Go from to
Here we go! ♥
I've made my images much smaller for the sake of your poor computers, but my original image is actually over 500 pixels wide. Keeping it this size for your colouring allows for finer detail, so if you've got an especially big image to work from, cherish it! ♥
None of the colouring steps have to be very exact; you can completely miss the lines a couple times, and I'm fairly certain no one will notice. xD This palette is rather forgiving in that way, I've found. ^^ Yay for laziness!
So here's where I started.
Use the eyedropper tool to find your manga image's particular shade of white. Mine was actually #ffffff, but that isn't common, and that can affect your colouring later. Now, zoom in as much as you need (it'll give you cleaner lines), use short strokes so if you mess up you can undo more easily, and erase your background with the brush tool!
If you have a tablet, you can probably erase pretty much any background with enough patience and zooming in. I'm lucky, and got one from atarigamer. If you just have a mouse, though, it's probably better if you have a simpler background (mostly white with a little scenery, ie houses or furniture). If your background's especially complicated, I recommend doing this step on a new layer - it helps for erasing. ♥ After you're done, though, you can merge those two layers to create a single base image.
In this step I also cropped the image a bit; in my original image, the reader was supposed to imagine his shoulder line, and while that works in manga it doesn't really work in little bitty icons, so I cropped it out. :P
It looks like this:
Make a new layer, and set it to multiply 100%. Choose your skin colour, and using about the same size brush as you used for the last step, colour in the skin! It's okay if the colouring looks off at the step, too red, too yellow, too saturated, too sick - just leave it be, and have faith, 'cause all will be rectified before the end. ^^
I also noticed here that a lot of the lineart on my image had very thin lines, so I picked a black from my image, went back to the base and with a 3 pt brush (and zooming in!) I went over some of the thinner bits. But my lines were kind of fuzzy, then, so I took my white and erased some of the very edges of my new lines, which sharpened them without actually sharpening them. I am so sorry if that doesn't make sense.
It looks like this:
See all those shaded grey areas that still peek through? Those make Morph sad. XD So let's colour them, too! Create a new layer, also set to multiply, and use the same skin colour to colour in all the shaded bits of the image. Using the same colour will ensure that the skin tones complement each other. Sense?
So yes! We're colouring under his arm, under his neck, on the side of his nose, and behind his bangs.
Some images do not need steps 4 and 5. Skip, if you think it's appropriate! Honestly I forget this bit all the time.
Create a new layer, and set this one to screen 100%. Using still the same colour, set the brush tool to something larger (suiting the size of your image) 0% hardness. Draw two slight concave curves on the subject's cheekbones, and wherever else a highlight fits on your particular image. Yes, this looks stupid!
Now we fix it! Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the blur to about 6.6 pt or so, and suddenly it looks like light rather than lines! (Again, don't worry if it really doesn't; despite appearances, this is the lazy iconer's colouring tutorial, and all will be easily fixed much later.) Erase wherever the blur covers your lineart.
Colour in the rest of your subject in much the same way - but not the background, 'cause that's extra special. XD By the end of it, you should have lots of layers. Layers are your friend! ^^ If your shading layer turns out too dark (mine did for the hair), just lower the opacity to about half or so, and you'll be fine. :)
If there are spots in your image that should be kept white, too, don't be afraid of leaving them. They'll actually look pretty damn good by the end, I promise. :D
I did colour the sword across his face with a slightly different colour shadow to the base; the shadow has a bit of blue in it, 'cause I felt like it. XD
Create a new layer, again set to multiply 100%. Now choose a pale, pale green (#e6f6d8) and colour in the background with that.
Now we can resize! Make your image 100x100, whatever it takes, just don't merge the layers. Good job. xD Your colours will look unimpressive from here, but that's a-okay. ^^
Using the eyedropper tool, pick out from the shading of your character's skin a light brown, something perhaps like #cc9777. Create a new layer, set it to multiply 100%, and fill that layer with that colour.
Yes, it's ugly. But the icon won't stay this way, I promise. ^^
Go into Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast, and set it to something like Brightness +39, Contrast +12.
Take this texture (by me, _ashenicons), paste it on top of the whole thing, and set it - you guessed it - to multiply 100%. If you feel it needs it, use the blur tool to blur over the texture on the subject's face.
Another Brightness/Contrast layer, this time set to something less, like Brightness +18, Contrast +3. Yeah, I know it seems a little redundant, but I like it this way. XD
Now a Hue/Saturation layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation), set at Saturation +8.
Now it's coming together! You can flatten your image (Layer > Flatten image).
Go into Image > Adjustments >Variations, make the steps as fine as possible, and click More Blue once. (Some images require "More Red" instead.) You may want to step up the saturation or contrast a teeny bit again here, too. Sharpen however you prefer to.
And you're done! Good job!
Other icons made in a similar way:
Who knows? I may actually do a more complicated version sometime later. :P What did you guys think?
What the difference in what I do between the more muted icons and the bolder ones?
Nothing. I just started with a brighter colour pallette. XD Setsuna (the guy in this tut) doesn't have bold colours to his name - he's pale and has brown hair and eyes. But if I icon Renji, for example, who has fire engine red hair, the whole icon will simply end up being bolder. ^^