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Willow/Angelus Icon Tutorial


Buckle Up Tight
Feb 26, 2006
I was recently asked to make a tutorial for icons like these:

I can't say that this is the 'right' or 'correct' way to achieve this technique, but this is the way I do it. So in this tutorial we'll be going THIS and THIS to THIS:

First of all, you need to decide if you want a bright icon or a dark icon. The Eliza icon above is a bright icon, the Natasha, Angelus/Willow and Henry Winchester icons are darker. If you want a lighter icon, create a new canvas 100px x 100px and create a new color layer in a light color. You can just use white if you want, but if the image has a certain hue, like cream or yellow or pink, then you can use a lighter version of this as your background. For the Eliza one I just went with white.

For darker icons, it's best to use black as your background. However, for the Henry Winchester icon, as far as I can remember, I used a dark purple, as black made it too dark for what I wanted.

So, for so this icon I created a new canvas 100px by 100px canvas and fill it with black - [HASHTAG]#000000[/HASHTAG]

Alright, let's crop the images.

As you can probably tell, the whole point of icons like this is to cut the face in half for the background image, it's my thing, I don't know why, lol. So, take the Angelus icon, and crop it just pretty much at his cheek bones level. Resize it to 100px by 100px. You should end up with something like this:

Now the Willow image. We want this to be slightly smaller, as it has to go in front of the Angelus image. So, crop it as a central crop, so that you can see the full image and resize it to 70px by 70px. You should have something that looks like this:

Copy and paste the Angelus icon onto your black canvas and lower the opacity to 70%. We might come back and change that later, but for now you should have something like this:

Now copy and paste the Willow image on top of the Angelus image and move it towards the bottom of the canvas, but keep it central and leave the opacity at 100%. You should have something like this:

Right, now we need to remove the background from the Willow image. Everyone has their own way of doing this, whether it be using the eraser tool or masks (which is my preferred method) but we all know how, so using your own method, carefully erase the background from Willow. Your icon should now look something like this:

I thought the Angelus image was still a little too bright for what I wanted, so I lowered the opacity to 45%, which looks like this:

Now coloring. I didn't want to do anything too elaborate and I don't want to go into too much detail as I know a lot of people use different programs and I know that I use techniques that aren't available on certain programs. So it's very simple coloring here.

I copy merged the whole thing and set it to Soft Light. I thought Willow ended up too bright, so I used the eraser tool on Willow. It now looks like this:

Create a new color layer and fill it with [HASHTAG]#c5580f[/HASHTAG] and set it to Soft Light. Lower the opacity of the Angelus layer to 25%. You should have something like this:

<b><u>This step is Optional</u></b>

I wanted some more definition in the Angelus image, so go back to the Angelus layer, duplicate the layer, turn it black and white (Desaturate) and set the black and white layer to Hard Light at 30%. It's not a massive difference, but now it looks like this:

I decided that it was too red/orange, so I created a new layer, filled it with [HASHTAG]#1946ad[/HASHTAG] and set it to Soft Light and lower the opacity to 75%:

You could stop there if you wanted, but I thought it would be nice to add something more, so I played around with some textures.

Take THIS texture (maker unknown, if you know, please tell me so that I can link back) and paste it UNDER the blue layer and set it to Soft Light.

Then, take THIS texture (again, maker unknown so please tell me if you recognize it) and paste it UNDER the blue layer but ABOVE the previous texture and set it to Screen at 35%. Duplicate it and set it to Soft Light, still at 35%. It will now look like this:

Finally, I wanted a little more color in Willow's hair, so I created a new layer ABOVE the blue color fill layer, and, with a soft round brush with the opacity of the brush lowered to 50%, I painted carefully over her hair and set the layer to Overlay at 60%.

Flatten all the layers and do whatever it is you do to finsh your icons - I just sharpened it a little.

And here's your final result:

The trick with icons like these is playing around with the opacity of the background image. The background image should be use more like an accent, and the foreground image should be the focus.

I hope this helps a little. If anyone has any questions, just leave a comment!
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