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Textures/Brushes Guide

red_fullmoon requested a "how to use textures" guide and I have to say...it took me quite a while to write this. I had absolutely no idea how to go about it. There are already some very good guides out there and subsequently not everything included in this guide has never been explained before. But I hope that there are some bits in here that you guys will find helpful nonetheless.



PART 1 - BACKGROUNDS//NEGATIVE SPACE
PART 2 - TEXTURES
PART 3 - LIGHT EFFECTS WITH BRUSHES
PART 4 - FUN
PART 5 - LINKS

I included two different .psd files for almost every icon featured in this guide:
1 - a .psd that includes only the layers used in the example
2 - a complete .psd with all the layers, including the coloring
Please use these as inspiration only. Don't copy my icons. If you're looking for a texture or one of the original images I used please just ask. I'll do what I can to make what you need available.
PSP users: Feel free to request step-by-step tutorials for any icons you want! I know the .psd files are pretty much useless for you. Sorry!

Image Heavy! This is more show than tell, so please be aware that there are quite a lot of 100x100 images behind the cut!

Please direct all questions and comments to this post @ distractiions ! Thank you :)



The last image is always the finished icon.

PART 1 - BACKGROUNDS//NEGATIVE SPACE
I included this part because when I looked at the examples I chose, I realized that most kinds of textures work best if your image has an empty background. If you use textures on icons that already have a lot going on in the background, the icon often tends to look a bit cluttered. In the following, I'll describe briefly four different techniques that explain how you can get rid of the things in the background and create a nice and even one.

Example #01
I am a lazy person by nature, so I tend to choose caps that already have a nice clean/empty background (at least around the subject). For example, in this cap (from homeofthenutty ). There's just a white wall behind Jenny. No furniture. Nothing. That's good. For caps like this one I like to use the smudge tool.

>> >> >>

I used the smudge tool (using a soft brush) to smudge the white background around Jenny's shoulder (#2). Then I just kept smudging the background to the sides and upward to cover the rest of the canvas (#3).

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #02
I swear, I don't know why I felt the urge to remove the entire background of this cap (made by me). It's a boring thing to do, takes forever and makes my fingers hurt.

>> >> >>

I removed the background from the original sized cap since there's no way I could do it properly on the tiny icon-sized image.
I added a layer mask to the cap and then used this brush (made by inxsomniax ) at about 20px to draw around Jack. 30 minutes later: voila, all the green is gone.
You don't have to be too accurate when you're removing the background of an image as big as the cap I used. The image will lose a lot of details in the resizing process anyway. Here I resized the cap to about 10% of it's original size.
I put a texture behind Jack and added my coloring.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #03
Instead of covering the background of your image with a layer mask, you can just as well cover your entire image with a texture and then use a layer mask on that texture to make some parts of your image visible again.

>> >> >>

The green texture here is a 100x100 crop from the background of the original image. I used the Gaussian blur filter to blur it. Then I added it above the image of Katie and used a layer mask to erase those parts of the green texture that covered her.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #04
Another way to get an even background is to simply paint over the parts that you want removed. Using this cap (from homeofthenutty ).

>> >> >>

I started by smudging the background upward, just as I did in the first example. The I simply created a new layer above the base and painted (with a color I chose from the background of the cap) over the parts I wanted removed (i.e., the lamp on the right-hand side of the background). If you take a close look you can actually see that I missed a tiny spot above Serena's eyelashes.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Now that we have a nice and even background, we can get started with the textures.





PART 2 - TEXTURES

- Adding A Background
- Coloring With Textures
- Effects And Decoration
- Adding Texture
- Extra


ADDING A BACKGROUND
Not every icon with a lot of negative space needs a texture in the background. Negative (or empty) space can look pretty cool just as it is, too. But since this is a texture guide, there will be no negative space here.

Example #05
Let's start with a really simple example, using a texture made by tragic_icons .

>> >> >>

I set the blend mode of the texture to darken (multiply or linear burn work just as well, with only slightly different results depending on your image and the texture you're using). I erased the parts covering Blair with a layer mask and finished my coloring.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #06
Same as before, just with a different kind of texture. As I said, I was trying to go for lots of examples and less talking ;)

>> >> >>



I set the blend mode of the texture to soft light. Setting it to darken or multiply would have made it looked too massive above Serena's head.
The texture I used was made by dearest .

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #07
This is an example for an icon that has a very dark background.

>> >> >>

Same technique as before (bored yet?). The textures I used in the other examples wouldn't work on this one, at least not at the same blend modes. The easiest thing to do with a dark icon like this one is using a texture that has some color and also dark parts in it. Setting it to screen will make the dark parts disappear and only the colorful parts will remain visible. The texture was made by blimey_icons .

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #08
If you remove the background around a person you can simply add a texture by putting it underneath the image (see example #02). This image looks like I removed the background around Laura. But I didn't. The background of this image is solid white... but that's not really a problem.

>> >> >>

I added a texture (made by me, never posted) and set the blend mode to linear burn. I erased the parts covering Laura with a layer mask. Setting the blend mode to linear burn will achieve the same effect as leaving it at normal would have on the white background. But setting it to linear burn is a lot easier when it comes to Laura. You won't have to erase every part of the texture that covers her, you'll only have to remove that parts that actually bother you (you'll see what I mean if you download the .psd and deactivate the layer mask).

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


COLORING WITH TEXTURES
Colorful textures are a great way to get some color in your icons. The great thing is that you (depending on the texture you are using) get more than just one color in a single step. This can create some nice effects on your icons and change the mood of an icon completely.

Example #09
In this example you can see pretty good how the texture makes the colors you already have in your icon look more vibrant... and how the texture adds texture to the background of the icon. There's a surprise...

>> >> >>

Again, a rather simple first example. Using a texture made by ohfreckle set to overlay at 80%. I used a layer mask to erase some parts covering Lucy.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #10
You can find the whole tutorial for this icon a little further down.

>> >> >>

Here I added the same texture (made by _iconographer ) twice. First I set it to soft light and the second time to screen, both at 100%. I used layer masks on both. On the soft light layer I erased everything covering Jensen. On the screen layer I only erased parts (see .psd file for details).

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #11
Again, adding color. Something one probably could have achieved with a simple red fill layer just as well... but using textures is so much more fun, right?

>> >> >>

Here I set the texture (made by me) to soft light at 62%.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #12
And... again.

>> >> >>

Again, using a colorful texture set to soft light. I actually used two different textures in this icon (both made by ohfreckle , slightly smudged), but I ended up covering most of the first one with a layer mask. You can find it in the .psd file if you're interested.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete



PART 3 - EFFECTS AND DECORATION
These are fun. But just as with the backgrounds... try not to overdo it. Not every icon needs a little decorative touch. But it's still fun to experiment with these kinds of textures.

Example #13

>> >> >>

Another easy example. I simply added a texture (made by tihana ), moved it to the left and set it to screen.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #14

>> >> >>

Technically the exact same thing. This time I set the texture (made by dearest ) to multiply. In hindsight I think I should have erased the parts covering Kristen with a layer mask...

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #15

>> >> >>

Again, a texture (made by lovelamp ) set to screen, some parts erased with a layer mask. There's nothing new here, just giving you yet another example.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #16

>> >> >>

Those are actually two different textures (1 2, both made by me), I set them both to lighten at 100%.
You'll notice that in the finished icon the textures don't stand out as much as in image #3 here. I added a copy of the base on top of the textures and set it to soft light and lowered the opacity. Doing that will enhance the contrasts of your icon and hence make the darker parts darker. Please see the .psd file for details!

.psd files
- layers only
- complete



PART 4 - ADDING TEXTURE
I know this comes as a shock. Adding texture with textures... who'd thought? Here we play with the kinds of textures that are commonly known as grunge textures. Or scratch textures. Or grid textures. Or whatever you want to call them.

Example #17

>> >> >>

The first example is a really easy one. I just added a scratchy texture (made by sevenstates ) and set the blend mode to screen.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #18

>> >> >>

Here I added a grid-like texture (my own, never posted). You can see that I smudged it where Dean's face is because the grid on his face looked just not pretty. I set the texture to multiply at 100%.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #19

>> >> >>

Another example, this time using a grungy/grainy texture set to multiply at 65%. As you can see, these kinds of textures tend to make your icon darker and they kind of mute the colors. Of course you can fix that later on... but sometimes it may create just the moody kind of coloring you want to achieve.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #20

>> >> >>

Here I set the texture (made by lovelamp ) to screen again and covered the parts I wanted removed with a layer mask.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


PART 5 - EXTRA
These two were requested but too complex to include in this guide (click to download the .psd files):








PART 3 - LIGHT EFFECTS WITH BRUSHES
This part was the hardest to do, because you have just so so many options when you're using brushes to play with the light and the shadows in an icon. So it was difficult to pick examples, but I think I found some that show a bit of everything I've used them for so far.

I usually mix my light and shadow layers (I hope the following examples will show you what I mean by that) with my adjustment layers and what else I use for the coloring. I tried to simplify things for this guide as much as possible. If you would like me to explain anything in detail, please just comment. You can always look at the .psd files, too... provided you're using Photoshop. If you're using another program just tell me what you want to know and I'll see what I can do.

I only started to try and change or enhance the light and shadows of images recently. Mostly inspired by the great use of light effects by icon makers like neversleeps and others.

Please note: I always use brushes on transparent layers. I only made the backgrounds black here so that you can actually see the white brush on the white background.


Example #21

>> >> >>

Light blob of doom. I know, bad memories. I set the layer to soft light as I do with almost all the light/shadow brush layers to get only a very subtle light on Lyla's face.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #22

>> >> >>

As you can see, I just used a soft brush to paint over the white parts of the icon. I set the blend mode of that first layer to linear burn (in order to make Jensen's face visible again). With the second layer (set to screen) I added a small light effect near his mouth.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #23

>> >> >>

The change in the lighting and the shadows in this icon is really subtle. If you squint you might see that I added just a tiny bit of light (using a white brush and setting the layer to soft light) on her shoulder and some parts of her face. Then I tried to enhanced the shadows (using a black brush on a new layer, setting the blend mode to soft light) that were already in the image.
I blurred both layers using the Gaussian blur filter.

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #24

>> >> >>

I used a lot of layers for this one. I merged the white layers and the black layers down to just one layer each for the purpose of this. It shows you where I added light (using a white brush, set to soft light) and shadows (using a black brush, set to soft light).

.psd files
- layers only
- complete


Example #25
I thought I should include a step by step mini tutorial for the kind of light effects I've been using on most of the icons in my last batch. Since I tend to end up with 20 layers or more for some icons, I decided to pick a rather simple example... in order to keep this short. However, if you want to see more examples, I uploaded some other .psd files of icons in which I used the same technique.


This is my base.

>> >>
I used a soft brush to paint over the bright parts of the image. Then I blurred that layer using the Gaussian blur filter and set it to soft light.

>> >>
I did the same thing with a black brush, only that I painted over the shadows this time.

>>
I added a few tiny more light spots (in white), blurred the layer and set the blend mode to screen this time and lowered the opacity.


Same thing I did in these icons (click to download the .psd files):







PART 4 - FUN

1. Layer Masks: I think we have established by now that layer masks can be a lot of fun. Here's another example of how much fun they are exactly:

to

Using no other textures, just layer masks and that same background texture again and again and again and then one more time.


>> >>

I started out with this blue texture (made by iamellie ). I changed the color (image >> adjustments >> replace color) and added Ruby (I cut out Ruby using the same technique as in example #2).

>> >> >>

>> >> >>

Then I just added the texture again (I brightened it, probably using a curves adjustment layer) and used some of the ink brushes from this post at varying opacity to cover most of the texture with a layer mask. I repeated the process three times.

>> >> >>

Then I added some lights and shadows (using the layer mask form the last texture... don't ask me why) and tweaked the coloring a bit... and that was it.


.psd file
- complete



2. Filling Space
When your image is too small to fill a 100x100 canvas you can always just use a texture to fill the space... but you can also try to make your own texture on the icon. This has two parts, just because it is so much fun and there are so many possibilities.

2.1
to

Using textures, gradients and brushes.


>> >> >>

I started with a green gradient and added my image. Then I added a brush in order to create a soft border between the image and the background. I added a black and white gradient and set it to soft light (I did this in order to give the image and the background the same kind of lighting).

>> >> >>

I added a texture (made by ewanism ) twice. The first time I set it to linear burn at 24% and the second time to multiply at 24%.

>> >> >>

I added another texture (made by ohfreckle ) and set it to screen. I used a layer mask to cover the parts I wanted removed. I added another texture (made by me) and added a gray layer mask and set the blend mode to soft light. I duplicated the texture and lowered the opacity of the new layer to 20% (this part doesn't make a lot of sense) to get a warmer coloring on both, the image and the background.

>>

I added a new layer and used a brush (black) to add some shadows. I set the layer to soft light at 20%.

.psd files
- complete


2.2
to


>> >> >>

I started with a texture made by lovelamp . I moved it all the way to one side, duplicated it and moved that it over to the other side. I enhanced the contrasts using a curves adjustment layer and a brightness/contrast adjustment layer.
The I added a texture made by _iconographer and set the blend mode to screen.

>> >> >>

I added the image of Jensen and a little blue box at the bottom. Then I added another texture (also made by _iconographer ) and set it to soft light. I covered some parts of the texture with a layer mask.

>> >> >>

I added the same texture again and set the blend mode to screen this time. Again I covered some parts using a layer mask. Then I added a new transparent layer and added some light with a soft brush. I set the layer to soft light.

>> >> >>

I added a new transparent layer and used a black brush to add a border. I set the layer to soft light. I added yet another transparent layer and added another border. This time I set the layer to hard light at 80%.

>> >> >>

I added another texture (made by ohfreckle ) and set it to screen and covered some parts with a layer mask. The I added another border using a black brush. Just like before I set it to hard light at 80%.

.psd files
- complete



3. Reusing the base image
There are so many textures out there that you usually shouldn't have a problem to find the right one for the icon you're working on.... but sometimes nothing seems to work... so why not just use what you have?

to


>> >> >>

>> >> >>

I started out by adding some light effects. I used a soft brush and blurred the layers using the Gaussian blur filter. I set the blend mode of these layers to normal and lowered the opacity to about 40%. Then I added my coloring.

>>

Then I added a new layer and added a border using a black brush (setting the layer to soft light).

>> >> >>

I went back to the layer without the added border. Flipped it upside down and smudged out Vala at the top. I added a new layer and used a soft brush to add some light at the bottom and the top. I set the layer to soft light. Then I shrunk the layer with the border to 75x75.

>> >> >>

I added two new layers and added some light effects. I set the first one to normal and lowered the opacity. I set the second one to soft light at 53%.

.psd files
- complete






PART 5 - LINKS

Other helpful guides:
- Textures Guide by neversince
- Textures Guide by ohfreckle
- Creating Space Guide: Part 1, Part 2 by rainyrainydays
- Using Negative Space by thewonderlife





Please let me know if you have any questions, if I messed something up or if any images/links don't work! (My server has been acting up a bit lately, so I hope everything looks the way it's supposed to...)

Comments are really appreciated.
Credit for the .psd files is not necessary.

Comments

( 54 ideas — Have an idea? )
Page 1 of 3
<<[1] [2] [3] >>
princesaskater
Sep. 25th, 2008 10:21 am (UTC)
wow amazing tutorials! absolutely mem!thanks for your big work in this post and for share with us! ♥
miss_atom
Sep. 25th, 2008 10:52 am (UTC)
this is an incredible tutorial. ♥
sophierochelle
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)
I love you for making this post (:
It is amazing and I am sure it will help me so much.
Adding to mems.
saracakes
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)

awesome!!!!!
deffo meming (: ♥
hughsbeautiful
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
OMG this is amazing!
Can't wait to get out of work and try it out :)
eillinora
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:34 am (UTC)
wow, this looks amazing :) I'm memming this and will try out later!
princess_narnia
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:38 am (UTC)
This is incredible! I have been meaning to read up on this whole "negative space" thing and how I can get rid of backgrounds in caps and your tutorial was a treat.

Mem'ing this and I'm definitely going to try and adopt these techniques to improve my iconnong.

Thank you so much. ♥
worship_elle
Sep. 25th, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is such a great guide thank you I really appreciatie it
only_jate
Sep. 25th, 2008 12:54 pm (UTC)
wow amazing tutorials! absolutely mem!thanks for your big work
picketsigns
Sep. 25th, 2008 01:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Memming!
I've been looking for something like this! I've been dying to know the secrets of textures :]
THANKSTHANKS
t_elosx
Sep. 25th, 2008 01:14 pm (UTC)
OMG! this is completely awesome!!! thanks a lot for writing this!♥
ijustgotlost
Sep. 25th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
wow. you're amazing. thanks so much!
daffydilly121
Sep. 25th, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC)
thanks for the guide
i didn't know you can do that with textures :D
ssg_gsr
Sep. 25th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
wow those are all amazing tutorials, can't wait to try a few out :D

Thanks so much for sharing :)
sandii_x
Sep. 25th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
Memming ♥
fantasia0829
Sep. 25th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
Thanx for sharing the tips! :DDD
fabiola91
Sep. 25th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
WOW! I will defintitely mem this post ♥
It's amazing and we appreciate the time and effort you put into this.
It's really helpful.
misery_passion
Sep. 25th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
thank you so much for this
vickileekx
Sep. 25th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Wow! I've always loved your icons, thank you so much for sharing these <3
foryourwit
Sep. 25th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, this is totally amazing.
Definitely memming, thanks for sharing! ♥
moonymoo
Sep. 25th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
incredible tut! :D
Really useful! I'll be coming back pretty often to check it out over and over again ^v^ Thanks!
lovingthecubs
Sep. 25th, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
So. Much. Awesomeness! :D
Thanks for doing this!
sweetandsombre
Sep. 25th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
This is so great, I've always been good at creating negative space, but always struggled a bit with texture usage; so this is just what I needed!

Thank you so much for posting it ♥
unellentitled
Sep. 25th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
this is actually going to be my bible from now on. thank you so much ♥
yutopi
Sep. 25th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
thanks for sharing this! *__*
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