I specifically chose this icon because the skin looks so smooth. So smooth, in fact, that it tends to bother me. Please note that the blur tool was not used in the making of this icon. Also, I retraced my steps, so not every step is detailed.
I started out with these two screencaps. I cropped the bases and resized to 200x200px:
*Eeek! I could only find one of the original bases.
I adjust the brightness/contrast (Image-Adjustments-Brightness/Contrast).
I duplicate the second base, move the two images to the sides and get this:
I add layer masks to two of the bases and use brushes to "paint away" the areas that I don't want visible. This is easiest to see in the layer palette:
As you can see, I also preferred a composition where the first base was moved slightly to the left.
This is the finished base:
This is when I start working on gradient and color layers. I used a lot of them for this icon. And I'm not even going to guess how many I tried out / discarded before the icon was finished. I'm just going to list the layers, the Blending Mode and the Opacity. All my gradient layers are from either oxoniensis or crumblingwalls, but I may have fiddled with them.
Soft Light, 76%
Soft Light, 89%
Vivid Light, 19%
Color Burn, 45%
Color Fill Layers:
Color Burn, 70%
Soft Light, 40%
Pin Light, 52%
Color Burn, 53%
Color Burn, 55%
Now we have this:
This is where the retracing makes for fuzziness because I have no clue what brush I used here, I just remember using Transform (Ctrl+t) to stretch it out and tilt it slightly. Then I duplicated the layer and transformed that too, making it more into a cone shape and rotating it almost 90 degrees. Brush color: #EEEEE1. This is the result:
Two more color layers:
Time for text. I used Folio Lt BT. Font size: 48 pt. Tracking: -150. Anti-Alias: Sharp. The text reads: mystifying
Folio Lt BT. Font size: 30 pt. Tracking: -150. Anti-Alias: Sharp. The text reads: how we fit
Folio Lt BT. Font size: 36 pt. Tracking: -150. Anti-Alias: Sharp. The text reads: together
All text layers have been duplicated once because you almost always need it when you perform the next few steps.
I create a new layer and stamp the visible layers (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+e). I duplicate that layer and Sharpen (Filter-Sharpen-Sharpen). The reason I don't sharpen the original is because even though this is the first time I sharpen the image at all, it can still be too sharp when I resize it to 100x100, so if it is I can decrease the opacity of the sharpened layer to decrease the overall sharpness. I also create a sharpened blank of the icon so that if the text becomes butt ugly when I resize to 100x100 I can try to fiddle with the settings at the correct icon size. I now have these three different layers:
Since I find that a visual representation can sometimes be beneficial, here are all the layers in the layer palette.
Finally, I resize. In this case the second, sharpened, layer works fine. I save as a .png file.
Remind me to never do that again.