Sarah (maidofawesome) wrote in graphics_school,

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Lesson 3: Preparing a Simple Base

The simplest way to prepare a base. As the lessons go on, we'll go through more complicated ways of doing this, but by the end of this tutorial, you will be able to make a simple, but pretty icon. Exciting, huh?

Let's go back to our Katie Leung base from the last lesson. You should have it all nicely cropped and ready to go. Got it?


This is our first experience with layers. A Photoshop document is made up of layers, each adding something else to the image. You can use them to lighten images, darken them, change the colour, change part of the colour, all sorts of things! Today, we're just going to work on brightening an image and improving the clarity.

First, you need to duplicate your background layer twice.

Go over to your Layers window:

Right click on your background layer, and hit duplicate image:

Click on either layer and hit duplicate image again - you now have three duplicates:

Now, click on the middle duplicate. Go into Blend Modes - the dropdown box that says 'Normal'.

Set the Blend Mode to 'Screen'.

Now, select the top duplicate. Go into Blend Modes again, but set it to 'Soft Light'. Your base should now be looking something like this:

Better, right? Let me explain what you've done.


The Screen layer lightens the image:

--> -->

Tht's the original image, with the Screen layer duplicated twice. The more times you duplicate a Blend Mode layer, the more it increases the effect.

Soft Light

The Soft Light layer deepens the shadows, increases the clarity of the image.

--> -->

When used on an image with fairly normal lighting, such as the Katie Leung one we're using, you need to use the two Blend Mode layers in conjunction. If you use the Screen layer alone, it brightens the image too much, and washes it out completely. If you use the Soft Light layer alone, it makes the image too dark, and overcontrasted (in this case, it makes Katie's skin look really orange).



If you use them together, they work, and this method will work for almost all images.

Now, what changes is the amount of times you use these layers. With this Katie image, for example, it's quite bright, so with one Screen layer, and one Soft Light layer, it's a bit too bright. If this is the case, try duplicating the Soft Light layer (so you have two Soft Light layers and one Screen layer):


You can also reduce the effect of the layer by changing the opacity of it, here. I think this Katie image could benefit from another Soft Light layer, but a whole layer is a bit too strong:

So I go into the opacity, and reduce it to about 55% (or whatever looks right - experiment with it).

Final product:

This Screen/Soft Light method will work for some really dark images like so:


1x background layer
6x Screen layer (all at 100%)
1x Soft Light layer (at 62%)

Or lighter ones, like so:


1x background layer (this will never change)
1x Soft Light layer (at 50%)

The amount of layers will vary with every image - it depends on the quality, the brightness, the clarity, etc.

As a general rule of thumb, promotional images tend to need less Screen layers, as they've already been brightened. Screencaps need more work, because they tend to come out dark - they're not created specifically to look crisp. There are some difficult images, but we'll deal with them a bit later. For the most part, you'll be able to get on for quite a while with the old Screen and Soft Light technique.

<--- Lesson Two | Lessons Index | Mini-lesson: Flattening an Image! | Lesson Four -->
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thanks. that makes a lot of sense. i have fiddled a bit with screen
and light but didnt know the correlation/how to use together.
Thank you SO much for this journal...I just got Photoshop and had tried reading tutorials or having my other icon friends help me, but none of it was basic enough. This has already helped me so much and I've learned a lot more about Photoshop.

Ok...question. I've been kind of playing around with brushes, just seeing what they do, etc. I've been adding some brush sets from people on LJ and Deviant Art, and they've mainly been black and white brushes. Well, I downloaded a set of "journal" brushes that have different colors, etc. and whenever I go to upload the Image Packs into my Photoshop, it uploads them as black and white. Do you know what I'm doing wrong?

(I have Paintshop CS, but from what I understand, it's pretty much like PS7.)
Ok, I am going to deal with brushes and textures and gradients and whatnot soon, but I'll go into this briefly now. Brushes are only one colour - they're the colour you have selected. They're like rubber stamps, and the inkpad is your colour selector tool. Does that makes sense?

The things you're talking about sound like textures, things like these. You need to upload them through your patterns, either by opening them as individual .jpg files, and definiing them as patterns. (Edit-->Define Pattern) Then you add them to your canvas by Edit-->Fill and selecting the pattern you want.

The only thing is, pattern files are saved in image packs as .PAT files. I've always downloaded them as single .jpg or .png images. I don't know how the image packs would work for Paintshop CS - for that, you'd have to ask the person who made them.

I hope that makes sense - like I said, I will be writing a post about this soonish.
Thank you - that helped!
AHHHH!!! It all makes sense now!!! *does dance of photoshop-inept joy*

thank you again for making this community!