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Based on a conversation with housem24fan, I decided to make a tutorial to show her a couple things!

I am still a beginner with GIMP, so this is definitely not the voice of experience talking. Most of this I learned by trial and error and flopsweat. ;D I'm hoping this might save one or two of you the same frustrations I had.

TUTORIAL #1: Coloring with Layer Modes in GIMP

Here's the original cap she was working with:

Her original attempt to icon it looked like this:

In a conversation with me and a couple other icon makers, we were trying to explain how to fix the aspect ratio and the washed-out look of the faces, without losing the color. (I'm going to talk about text in the second tutorial, below.)

So first, we'll crop the picture, making sure that we keep the pic absolutely square:

Save it as a PNG (better quality). Now it's time to color.

I've found that an easy way to brighten colors and get them to pop is to do what I call my "3 Layer Screen-Overlay Technique"(TM). *g* Caveat: I like bright colors. I'm not too interested in sepia-toned or washed out colors. Those are both pretty popular right now, but to each his own!

1) Duplicate the cropped base three times by pressing the duplicate button.

2) Set the top layer to screen on the Layer Modes.

This is obviously too bright, so now we...

3) Set the middle layer to overlay.

Now you can duplicate that layer one or more times to get even brighter colors. Sometimes I have 2-3 screen and overlay layers in combination.

4) If you don't like the levels of either one, you can change the opacity with the slider on that layer:

On this one, I changed the opacity of the overlay to 50%. I could have also changed the screen layer to make it less bright.

5) Once you have the color/brightness you want, flatten the image:

6) Now it's time to resize to 100x100. I tried it from here, but the edges of Lois' hair looked oversharpened. EX:

Something that seems to work for me is blurring the image once or twice first, before scaling it down.

And now it looks like this:

Now I would probably do a few more steps, like brightening Lois' eye color, or making the sky bluer... or something. But that's the basic process.

TUTORIAL #2: Bordering text with layers in GIMP

In this tutorial, I'm going to show my method for bordering text, which works better for me than using the Stroke Tool.

Here is the original cap:

This is the original icon she made:

The coloring is nice and warm, but the text seems out-of-place.

So using the technique in Tutorial #1 above, I cropped and colored my own version:

Mine has a bit more redness in it - but it has much the same "warmness," so I'm going with that.

Okay, time to add the text.

1) I want to use colors from the newly colored cap - but I cropped out the blue in Clark's jacket! So I used Edit-->Undo History to get back to the original size:

2) After coloring with the three layers, I clicked the Foreground Color in the Toolbar, then used the color picker to select the red of Lois' lips, and the blue of the lightest part of the jacket.

3) Next, I selected Arial Bold 18 and the blue color to start, placing the text near the same area as the original icon.

The blue seems dark, but I decided to wait to see how it looked with the red border... Here's my method:

4) Right-click on the text layer, and pick "Text to Selection"

5) Duplicate the text layer, then right-click in the center of the highlighted text on the picture. Go to Select-->Border

Set the pixels at 2, and feather the border:

6) Now fill the duplicated text layer with red. Change the Foreground (FG) or Background (BG), then right-click in the center of the selected text again. Edit-->Fill with FG color (or BG if you changed that).

7) Move the filled text layer under the other text layer. Merge the text layer and the filled layer together by right-clicking on the top of the two layers you want to merge:

You get this:

While that's better, in my opinion, the text is still a bit out-of-place looking. So change the opacity to something lower (I chose 50%), like this:

Or set the Layer Mode to Screen:

Or Grain Extract:

Just play around with different modes and opacities. :)

Other GIMP users, I definitely want your opinion on things you would have done differently, and specific steps! It will help both of us. :)



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 8th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
Oh, excellent tutorial! I'm definitely saving this one! XD
Jun. 8th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
Really? Awesome! :) I tried to explain some of this with words, and I just confused her. So I hope pictures will explain what I am saying! :)
Jun. 8th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Any chance I can get you to post this on the Graphics Tuts comm? *bats eyelashes*

In regard to the visuals - very nice. I def. think that will help - I know tutorials with visuals always help me.

You make me curious to give GIMP a try ...
Jun. 8th, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
If you think it's good enough, sure!

Oh, you should. I think it's a pretty good program for the money (heh).
Jun. 8th, 2009 05:21 am (UTC)
Wowsa! Excellent tutorials! I'll have to read through them in more depth when I have time.

Something I do different in your first one, though, is I click on the layer and select 'merge down' to merge the duplicates, and I crop to the right 1-to-1 proportion before scaling the image down to 100x100.

Thanks for posting these!
Jun. 8th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)

I sometimes merge before scaling, and sometimes after... not sure what you mean by: "crop to the right 1-to-1 proportion". Explain?
Jun. 8th, 2009 06:05 am (UTC)
When I crop the image, I try to get it exactly square. So, it might end up 450x450, or some such, depending on what I want in the icon. Takes some finesse with larger images, but it's not too hard - there's a thing at the bottom of the image window when you're selecting the area to crop, that'll let you know when you have a 1-to-1 ratio. Then I click 'scale image', input 100 px for the width, and click 'scale', and it automatically takes it down to 100x100. When I do banners, I like to make them 300(w)x150(h), so I go for a 2-to-1 ratio when cropping.

If I scale down and find I didn't get exactly what I wanted in the crop, I just back up and do the crop again until I get what I want. :p

Hope that helps!
Jun. 8th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
I think that's what I already do - is it different than what I showed in the third picture of the tutorial?
Jun. 8th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly! XD I'm not sure what I was thinking last night. Must have been confused somehow. Which isn't surprising, since it was ~2 AM! :p
Jun. 9th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
I do it differently to you. Mine involved a lot more messing around. My icon > Photobucket

Firstly I size up what I want to icon. Copy and paste it into a new window then resize the smaller amount to 100 and then in a new 100x100 sort it all out. :D Makes things easier to have your base image ready.

After that I screen to 60% then overlay to 60%. Add a blue layer (Superman blue) screen to 30% and then mess around with the colour levels until I'm happy (Midtones that is) Usually I use something like 21, 24 and -19. Then I multiply (Between 20-30%) then mess around with the brightness and contract and maybe screen again to brighten it up then sharpen slightly at the end.

Oh and use a cute heart brush 'cause I like it. :D
Jun. 9th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
I shall have to try that method of coloring on one of my next icons. :) I usually only play with Levels or Curves or Saturation if I don't like what I get on the 3-Layer technique. Usually to brighten one or two colors, or change the skin tones.

I love brushes! If I hadn't been just showing a way to brighten and color easily, I would have added more stuff like that. :)
Jun. 12th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Excellent tutorial! ♥

I followed through it and it helped alot! :D

I love having a couple of new techniques to play around with! I would never have thought to do that 3 layer coloring method. :)

Thanks so much for the demonstration! *hugs*

I should have re-make icons to post later this weekend.
Jun. 12th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, great! I really hoped this would help you. :) I'm still learning all the time, but sometimes I can't find good tutorials, and end up playing around with things myself.

I wonder if I should make a tutorial recs post someday?
Jun. 12th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
I think that would be a very good idea. :)

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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