I wanted to document how I've changed as an iconmaker over the past year, and why that change has made me confident enough to go crazy and create an icon community.
a.k.a. My Cap-n-Crop Phase
yahtzee63 made a Christmas request for some Bleak House icons. Literally, my first thought was, "Huh, I could probably do that - I mean, it's just finding pretty images and cropping them to 100x100 pixels. How hard could that be?" Heh. Needless to say, I'm rather massively embarrassed to ever have posted these, but this was my first foray into icon-making and it helped me learn a crucial thing: Always ask for concrit. On my first ever icon post I asked for concrit and someone was kind enough to say, "Most of your icons are a little bit dark and lack contrast." Understatement of the century. But it made me think about icon-making differently.
a.k.a. My Marginally-Less-Cringe-Inducing Phase
So, with my new found knowledge in hand, I decided to remake some of my first icons. And to think, I was so proud of these once. D: I'm pretty sure I still didn't even know what coloring meant at this point - I was like "What? Icons already have colors. Why would you color them?" LOL, *headdesk* - but at least I had realized what a softlight layer was. :P
a.k.a. My Oh-Look-A-Texture-And-Funny-Phrase Phase
*Sighs pseudo-fondly* Ah, the old slap-some-text-and-a-texture-on-it phase. Does everyone go through this? It's like, I had a vague notion that iconning involved doing something to an image, but had no earthly idea what that something was.
April & May 2011
a.k.a My Hey-This-Is-Really-Fun-ICONEXPLOSION Phase
Season 6 of DW had just started airing and I seriously don't think I've ever been as obsessed with a fandom or a character or a ship as I was at that point with Who and River and River/Doctor, and all that obsession got channeled into icon-making. Not very good icon-making mind you - my image quality is still pretty dreadful, but every so often I get a hit rather than a miss - but it motivated me to start reading tutorials by the boatload.
a.k.a. My Look-Ma!-New-Skills Phase
Whee! That whole reading tutorials by the boatload thing was so massively helpful. I learned what light blobs were and how to manipulate them (sort of) to create different lighting effects, and how to use text to compliment things graphically rather than just look like something added at the last second (again, sort of, but I'm getting better).
July & August 2011
a.k.a. My I-HAS-PHOTOSHOP-!!1!1! Phase
Lol, can you tell I discovered the Vibrance tool right off the bat? :P All of my previous icons were made using GIMP but then I was gifted a copy of CS5 and I went a little crazy with it. Some of my icons from this period are definitely over-brightened and over-saturated, but I was starting to get it more. (I was so proud of myself when I used text on non-Normal blend mode, LOL.) And CS5 meant that when I wanted to make negative space icons, I could extend complicated backgrounds with content-aware fills, like in that fourth icon where the top half of the icon was created entirely with content-aware fills.
I also remember that this is when I really tried to get some sort of sharp/blur balance. It was the first time I took the extra time to go back and alter an icon I had made earlier just because I had loaded it onto photobucket and thought it looked a smidge too sharp or too blurry. And I started saving all my icons psds in 300x300 size and only sizing down to save the png.
September & October 2011
a.k.a My Let's-Go-Get-Involved Phase
I feel like this month marked less a change in my style and more a change in my attitude. I started to feel more comfortable in the iconning community. I commented a couple of times at places like iconsecrets and started watching the icon comms of makers whose work I liked. I learned what elite comms were and started reading concrit given to applications there and at iconsconcrit so that I could apply it to my own work. Also, DW started airing again, which, as you can see, was pretty inspirational. XD
a.k.a My Trope-Overdosed-Let's-Make-An-Icon-Comm Phase
(ok, so the 6th one was made for elite_tardis, but the two are related, sort of, you'll see)
Which brings me to when I opened my icon community! I discovered trope_overdosed, an icon community based on tv tropes, and it's challenges were just so cool they overcame my hesitance to submit icons to a contest. Plus the minimum number of entries was 2, so I could manage to submit stuff even when I had assignments for university due that week. Those contests plus the Icon Month activities over at wonderous-stuff (the under-appreciated maker meme! the friending meme! <3), made me think I could actually do the whole create-my-own-icon-comm thing.
So, for 2012?
I want to work more on my compositions. At the moment I tend to color then crop and potentially add text, but that's it. I've started to experiment a bit, but I really want to work on it more.
Mostly, I'm struck by how little my icons have changed since September. Making this progress post has made me realize that most of my growth as an icon maker came from trying new things and I think I've started to be overly formulaic in my icon=making process.
Right, so, basically the moral of the year is Experimentng+Concrit+Tutorials = :D.