowel on August 2nd, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
/faints from overly-amazingness and amount of work you put into that icon
a lost teddybear.: SHINee-Key LOLx3midnitexsonata on August 2nd, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
*takes the opportunity to mug you* XD
well, thank you ♥.
*is getting full of herself from the praise*

on the topic of amazing, YOU ARE AMAZING. with your coloring, cropping...pixel text usage *explodes*