Making Custom and personal Icons in Photoshop:
So in many forums, icons are the picture alongside your name and level. It is a visual mean to attract and make someone click on your picture. A picture can tell a lot of stories. And it can tell about you if you allow it to.
Take the icon ‘a’ in the above picture. It is pretty minimalist with an idol (the model, Girl’s Generation’s Seohyun) at its centre and a text saying ‘your name’. A perfect one for some fan forum. The colour represents the girl group’s colour, you are basically saying you are a SeoMate (Seohyun’s fans are called Seomates) and ‘your name’ can be replaced by the profile name or some other thing.
Or take the icon ‘b’ as an example. It is bright, with a bridge and a bunch of doodles related to space. There is a boy on the other side who looks pretty dorky and geeky. Basically, you could be saying that you like space.
So how to make an icon? Apart from Photoshop, you can use plenty of other photo-editing websites like Picmonkey, Pixlr, Photscape, Gimp (which is just like Photoshop but free), Canva, the sky is the limit. Some charge a little bit of money but the basics are pretty free. Photoshop CS 2 is free so you might try a hand on it. Though this tutorial is limited to Photoshop, the basic theory can be applied to any photo editing tool.
Starting with the icon ‘a’!
1. The first step is to create a canvas. Go to the option open on top, click new and add the required pixel size. Usually, it is 100 x 100 for most websites but editing in 100 x 100 is a bit difficult so go maybe go a larger size. Here, we will be using 500 x 500 then after we are done creating the icon, we will resize the whole thing to the appropriate size. Remember to check with the forum before starting with the icon. A bit of distortion can destroy the whole aesthetic!
2. For icon ‘a’, paint the canvas pink. Or well, any colour you want. Take a round, basic brush with hardness set to 0. Increase its size and place it in the centre before clicking. You can opt for a white or some shade lighter than the background. Here, we chose white. You can also go for gradient set to radial rather than a brush. The latter gives, by preference, a better result, spreading to better niches.
3. Take your model and render it. Rendering is basically the process of removing the background. There are several options on photoshop for rendering but this model was rendered with a pen tool. It allows you to create dots around the model (in Layman’s term), connect it and cut. Pen tool allows more control, unlike lasso or magic wand. Cutting hair can be a bit difficult and you might consider getting a filter for it. But here, channels have been used.
4. Basically, after cutting the body, you stop at hair and go-to channel. Choose the one with the most contrast and duplicate it. Click on an invert. Using the burn and dodge tool, paint over the items you want to eliminate or keep. After which click ctrl+c and the original picture. Select mask and you should have your image. If you don’t, then continue duplicating original layer until you do. Clean the picture with an erase tool. Done! You can consider drawing the hair strands, too.
5. Although that requires extreme precision. Anyway, save it as .png or .psd and not any other format.
6. The actual model wore a red dress which did not go with the colour scheme. Using selective colour (there is also hue and saturation but selective colouring did a good job) change the dress’ colour to pink. Using colour dropper pick up the same colour.
7. Now download and arrow brush from DeviantArt or Tumblr. There are several websites where you can download brushes. These two websites are mentioned because of the vast treasury of resources they have. Make sure you save brushes in the preset titled ‘brushes’. If not, these brushes will not load. After loading these brushes, choose one and click it on the canvas. Next to the check. Go to brush settings, and flip horizontally. Then click on the canvas. You can opt for an arrow render, too. Since we already had a brush, we used that.
8. In case you are using an arrow, to change the colour of the arrow, simply right click on the layer and choose the blending option. Click on the overlay, select a colour from the graphic and set blend mode to normal, 100% before clicking ok. Play along with settings if you desire.
9. Create a new layer. Make sure the new layer is selected. Take the rectangular marquee tool and drag it across your canvas. Go to edit. Find the stroke option. Choose a colour (white here) and edit in the size (2% here). Decide whether you want the margin to be outside, inside or centre. Here, we went outside.
10. Now to colouring. You can download a PSD or action. We did our own colouring with gradient map (b&w set to soft light), curve and level.
11. After this, save it as .png and crop to your desired size.
1. For the second one, a.k.a ‘b’, we did not do any rendering. We made use of negative space. The original image had a blue background with the model at the centre. The picture was enlarged and adjusted on the 500 x 500 canvas.
Download plenty of doodle brushes correlated to space. Or really, any doodle you prefer. You do not need brushes, even doodle PNGs would do. You can even create your own doodles on the canvas like was done with the stroke around the model and the three vertical lines on the forehead, denoting stress. For that, you need a basic round brush, hardness set to 100% and go crazy.
2. Then search for night sky texture. Make sure it has plenty of stars. Set it to lighten and play with opacity and fill. Find a bridge texture, blend it with a mask and a brush. Make sure the brush is not at 100% for better results. In case you make a mistake, switch the primary colour to white and brush over the mistake. Switch the primary colour to black and continue erasing.
3. Take a moustache brush or png and fix it to the face.
4. Add some colouring. The colouring here again was pretty basic with level, curve and selective colouring. The picture was duplicated and set to screen. Then saturation was added, opacity 30% and fill 15%.
These are kept at the end of the answers in various forums. You do not necessarily need to add a graphic as a signature. But in case you want to, here is a how-to.
1. Make sure you check the forum for the required size of a graphic. If there is none, go crazy. Most opt for a horizontal one with medium size of the canvas. But really, signature means you so you get to decide.
2. Start with a blank canvas and paint it a solid colour. Click on the text tool, choose a font. Now you can opt for pre-loaded fonts or go to some font website (suggestion: DaFont where one can find a wide range of font collection for both non-commercial and commercial use). Play along with fonts, setting, type and arrange them onto the canvas. A suggestion would be to type each letter separately.
3. After this, find some PNGs and some textures. For PNGs, here we chose flowers and butterflies. And for textures, we chose two. A space texture and a fire one. Right-click on the PNGs and choose clipping option. Make sure these PNGs are kept on top of the text you want to clip it to. Take the texture, adjust the colouring and then set to pin light.
4. Here, we added some brightness and increased vibrancy. We also added a gradient map, set to lighten, opacity 65% and fill 23%.
5. We added a colouring. Nothing major because as we went along with creating a graphic, we did the basic colouring already. We went for hue&saturation, adjusting it so it went along with the solid colour of the background.
And there you go! Some simple icons and a signature-ready to glam up your forum comment.