Look, a tutorial from an icon-making beginner! Of course, I know everyone started somewhere, and it's fun to share the tiny little things I have learned so far. All the advanced icon-makers on my friends' list will just want to skip this, unless you promise not to point and laugh... :D I showed almost every step with screenshots, so forgive me if it's TOO detailed.
I used GIMP 2.4 on Windows XP, so hopefully all will translate.
Anyway, Rae asked me how to go from this:
Using this texture by cdg:
The edges around the hair are rougher than I'd want, but I'm happy enough with it for the sake of this tutorial. :) Maybe I'll fix it more later. Moving on...
I started out by getting rid of the ginormous annoying CW logo. I used the Clone Tool, and set the brush to Sand Dunes. By cloning the lighter and darker parts of the blouse and one of her hair curls, I made the logo go away. Not perfect, but once the image is sized down, it's hardly noticeable.
Next I cropped the image down to just Lois:
Using the fuzzy select tool, I selected the areas around Lois, then pressed delete to clear everything bit by bit. Make sure your background color is set to white, or the delete will change it to another color.
Once I got enough deleted with the fuzzy select tool, I moved to a large eraser. Using both back and forth helped me erase around her hair more easily.
Then I blew it up to 400% to make the finer erasing easier to do, and used a fuzzy brush.
Next step was to scale the image down. I decided to make the height 80, since the texture would probably look nice with the golden rays shooting over her head. :D
Then I increased the canvas size to 100x100, and moved Lois down to the bottom right corner of the canvas.
Now I needed to make all of the background behind Lois transparent. I'm sure I could have done this somehow before, but I have no idea, so now's as good a time as any. I used fuzzy select to select the white area to Lois's right, then went through the steps to Color to Alpha.
After clicking OK, I did the other side as well.
Next I opened the texture as a Layer:
And then dragged it below the Background Layer.
I could see then that there was still quite a bit of white around Lois's hair. So I zoomed out:
And then finely erased, using Circle (01) - which seems to catch one pixel at a time:
Now it looks like this:
It seemed a bit dark to me, so I copied the background layer, moved it up to the top and set it to Screen.
This gives me the final version:
Hopefully this helped you, Rae, and anyone else who might wonder... :)