nodazzle (nodazzle) wrote in icon_tutorial,
nodazzle
nodazzle
icon_tutorial

negative space tutorial

I've created a tutorial on how I create negative space. I've picked three examples: one with a blank background, one with vertical lines and one with a more complicated background. This isn't so much a tutorial on coloring - though I have the PSD for 2 of the icons and that will include the coloring layers.

Let's make...
 

First a word (or two) on cap selection...

If you want to create negative space, there are multiple ways to go about it:

One is to use the select tool and trace around the edge of your image, cut it out and paste it onto a plain or alternate background. I've done it... I hate it... it can take a long time if you're a perfectionist (raises hand) and it's hard to get the edges right - especially if there's hair or fine details to deal with.

If the background is SUPER plain, maybe you just need to drop your cropped picture onto a matching plain background and smudge or erase the edges of the picture so it blends nicely (note: lightening an already light background or darkening and already dark background makes this method easy).

As we will in these tutorials, you can stretch, smudge or cut and paste the existing background. You can make that job a lot easier by picking a cap that does some of the work for you.

Tips:
- Look for space between the edge of your subject and the edge of the pic.
- Look for plain backgrounds that you can either stretch or match in color.
- Look for vertical lines that can easily be stretched.
- Look for repetitive backgrounds that you can copy and paste.

K... onto it then.


#1 Office - Captain Awesome
The cap for this looks like this and comes from [info]office_caps. To make negative space on this one is pretty easy because he's against a pretty plain background.
Step 1 - Crop your image; you can see how I cropped mine here (select the shaded area).
Step 2 - Paste the cropped image onto a square canvas.
Step 3 - Select juuuust a tiny sliver at the top of the image (see the shaded area in this example).
Step 4 - With the sliver selected, hit ctrl-t (or go to edit/free transform); click on one of the anchors along the top and drag upwards until the canvas is full (example here). 
**Note: Stretch the image just enough to fill the canvas... if you stretch it more, then it may not look right.
Step 5 - Now the resulting image doesn't look too bad even when you shrink it down to 100x100.
Step 6 - Colorize your image however you please. You can achieve this look by downloading the PSD.
Step 7 - The image's background is a little streaky so to fix that, select the smudge tool; keep the brush size smallish (around 25 should be good) and set the hardness to 0 so that you get soft edges. I tried to smudge out as much of the darker areas as I could so that the background appeared uniform. The result is pretty good! 
**Note: Colorizing your image before using the smudge tool can help ensure you get the look you want on the final icon. Sometimes I colorize first... sometimes after. 
**Note part 2: When smudging, be careful not to blend into the subject...
Step 8 - Add your text, if you want and save!
Final image:
 


#2 Dean Winchester - Batman
The cap for this one looks like this and comes from [info]bunny_icons. For this image, I had to stretch out both sides and the top of the cropped image.
Step 1 - Crop your image; you can see how I cropped mine here (select the shaded area).
Step 2 - Paste the cropped image onto a square canvas just wider than the size of your crop (example).
Step 3 - Select juuuust a tiny sliver at the left of the image; hit ctrl-t (or go to edit/free transform); click on one of the anchors along the left edge and drag until the image fills the left side of the canvas.
Step 4 - Repeat on the right side. See the shaded areas in this example for an example of how much of the image to select. When your done both sides, your image will look something like this.
Step 5 - Repeat step 3 but this time, select a tiny sliver along the top of the image (example); transform (ctrl-t) and drag upwards until your canvas is full. You should have something like this.
**Note: This particular cap has true vertical lines in the background... you won't always be so lucky. If your backgrounds lines run slightly askew, fear not! After stretching the image, do not deselect (leave your "marching ants") and go to edit/transform/skew. Pull on a corner anchor to skew your selection to match the background. This technique helped me make this icon.
Step 6 - Resize your image to 100x100.
**Note: Stretching your image before you resize to 100x100 will make your life easier (just cuz working with slivers of a larger image is easier than slivers of a smaller image).
Step 7 - Colorize and add text. Apologies... I don't have the PSD for this one. :(
Final image:
 


#3 X-Files - Scully
The cap for this looks like this and is a cap that I made from the episode Ice. If we followed the steps from tutorial #1 and stretched the top of the image, it would look BAD because the background has horizontal lines. Don't do that unless you're going to camoflage that with lots of text and/or textures and/or other images. We're going to copy a piece of the background and duplicate it several times to increase the height of the picture.
Step 1 - Crop your image.
Step 2 - Paste the cropped image onto a square canvas.
Step 3 - Select part of the background above your subject. See the shaded area in this example; hit ctrl-c to copy (or go to edit/copy); hit ctrl-v to paste (or go to edit/paste).
Step 4 - Drag the paste piece to the top of your image. It's not perfect but we're going to shrink the image so I'm not too worried about it matching PERFECTLY. It's actually not too shabby.
Step 5 - Hit ctrl-v to paste the same piece back onto the image; drag to the top of your image. If we left it as-is, the background would look too repetitive so we're going to flip it on the vertical axis (go to edit/transform/flip vertical). Repeat until your canvas is full, flipping on the vertical axis as appropriate so that the background does not look too repetitive. I copied and pasted the same piece three times to get this result
**Note: To help avoid a distractingly repetitive background, you can also flip the pasted piece on the horizontal axis (go to edit/transform/flip horizontal) but in this example that would not work because of the glare on the wall behind Scully.
Step 6 - Resize your image to 100x100 and colorize as desired. You can achieve this look by downloading the PSD.
Final image:



That's all! As always:
- Please let me know if you have questions.
- Please don't copy the coloring layers and then claim as your own... no one learns that way.
- You can repost this tutorial AS LONG AS you let me know and you don't claim as your own.

Thanks!
- Karen

Please friend nodazzle  and comment there if you like or use this tutorial.
Tags: basics: cropping, program: photoshop
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