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Thread: Zugma's Tutorials

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    Default Zugma's Tutorials

    Here are all the tutorials I've written. They were originally posted on BW, but as that forum's crashed, I'm moving them here These all are created for Photoshop as it's the program I use, but most of the effects are probably transferable to other graphic editors, like PSP, PS Elements, or GIMP. (I've never worked in either of them, though, so I won't be able to help you should you have any questions regarding these programs; sorry!) All of these tutorials, of course, work for higher versions of PS.

    Also, I thought I'd add a, um, sort of "table of contents" to make the thread more organized and make the navigation easier.

    So, the tutorials below include the following:

    • Adding light effects to a collage (long walk-through based on the making of this wallpaper), part I [x]
    • Adding light effects to a collage, part II [x]
    • Creating custom gradients in Photoshop [x]
    • Adding grainy/noisy texture to a collage (short overview based on these collages: 1; 2) [x]
    • Another wallpaper walk-through, includes using gradient maps and stock images [x]
    • Yet another wallpaper walk-through Includes gradient maps, stock images, curves, hue/saturation, polygonal lasso [x]
    • Improving blurry photograph (drawn/painted effect) [x]
    • The making of Tom Riddle wallpaper. Includes manipulating hair, using stock images and gradient maps [x]
    • The making of Severus Snape icon. Includes using light textures and gradient maps. PSD file is available for downloading [x]
    • The making of 'The Edge' wallpaper. Focuses on creating background from stock images and complex coloring, but also includes composition, manipping and text effects. Part I, Part II, Part III.
    • Mini-tutorial on typography: how to use Open Type features in your text (for Photoshop users) [x]
    • Clean edges using Defringe (for Photoshop users) [x]
    Last edited by Zugma; 09-10-11 at 05:01 PM.
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    I just realized that I didn't delete the .psd of my 'Something effulgent' piece. I think if I make some screenshots and post them as an example to illustrate my, ahem, 'tutorial', it'll be easier for me to explain and for you to understand Plus .Flight. asked me about this piece, too. So... *clears throat *

    1. I chose the caps and positioned them on a brown background. Then I masked the areas I wanted to be invisible:


    2. In order to make Spike's figure more 'effulgent' () I added one more screencap with rays, masked its edges and set it on soft light:


    3. And one more, this time on screen:


    4. Then I created a new layer and pressed ctrl+shift+alt+E. (This command makes a screenshot of all visible layers without merging them.) Then I applied radial blur filter to the new layer and masked the areas where I didn't need the effect to be:


    5. Then copied this layer and set it on screen to make the pic brighter:


    6. And added one more screencap with rays, because... well, because I wanted so I masked the edges of the rays cap and set it on screen:


    7. Again new layer and ctrl+shift+alt+E. Then motion blur filter:


    8. I copied the blurred layer and set both on soft light and masked them where I wanted:
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    9. Now to the fun! (I discovered this technique myself and really like it ) I made a new layer and set it on soft light. Then I chose big, very soft round brush and light colour and began to paint over the places I wanted to brighten up (such as William's fingers):


    10. And rays (the other, screened layer):


    11. And some shadows to hide the defects of the caps (and of my sloppy blending ):


    12. Then colour fixing. Custom gradient map on soft light, twice, again with masking:


    13. And again some painting:


    14. Then I added text:


    15. New layer and ctrl+shift+alt+E again. After all my colour experiments, the image went pixely and a little too blurry, so I used Improver (filter from Xero) and smudge tool to clean it up:


    16. Then I added a couple of my pre-made textures:


    17. And finally, I flattened the image and applied KPT Equalizer filter to add some sharpness and contrast.

    Here's the final result.

    I usually use the same scenario when I make fanart.
    Hope this was helpful!
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    How to create custom gradient maps in PS 7.

    1. Click this button in the layers palette and choose Gradient map from the drop-down menu:



    2. To use gradients you already have, click this little arrow:



    and choose the one you like.

    3. To edit a gradient map or create new one, click the pictogram of gradient:



    4. This dialogue window will appear:



    The little squares shows how many colours you have and what is their sequence; if you 'activate' any of them by left clicking, you can move it and change its colour. To add more colours, click the edge of the gradient pictogram and you'll get new square to play with. To delete the colour simply drag its square away from the picture. The squares at the bottom of the gradient are to add colours, the ones at the top are for transparent zones:



    When you get what you like, press OK. Or, if you want to save the gradient and use it later, click New, this will add the new gradient to the library.

    That's it... hope I didn't miss anything


    P.S.: I'm self-tought, so this is like all what I know about making gradient maps. If anyone knows more about them and would like to share I'd be really grateful
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    Zugma - I love your art and in particular am fond of Oz the beasts of mine piece and the Faith ships that never come in piece. The both have a similar kind of texture, how do you achieve this? Also how do you achieve the overall pieces?
    Ooh, I'm afraid I deleted the PSDs of these, and I already don't remember every step

    In general outline, well, for Oz piece, I didn't do anything special. I positioned the caps and stock images (the moon and clouds) on dark background, masked them, adjusted their opacity and mode (some at normal, some at screen, some at soft light, depending on how bright I wanted them to be), created new layer, pressed Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E and applied median filter (radius=1). Then I again masked parts where the effect looked too strong (the faces, the moon, some other details). This technique is very similar to the one Ailsa explained in this thread, and I don't think I can explain it better Then I added my beloved gradient maps and my old self-made texture. Sorry, but I have no idea how I made it It was like a year ago and I only know that there was a lot of thoughtless buttons pressing. Here it is:



    Full (800x600) size

    I set it to screen and lowered the opacity until the texture become very subtle; then I added text, flattened the image and applied some filter(s) from sharpen menu (probably unsharp mask and/or sharpen).

    Ships piece... The first stage (images positioning, masking etc.) was the same as I told above I think. For texture, I used stock photos trying to achieve some sort of painted/texturized look. There were a cloudy sky, a rag of... um, where's my dictionary... gauze, two images of sea waves, and this pic:



    (have no idea what is it and where I got it from, lol). I set them to soft light, lowered opacity and masked some parts. Also I added self-made textures, this one:



    800x600

    and this one:



    800x600

    (The first one I made using motion blur, rectangular marquee tool and paint bucket, for the second one I took some random pic, blurred it and applied SuperBladePro filter from Flaming Pear.)

    After that, I adjusted colours of the textures (since they were too bright) using Hue/Saturation thing (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or simply Ctrl+U). I then fixed colours of the whole piece using the technique I described on the first page of this thread (gradient maps and painting), flattened image and duplicated the layer. Then I applied Sharpen filter two or three times until the pic went slightly grainy; masked the overfiltered parts, added text, flattened the image again and sharpened it one more time. That's all.

    I'm not good at explaining, especially in English, lol, so if something was unclear I'm sorry Feel free to ask about vague parts and I'll try to clarify myself.
    Last edited by Zugma; 25-02-08 at 10:44 AM.
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    Rosely asked me to tell how I made this pic. I didn't really do anything new or special, it was mostly stock images and gradients. As for stock images, I suggest reading Vrya's tutorial, she both makes art and explains better than me As for my collage... well:

    1. I chose three main caps, resized and positioned them onto very dark blue background, then masked the parts I didn't need:


    2. Then I felt I needed a vertical line, so I added it (using someone's texture/background, only I don't remember who it was Probably Tre).
    I desaturated the texture (ctrl+shift+U), set it on soft light and masked the edges. Then I added some colour using my beloved gradient maps:

    (By the way, this gave me what to start from with the texture; that's why I didn't clean the caps up.)
    Here's the result:


    3. Then I opened my 'Stock' folder and threw all I found there on the canvas between the gradient maps:
    - a key to represent Dawn (on soft light, because it was too bright)
    - two pics of raindrops on window to symbolize tears (soft light)
    - a cracked tombstone because of Joyce' death (soft light, opacity 41%); you can't actually see it... but you see the cracks, which are also symbols of dying in my very own system of symbols
    - a pink sunset which just had nice colour to it (soft light)
    - a piece of greenish cloudy sky because it had lovely pattern; I use this pic a lot lately to add 'worn' look to texture - soft light
    - a road sign because of the words on it and because I had to fill empty space at the top - soft light
    - I'm not sure about English word, in some clubs, there are big balls hanging from the ceiling and covered with pieces of coloured mirrors - a close-up of this ball, only I blurred and desaturated it. I added it because of interesting shadowy pattern it created. (Soft light)
    - and finally one more cap of Buffy (screen, opacity 14%)
    I masked the edges of all these pics with big soft round brush.
    Here's the result:

    And screenshot of my layers palette:


    4. The bottom of the pic was too dark, so I added some light with soft round brush (first layer on screen, second one on normal):


    5. And one more screencap (Dawn's room) on soft light, to made the texture on the bottom more interesting:

    Also I added family photo (on screen) and the pic of light going through a Venetian blind (on soft), and the text:


    6. I flattened the image and sharpened it with Sharpen filter. After that, I added this self-made texture (soft light, 29%) and masked it over the faces. Then I created new layer and pressed ctrl+alt+shift+E, sharpened the new layer again, and masked overfiltered parts (text etc.).

    7. I felt like big Buffy and Joyce were competing, so I pressed B, chose soft round brush and faded Buffy down a bit (I described the method already in this thread):


    8: This is the final result.


    The piece took me two evenings (approximately 6 hours), because I was trying to find the best placement, texture and colours, and made many wrong things before I got what I wanted (as usual ).

    Caps are from Nocturnal Light. Stock pics come to my folder from many places, I don't remember exactly, sorry; my usual sources are http://www.sxc.hu/ , http://www.freeimages.co.uk/ , http://www.stock.b-man.dk/ , http://www.freefoto.com/index.jsp . Gradients are from www.freephotoshop.com and mine.
    Hmm... I think that's all If something wasn't clear, feel free to ask
    Last edited by Zugma; 25-02-08 at 10:45 AM.
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    The Darkness, always5by5, and Linzy_Jane asked how I made this pic. The cookie that The Darkness promised me back then probably got stale *sigh*, but here's the tutorial anyway Sorry it took me so long.

    1. I chose screencaps, positioned them onto the blue background, improved and masked. I do not always improve my screencaps, but this time I thought it would be appropriate, as the caps were dim, plus their rough texture wouldn't go well with the idea. (If you want to know how I improved them, please ask. I don't tell it here and now because I don't want this tutorial to be long and messy )
    This is what I got:


    2. Then I thought that the background is too dark, so I changed its colour into lighter blue. I also added some white underneath the shot of jumping Buffy (just painted with big soft brush):


    3. Next I added 5 stock images of sky and clouds. I set them on soft light and masked:


    4. But then I realized I didn't like the placement of big Buffy, and moved her. Which revealed an unimproved area of the screencap, but I was too lazy to go through all the improving routine again so I left it as it was, just masked it a little. I decided that my mistake wouldn't be noticeable when I add the geometrical shapes. (Plus, I love the smudge tool )


    5. For the colour I added 3 gradient maps and some random pic, don't remember what it was (I blurred it with Gaussian Blur filter). All these I set on soft light.


    And here are the gradients I used:


    6. Buffy's eyes were too dim, so I selected the irises with lasso tool, feathered the selection (don't remember, something about 2-3 pixels) and added 3 adjustment layers: Curves, Hue/Sat. and Selective Colour. The aim was to make the eyes lighter/more blue-ish/more contrast.


    The Curves settings:

    The Hue/Sat. settings were: Master; Hue=0, Sat.=-63, Lightness=0.
    The Selective Colour: Neutrals; Cyan=10, Magenta=-1, Yellow=10.

    7. I saved a copy of the pic and flattened it. Then I created new layer, set it on soft light, chose the Polygonal lasso tool and draw a triangle. I inverted the selection (ctrl+shift+I) and painted along the edges of the selection with big soft brush, using black colour. I repeated these steps umm 8 times, trying to make shapes different but matching. Each shape had its own layer which was set on soft light. I also drew 4 circles with Elliptical marquee tool and coloured two of them with black and the other two with very pale pink. The shapes looked too eye-catching, so I lowered their opacity (50...80 %) and masked some parts with big soft brush.
    Screenshot is too big to be pasted in the page

    8. I added textures. (You can find them on my site ) Texture 1, texture 2, texture 3, texture 4. I desaturated textures 1, 3 and 4. The first one I set on soft light, opacity 100; the second one on soft, opacity 17, the third on soft as well, opacity 50, and the last one on soft, opacity 47 (and masked some parts). I then realized that the pic lost some contrast and colour, so I added one more gradient map:


    9. Then I made the text (the big transparent text I set on soft light, opacity 30...60, white colour) and the border, flattened the image and applied KPT equalizer filter (sorry, I don't remember the settings). The KPT filters aren't free, so, if you don't have ones, I suppose you can get similar results using curves and filters from Sharpen menu, although it would be longer and more complicated. The filter made the pic brighter and sharper.

    This is the final result:



    800

    Screencaps are from Buffy Screenshots and Nocturnal Light. Gradients by Crumbling Walls. Stock pics: have no idea, probably from some of the resources I've already listed above. Fonts: Charlesworth and Garamond Italic. Textures: mine.
    Phew! That's all
    Last edited by Zugma; 25-02-08 at 10:47 AM.
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    Improving blurry photograph ("drawn/painted" effect)

    Original image:

    full size

    Improved image:

    full size

    To follow this tutorial, you'll need: Photoshop 6.0 or higher; knowledge of basic instruments, blending modes, and commands; patience Also, note that for the best result the image youíre going to work with should have good contrast and lighting.

    1. Resizing
    My photo was very small, so I enlarged it. If your image needs resizing as well, try not to enlarge it more than up to 200%, 'cause if you do, my tricks won't help: the quality will be too low to work with.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/01.jpg

    2. Sharpening contours
    I duplicated the layer and applied filter > other > high pass to the copy. The smaller is the image, the smaller should be radius; in my case, radius was something around 0,7.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/02.jpg

    Then I changed blending mode of the layer to overlay. If you think your image needs more sharpening, duplicate the overlayed layer. I duplicated it once and set the copy's opacity to 50%.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/03.jpg

    3. Smoothing
    After High Pass filter, the contours were sharp enough, but the image became too grainy. I hit ctrl A, ctrl shift —, ctrl V. (These commands make a "photograph" of all visible layers. You can simply merge all layers if you wish, but I prefer my way 'cause it allows coming back and fixing mistakes I tend to make in the process ) To the new layer, I applied filter > noise > median. In my case, the radius was around 5; the bigger the image, the bigger the radius.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/04.jpg

    Immediately after Median I hit ctrl shift F (you can also use edit > fade median) and chose these settings: blending mode: normal; opacity: 50%.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/05.jpg

    4. Smoothing a little bit more
    The image already looked "drawn"; but I decided I'd like to increase this effect a bit, so I used filter > blur > smart blur (with small values: 3 for radius and 6,5 for threshold).
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/06.jpg

    5. Blurring
    I copied all visible layers by hitting ctrl A, ctrl shift —, ctrl V. Then I picked the blur tool (strength = 20...50, brush size depends on the size of the image, but shouldn't be too big) and carefully blurred the rugged areas on Tom's cheeks, nose, whites etc. (It is important not to touch the contours; you can change brush size/pressure if necessary.)
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/07.jpg

    6. Brightening up the eyes
    Okay, this is where some real precision's needed. Once again, I hit ctrl A, ctrl shift —, ctrl V. Zoomed the image in (200%) and picked dodge tool (exposure: 10...20; highlights; soft brush, the size depends on the area you're going to work on). Very carefully (and remembering to zoom out periodically and check how the image looks at its normal scale) I lightened up the whites. No uniformity; I left the dark areas relatively darker than brighter ones. In places, the whites became a bit too pink; I used sponge tool (at very small flow) to desaturate them. Again ctrl A, ctrl shift —, ctrl V; again dodge tool (this time the brush was very small, around 2...7 pixels). I lightened up his irises, not completely, but the lighter areas (they're usually situated at the bottom of iris and opposite to the catchlight(s)). I also lightened the catchlights and (a little) the contours of his inferior eyelids.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/08.jpg

    7. Adding some "make-up"
    —trl A, ctrl shift —, ctrl V. Then I picked the Burn tool at the approximately same settings as above, only the range was - Shadows. I decided it was appropriate to darken his pupils, eyelashes, eyebrows a little bit; I also deepened the shadows on his eyelids (using a larger soft brush and very small exposure). Also, I emphasized shadows under the edge of his lower lip and around the wing of his nose to give those clenched jaws and tense nostrils even more expressiveness.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/09.jpg

    8. Brightening the irises
    I still wasn't satisfied with the eyes. So, I created new empty layer on top of everything and set it to Dodge blend mode. Then I chose small soft brush and a not too dark, not too saturated color, something between blue, green, and grey (the color actually depends on the color of the eyes, so it'll be different in your case). On the new layer, I carefully colored up the irises, making them brighten up and look more "alive". If you think the effect is too strong, try playing with layer opacity or remove the bits you don't like with Eraser tool. If you don't like the color, hit ctrl U and play with the settings, just don't forget to check the "colorize" box. Only try not to overdo the eyes, well unless you're creating a portrait of a hungry hellfire-eyed demon.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/10.jpg

    9. Defining irisesí contours
    (This step is optional and depends on what you want to achieve and what you like; decision is up to you.) I created a new document, say, 100 by 100 pixels. Picked the Elliptical Marquee tool and, holding Shift, drew a circle in the new document. Its size was approximately same as Tom's iris' or a little bigger. Edit > stroke > 1...3 pix (depending on the picture; I used 2, I think); inside; color is black. Keeping the selection, I used filter > blur > Gaussian blur at a very small radius, just to blur the circle a little bit. Selected the canvas (ctrl A); edit > define brush. Closed the new document without saving. Now, in my Tom picture, I created a new layer, set it to Multiply, chose the little circle brush I just created from the very end of my brushes palette, and carefully stamped a circle right over the edge of Tom's iris (using dark grey or black color). I erased the parts that covered his eyelids and played with the layer opacity a bit until the effect looked natural. I made the same to the other eye. The circle brush I saved for the future works
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/zugma/tut/11.jpg

    10. Merging down
    ...all layers.

    11. Sharpening
    This last step also depends on what you prefer and is optional. Filter > sharpen > sharpen. Edit > fade sharpen > now look yourself, considering which effects you're going to use in the collage or wallpaper based on your photo. Just remember not to oversharpen the image.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...t/improved.jpg

    The end of Part One
    Part Two is going to be a walkthrough tutorial for this wallpaper -


    1024x768 || 800x600

    And will be written eventually, hopefully before this year ends

    Necessary credits: although this technique was made up by me, its forming was influenced by tutorials by Ailsa @ Plastic Trees, Sarah @ Never Forget, Val @ Touchstone Art, Julie @ Restless Slayer, and an article on sharpening photographs from some Russian portal, the link to which I have lost, unfortunately.

    Any questions? Comments? Please feel free to PM me.
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    Tom Riddle Wallpaper: Part Two *A cookie goes to Heather for her patience *

    For this part, requirements are same as above.

    1. Manipulating clothes and hair
    I created new document (1024x768, 72 pix/inch, transparent) and pasted the improved picture of Tom into it. (1)
    I disliked the way it was cropped so that Tom had neither shoulder nor forehead. So I decided to manipulate. I started with his shoulder, 'cause it seemed easier to fix. I masked away the edge of the picture with soft round brush, created two layers underneath and drew the missing parts of the robes and background. (The mask was needed to make the transition from photo to drawing less noticeable.) (2)
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/01.jpg

    I then marked the imaginary contour of Tom's head using small round brush and colours picked from the image:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/02.jpg

    And played a little with smudge tool on his forehead to extend it:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/03.jpg

    The hair was more complicated task, 'cause I couldn't draw it and didn't have a decent quality photo of Tom to manipulate. So I looked through HQ pictures of celebrities I had and found one (I think that was Eliza Dushku %)) with lovely curly hair. I blended two or three fragments of that hair into the contour I'd marked before, trying to imitate Tom's hairstyle, and merged these new hair layers together. To make the colour of the new hair match, I used Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Finally, I applied Filter > Noise > Median (radius = 1 or 2) to the new hair, then Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen, so that the effects looked similar to ones in Tom image, and decided that that would do. The manip was very rough, but that didn't matter as I wanted my wallpaper dark, and knew that shadows would hide the flaws. I can't make screenshots for these steps 'cause I merged the layers, but the final result looked like this:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/04.jpg

    2. Positioning, masking, and colouring
    I created new layer underneath Tom and filled it with dark grey that matched the colour of the clothes. I moved Tom and masked away major part of the original white background with soft round brush. I got this:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/05.jpg

    Then I added a bunch of gradient maps on top of Tom layer and masked some of them with semi-transparent soft brush:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/06.jpg

    But then I realized that that was way too acid, so I merged Tom layer with the background, duplicated it and moved the copy on top of the gradient maps, setting its opacity to 38%. It looked better:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/07.jpg

    But I didn't like that white halo around Tom. I created two new layers and on them, painted over the glowing with soft brush (using dark grey colour). I set these layers to soft light and multiply and masked away some parts:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/08.jpg

    3. Adding smoke
    For smoke, I used a stock photograph of smoke from Jenni Lou. I pasted it on top of other layers, duplicated few times; then resized, rotated, and masked each copy. I set all the smoke layers to screen at different opacities:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/09.jpg

    4. Adding texture
    Now thin-lined texture, but a little explanation first.

    I have a habit of starting a wallpaper and never finishing, but can't make myself get rid of the PSDs: I keep dreaming that some day, I'll get all inspired and actually finish them. Which never happens, but my WIP folder is full with half-baked drafts. Sometimes, though, I use them as textures in my other works. I did so to my Tom wall.

    Okay, I have to get over my embarrassment and show the crappy draft I used Here it is:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/10.jpg
    (You can see that its left side contains vertical stripes/lines. I don't remember how I'd make them; I think I used rectangular marquee tool and fill, and probably large soft brushes to add some variety to the colour. And a gradient map.)

    So, I pasted the above draft on top of my Tom wall. I applied Filter > Blur > Motion blur (vertical) to get rid of details I didn't need, and set it to screen; then masked away Buffy's face. I didn't like the colour, so I hit Ctrl U and changed it. The settings I went with were: Edit: Master; Hue: +87; Saturation: 0; Lightness: +1. After that, I duplicated the layer, flipped it and also masked.
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/11.jpg

    5. Shadowing and colour fixing
    The wallpaper became too light, so I decided to darken it. I created two new layers and painted on them with very big soft brush. I set these layers to soft light:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/12.jpg

    I thought that colouring was a bit plain, so I added three more gradient maps on top of everything:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/13.jpg

    And added some more shadowing, using the same technique as above:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/14.jpg

    6. Merging down
    ...all layers.

    7. Sharpening, adding "noisy" effect and other final touches
    I darkened the wall a little bit more using Gradient Smithy filter from Mehdi. I think you can achieve similar effect using gradient maps, only they should be dark. Then I sharpened it (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen) and applied either Fuzzifier filter from Xero or default Add Noise filter (I can't remember which one). I then thought that the background looked bare, but I was pretty tired to return and fix all those layers, so I cheated and used my other wallpaper from the villains set to cover bare parts Here it is:
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/1024/snape21024.jpg

    (It was made following same scenario as this one, and I used it in the same way I used my Buffy draft, only the blending mode was set to lighten instead of screen.)

    Finally, I created new layer, hit Ctrl A and went Edit > Stroke > inside, 1 pix. (I picked a greenish colour from the piece.)

    7. Adding text
    http://uglybusiness.misplaced.co.uk/...dlewall/15.jpg

    And phew! That is all!
    Last edited by Zugma; 25-02-08 at 10:50 AM.
    [ ...In my exile. ]
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    Default

    Tutorilal for Heather: Severus Snape icon.
    (Forgive me honey for making you wait again! I made this tutorial qiuckly, hope it turned out clear enough. If it's not clear, feel free to ask questions, I'll do my best to explain )


    View the tutorial

    Download the .PSD
    Last edited by Zugma; 15-06-09 at 05:18 PM.
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    Default "The edge": wallpaper tutorial, part I

    During last few months, several people have asked me to write a tutorial for one or another of my latest Dean/Castiel wallpapers.I love to share whatever knowledge/experience I have; I, too learned from fan-made tutorials and feel it's only fair to return the favor to the community, so to speak, and help someone in exchange. Plus, I think explaining things to others makes you understand them clearer yourself. However, it's been years since I wrote my last wallpaper tutorial (I don't count this one, as it's more of a theoretical rambling than real tutorial). There are two reasons for that: first, my real life (with health issues and work being not the least part of it) leaves me with less free time for fannish things nowadays than it did 3 years ago; and second, my process of wallpaper-making has gotten longer and more complicated, and also sort of... automatic (I don't pay a lot of attention to many routine things I do when I work on a wall, I just do them) - to the point where I feel I'm not sure I actually can recall and write down what I've done, afterwards, and not spend days trying to do so. So I kept answering "sorry, but I don't think I can" to such requests. But I've started to feel uncomfortable because of that, and finally decided I could make a wallpaper specifically for tutorial purposes, using my most usual techniques, and then try to describe them.


    Before I get to it, however, I need to clarify a couple of things (sorry this intro is getting long, but they're important).

    1. This tutorial isn't beginner-friendly. You have to know the basics, such as instruments, palettes, blending modes, layer masks. I will try to explain things as clear as I can, but if I start to describe in detail each step I will never finish this.

    2. My main focus is going to be coloring and creating background from stock images, because these two topics seem to be the most popular requests. I will, of course, include other steps, but they won't be so detailed, because, again, I might never finish the tutorial otherwise.

    3. I apologize for bringing this up, but unfortunately it needs to be said. Please don't follow this tutorial literally. I am more than happy to share my techniques, and even my ideas to some extent (the whole point of fanart is that it's based on other people's original ideas, after all!), but I do feel upset when other artists copy my composition or other creative 'findings'. So, please don't do that. Let your own style evolve instead of mimicking others'; I swear, this way you'll get much more joy and satisfaction from your art

    4. The subject of this tutorial will be this wallpaper:


    1680x1050 || 1440x900 || 1280x800
    1600x1200 || 1280x1024 || 1024x768
    Castiel base.

    Requirements and resources

    - Photoshop (obviously); version 7 or higher

    I am not sure if this is translatable to PSP or any other programs since it includes masks, selective color, and gradient maps. (I am using PS CS3, so our interfaces may be a little different depending on the version, but the functions you need remain the same.)

    - Stock images (I'll explain how I choose them a little later)

    I suggest that you check out the site sxc.hu: registration is free and absolutely worth it. Also, you can find plenty of good stock at deviantart, but the makers' rules of usage vary there, so you need to pay attention and read them before downloading/using something. Another good stock resource is gettyimages - the images they offer for free are small and tagged, but work well for smaller graphics. Finally, there's Google image search (but again, you must be careful and avoid using artistic photography without author's permission).

    - Graphic tablet

    Not exactly necessary, but makes your life easier.

    - Loads of patience


    Getting started: the concept

    A wallpaper usually looks better if it is based on an idea more consistent than 'this person is pretty, I want him/her on my desktop'. I would lie if I said I always have a bright and clear picture of what I'm planning to do in my head when I start a wallpaper, but even something vague, a mood or random flash of a visual is better than nothing: you simply won't be able to make the piece 'rich' with details and 'layers' if you don't know what you're trying to say.

    I started this wall with basically no clear concept, knowing only that it must include my most usual techniques for tutorial purposes, but I am obsessed with Dean and Castiel lately and knew I wanted something romantic. I also remembered I had that nice image of a man in Castiel-like trench coat stepping off the roof, and a pair of wings I had already cut out of background (used in another wallpaper, but could use again after a bit of tweaking).

    So, I ended up with Cas kinda-falling-kinda-not for Dean. That is not the most original concept, of course, but, well. Note that it is heavily based on the resources I already had and ideas I had already played with in my mind. What I am trying to say here: try to remember your resources and ideas that inspire you, it helps when you are having creative itch but can't come up with a concept


    Choosing stock images for a collage

    Roughly I divide my stock images in two categories by the principle of usage:

    1) ones that I need for the 'plot' of the piece, and
    2) decorative ones that help me create background (or add to the color or texture) of the piece.

    Sometimes, the categories mix, and the same image can be used both for the plot and decoration. But the basics are these.

    In my wallpaper, the 'plot' stocks are wings, feathers, the original extravagant photo of male celebrity making step from the roof that I used for Castiel manip (of course), and the falling star. They are used to convey the idea of the piece:

    Castiel's an angel (the wings), he's about to Fall (stepping from the roof, wings shedding feathers) and lose his Grace (the meteor).

    When you pick your 'plot' stocks, try to think how to convey your idea using visual means in such a way that it not only becomes (more or less ) clear to your viewer, but is interesting to look at. Try thinking metaphors (falling star in my case). Metaphors may provide you with more ways of picturing your idea than the straightforward interpretation (which helps if you're having difficulties trying to find particular image), and they can be pretty; plus they add 'layers' to the piece, which IMO is always more interesting and poetic.

    The rest of stocks in my wallpaper are decorative, I used them to create fitting background behind and around the characters. However, you may have noticed that while the 'pattern' they create is abstract, they aren't completely random, but connected to the theme of wallpaper in some way. Let's see what they are:



    - large Gothic window;
    - a building with fire escape / emergency stairs / whatever it is called in English;
    - stars;
    - tangled branches/grass;
    - cloudy sky;
    - some cityscape with roofs;
    - falling snow.

    Why did I choose these images for my background?

    First of all, they have good contrast and interesting shapes in them. Cityscape and emergency stairs images have well-defined areas of light and shadow with lovely sharp transitions between them. I love using such kind of images. If you blend them together using Screen or Lighten blending mode (and, sometimes, Difference), making them overlap, you'll get many interesting, decoratively looking combinations that will help you balance out the composition, emphasizing the areas you need and creating the 'flow'. Same goes for the window - its frame is pretty and pattern-y, and contrast is good enough to set the picture on Lighten and blend it into the mix. The grass image also has very lovely shadow and lighting, plus I liked its cool blueish color. Finally, stars, clouds, and snow are what helped me to make the collage less 'geometric' and add some 'atmosphere' to it.

    The second reason I chose them is that they, like I said above, aren't completely random and do have some connection to the theme of the wallpaper, if not literally/metaphorically, then in terms of the mood they create. When choosing, think what their subject is associated with (in my case, combination of city buildings and church window suggests conflict between 'earthly' and 'heavenly', pretty snow melting in the wind adds a little drama/romanticism and goes well with wet stains on Dean's shoulder, etc).

    So, to sum up: when I collect the stocks to use in collage background, they have to have well-defined areas of light and shadow with interestingly looking edges, and to be either connected to the theme of the piece or can add to its mood/atmosphere.

    (I do also sometimes use stocks for color or texture, but I won't venture into that here because 1) it is not my usual practice, and 2) it will make this tutorial even longer than it's already promising to be.)


    Preparing canvas

    I started with big canvas - 1680x1200, to have the resulting wallpaper in several resolutions. I know I am a maniac though , so feel free to choose the size that fits you best. The thing I do suggest, however, is to start with transparent background and fill it using Layer > New fill layer command. It will make it easier to change or correct the color in the future (which I always do, sometimes more than once). The colors I usually choose are darker ones. I started this wall with dark blue-ish grey, but in the end changed it into a dark green one.


    Composition

    I pasted my Castiel base and Dean image onto the canvas, resized them and arranged in such a way that it seemed as though Dean was taking a slanting glance at Castiel. (I also liked how that put Castiel "on" Dean's shoulder ) Dean's image wasn't big enough for my canvas and I enlarged it slightly, hoping that it won't look too blurry after adding colors and contrast. I roughly masked background for both images (using Magic wand to select, and layer masks to hide unnecessary parts). I chose to be so sloppy because I wasn't sure these particular images would work and didn't want to waste time on good clean-up in case I would change the images later. After all, on this stage the wallpaper is just a sketch.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots01.jpg

    Dean's missing a shoulder in that photo; at first I thought I could place him next to the edge of the canvas but I didn't like how that looked, so I moved him towards the center and decided to try and make the cut edge part of the design. I then remembered the line from song by Katie Melua, 'We're twelve billion light years from the edge', and thought that 'edge' could actually be the visual theme of my piece, considering I wanted to picture Castiel overstepping the line, too. The single straight edge in Dean image looked kind of random though, so I added one more 'edge' to visually balance it out, using a stock (the one with grass and branches), and paintbrush (on an additional layer that I grouped with the stock one, to make the top part of it brighter). This is what I got:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots02.jpg

    Then I added some stocks to define the basic 'lines' of the composition. I'm not sure how they are called in English, I mean the, um, the paths which one's glance follows when looking at an artwork. In my case, they formed a cross with Castiel base in its center, because I thought that making Cas a focal point of the composition would work well in this particular wall, creating nice dynamic between large image of Dean and small one of the angel. I placed those stocks underneath the characters.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots03.jpg

    Here I highlighted those 'lines' I'm talking about:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots04.jpg

    However, the 'cross' in the middle made the right-hand side of my composition (Dean and especially area near the conceptual 'edge') feel disconnected from the main design. So, more stocks, to 'bend' the lines a little and add more dynamic:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots05.jpg
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots06.jpg

    Still, it didn't look how I wanted it to, so I added the falling star and snow (on top of the characters this time) to emphasize the diagonals and the feel of Castiel's falling. I also added text because I needed to know where it would go and how it'd work with the piece's layout. See how the dominant directions changed:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots07.jpg
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots08.jpg

    The wings! Actually, I should have added them much earlier, but let myself get carried away with other details. I admit it's a very bad idea to leave out such big and important element until the last moment and concentrate on smaller details instead: you might discover that it doesn't fit with the rest of design when you finally add it. So it was a mistake, and I was just lucky that I didn't have to remake the wallpaper to correct it.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots09.jpg

    I chose the image of a bird spreading its wings that I'd used before in another wallpaper. I thought it would fit, plus I had already masked away the background in it which meant I didn't have to do it again The wings were actually one same wing from the image of a bird that I duplicated, rotated and resized slightly. I used Curves to make one copy darker and the other one lighter and less contrasting (an imitation of 'air perspective'). Sorry the layer palette is such a mess - I try not to flatten layers or apply masks to them until I am 200% sure I won't need to change anything later, and then I just forget That is why for each wing I have the original bird image with mask (showing only the wings) and Curves layer grouped with it, both put inside a set with a mask again (which is showing only that one wing that I need).

    Anyway: at this point, I decided the composition was basically done and I could move on to the coloring. Of course, I still had very rough ugly edges on Dean, and Castiel base was still a base and not a manip, but I planned to return to them later. I missed colors and couldn't continue without knowing the color scheme.
    [ ...In my exile. ]
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  12. #12
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    Default 'The edge': wallpaper tutorial, part II

    Preparing the base for coloring

    Before you begin to set up the coloring in collage, make sure all the elements have similar contrast and brightness, and - if your piece features a group of people - skin tones match. Of course, all the colors will change and somewhat 'unify' when you add gradients, selective color layers or whatever else you choose to use, but if the difference is too obvious in the beginning, it will still be obvious after.

    In my wallpaper, Dean had much lower brightness and contrast than Castiel did. I added a Curves layer to fix that. I have already mentioned grouping layers together; in case you don't know what that means here's a brief explanation. When you want an adjustment layer (say, Curves) to affect a single layer only in your collage, place the Curves layer directly on top of the layer to be affected by it and 'group' layers:

    Ctrl + Alt +G (or using Layer > Create clipping mask command).

    The Curves will be associated with the layer below it. If you look at your layers palette you'll see a small arrow next to its icon, pointing downwards: it indicates that the Curves layer is grouped with the one below.

    Of course you can simply apply the Curves directly to your image and not venture into the adjustment layers territory at all, but that only works well if you are completely sure you won't need to tweak or re-adjust anything later. I am rarely that sure , so I stick with adjustment layers. (By the way, you can do that clipping mask thing not only with adjustment layers but with any kind of layers, which is very handy.)

    Okay, so I slightly highlighted Dean with Curves and got this:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots10.jpg

    Castiel base was still much brighter, but I felt I didn't want the entire collage to be that bright. My Dean layer was on top of Castiel one; I created a new fill layer between them, filled it with very light green (# cbdacc) and set to Multiply, visually separating foreground (Dean) and background (Castiel and stocks) and darkening the background a little. I chose green because I liked the hints of that color that already were in the collage and decided to try a green-ish coloring for the entire wallpaper.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots11.jpg

    Dean's shirt seemed too blue against the grey and green of the collage. I created a new layer on top of it, set it to Color mode and painted over the shirt with grey color, using small hard brush. Painting with bigger soft brush on another layer (set to Normal mode), I also hid the WB watermark on Dean's chest.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots12.jpg

    And decided the base was ready for coloring

    Coloring

    For several years gradient maps were my primary instrument when it came to coloring, I loved the infinite variety of color shades they created and the pretty painting-like effect they added to the wallpaper. But at some point I felt I was beginning to repeat myself, and the more popular they became among the fanartists, the less satisfied with them I felt. So, about a year ago I set myself up to a challenge: find a way to create good coloring without gradient maps. I turned for inspiration to the icon makers who hardly ever use gradient maps yet create excellent colorings. That is how I discovered and grew fond of fill layers, curves and selective color. After a few months of gradient maps taboo, I did return to them of course - because, no matter how over-used, they are still amazing; but now my technique always includes fills and selective color as well, and I find the combination very powerful. This part of the tutorial will consist of three steps: fills, selective color, and gradient maps. (In reality, I don't work with them separately and just mix them depending on what the piece needs at the moment. However, I feel the tutorial will get confusing if I don't organize the explanations in some way.)

    I usually start with flood fill layers. They help me to 'unify' the coloring of the piece or to add the shade/tint that I want to achieve. My usual favorites are:

    - light yellow/beige/peachy on Multiply (makes the piece warmer, softens the too-high brightness, sets up a lovely base for selective coloring work);

    - very dark brown on Exclusion (softens the contrast, lightens and warms up dark areas, makes it easier to reveal reds when applying Selective color - but makes the light areas darker and adds a greenish shade to them);

    - very dark greenish blue on Exclusion (works similar to brown, but shifts the coloring towards yellows/pinks on the lights and blues on the shadows);

    - very light yellow/blue/turquoise/pink/other pastel shade on Color Burn (increases the contrast, makes shadows more deeper and colorizes the piece);

    - any color on Soft Light (lightens/darkens/colorizes the piece, depending on lightness and intensity of the color).

    I use these in various combinations and at various opacities, fiddling with settings until I get something I like. I almost always add a curves layer underneath them that increases the brightness, because most fills tend to make collage darker.

    Now, in my wallpaper I used the following combination of curves and fills (bottom to top):

    - Curves layer for better lighting;
    - Flood fill layer (light yellow, set on Multiply, opacity 100%) to soften/warm up the bright areas;
    - Flood fill layer (very dark brown, set on Exclusion, opacity 30%) to soften the contrast.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots13.jpg

    Selective color. I don't have much to say about it, other than that you'll get it when you try it It's easy, and everything basically comes down to this: you fiddle with the settings for each group of colors, adding and/or reducing, until you like what you see. As for me, this is what I usually do:

    - Reds: reduce cyan, increase red, yellow, and black.

    - Yellows: depends; usually I increase them, but sometimes I don't.

    - Greens, cyans, blues and magentas: depends on the image; if these colors are present in it (clothes, screencap backgrounds etc.) and look interesting, I might play with these settings.

    - Whites: I like to play with these to add or reduce brightness and color in the lightest parts of collage; for example, if the middle tones of the piece are warm (red, brown), I might add some blue to the whites - it is a pretty combination that makes the coloring less monotonous.

    - Neutrals: change in these affects entire image, so you should be careful, but sometimes it's worth a try.

    - Blacks: I try not to touch them unless I'm aiming for something experimental, or I feel the contrast in my image needs slight corrections.

    At this stage, I added two Selective Color layers in my wallpaper. First layer's settings:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...ivecolor01.jpg

    And the result:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots14.jpg

    Second layer:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...ivecolor02.jpg

    The result:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots15.jpg

    Gradient maps. Some time ago, my computer crashed and I lost the gradients I had downloaded from other fanartists. I didn't download them again because I wasn't using them that much anymore, plus I wanted my work to be more unique. So I started to create my own gradients.

    There are two ways to create a custom gradient from scratch, depending on the type of gradient you're creating - Noise or Solid. I have written a mini-tutorial for solid gradients a few years ago, and since I am lazy, I'll just copy and paste it


    How to create 'solid' gradient maps in Photoshop

    1. Click this button in the layers palette and choose Gradient map from the drop-down menu:
    http://img19.photobucket.com/albums/...a/tut/gm01.gif

    2. To use gradients you already have, click this little arrow:
    http://img19.photobucket.com/albums/...a/tut/gm02.jpg
    and choose the one you like.

    3. To edit a gradient map or create new one, click the pictogram of gradient:
    http://img19.photobucket.com/albums/...a/tut/gm03.gif

    4. This window appears:
    http://img19.photobucket.com/albums/...a/tut/gm04.gif
    The square little sliders show how many colors you have and what is their order; if you 'activate' any of them by left clicking, you can move it and change its color. To add more colors, click the edge of the gradient pictogram and you'll get a new slider to play with. To delete the color simply drag the runner away from the picture. The sliders at the bottom of the gradient add colors, the ones at the top are for transparent zones:
    http://img19.photobucket.com/albums/...a/tut/gm05.gif

    When you get what you like, press OK. Or, if you want to save the gradient and use it later, click New to add the new gradient to the library.



    That's it. And 'Noise' gradients are even simpler. When you get to the step 4, change gradient type to Noise, choose the level of noise you prefer (I usually don't choose anything higher than 40 because I don't want the coloring look too noisy/distorted), and click Randomize until you see something you like.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...radients01.jpg

    So, back to the wallpaper. I thought that, while the coloring already did look nice, it could have been thicker, 'richer' - and gradient maps are good for that kind of effect. I used two Noise gradient maps and set both on Soft light, bottom one at 61% opacity and top one at 36%:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots16.jpg

    At that point, I decided I knew the direction I would go in with the colors, so it was time to finally return to Castiel manip, Dean's hair, and other details, and clean everything up.
    [ ...In my exile. ]
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  13. #13
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    Default 'The edge': wallpaper tutorial, part III

    Cleaning up the sketch: backrounds and Castiel manip

    It is very important to get clean, precise edges when you cut an object from background: that's what makes the wallpaper look HQ and professional. I'd already cut Dean and Castiel base out from background, but roughly. I now needed to clean up the edges. To do that in this wallpaper, I used layer masks and small hard brushes. (This is where graphic tablet came handy.) I turned off my coloring layers and carefully masked away everything I didn't need. Dean's hair was particularly stubborn, so I used a very small brush to mask around the tiny spikes. To make them look perfect, I applied the mask to the layer and then went to:

    Layer > Matting > Defringe (Width = 1 pixel).

    That cut the hair a little, but didn't make it look too unnatural; and, what's most important, helped me to get rid of those thin messy remains of the background around the edges. I then used History brush to restore the parts that were too severely cut out by the Defringe command, and Eraser to remove the occasional mess that sometimes appears after defringing. The Cas base was easier: I didn't need his hair (his entire head, actually), and I did already have an older PSD file of Castiel's profile extracted from background that I had used before in an icon. So I moved on to the manip.

    I used Hue/Saturation to reduce the blues and cyans in the base, then pasted Cas' head onto it. Naturally, I resized the head, rotated it etc. until it fit, then very carefully masked away the neck, leaving only the part that was supposed to show up from the collar of the coat. The face was lit differently than the base, but I decided that it wouldn't be very obvious, considering the small size of the image.

    In that promo picture I took Cas' head from, he was wearing a white shirt. I cut it out (together with the tie) and pasted into the wallpaper in such a way that it covered the base's black waistcoat, then masked the parts I didn't need and drew a couple of shadows on the side to make the lighting more believable. (I now see I should have removed that little bit of base's white shirt sticking out from under the waistcoat :/ Oh well.) Finally, I created a new layer on top of the base, set it on Multiply and, using paintbrush, recolored the base's jeans, making them darker and more slacks-like

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots17.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...e/layers01.jpg

    Details and final coloring

    So I switched my coloring layers back on and looked at the wallpaper again, analyzing it and trying to decide what was okay and what needed correcting. The coloring seemed a bit cold for a romantic piece. I added a soft blob of yellowish paint underneath all layers. I placed it in such a way that it helped to reveal the tips of Castielís wings that were hard to see against the dark background. (I liked the resulting combination of dark green and brown and decided to color the text accordingly.)

    Also I added a light, soft, semi-transparent stroke of paint between Dean's hair and Cas' wings because I didn't like how they seemed to overlap, with no 'air' between them. Oh, and added falling feathers, too.

    However, the coloring still didn't satisfy me, so I played with additional Selective Color layers and gradient maps. I added two more gradient maps and four selective color layers, to achieve a richer and more saturated, colorful look:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...e/layers02.jpg

    Here are the Selective Color layers settings:

    "Selective color 2";
    "Selective color 3";
    "Selective color 4";
    "Selective color 5".

    This is when I also changed the background color from dark gray to dark green.

    Text

    I had already decided on the typefaces and color of my text, but it needed some decoration. I chose two very simple effects: drop shadow and gradient overlay. My settings were:

    Drop shadow:
    Blend mode: Multiply
    Color: #000000 (black)
    Distance: 0
    Spread: 49
    Size: 1

    Gradient overlay:
    Blend mode: Soft light
    Opacity: 51%
    Gradient: the default black-to-white one

    Now text looked better, but parts of it were hard to read against the background. I thought it would be nice to 'highlight' those parts. I did so, using the wonderful grouping/clipping mask trick that I've explained above: for each line that needed highlighting, I created a new layer on top, grouped it with the text and simply painted on it in white, with large soft brush. I lowered the opacity of those 'highlight' layers so that the white wasn't too harsh. Here's my layers palette, to make this clearer:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...eenshots18.jpg

    I finally added thin white lines around the text (drew them with pencil tool and softened the edges with large soft eraser).

    And, wow, I can't believe it but this monster of a tutorial is (finally!) almost over.

    The final touches

    I liked the 'painted' effect the coloring gave to the wallpaper and decided I didn't want any additional filtering. So I simply sharpened it up a little and made the surface a tiny bit smoother.

    I copied merged:

    Select > All; Edit > Copy merged (or Ctrl + A, Ctrl + Sift + C)

    and pasted the copy on top of all my layers. Then applied the Smart sharpen filter*:

    Filter > Sharpen > Smart sharpen
    (amount: 30...50; radius: 0,5...0,6; Remove: gaussian blur).

    *PS7 doesn't have it, but you can achieve similar effect if you do this:

    Filter > Other > High Pass (radius approx. 0,6); and then Edit > Fade > Soft light.


    I prefer Smart sharpen to the regular Sharpen filter because it sharpens the piece nicely without making the edges jagged and pixely (which Sharpen often does).

    For smoothing, I chose Surface Blur*:

    Filter > Blur > Surface Blur
    (radius: 2; threshold: 2)

    *Old versions of PS don't have it, but you can use Smart Blur instead:

    Filter > Blur > Smart Blur
    (radius: 2...3; threshold: 5...7)


    Then I added my signature, and phew! The wallpaper was finished. As is, basically, this tutorial

    What else?

    I guess the order in which I worked on the wallpaper might seem chaotic, what with all the starting-a-part-then-switching-to-another-then-returning. But even though it is perhaps true, this order is easier for me and I find it more effective. I get tired quickly, and so do my eyes; switching subjects I work on helps me stay focused. It also helps to notice mistakes and makes the working process more... organic, allowing to get each stage and detail in accordance with all the others. (I hope that makes sense.) But you are absolutely free to disregard my example and organize your process how it suits you.

    In conclusion, some tutorials from other artists that you might find interesting:

    Pretty much all of Vrya's tutorials are a must read.
    I recommend also:
    herdestiny 's guide on Curves.
    justaddcolor 's guide on color fill layers.
    Julie's guide on gradient maps.

    That's it!

    Please do not repost or translate this tutorial without permission. And feel free to message me with any questions or feedback

    Also, thanks to Smth_Blue for the beta ♥ All remaining mistakes are mine.
    [ ...In my exile. ]
    LJ; Tumblr; Wallpapers

  14. #14
    Evacuee Zugma's Avatar
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    Default Mini-tutorial on typography: how to use Open Type features in your text


    This is not really a "tutorial", frankly - just a little tip on how to work with text in PS with better result. But I hope it will be useful.

    Open Type is a font format (it has the .OTF or .TTF extention). One of its perks is that single font file can contain additional designs for the same character, like in the picture above, and that is what I want to tell about.

    In my example, I am using the font called Bickham Script Pro Regular:


    Now, not every Open Type font has those additional designs, but some of them do, which can be used to make text in your artwork prettier - if you know how to get to them.

    This is how:

    Open your Character palette, type your text and click on the tiny triangle in the top right corner of the palette, just under the "-" and "x" buttons. A drop-down menu will appear, the third option in it is Open Type.

    If this option is gray and inactive, then the font you've chosen doesn't have the full OT support. However, if it is active, you're about to have some fun. Click on it, and you'll see another drop-down menu with various options:


    Now, just click on available options and see what happens to your text. Usually it is better to use different options on particular characters or combinations of characters, to get rid of the "tails" that cross awkwardly, create a ligature, or add a pretty swash.




    PS. Sometimes fonts are sold/distributed together with a PDF file in which it is shown what additional characters and designs the font has. Of course, we fanartists don't often buy commercial fonts, but if you got your font with an attached PDF file, it might be useful to check it out.

    And this is it!

    If you have something to add or clarify (or want to correct a mistake, which is possible because I learned how to use Open Type features just recently, myself), please let me know. I'll appreciate it.
    [ ...In my exile. ]
    LJ; Tumblr; Wallpapers

  15. #15
    Evacuee Zugma's Avatar
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    Default Clean edges using Defringe


    This isn't really a tutorial, just a little tip on how to get rid of those thin outlines that sometimes remain around the edges when you cut out a picture. They are especially visible if you put the picture into background of different color. See example in the banner above: first Spike is what I got using Magic Wand tool to remove the background. Second one is the same but with addition of defringing magic.

    Important: whichever cutting technique/instrument you use, it is better to:

    First, cut out the background;
    THEN reduce the size of the picture to fit in your wallpaper;
    Then, finally, use Defringe.

    It works best in this order because when you reduce your cut-out image, the tiny jags along its edges (left from cutting) sort of smooth out. And if you apply Defringe to a smoother edge, the result is neater.

    So, this useful command can be found in Layer menu:

    Layer > Matting > Defringe.

    When you click it, a small window will show up. Put in it the number of pixels you want to be cut off around the edges of your pic. I found that for fanart, 1 or 2 usually work best:

    Spoiler:


    And this is it.

    PS.: Since no automatic function works perfectly, you may have to manually do a little fixing to your picture after defringing. In my example, I'll need to remove the little white spot between Spike's knees, in the folds of the coat. Still - Defringe will save you a ton of manual work, and time as well.
    Last edited by Zugma; 09-10-11 at 05:06 PM.
    [ ...In my exile. ]
    LJ; Tumblr; Wallpapers

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