Both of these tutorials require more than a passing familiarity with Photoshop. I use Photoshop CS6, and I make generous use of tools that are PS specific and therefore not readily translatable.
Both of these tutorials are incredibly heavy on brushwork. Though I would like to link you directly to the brush packs I've used, I don't really save those kind of links when I go on a download spree. Fortunately, brushes are pretty easy to find via the old Google. So what you need to make similar effects, if you don't already have them, are some paint/splatter brushes and some hair brushes. Alternatively, you can just find painty textures that approximate the effect and draw the hair yourself. Up to you.
This little list/tutorial will show you the best sort of PS brushes (that come pre-loaded, I believe) for drawing various human-y things yourself including hair.
Or you could grab some hair brushes from the old DevArt much like these hair brushes which, I think, might be the pack I have. Idk.
And here are a bunch of random paint brushes to get you started!
Basically just go wild, start a collection, download them all!! When I do painty icons like these, I just tend to pick random brushes and go crazy with them. It's all trial and error so having a lot to choose from is never a bad thing.
We'll start with young!Emma because it takes just a smidgen less work.
Here is my "base" image. As you can see, it is already edited because I've already done my pre-coloring work which just involves a lot of selective coloring and vibrance. There's also probably a black and white gradient map in there somewhere. When I actually made the icon, the screencap was at full size because of reasons, but I've scaled it down for tutorial purposes.
Once that's done, it is time to start getting painty with it. Again, this is just trial and error. There's no real science to it. There's barely even an art, tbh. I'm partial to splitting a canvas by color so I chose a cyan from the background to paint up one side and a purple shade that came from a color chosen from the cap itself as well. And that goes on the other side. Both colors are done in different brushes. Okay, and then I added some white scribble brushes.
NOTE: You definitely want to have your brush options open for this because rotating your brushes and changing their angles can be a big help when you want variation or for the brush to overlap in different ways and in different areas.
And the second image shows the final layer of brush work at this stage which is just some white overlaying all the rest to make it blend together a bit more. All these layers are set to normal, but clearly, my brush opacity was not on 100% because you can see through the brush work to Emma underneath. Playing with opacity is also an awesome thing to do when you're mucking about with paint brushes like this. It will also help when you want to overlap your paint with the subject itself which I definitely recommend doing. Yes, even the face!
Obviously I got bored with the flat, cold, more muted tones so I cranked up the vibrancy to 100 here. Now it is time to crop down to my preferred 200x200 canvas.
This is my chosen crop, but I've also, again, already done some editing to it. I've done...one or two layers with surface blur on them to smooth things out and add a different sort of texture to the canvas. This is something I picked up from both afeastforme and raiindust so if you're interested in more about surface blur, I'd recommend checking out their tutorials which are awesome and super helpful.
Now it is time for some more selective coloring because there are some issues with certain areas of the coloring as it stands right now. The first is, as always, Emma's hair. It is super gorgeous, but it is always the bane of my existence coloring wise. I've got some very clear, solid cyan and purple that look rather..."colored in" so to speak so I want to punch up Emma's hair to match which means we need yellow. Right now Emma's hair is white which means I need to pop into the White SC channel and add yellow to it. It achieve what I have here, just crank it up to 100, basically. Woo! I also reduced the cyan present in the white channel to prevent the yellow from going green because that's always a worry with Emma's blonde locks.
NOTE: As you can see, this step has altered other areas in the icon as well, including highlights on Emma's face. Remember the SC layers are going to alter all of whatever channel you're working in at the time. Since this was the white channel, all the whites were altered. Be prepared to go layer mask crazy on this mother because you might need to! I didn't here, but I was going for a slightly more unnatural vibe.
The second issue is that the blacks are a little lacking so in a new SC layer, I go to the black channel and punch up the blacks until I'm happy with how true they ring. This is showcased on her shirt and also the frames of her glasses.
The next step is a gradient map, and I would like to explain why except I've no freaking clue. Sometimes I just try random stuff just to see what will happen, and clearly I was happy with the result. Anyway, it's a red/pink to lavender/pink gradient map set to 'Lighter Color' with the red channel removed. This emphasizes the painted effect a bit while also shoring up the blacks I just punched back in as well as adding warmth back into the canvas.
This image covers a fair few steps:
- a layer that has some type of blur effect. Knowing me it was probably box blur at a the lowest setting possible. Some of the paint brush edges were looking a little pixellated so this smoothed them out a bit.
- then I've taken a light cyan color and taken a soft round brush to brush along the sides. I think I've probably blurred this layer a bit as well (guassian blur this time) before setting it to screen. This lightens and adds some blue color in as well.
- then I hide the layer I just created, copy merge everything underneath, stamp that on the top, do a 60 pixel radius High Pass (Filter >> Other >> High Pass), and then do a box blur (again, lowest setting) on that before setting this layer to soft light. So we get contrast and depth back and I also smooth the canvas out a little as well. Also, I've unhidden the blue screen layer from before; didn't want you to think that just disappeared! ;)
- finally, I've used what I assume is auto contrast on a copy merged layer, but it might also have been auto tone. You never know. One day I will learn to consistently mark these things in my psds, but today is not that day. Anyway, whichever one it was, it's only on 49% opacity.
Home stretch now!
- I've added this texture by sirius_sdz; what is used here is just a top corner portion of the full texture which is massive. I just recommend clicking the link I've provided and having a look through their texture gallery for stuff you like. I've got a ton of massive textures by them, and they are great! This texture comes from Pack #29. Anyway, soft light at 45% darkens the canvas and adds some purple tones that warm up the icon as well.
- then there's another possibly auto tone but possibly auto color we just don't know layers. It's only at 37%, and is clearly there to balance out the purple tones I just added.
- then a +52 punch of vibrancy that is masked off of areas where that goes to far
-before I sharpen (using paint daubs) and resize. Done!
Okay now for the Lost Girl all grown up:
This is my base. I don't think I've done anything color wise, but I've clearly done a Diffuse (Filter >> Stylize >> Diffuse) process when the cap was at full size. I've used the anisotropic setting, and I definitely have not used it at full opacity. Or maybe this is surface blur. You know what, I can't actually tell. One of the two. It doesn't matter. I used something to smooth out the canvas, you feel me?? And then it was sized down to 200x200 because that's how I roll.
Basic base coloring steps:
- the background is super dull here so I wanted to punch it up. Again, I've chosen to split color over each side. The left is a sea green color and the right is an orange color. I used a soft round brush on full opacity, trying my best to stay in the lines.
- then I copy merge, paint daubs, blur the crap out of that layer, and set it to screen.
- then I duplicated my original base, drug it to the top, and set it to soft light to a) start combating the bright screen layer washing out the icon and also to cover up any serious mistakes I made while attempting to brush inside the lines with a track pad.
- finally, I've copy merged everything at the top and then gone into variations to add some cyan to balance out the warm tones and also clearly gone a shade or two darker to, again keep working backwards from the super bright screen layer from earlier.
- next up are two separate Levels layers. The first one darkens and adds more depth to the overall icon while the second one punches up the highlights because in all the darkening, they've become a little lackluster.
- my favorite adjustment layer selective coloring is next, and just take a guess as to why we need it! Go on! If you said Emma Swan's freaking hair, you'd be correct!!! Her hair is greenish blue from the variations earlier so to fix that we'll need to neutrals channel were I add yellow and take away cyan. This layer is masked off of her sweater and face to some degree and off the sea green/blue corner.
- but, eh, I wasn't super keen on the sea green/blue color so I punched it up a bit by painting over it with yellow and setting that layer to divide. Instantly more on the blue side rather than the green!
Oh! Big difference there, but I am trying to condense this as much as possible cause it's a long one!
- a +69 punch of vibrancy
- this texture by mm3butterfly blurred and stretched until I was happy with where the light was sitting. It's set to screen at 73% opacity. I've chosen a warm tonal texture here to add light to the warm tonal side of the icon. Makes sense.
- then a curves layer to add depth and contrast back.
- before adding another mm3butterfly texture that is, again blurred stretched until I was happy. A cool toned texture for the cooler colored side. Set to screen at 61%. Just as a point of interest, I often delete trail and error stuff that ends in error, but I've kept the failed layer mask on this layer that takes away the purple tones from her hair and face and leaves the original green/yellow. Obviously I thought the purple tones were a better choice.
- then a copy of the original base layer dragged to the top and set to soft light at 20% to add some depth and equalize the coloring, but not too much because otherwise a lot of the coloring work gets covered up!
- then two layers that could be auto tone, auto contrast, and maybe even some darker variations. Again, I don't really know because I haven't marked it. The first layer definitely darkens things though so it is probably variations while the second layer punches up the shadows/black so that's probably auto contrast.
- a texture by I have no idea who. I think I've...edited whatever the original looked like though. Anyway, it is set to soft light at 23% with the red channel removed to add some warmer tones and take it a shade or two darker as well.
- then the next layer has some blur, probably box blur at the lowest setting.
- then a copy merge stamp of all the layers with the cutout filter used (filter >> artistic >> cutout) set to soft light at 46%. This filter is so quirky! Anyway, it adds that soft of sharp layered effect of a paint canvas. Though it is subtle because I'm cautious. Then we've got...either an auto color or a variations (my money is on this one) layer that adds cooler cyan tones back into the canvas.
Now this next bit is just trial and error again because it's painting. The first order of business is hair because I wanted to spice up what was quickly becoming a boring icon somehow, and I had only recently gotten the hair brushes that I have so I was itching to make use of them. There are 5 different layers of painted hair set to different blending modes (overlay, luminosity, pin light, normal, and screen) in different colors. A couple have layer masks. I dunno. If you want this kind of effect, just go nuts. Again, I'd advise having your brush options open so you can change the angle and direction of the brush.
The hair brushes kind of stand out awkwardly though, imo. So to help blend and integrate them better, I decided to add some paint splatter to the background as well. There are also 5 layers of this on different blending modes (Soft, hard, and linear light followed by screen and another soft light). These are mostly done in neutral colors (a mid-toned grey, a super light grey, and a mid-toned brown/grey) because I was going for texture and effect rather than color.
- time to punch up the vibrancy +29. I always like to do vibrancy in stages so that it just builds up over time and is less likely to negatively impact image quality. But idk.
- then a copy merged layer with paint daubs and then blurred to high heavens set to soft light at 33% which gives it a subtle dreamy glow.
- then copy merge again, use the high pass filter with a box blur on it probably, and set it to soft light. The opacity is reduced here as well. Yay for contrast!
- then some variations to get those final purple/blue tones instead of the green. Masked off the face somewhat to keep the skin tones a bit truer.
- then it is time for some more paint! It is less obvious for reasons that will become very clear in a moment, but I am terrible at this part. But taking a small round brush, I traced lines of her face, jaw, the edges of her hair, and her neck. This was done with a reduced opacity and a white/bluish color and set to overlay.
- copy merged for a box blur at the lowest setting with a majorly reduced opacity.
- then a paint daubs sharpen
- before realizing that you are attempting to paint using an unsteady hand and track pad so it looks terrible and you need to hide that shit. So copy merge and use a combo of the smudge and blur tools on the areas that stand out the most (aka, the lines around her chin) to make them less obvious so no one will know about how much you suck until you write a tutorial and tell them about it.
- resize to 100x100
Not quite done yet, I'm afraid.
- more vibrancy at 99 which is obviously too much for some areas so masked off anything too punched up.
- three separate layers with auto tone, auto contrast, and auto color (1 auto for each layer) at reduced opacity.
- and finally some levels to increase contrast. Done!
My past tutorials can be found here. | Please do NOT replicate these icons exactly. That's not what the tutorials are for. | Yeah, you can link this where ever. Let me know where though so I can be nosy. | Questions, comments, and other requests are all fair game! <3