Go from this
this in nine
I decided to write this tutorial because it took so much fiddling to get this icon to come out right, and then I was really pleased with the way it came out. So I thought I'd share what I finally ended up doing. XD
Made in Photoshop CS2, translateable. I'm writing this assuming you know the basics of cropping, sharpening, blending modes, etc.
1. So, this screenshot originally came from the wonderful, wonderful SilentTweak. Now, it was super, SUPER dark so I did a curves layer or a brightness/contrast layer or something, I don't recall which, to get my starting screenshot. You'll notice the edges are awfully jagged, so before I cropped, I did filter >> blur >> blur once, and then cropped. This helped smooth out the edges somewhat.
1.5. Here's our base, once we've got it cropped.
2. Much too dark! Duplicate your base and set it to screen. Mine was still too dark, so I duplicated the screen layer and set the opacity of that layer to 25%. I still wanted a bit more brightness, so I added a curves adjustment layer. I added one point on the RGB Channel, input 197 and output 214. I know if I tried to explain curves I would fail miserably, but if you've never learned curves you really should; it's an excellent tool. I'd suggest taking a look through this tutorial on curves. ANYWAY! Here's our icon, all brightened up.
3. I noticed that it was still jagged and ugly in some places (like on Zack's arm, the buster sword, the edge of Sephiroth's coat) so I selected the original base and the first screen layer and went in with the blur tool and very carefully blurred out the worst of the jagged-ness (I used those two layers because they're both set at 100% opacity, so alterations on those layers will be easier to see). It's fairly subtle, but it made a big difference in the long run.
4. So, now our base is brightened and smoothed out. But, we lost a good bit of contrast there, so create a new layer and flood fill with #e4e4e4 and set the blending mode to color burn. Ta-da! That's my favorite way to up contrast without actually upping the contrast. XD If yours comes out too contrasty, try a lighter shade of gray.
5. Now we have something we can really work with! That was one of my biggest problems with making this icon - these Crisis Core caps are not easy to work with. XD; And here's where I ran into my other problem - trying to come up with a coloring that worked. I wanted something that looked good, but it couldn't be too crazy, because the whole point of the icon is 'oh look it's Zack and Sephiroth being cute and friendshippy' and not 'oh look at this crazy thing I did with selective coloring'. SO, I started by creating a new layer and flood filling with #684718 and setting the blending mode to soft light. Leave the layer's opacity at 100%. I know, I know, it looks bad now.
6. Let's cool it down a bit. New raster layer, and flood fill with #47fdff. Set the blending mode to lighten. Obviously you're gonna wanna bring the opacity waaaaay down. 15-20% ought to do it.
7. So, awesome, we're bringing the colors out. But it's getting a tad too green. Let's add some blue. Create a new layer and flood fill it with #03002e. Yup, it's the dark blue exclusion layer to the rescue! :D Go ahead and bring the opacity down to about 75%.
8. ...Normally I have an explanation for each step, but this one... I just threw the layer and decided it looked good. XD Once again, new raster layer, and flood fill that bugger with #b7dbf7. Set it to color burn and lower the opacity to, eh, 35% or so.
9. And that's about it! We have some nice rich colors going on and everything has a nice blue hue. Here I added text - 'lean on me' in Nonserif, 16 pt. font, small caps, kerning at zero. The tiny text is some random lyrics from "How to Save a Life" by The Fray (because it is the FRIGGIN THEME SONG for these two XD) in Nonserif, 2 pt. font, kerning at 300.
Hope you got something out of the tutorial. ^^ Uh...this icon is from a post that DOESN'T EXIST YET. XD I've been making handfuls of CC icons at a time lately, but I imagine it'll be awhile before I've got enough icons and enough time to make a full post. If you'd like to use this icon, feel free to, just comment and credit, please. ^^
- Music:"eat, sleep, repeat" - copeland