this tutorial is very image heavy.
in four easy steps.
as in my last tutorial i'm going to assume you know how to open your image, resize and crop as desired, so we're going to start with the base.
i. with the image cropped the way we want it, it's time to get started! my base is pretty dark, though, so we're going to brighten it up by using a brightness/contrast layer. (image)
we're going to move the brightness slider over until it reaches +75 (image)
your result should look like this:
much better, yes? :D in fact if my intentions weren't slightly different i might even leave it like this, because i think the natural warmth is beautiful.
ii. moving on, though. from here we're going to create a new layer (image or CTRL+Shift+N) and fill it with #170700 (image).
and now we set the layer to exclusion (image), and should get this result:
the exclusion layer lends it even more warmth and adds some cyan in the highlights.
iii. the coloring isn't quite what i'd like it to be, though, so we're going to create a color balance layer (image). i love these things, they're very useful (the second half of this tutorial will go more in depth into how to use this type of adjustment layer).
it should look like this:
in the shadows, we're going to move the first slider (cyan ... red) to the right until it reads +10. we'll do the same for the second slider (magenta ... green) until it reaches +15.
make sure to keep Preserve Luminosity checked!
the end result should look like this:
this is starting to look a lot more like what i wanted; there's more red in the shadows, and more green.
iv. the only problem now is that the icon is a little flat, so we're going to create a selective coloring layer (image).
it should look like this:
unfortunately selective coloring is only available in photoshop, but i use it in every icon i make, so. it's a great method of increasing the darks without blowing out the highlights.
in the reds we're going to increase the blacks by +10 (image). in the blacks we'll do the same thing except increase the blacks by +15 (image).
and now we have the final result! :D
if you don't have photoshop: you can receive a similar effect, for this case, by increasing the contrast of the icon (image and then image; assuming, of course, it looks the same in other programs), but you lose some of the fade and the blue I like. 8(
final notes: the exact steps in this tutorial were used for this particular icon. settings vary from one icon to another based upon the image's original coloring, so don't expect this to look exactly the same with another image! it likely won't haha. still, you should always feel free to experiment with the settings; play with the sliders, change the color of the exclusion layer, etc. it can be a lot of fun!
other examples of this coloring:
and the second half!
using color balance layers to your advantage.
i. we'll start again with the base image.
in this case it's pretty easy to tell from the beginning that the coloring in the original is not going to be easy to work with. overall the image is incredibly blue, with a lot of magenta in the shadows. which is why we have color balance layers! :D
ii. i tend first to always create my brightness/contrast layer before i edit the coloring, because i want to see what the image looks like brightened before i do anything else.
we already know what the layer adjustment panel should look like, so i'll just give you the settings:
which gives us this:
not quite as bad, haha. still, the whole thing is far too blue, and now the darks have washed out a bit, but we'll fix that at the end with the selective coloring layer. the highlights across his nose and the far side of his face look gorgeous.
iii. now it's time for the color balance layers. we're going to open the first one between the base and the brightness/contrast layer because it edits the color more quickly. however it also means we have to be very careful with the slider, because the brightness/contrast layer (which will from hereforth be called the BCL 'cause i'm too lazy to keep typing all that out haha) is very drastic and the color balance layer (ffff god, we'll be calling that the CBL) will otherwise be too heavy.
so the first step is going to be eliminating the blue. you'll notice one of the greatest things about CBL's is that everything is in terms of complimentary colors (although not the traditional ones you learn in art class, haha). what this means is that if you want to decrease the blue in an image you simple have to increase the yellow.
in the midtones, we're going to slide the yellow ... blue to the left until it reaches -20.
it's a little better, not quite so blindingly blue, but it can still use a lot of work. my immediate response would be to increase the reds, as that usually helps, but not so in this case haha (image, if you're curious; it's honestly not all that bad, but it adds to much magenta for my tastes so we won't be using it).
so what we're going to do instead is move to the shadows and play around in there. again we're going to add more yellow, so we'll move the yellow ... blue slider to -10. it helps a little, but can still be better.
it looks to me like there's a touch too much magenta, so we're going to move the magenta ... green slider to +5.
hmmmm. it's getting there, but it's a) a little flat and b) too green (zombie apocalypse anyone?). increasing the reds in the shadows will not only add contrast (increasing reds and blues in shadows both do this, actually), but it will add just enough red/magenta to even out the green without being overpowering. move the cyan ... red slider to +10.
definitely a lot better, but it can still use some work. it took me a while to figure out what was bothering me, during which i played with a whole ton of the sliders to no success (i make it sound easy, which is entirely because i'm typing this in retrospect haha, but sometimes pinpointing exactly which color is too heavy is hard to do), but eventually i realised that what was still bothering me was the amount of blue in the highlights. in the highlights i moved the yellow ... blue slider to -20 to increase the yellow, which brightens up the image and removes a lot of the zombie-apocalypse blue in the skin tones.
to make things easier:
shadows: +10 + 5 -10
midtones: 0 0 -20
highlights: 0 0 -20
iv. still, it's not quite there yet. however i don't want to fiddle around beneath the BCL any longer because it's too drastic, so we're going to open another CBL above the BCL. (...this would probably be easier if the acronyms weren't quite so similar. bah.)
looking at what we've got so far, the image is looking a lot better but it's still a little too heavy on the cool colors for my taste. in the midtones we'll move the yellow ... blue slider to -10.
now if you look closely you'll notice that while increasing the yellows warmed it up a bit, it also lowered the contrast. so what i'll do is up the reds. (still in the midtones, btw) i'll move the cyan ... red slider to +15.
there's a tiny bit too much magenta now, though, so i'm going to move the magenta ... green slider to +5.
the change is subtle, but it's there and it makes me happy, haha, so.
still, the image is a bit flat, so we're going to move to the shadows. i don't want to play with the reds, 'cause those are about where i'd like them to be. what we're going to do is increase the blues by moving the yellow ... blue slider to +10.
this has the additional surprising but pleasant effect of widening the breadth of color in the image. warm tones can be very nice, but complimentary cool tones can really make an image, especially in the shadows to give the image a more well-rounded appearance. still, the highlights are a tad too cool for my taste.
so, moving to the highlights we're going to move the yellow ... blue slider to -10.
much better! gets rid of that residual zombie glow and brightens up the image in a subtle but powerful manner. yay!
again, to make things easier:
shadows: 0 0 +10
midtones: +15 +5 -10
hightlights: 0 0 -10
from here you can follow steps ii - iv of the first half of the tutorial as desired (although they are altered slightly to fit this particular image, as i said above haha). :] the transition (from the original image) should look something like this:
→ → → →
again the steps used in this tutorial are not to be copied verbatim because they will vary from image to image. i just hope this was helpful. :] if it was confusing, please let me know!
(please leave any comments here, to make them more easily trackable.)