01. I used this picture from Yahoo! Sports. Crop and resize your base to 100x100, or in my case -- it was 76x94. If your image isn't already black & white, create a new color fill layer and fill it with black (#000000) or white (#FFFFFF). Set the blending mode to Saturation. You can also just desaturate it (Ctrl+Shift+U). [NOTE: I pasted my base on a 100x82 canvas & the black saturation layer gives it the 3px border]
02. Underneath the color fill layer, create a new adjustment layer: Curves. Yay! Time for a mini-curves lesson on the RGB channel.
Now, the curves panel-thing is divided up into two ways:
Basically, what that means is - where your point is located on the curves layer will determine how light/dark your image will be. Therefore, the lower/right you go, the darker the dark parts of the image will be. The higher/left you go, the brighter the light parts will be.
03. With that said, first, I lightened my image by making my first point high up and closer to the left.
04. The dark areas are now a little too light, and it's starting to look grainy, so I add another point. This time, I kept it down and slightly to the right, which keeps the intensity of the white the same, but it darkens the whole icon.
05. I'm not liking the huge contrast between the white/black, so I add a middle point. The middle point really helps establish how much contrast you want in your image and helps retain some grey. So make a point in between the other two points you made. Now there are many shades of grey, right? Therefore, when you move the middle point way up there, you get some really light greys and a lot of contrast.
That's not what I'm aiming for; I'm shooting for a soft black & white icon, so I move the point further down. Now the icon is too dark for what I'm looking for, so I move the point left [towards the light area], and I get this.
See how it lightens up some of the areas made dark by the second point and adds more greys? Perfect.
I didn't give exact points because it's different for all images. I REALLY SUGGEST MESSING AROUND WITH THE POINTS TO GET A FEEL FOR IT.
**YOU CAN STOP HERE OR GO ON TO MAKE THE SECOND ICON**
06. Open up ImageReady, copy/paste the icon you have right now onto a new document. Go back to your .psd file on Photoshop, create a new layer and stamp visible. In Photoshop, just press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E. Set the layer the blend mode to Color Dodge and lower the opacity to 50%. Duplicate (Ctrl+J) the layer and change the blend mode to Screen and the opacity to 100%.
It looks a little weird, but you can't tell in the final icon.
07. Go back to ImageReady. In the corner of the Animation window, there should be a little arrow in a circle. Click on that and make sure your settings look like this. Go back to Photoshop and copy the new dodged image. On ImageReady, duplicate the current frame. (How? See here.) Then, paste the dodged image onto the document.
Repeat steps 1-7 with all the images you want to include in your animation.
08. Once you finish doing that, while holding Ctrl, click all the normal (non-dodged) images in your animation palette. Now, in the animation palette, under each frame, there should be a time - 0 sec. & an arrow. On any of the selected images, click that area. A drop-down bar should pop up, and click on 1.0. This will make the original pictures show longer, and make it appear as if the dodged images "flash" by. You should get something like:
09. All that's left to do is make it so it fits Livejournal standards. On ImageReady, there should be an Optimize window & in the corner should be that same arrow in a circle that's in the Animation palette. (Like this) Click on Optimize to File Size.... A window should pop up. Change the "Desired File Size" to something that would fit Livejournal standards - I usually use 39.5 K.
When you save, go to File > Save Optimized As... & there you are! :D
If you have any questions, feel free to ask & I'll try to get to them as soon as I can. I would love to see your results! ♥
Examples using this technique:
Check out this batch!