There're lots of tutorials about lighting around the net, but today I'd like to share my way of making dark screencaps look light and nice. Hope some of you will find this tutorial useful.
I like the little details like that were visible strands of hair, folds in clothing and so on. For this we need the right to lighten the original image. In order to show all the details, we need to reduce contrast, which can be easily done with Levels and Gradient Map.
For comparison, I'll show you screencaps that were lightened by a copy of a base layer put on "screen"
and my way using Levels and Gradient Map layers put on "soft light".
Once Upon a Time
base layer copied 3 times and put on "screen" (it looks really bright with lots of contrast).
My layers: copy base layer once, put it on "screen" (60%), Levels (100%), Gradient Map (soft on 60%). This way our pic looks soft and you can see all details.
Another Once Upon a Time example :
In original cap Ruby has gorgeous hair, you just want to emphasize every detail.
base layer copied 2 times and put on "screen". It made everything look too bright, but we can't see the hair the way we want.
My layers: copy base layer once, put it on "screen" (40%), Levels (100%), Gradient Map (soft on 50%). Background is not very bright, but we can clearly see small details (we can draw them later).
American Horror Story
Here we have awful dark screencap
base layer copied 2 times and put on "screen" .
My layers: copy base layer once, put it on "screen" (50%), Levels (100%), Gradient Map (soft on 60%). Much better, right?
Anothe horribly dark screencap.
base layer copied 4 times and put on "screen". It made their faces way too light, background still too dark and there is too much contrast.
Another good thing is that you can play with colors a bit while lightening you screencaps. It can be done with Gradient Map.
If your original pic is blue - use yellow in Gradient Map, like this:
For pale colors - use smth like this:
For yellow - try blue gradient:
Original cap here is yellow and dark.
Here's what we can have as the result of using blue color Gradient Map (put on soft).
Levels make your image lighter: play with upper button. To reduce contrast - use bottom ones.
Another of the advantages of such way of lightening is that when you reduce the contrast, you can choose yourself how to do the incident light, which details can be deleted and which are needed to be more detailed.
As the result, we can have these icons:
And a couple more tips:
- try to always use HD screencaps, it will make your life much easier :)
- don't be afraid of pixels on your background after lightening: you can always blur the background or cut it out and replace.
Last but not least: here is PSD I use almost on every screencap. Keep in mind that PSD is not universal, you have to change the opacity of the layer depending on the original image.
And thanks a lot light_ofmy_life for the help.