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15 November 2010 @ 10:11 pm
Yet Another Icon Meme  
Lest anyone labor under the delusion that some people are just born knowing how to make icons, let me take you on a journey.  A journey...through the depths of my Photobucket.

2002/2003 - The Early Years

When I first started, you can see that I was afraid of the 100x100 pixel canvas.  And since I wasn't on LJ, I was just making icons for fun, I decided to do a 200x200 pixel canvas.  I needed more room to suck.  You'll note that I was both in love with box textures and also had absolutely no idea how to use pixel fonts - they're practically illegible.  Later I became more comfortable with icon-sized icons, though I wasn't sure how to use these things called textures and filters and colors.  I...I actually put a noise filter on that Wesley icon.  Why.  I include that last icon of Arwen because it's actually not terrible - it was a fluke.  And in studying that fluke, I got a little better.

2003/2004 - Reading Icon Tutorials

One day an amazing thought occurred to me.  How do other people make icons?  Maybe I could read their step-by-step instructions and learn myself!  So I started reading tutorials.  Lots and lots of tutorials.  I copied them step by step, then started putting two and two together.  If I put this kind of color on that kind of blend, it did this.  I actually, believe it or not, started to understand how Photoshop works.

2005 - Experimentation

I really like my icons from this period, and I think I've lost some of the ability to just go for it.  Just throw some stuff on and see what happens.  I had fun experimenting with colors and textures, of doing weird things, of maybe going a little too over the top.  Sometimes I feel like all I do is color and crop, maybe toss on a light texture, ho hum.  I kinda love this set; I haven't looked at some of these in a couple years.

2006 - Easy Does It

Things start getting a lot simpler.  I think part of that was the trend in icons anyway - even though I'm still four years out from using a Livejournal at this point, I certainly lurked quite a bit, and had a lot of favorite icon makers whose work I saved and studied and tried to figure out.  I'm doing interesting crops and compositions, but I haven't quite worked out coloring yet.

2007 to Present - Comfort

I think I've finally reached the stage that I can look at a picture, know what I want the icon to end up looking like, and then actually make it happen.  I've figured out how to use the tools.  Not that I'm not still learning things, not that I don't still sometimes throw on a texture and run down each blending option just to see what it looks like.  But I'm doing okay.

Also, it must have been around 2007 that I read an icon tutorial that said if you have someone in profile looking down it will always make a great icon.  This is a fact.  Seriously.  How many of those do I have?

(I will say, actually going back through something like Photobucket is like opening up a time capsule.  It's a really neat way to look at chunks of time in terms of fandom/what I was into at any particular moment.  Ah - that's the Lord of the Rings year.  Yes.)
sallycandance on November 16th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
Wow. Even the oldest icons look much more awesome than anything I could ever come up with.

I bow before your cunning photoshop skills *bows*
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 16th, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
Haha, no. I'm pretty sure that no icon is worse than that Elijah Wood icon there at the top. It may in fact be the worst icon in existence.
sallycandance on November 17th, 2010 04:18 am (UTC)
Haha! Please take a look at one of my first icons (points to icon) - one of these days, I'm going to make a better version of it...
a universal sigh: TW - Gwen - just breathenaushika on November 16th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
Wow, you've improved so much! I did LOL at the adding-noise-to-the-Wesley-icon thing. ;D I like your cropping style on your most recent set of icons.

Also, it must have been around 2007 that I read an icon tutorial that said if you have someone in profile looking down it will always make a great icon. This is a fact. Seriously. How many of those do I have?

Wow. This is a truth of the universe, isn't it? I've got so many people-looking-down icons, lol.
Shannon: bsg goodbyekungfuwaynewho on November 16th, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
I did LOL at the adding-noise-to-the-Wesley-icon thing.

You know what kills me? There were tons of icons I made right there at the start that never survived the transfer from my first college computer, and never got put up on Photobucket. That means I thought the Wesley icon was one of the better ones. Chew on that for a minute.

I like your cropping style on your most recent set of icons.

Along with profile-looking-down, another Life-Changing Tutorial I read at around the same time was how to use the clone stamp and free transform to generate background. I'm not bound by the borders of the original screencap! It was kind of amazing. Actually, the other other thing that made me understand cropping so much more was the suggestion to not use the crop tool, but to drag the full-sized image into a new 100x100 document and size it and place it there, so that if you change your mind it's easy to move around some more. It soooooooo works for me. I haven't actually cropped an icon in a couple years.
enigmaticbluesenigmaticblues on November 16th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC)
Man, you know, this actually gives me hope that someday I might actually be able to make an icon that doesn't suck. :P
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 16th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
Hee! Then my work here is done. Seriously though, like most things, it just takes practice. Years and years of practice. Years...and years...
ghanima sun: oooghanimasun on November 17th, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
Wow you really did get fancy there in the middle. I still cannot achieve that sort of complicated type of icons. I'm still trying to figure out how to make mine less grainy and more pretty colored.

Really like all of your newer ones, cool cropping, they are all smooth with some great colors.
Shannon: vm spelunkingkungfuwaynewho on November 18th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
Thanks! Man, those fancy icons. That was the year after I graduated, and I had NOTHING to do. So I'd just sit and fiddle with Photoshop for hours and hours. It was ridiculous.

Coloring is the thing I still struggle the most with. I need to learn how to actually do it on my own as opposed to just slapping on different gradients and textures until I like it.