Dana (letsey_x) wrote in icon_crack,

Here are the answers to all your questions about my icons!
I've never written a tutorial before, I have a dutch version of Photoshop and my English is a bit rusty, so let's just remember I tried... :)

This post is waaaay longer than I intented it to be, so consider yourself warned.

General questions

So... what are your favorite fandoms for iconning? How long does it take you to make an icon?

My favorite fandom for iconning right now is Doctor Who, but I really enjoy iconning Btvs/Angel, Heroes, Smallville,  and Firefly as well. These shows look amazing and it shows the production spends a lot of effort in making it look great. The scenes have a lot of colour, and so the screencaps do too. 

It ususally doesn't take that long for me to make an icon ( 20 -30 minutes) unless I'm trying to get text on it, I usually spend a lot of time on that (only to give up in the end :D) . When I'm making an icon for a lims or a challenge, I spend some more time on it, and when I'm about to post a new icon post but just want a little more to post, it usually goes faster.
What takes a long time for me is getting enough good icons to make an icon post. I think what I post is about a third of what I actually make. For every pretty icon I make, I make 2 bland icons or icons with hideous colors. 

And what gets you inspired? Do you know beforehand exactly how and what you want it? fly_meaway
I get inspired the most by screencaps or photoshoots from my fandoms. My fandoms are mostly from television, and just watching some scenes inspires too: hearing some dialogue I could use, crying again with the end of Doomsday of Doctor Who...;) Other icon makers inspire me as well( I'll post some of them later) and I always have some music playing (all kinds of music) and sometimes when I'm working on an icon I hear the perfect lyrics to use...  

I rarely know what I'll end up with. When I try to make an icon I've already made in my head, I end up with something completly different. I do like to think on what I want on my icon, but not on how I want the icon to look.

Did you learn to use photoshop (or psp) by yourself? Or did you take classes and other such things? iulieki
I learned to use photoshop by myself, yes. I learned the basics from tutorials a couple years ago and just started experimenting a lot.
Last year, I had a Photography class, where we had to learn Photoshop, but it was really minimalistic. One of the questions on the exam was " Put some red text on this photo"...  

Light/Glowing icons
Okay, the first thing I want to say is that the answers to the questions about coloring and those about glowing icons are sort of the same. I almost always start each icon with duplicating my base, putting a blob of beige color on a new layer and putting the duplicate base (of which I changed the colours with curves)on top of that layer, on soft light. It's those things that I'll be explaining.

I'd love to know how you get that light/glowing look to your icons.  sadiebabi
The short answer? I just make a light blob where I want light and put a duplicate of the base on soft light on top of it.

1. base 
2. light blobs(smudged with this tool: )(don't know the name of it in English ))
(on a black background they look like this: )
3. duplicate of base on soft light 

The light blobs are the difference between  and 

Long answer :
Step 1
 this is the base. On a layer above I made a blob with a beige-isch color. (with this tool )
( A color from inside the white circles, it depends on how dark/yellow your base is, just make sure you can see the blob)

Here I smudged the blob so I got a blurred line.

Step 2
Put the duplicated base(without the blob) on top of the blob layer and put in on soft light. Then go Image->Adjustements-> curves. I usually make that layer really light.
 (duplicate base with adjusted cruves)on soft light =
That way the blurred line gets a little more integrated with the colors.

Step 3
My next step is always a new adjustement layer with curves, I mostly just make each color a little more vivid.
 just slide the curve a little to the left and the top.
Because I just want the sky a little more vivid in this icon, I masked the rest of the adjustment layer away.
With this icon I also put a texture of orchidee on soft light on top of it.
The masks look like this :
which results in  and  .

Sometimes I add another smudged line on top of all that, for an extra shiny effect.
without blob:, with blob: , with another smudged line:
without blob:, with blob: , with another smudged line:

I'd love to know how you get your icons to glow like in 28 of your newest post. thecullenforce

 I masked her out of the screencap first, duplicated that layer and deleted the mask from the layer on the bottom. Then I smudged that layer, to this: 
 The glow behind her head is actually her head smudged.This is the now the base.
 Blob of light, next to her head so that the face is in the light as well.
It takes some practicing, but try to make all of the blob equally light by smudging it a little, like this.
 duplicated base on soft light, adjusted with curves
 new adjustment layer with curves, a little lighter and more red&blue
 on a new layer, make a beige-ish box
 and smudge that box so that you get a bit of a smoky effect
 the same with a box on the left side of the icon. Ctrl + E makes the top layer a merge of al your layer

 filter -> sharpen
 edit -> fade scharpen , until you're satisfied.

And I would love to know how you got the subtle lighting effect of this or this icon and others like them - whenever I try that kind of thing it's way too bright :| and the great trippy smokey effect of this  schmiss
Sometimes it's way too bright for me,too. What you can do is take a darker shade of beige for your blob, or make the blob more transparant , or mask some of the blob away where you think it's too bright.
For your first example, I also put a couple layers filled with beige on multiply. 

as for the smokey effect, it's a combination of extra smudged lines(see above), (you can clearly see it next to Claude's ear, but it's also on Bennet's chest and on top of the icon) , a grungy texture (like the ones from peoplemachines) and the smudging of Bennet's head( with a small brushsize, so I don't completely smudge his head away).

I wanna know more of your coloring, on icons like +   anno_superstar
I must know how you made the coloring on icons like so pretty. likegunfire

I really have only two ways of coloring my icons.
The first one is not much more than what I've been explaining above, just a blob (really visible in the Claire icon, where the top of the icon is one big blob) and the base on soft light. I always adjust that duplicated base with curves, though. When a screencap is dark, I set the RGB curves a lot to the left, and when I want a color to be more vivid (which I have a lot with green... blue skies + green duplicate base on soft light = pretty!) I'll make that curve go more to the left as well.

On top of that I usually put a new adjustment layer for curves, to subtly make some more colors vivid.

You can also make a new adjustment layer just for the sky / faces / clothes , and mask away what you don't want. 
The Claire icon and second Smallville icon were made this way.

The second way of coloring is just to cut the subject out of the screencap and put in on a colorful background. I do this a lot for icons with skies in them : when you have a light blue sky and you put your duplicate on soft light, it usually becomes white. So I cut the sky out of the screencap and put that screencap on a darker blue background.

This is the screencap for the Lex icon, there's less blue in the sky than I'd like. I also want the flowers to be yellow and the sky blue but not Lex. 
 +  +  +  =  
I always cut the subject out from the screencap and crop after that.  I changed the colors just a bit with curves ( flowers yellow). This is now my base.
   Light blob, duplicate base on soft light
 I use this texture by Orchidee a lot (it's cropped from a bigger texture), because it has different shades of light in it which gives a nice effect.
 that texture on soft light gives this, but now Lex looks way too green
 so I masked the texture where I didn't want it
 This is also a texture I frequently use (
exposed ) , always on multiply but never in full capacity. ( I use curves to make it a little lighter as well, and depending on the icon usually a little greener)
 See how little is left of the texture? It made the sky a little darker and the light blob a little more subtle, but I masked the rest away. 

It's a pretty easy icon/coloring , there's only 8 layers :

same technique with another example :
 I took her out of the screencap, when you're working with flowy hair you could just mask the screencap away, it looks better than when you try to cut her out of it.
 A blue layer underneath it, not with a blob but I masked away some of the blue layer, showing the white background on the bottom (this is the base now)
 new adjustment layer, more green
 duplicated base adjusted with curves to make it more red on soft light= 
 the masked-out cassie on soft light to make her hair more visible (the rest of the layer masked away) , and a navy blue blob on her face on soft light 
 another new adjustment layer with curves
 and some tweaking with the levels and some sharpening.

I've always wondered how you get this really soft coloring, but still an abstract look to your icons. For example, this icon: eatwe
The abstractness is mostly due to the texture from  elli. Because I mask part of the texture away, some parts look abstract while others don't. I like to color and scharpen bits and pieces of the icon instead of the whole icon at once. That way I don't have to be frustrated because the sky is looking really pretty while someone's face is way too green.

I also think you do text really really well and wondered what fonts you use cuz I always seem to strugle with text personally! The ones in your latest post are a great example of what i mean. misstress_tink

Most of my favorite fonts are just the standard ones, but here are my most frequently used fonts :






aaaand.... This is the end of this MASSIVE post. I am completely dead, and I have gained LOTS of respects for everyone who has ever made a tutorial that actually made sense. 
Let me know what you think of this post, did it help you? is this the worst and longest post you've ever seen?

If you have questions about something, ask me! If you did see some interesting things and decide to experiment with them, comment with your experiments!

Tags: motm entries
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