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Clara Tutorial

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Jul. 21st, 2013 | 05:28 pm
mood: confusedconfused
posted by: amazingchi in bountiful_chi

First things first, thank you applepips16 for requesting this (also, thanks for a wonderful text tutorial, it's one I've gone back to many times). I'll start thinking of ideas to stuff into the cropping guide you also asked for, but for now, I know I can do this!

- >

The cap originates from Grande Caps

Now, a fair bit has happened since I made this set so I'm not entirely sure what I set out to do here and some of the details may be somewhat fudgy, I can't actually remember what I did so I can only go off of what the PSD tells me. I can remember on seeing the cap that I wanted it to fall into the "composition" section of that month's inspired20in20, which meant I had to do something physical and snazzy with it but there was a definitely an element of winging it, that's for sure.

Anyway, the first stage is the prep. Now, I know I've borrowed this from someone but I cannot for the life of me remember who, if you read this please step forward and I will credit you. I do this for every icon I make now, so you deserve it!

First I duplicate the base and set the duplicate to screen. Duplicate the screen layer once and Gaussian Blur it (the amount depends on the size of the original cap, in this case I went with 2.5 I think, I'm not entirely sure, I know I have for caps of the same size in my most recent set so it's a fair estimate). Duplicate the blurred layer and set that to soft light. You should have four layers, [from bottom to top: Base - Screen - Blur Screen - Blur Soft Light] and this:

Next I would have Copy/Merged all visible [Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E] or if that had decided it didn't want to do that [it's very temperamental on me for some reason] just used Select All [Ctrl+A], Copy Merged [Ctrl+Shift+C] and Paste [Ctrl+V], which achieves the same thing but just takes longer. Next, I would have opened up a 300x300 canvas, but because I don't really want to have to cut her out again, I hope you don't mind me posting 100x100 versions for the sake of this tutorial!

Paste the layer above into the smaller canvas and use Free Transform [Ctrl+T], duplicated and sharpened to get to this:

Now, the fun bit: cutting out. First, I duplicated [in case something went weird I could always rely on having a back up] placed a black fill layer behind the duplicate sharpened layer:

I find that flicking the visibility of the black layer (and having a white base) helps cut out more efficiently as stray dark bits appear on the white and stray light bits appear on the black. I 'cut' using a Layer Mask, incidentally. Also, in this case, I found her errant strands of hair irritating so I just masked them out too and it didn't make her look weird so I pressed on. For some reason, I didn't fancy a block colour background with this one, so I took another duplicate of the base layer and Gaussian Blurred it [somewhere around 9-10px] and then since that didn't fill it up, I duplicated [I duplicate a lot, can you tell?] another base layer, moved it to the top and across and blurred that to the same degree. Setting the top layer to screen, you get to this background [the black fill layer has to be visible for this to work]:

and with the Clara:

At this point you can copy merge all and shrink down to 100x100. It's always best to copy merge first before resizing, by the way. I can't remember who first told me that either, I've seen it in a few tutorials now so I feel I ought to say it too as it's true.

Now the colouring/texture stages! Colouring for this was rather straightforward. I added a curves and a vibrance, it's my first stop on any icon. Most of the time it works. First the curves, it's a bit trickier than most of mine in that it has three points:
Input: 78 Output: 72
Input: 182 Output: 171
Input: 212 Output: 209

The Vibrance layer has the settings: Vibrance +100 and is set to 'Color' in the layer type. [I find this usually works best and maintain contrast the best]. We're now here:

Look at the warmth in her skin now, that's much better. Now, the next few layers I can't be certain of what order I actually did them in. However, I suspect that I probably would have started with my go to texture first. This is it:
(Credit: deny1984 @ midnight_road)

Pasting that in as a new layer and duplicating it once [woo for duplicates], set the first to screen and the second to soft light, I didn't like the 'bits' so I Gaussian Blurred the screen layer at around 5px and got to this, which is nice:
but I decided I wanted the icon to be pink/purple so I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment to only the Soft Light layer:
Hue: -64
Saturation: +88
Lightness: +2
and bingo!

I think at this point I must have determined she was too dark. I may have done this before the Hue change, actually, thinking about it. Anyway, instead of curves or brightness changes like a normal person, I appear to have gone with a Solid Color layer set to screen [#dbddd8], placed below the screened brown texture layer.

Again, I probably did this step immediately after adding the brown textures [and probably before the color fill layer too in fact, apologies for this oversight] but I duplicated the base and put to the top on soft light:

Most likely I wouldn't have had this on 100% at the time, since you can see it's a little too dark, but it was set to 100% by the end. Next is the only step that I am certain didn't occur in layer order. I do remember that I felt it was a little bland and needed a little something something. So I fished out this texture:
(from the same set as the first texture @ midnight_road [#43])
It was set to screen and placed under the brown soft light layer, at which point I would have shifted the soft light layer back to 100% to retain the contrast [your layers above the Curves + Vibrance should be from bottom to top: Solid Color (Screen) - Blurred Brown (Screen) - Purple Texture (Screen) - Unblurred Brown (Soft Light) - Duplicated Base (Soft Light)

You'll notice that this is very close, and you'll be glad to hear there's only two more steps. I put a black/white Gradient fill layer [black at bottom] set to 60% on the top followed by a Brightness/Contrast with Contrast: -50, as I felt she was a little bit too 'glowy'.

And that concludes this edition of me waffling and floundering around attempting to remember what the heck I did. Thank god for the PSD or I'd have no clue whatsoever. Some of the steps are possibly in the wrong order, but ultimately they end up in the same place so no harm done. Expect a similarly all over the place guide to cropping in the near future...!


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Comments {2}


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from: applepips16
date: Jul. 21st, 2013 05:12 pm (UTC)

THAT WAS FAST. :O And magical! Honestly, I dont know why it never occurred to be that a blurred base can act as an interesting background too. It gives your icon the element of interest that the textures enhanced really well. I always cut stuff out and put them on solid colour backgrounds. Next time, I am trying the blurred base thing. :D

Also, I never ever tend to touch the Curves layer. I dont know why but I tend to find it so intimidating. Maybe its time I started though. :D

Many thanks for the lovely and quick tutorial. And hush up. It wasn't all over the place at all! Very neat and concise. :D

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from: amazingchi
date: Jul. 21st, 2013 05:24 pm (UTC)

"Auto" Curves is usually my first port of call [didn't work here though, this required a bit of fiddling of my own]. :P

Sometimes I just 'feel' solid colour background [as with a few in my latest set], sometimes I just blur the background manually a bit, and sometimes I use a very blurred base [or a texture, since a blurred base is essentialy a homemade texture] behind a cutout, like here. Depends on my mood, really! :D

Thank you for all the compliments!

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