Made using Photoshop CS5.
Difficulty: intermediate (or maybe easy but long!)
Translatable: not directly
Er, this tutorial is one big WTF. I'm honestly a bit weirded out by my process here. This icon was made during one of my inspiration droughts, which is when I just take random steps hoping they will lead to something good, lol. If anything, this is a tutorial on how to really screw an icon up and then salvage what can be salvaged :D
This icon was made for a missingfaction activity with the theme 'full body', so I took this SPN cap (originally from homeofthenutty.com):
Crop and resize. I wanted the focus to be on everyone's favorite brothers and not the guest star of the week, so that pretty much dictated the crop. Which actually might have been a good thing cause look, an icon with a side crop! Those are pretty rare for me :D
Next up is one hell of a Curves layer:
O: 173, I: 77
Um, I have no idea. Don't use curves like this, it totally ruins the image quality by making everything too bright and horrible. The highlights lost all their details due to overexposure. Great job, me. I wish I knew what I was thinking!
Take this wonderful grunge texture:
Sadly I don't know who made it :( If someone knows, please inform me so I can credit them!
Set it on Screen 100%.
In case you were wondering when I'd add gradient maps, well the answer is now.
Make a gradient map that looks something like this:
...Or just download the one I used, it's included in this glorious gradient set by elvensword at DA which can be found here.
Leave it on Normal 50%.
Time to fix the overbrightness. Make a color fill layer with a light peachy skin tone (I used #f7d0ba) and set it on Multiply 100%. This is a big step towards the vintageyness.
Omg, idek what to say about this step or what I was thinking. I guess the goal was to make it even more vintate and low-contrasted and just odd. So... make the most complicated, point-filled curves layer possible:
O: 73, I: 51
O: 106, I: 107
O: 153, I: 146
O: 176, I: 179
O: 207, I: 207
O: 224, I: 223
O: 45, I: 37
O: 199, I: 200
O: 114, I: 110
O: 178, I: 206
O: 240, I: 231
...all that trouble and not even that much of a visible change -.-
Make a copymerge layer (ctrl+shift+alt+E), use auto contrast (ctril+shift+alt+L, guess I wanted some contrast after all?) and set it on Normal 50%.
Make a gradient map that looks a bit like this:
This gradient too can be found in this set of gradients. Seriously it's well worth the download, they're all amazing and I use them all the time :D
Leave it on Normal 40%. This is my go-to gradient map when something is bright and dull and I want to add a darker brown shade to it.
Finally I'm starting to like where to coloring is going with the vintage look and all, but the problem is that nothing really stands out and Sam&Dean get lost in the icon cause everything's so monochrome. I love monochrome icons ofc but they work better when the image is clearer and closer cropped (the image keeps the focus better when it doesn't have to compete with a lot of background stuff!)
To fix this, use the green gradient map again, this time on Normal 100%.
Make a Winchesters-shaped layer mask, so the green only affects the background. This way our boys pop against it much better.
Ok so the background is way too bright compared to the boys now.
So, make a Curves layer with just one point:
O: 128, I: 180
Clip this layer to the gradient map underneath it, so it doesn't darken the boys, only the surroundings. (You can do this by pressing alt while clicking the space between the two layers in the Layers window.)
Next I thought I'd add some different color into the icon, so I selected a light cyan color (#baf5f7) and painted over Dean's jeans and Sam's jacket. I set the layer on Multiply 100%. (the gray bg is in the image just to make shapes clearer)
Then I noticed that the cyan looked HIDEOUS and not fitting at all. Clearly this icon needed a more muted color for those details. So, I made a color fill layer, clipped it to the painting layer, and picked an almost grey light blue (#bac2c7) and left the layer on Normal 100%. This changes the color without the need to paint again! This doesn't only apply to painted details though; with clipping, you can easily change the colors of any layer, for example textures, gradient maps...
Copper gradient on Soft light, 20% opacity, 50% Fill. Doesn't do much but I guess I just need one of these for every icon I make :p
Another copper gradient, this time reversed, on Soft Light, 30% Opacity, 50% Fill.
Some of the previous steps have again blended Sam&Dean with the background a little too well, so select the boys (this is easy to do since you've already made a mask of them - just go to the gradient map layer from step 9, press ctrl while clicking on the layer's representation in the layer window, and everything but the boys gets selected. Now go to Select->Reverse(?) and you have Sam and Dean selected.)
Now, make a gradient map layer (a layer mask with just the boys gets automatically added to it, since that was the active selection when you made the layer!). I chose the default gradient with purple and orange.
Set the layer on Soft light 50%.
Take this awesome grunge/retro/halftone texture by unknown maker (again, if you know whose it is, let me know! I'm sorry I don't know the makers of these D:):
Put it on Screen 100%. Give it a blurry layer mask that erases it a bit (but not completely) on Sam and Dean. The purpose of this texture is to
Another awesome texture by unknown maker!
Again on Screen 100%. The problem with sidecrops is that they can look unbalanced unless there's something happening at the other end of the icon too, so for this icon I specifically searched for a texture that would serve as that 'something' :> Borders, bars etc are something I really love so this texture caught my eye.
Nice effort, but the texture still doesn't add enough weight to the right side, so next I copied the orange-purple soft light gradient map from step 15, removed the Sam&Dean layermask, added a new layer mask and masked away everything but the bar on the right, following the shape created by the texture. Keep this layer in between the layers made in steps 15 and 16. It should already be on Soft light 50%, keep it that way.
Make a color fill layer using a beige color (#cbc1b9) and set it on Multiply 50%. Use a similar layer mask than in the previous layer. This layer should be right on top of the previous layer, still under the two textures.
Make a copymerge layer and very slightly sharpen it.
I really don't know what filter I used here but I'm guessing Unsharp Mask cause it's what I normally use with wide crops, with pretty low settings (with closer crops I use stronger sharpening like the regular Sharpen filter). I'm pretty sure that after sharpening I manually blurred some of the most oversharpened parts, though not as much as usual because for this icon a gritty, grungy look was the goal (as far as I had one).
I still wanted this to be a more muted icon, so I made a Hue/saturation layer with these settings:
This makes it more muted and less contrasted.
...and we're finally done!
My utterly ridiculous and humongous layer palette o.O
I'm not sure if there's anything useful here for anyone because basically this was just random messing around, but if you have any additional questions about it, please ask away :)
And if you have other tutorial requests/general questions for me, my Ask the Maker thread is open!