First, choose your screencap. I chose this image of Merlin. I thought the quality of this particular cap was high, so I chose it for a close crop. Instead of coloring the image at its actual size, I resized the image to make it fit inside a 100x100 box. So, to do this, I took the screencap, and went to Image>>Image Size>>Width: 300 pixels, Height: 169. I then went to File>>New and created a 100x100 box, and dragged my screencap of Merlin into this new box. I moved the image around until I was happy with the crop and got this:
Now that you have chosen your crop, we can play around with the color. Right click on your Merlin layer and duplicate the layer. Set this to Soft Light, 50% opacity. This will add some contrast to your icon, while making your icon a little darker.
Now to make the icon brighter, we add a Screen layer. To do this, you duplicate the base layer of Merlin again (make sure it is on top) and set this to Screen, 23% opacity. Now with your screencaps you may need to change the opacity around because every screencap is different.
Next, I took a texture that I made and placed it on top of my screen layer. It brings more of a fleshy skin tone to his face because in the screencap Merlin is looking a little dull, in my opinion. Set this texture to Soft Light, 21% opacity. You'll see he will have more of a yellow tint to his face. If you want more yellow, move your opacity around until you're satisfied. I wanted mine to be subtle. The texture is HERE.
LEVELS! They are my new favorite thing. Within Photoshop there are many different tools you can use when trying to color your images, and Levels allow you to adjust the brightness and contrast of your image. Play around with this! You'll need to go to Layer>>New Adjustment Layer>>Levels. There will then be five numbers to play around with. I set the first number to 24. It darkens the image kind of like a Soft Light layer. The higher the number, the darker the image. Then I chose 1.15 for the second number. The higher the number, the lighter your image becomes. I then set the third number to 245. This creates more brightness on Merlin's face. I left the fourth and fifth numbers at default "0" and "255." HERE is a screen image to see what the levels layer looks like.
A Curves layer was used next. Layer>>New Adjustment Layer>>Curves. This is another excellent way to play around with the brightness of an image without using a million "screen" layers. You can also use Red, Green, and Blue tones if you like. For this icon however, I did not. So, the numbers used for my curves layer to brighten Merlin were:
Output: 107 Input: 100
Output 206 Input 200
I suggest you experiment by dragging these points around until you are satisfied.
Right-Click and save THIS texture. Open in Photoshop and go to Filter>>Blur>>Gaussian Blur 8.7 pixels. You can change the pixels if you like. What this does is blurs the image and blends the colors together, which will add nicely to Merlin's skin. Take the blurred texture and place it on your icon at 9% Soft Light. I like adding yellow layers/textures and blue layers/textures to close crop icons because it compliments the skin well (not too yellow, not too blue).
Next, I used a Vibrance Layer. Layer>>New Adjustment Layer>>Vibrance. This is like a saturation tool, without over saturating his face. It will simply add color to his skin tone. The numbers that I used were:
A Color Balance Layer is next. Layer>>New Adjustment Layer>>Color Balance. This allows you to remove unwanted color or add color. Again, play around with this!
Midtones: +2 (adds Red), +5, (adds Green), -5 (adds Yellow)
A Selective Color Layer is next. Layer>>New Adjustment Layer>>Selective Color. This lets you highlight specific colors in your icon. I played around with the Reds, Yellows, Neutrals, and Blacks. Now if you had an image with a lot of blue or green, you would want to play around with those as well. So for the numbers:
Reds: +3, +2, +10, +7
Yellows: +11, +6, +9, +36
Neutrals: 0, 0, 0, -5
Blacks: 0, 0, 0, +10
Next, I used an Exposure Layer. Layer>>New Adjustment Layer>>Exposure. This tool is one of my favorite things to use as well. It is very touchy though, meaning you may not have to change the settings much to get the desired effect. Move the "Exposure" bar and you'll get very dark or very bright. Move the "Offset" and you'll see black or grey changes. Move the "Gamma" bar and you'll see similar results. The three numbers I used were:
+0.01, -0.0157, .94
Ctrl>Alt>Shift>E to combine all of your layers into one layer. Go to Filter>>Blur>>Gassian Blur 2.7. This adds a glow to your image. I ALWAYS use this effect. Change this layer to Soft Light, 47%. He will have more of a yellow skin tone.
Ctrl>Alt>Shift>E to combine all of your layers into one layer. Go to Filter>>Sharpen>>Sharpen. Then go to Edit>>Fade Sharpen 36%. We don't want it to be too sharp!
Ctrl>Alt>Shift>E to combine all of your layers into one layer. Go to Image>>Adjustments>>Variations. Click "Lighter" and "Ok." This is optional really. I thought my image looked too dark. I set this layer to Soft Light, 27%.
Remember, experiment with your screencap! Don't follow this tutorial exactly. If you have questions, let me know.
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