Burning question? Feel free to ask me in the comments or at my ask the maker thread (which is here).
Any kind of guide or "tips and tricks" on working with photoshoot and other celebrity pictures?
Look for pictures with something interesting going on, whether it's a gorgeous background, a really strange outfit/hairstyle/makeup, ~out there props or maybe someone is just showing a looooooot of skin and lookin' good. Photos that don't really pull you in are boring, so they'll probably become a boring icon unless you pull off a miracle.
I try to make sure I layer things. There should be something going on in the background (either the background that was actually in the photoshoot, or a texture or a gradient, etc). Then the subject should be layered on top. Last, there should be more textures or a brush or text over top of the subject. It's just really important to have a background, a midground and a foreground.
When it comes to coloring, I think it's best to go all the way. Either go really REALLY vibrant, or really REALLY pale. If the coloring is sort of wishy-washy and you can't tell if it was meant to be bright and colorful or quiet and subdued it can kind of look like the icon is half-finished.
TEXTURES. Try to throw at least 25 textures (ideally you'd try way more than that) at an icon and see what sticks. Obviously most of them won't work, but if you start with a lot you get plenty of options to experiment and see what looks best (or perhaps you'll find a whole new direction to go in that looks better than what you originally envisioned).
How do you cut things out without making the edges all sharp and pixelated?
If I know I'm going to be cutting things out, I make sure to cut them out before I resize at all. So all the masking gets done at full size. I typically cut things out with either the pen tool or the polygonal lasso tool. Then I use the smudge tool over the mask and smudge in on the mask so it softens up the line. Then I duplicate the masked layer into my 100x100 canvas and resize from there. If it looks sharp and pixelated at 100x100 I might take the blur tool and blur on a very low opacity just to try and soften things up.
How long a time do you usually spend on icons like these:
Some of take a very short amount of time because I already have textures in mind for them (for example, the second example icon was done in about 15 minutes, with the majority of that spent on coloring/lighting and then in the final minutes I added my textures, did my sharpening and then just fixed little problem areas). Others take FOREVER (like the first one) because I have soooo many textures I want to try out and because there are a lot of little details to be careful about when masking things. Or because I keep changing my mind about coloring and stuff. In general though, I'd say for icons like these I average anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes per icon (1-5 minutes cutting out backgrounds, 10 minutes coloring/lighting, 10 minutes picking out textures and trying them out, 10 minutes struggling with text and then admitting defeat and deleting it, 1-5 minutes doing additional coloring/lighting, 1-5 minutes sharpening and then sprucing up.)
How many textures do you normally use for your "texture heavy icons"?
Surprisingly not that many! I try to keep it under 10 textures per icon. But I almost always use more than 5.
Do you make a lot of adjustments after adding textures? (curves, levels, selective color.....)
Hmmm, I don't think so. I make a lot of adjustments before adding textures to color/light my subject. As I add textures I make a lot of adjustments too (but only to the textures... changing color with hue/saturation, changing them to black and white with gradient maps, etc). Once all my textures are added I don't make that many adjustments. I usually sharpen things and then I go back for a once over to make sure everything looks alright. Sometimes I'll decide that it needs more contrast or should be a smidge warmer and I'll make a minor adjustment, but nothing big. If I made a lot more adjustments at that point I'd be risking destroying image quality.
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