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  1. TUTORIAL: ADJUSTMENT LAYERS So you've made a signature--the hard part is over! These are some quick adjustments that can take your signature to the next level. DISCLAIMER: I'm using Photoshop CS5 on Windows 7. There are probably differences between versions of Photoshop and/or between operating systems. I just don't know what those might be. And please excuse the quality of the signature being used in this demonstration. I literally threw a few stocks and render together, pffft. PREFACE: I'm a pretty organized person, so I like to make use of the Groups function. In the Layers window, click the manilla folder icon to make a new group. I make a "Work" group, and put all of the actual signature layers in there, and make another for "Adjustment Layers." [x] To create a new adjustment layer, click the ying-yang icon in the Layers window, and select the adjustment layer you desire. Now let's get to work! STEP 1: GRADIENT I use this layer to help improve lighting and flow. Look at your render to see where the shadows fall--this is the direction your gradient should follow. [x] Line up your gradient to follow the light path of your render, and leave the other settings as is. [x] Before hitting Done, change the gradient to black>white, this will give you both light and shadow later on. Change the blending option to Overlay and the Opacity to 25%. (You can sometimes go higher, but I always start at 25%) STEP 2: SELECTIVE COLOR I use the Selective Color layer to really tweak the coloring of the image--it can help a lot with blending. This is by-far the most arbitrary step. All I do is go color-by-color and move each slider back and forth until I think it looks okay. It's really just trial and error. Here's an example of the Reds. [x] However, this layer plays a big role in determining the final outcome of the signature. See the difference between the image from step 1 and the after image? STEP 3: COLOR BALANCE This is really similar to the Selective Color layer. Again, I just slide the sliders until it looks right to me. This layer helps fix any over-coloring you might have done in the previous step, and helps if you want your signature to be more red, or more yellow, etc. Here are the settings I went with. [x] OPTIONAL STEP: VIBRANCE Sometimes, a signature is too brightly colored for the look I'm going for. If that's the case, I use a Vibrance layer and turn down the saturation slightly. Somewhere between 5-20, usually. On the other hand, if you wanted to make a signature more brightly colored, you can turn up the vibrance. In some cases, you can crank it all the way up! STEP 4: BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST This layer can help give your signature more depth. I recommend increasing the contrast first, then adjusting the brightness. [x] NOTE: I usually use the Levels layer, but for the purpose of this tutorial, I used Brightness/Contrast instead. Levels is more complicated. AND VOILA! The layers can be adjusted at any time, so if you notice something looks weird, you can always go back and fix it. Otherwise, you're finished! Here are all of the layers! [x] Compare the before and after images! PRO TIP: You can change the color of the canvas background in Photoshop! Before completely finishing a signature, I'll change it to Kametsu's post background color to check what it'll look like on here. This can be helpful for SOTW entries, wink wink! Set the foreground color to #121212, and select the paintbucket tool. Hold shift + click anywhere in the area outside of your signature to change the canvas background color. Let me know if anything is unclear, and I'll try to help. Comments and criticisms are encouraged!
  2. Tutorial: Loki Signature This thread will outline the method I used to create the Loki signature I'm currently sporting. I'm using Photoshop CS5 on Windows 7. There are probably differences between versions of Photoshop and/or between operating systems. I just don't know what those might be. General Setup: The process behind this signature was a little different that what I normally do. Usually, I find a render and make/find an appropriate background. When working with renders of real, live people, it's hard to make or find a background that matches well enough. For this signature, I took a screencap from an Avengers trailer and used that as my base. Here's the image, if anyone would like to follow along. Step 1: Open your image. Crop the image to an appropriate signature size; my standard is 500px x 150px. Note: I always name my layers so I know what I'm working on. I strongly recommend this; it makes it easier to keep track of everything. Step 2: Add a new Group . I make one group at the top of the layer stack, and put all of my Adjustment layers in it. This way I can easily turn it off and see what the original image looked like, and whether my adjustments made an improvement, or made it worse. Step 3: Add Adjustment layers , starting with a Gradient Map. This gives the image the overall color scheme. The one I chose can be found by clicking the gradient drop down box, and there's a little arrow to the right of the drop down menu (marked in red). From the next menu, choose Metals. I want a greenish signature because I know the character wears a green costume. Double-click on the gradient drop down box and a new window, called Gradient Editor, should pop up. To change the color of the signature, I'm going to change the dark blue (marked in red, below) to dark green, and the light blue (marked in yellow, below) to light green. Double-click the boxes and a color picker will open. For the dark green I used #0d4e0b, and for the light green I used #e9f5e9. I set the Blend mode to Hue, and the Opacity to 70%. The image will now have a green gradient to it. Note: Blend mode and Opacity are things that can be experimented with. I usually cycle through all the options before choosing the one I like the most. Step 4: Add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer. The image is very dark, so I set the brightness to 90. I also wanted to give the image a little more contrast, so I set the contrast to 20. Step 5: Add a Color Balance Adjustment layer. I don't really have a method for using this; I just slide the bars left and right, and see what looks best. In this case, I used Cyan/Red +4, Magenta/Green -18, and Yellow/Blue -21. Step 6: Add a Vibrance Adjustment layer. Once again, there's no real method to this. I slide the bar up or down and see what works. In this case, I used Vibrance +50. Step 7: Add a texture above the background layer. I used this texture. Again, I cycled through the blending options, and chose Color Dodge, Opacity 40%. Note: The texture lightened up the image quite a bit. Some of the adjustment layers may need to be readjusted to counteract this. I don't know why I didn't screencap this step, whoops. But you can see the effect of the texture in the step 8 picture. Step 8: Add a Gradient Fill layer, but DON'T put it in the Group; put it right above the background layer. A menu will pop up; the settings I used were the transparent to black Gradient, Style: Reflected, Angle: 0, Scale: 105%, and Reverse is checked. This serves to black out the sides of the signature a little, bringing the focus to the character. Step 9: Add text. The text I used was “You were made to be ruled,” a line spoken one of the movie trailers. I made two text layers, one plain (“You were made to be”), and one a little fancier (“ruled”). For the plain text, I used Times New Roman 15pt, and for the fancy text, I used The King & Queen Font 23pt; the color of both was white. The blending settings for the both text layers used the Outer Glow effect. Right-click on the layer, and select Blending Options. Click Outer Glow to bring up the menu. These are the settings I used for the plain text layer: Blend Mode: Screen Opacity: 45% Noise: 0% Color: #b95bfb Technique: Softer Spread: 13% Size: 4px Range: 70% Jitter: 0% And this is how the fancy text layer differs: Opacity: 100% Size: 13% Range: 50% For the plain text layer, change the opacity to 60%, and the fill to 0%. For the fancy text layer, the opacity is 50%, and the fill is 0%. Step 10: Add a border. Create a new layer above the text layers. Press Ctrl+A to select the whole image. Select Edit, then Stroke from the top menu. In the new window, select the width and color. I chose 1px and black. Click OK. And voila! This was a more complicated signature, and it was even difficult for me to recreate it. I'm not sure if this is the exact order I did things, but I think it's close. If there's something that doesn't make sense, let me know, and I'll edit this post.
  3. Tutorial: Text as requested by ba11ard This thread will show the different styles of text I use, and explain why I use them. I guess this could be considered more of an analysis than an actual tutorial. Style #1: "Label" A lot of times, the text I use is simply my username; this helps users quickly identify that this signature is mine, and prevents others from stealing. This is helpful in competitions, such as the SOTW contests. In the above case, the font is small, but still easily readable. Default fonts work well for this purpose; most fancy fonts get more difficult to decipher as they get smaller. Also, the opacity is turned down and blending options (such as multiply/screen/overlay) are used, to blend it into the background more. The text should be readable, but not over-powering, as to take away from the focus of the render. I FORGOT TO MENTION. The text should be near the render, but not on top of it (in most cases; sometimes it's unavoidable). This gives the signature a focal point. If the text was on one side and the render on another, the eye wouldn't know where to focus. Here are more examples of this type of text: For this one, I put the text layer underneath the bokeh texture to blend it. I don't normally set text on an angle like this (personal preference), but I thought it fit the signature, because there are so many definite lines of motion. More text styles coming soon!
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