from this : to this:
For this tutorial I used Serif's PhotoPlus 6.0 but it will probably work for any program that uses multiple layers and layer properties.
About this tutorial: You will also need to know where your "Gamma" or "3 channel Blue/Green/Red gamma" levels dialog is as I only explain it for PhotoPlus 6.0. Also I do not name colors using HTML because I don't create them that way in this program, sorry. The names are my impressions of the colors. If you really need to see the color I can post in a "swatch" by request.
The image is a promotional still of Chloe Sullivan from Smallville.
Photoplus 6.0 Coloring - Icon Tutorial:
The original image is softly lit and pretty colorful. See it full size here: original image (credit on tag).
Here is the base cropped and resized.
1) Duplicate your base 2 times.
Top layer: Flood Fill with light blue/clear sunny sky blue then set the filled layer top layer to "Burn" and lower the opacity to 50% or under. You want the shadows and dark parts of the image to look dark blue colored but we don't want it to overpower the skin tones or lighter parts of the image.
2) Set second layer to "Screen" and reduce opacity to something under 30%. This adds a little bit of brightness under the blue burn layer.
Chloe Knows How the Blues Burn
3.) Merge all layers.
4.) Duplicate new base 4 times.
5.) Hide the top 3 layers . On layer 4 (the one above the base) Flood Fill > Pale Peachy Orange/Orange Ice Cream/Light Orange. Set this layer to
"Lightness" or whatever your program calls it. It should look like this.
What the lightness layer looks like or "What the Heck"?
6. Show the above 2 layers while keeping the very top layer hidden. Set layer 3 to "Overlay" at 100 %, and set layer 2 to "Overlay" at under 40-60% so the light doesn't look too harsh. (The reason we need to layers follows). It should look something like this>>
In my taste this is way to orange for a Chloe's skin tone. It looks to me like she has a bad spray on tan. So I want to add a little bit of blue to balance the orange tone in the image. (Sometimes, you may like your icon the way it is now and can call it finished and go to step #11.)
Oh, No! Chloe Has a Bad Spray on Tan,
7) Select layer 2 (the "Overlay" layer that is set to 50% or less opacity). Go to Image> Adjust> Gamma (or whatever your program calls "3
channel adjustment" this dialog should contain your Blue, Green, Red channel level bars).
Higher your Blue levels until you can see the person's skin look less orange and more pinkish. If you think red or green levels are too high or low in your icon,
adjust them according to what you think looks most natural or pretty.
8.) Select the top layer and show it. Turn this into a "Screen" layer with the opacity and about 30-50%. This layer will increase the brightness
and soften the colors. If you want the colors pale - like the finished example 50% is probably a good opacity.
9.) Go to the 4th layer (Lightness) and lower the opacity by 3-15 % until it's around 90 or 85 percent (depending on how harsh you want the edges and how dark you want the shadows).
10) Merge all layers.
11.) Sharpen your image either by selection (eyes and mouth) or by sharpening the entire image. (To sharpen in this program go to Image>Edit>Other>Sharpen)
12.) Pat yourself on the back, you made a Chloe icon! Isn't she cute? Pete certainly thinks so (Pete here, was made with the same steps).
If you try this please note, this technique will not work on very dark or very shadowy images like this example of Lex & the spaceship here. If you get this result you didn't do anything wrong, the picture was just too dark.
Here is an example of it not working on a very dark picture.
Yes, Lex is a Bad Example But I Like Him
Questions or comments are welcome!