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Irkalla's "Firaxis-Like" Civilization Icon Tutorial

Discussion in 'Civ5 - Modding Tutorials & Reference' started by Irkalla, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Irkalla

    Irkalla ENTP POWWWEEEEEER

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    So apparently this has been long awaited. I've finally set down the time to do this. I do hope that everyone from our new little scrublet modders to our old timers may find this useful.

    First thing's first. This tutorial assumes that you are using Adobe Photoshop CS2 or Later. This may work on older versions of Photoshop, and this may work with whatever other paint program the plebs these days are using. If it doesn't work out of the box, you may need to read up, get plugins, or poke it with sharp sticks until you find that you can properly do these things. With that said, let's get into it.



    So the subject of this tutorial, provided by RandomCountry.com, is... Serbia! Now that we know what civ we'll be doing this for, we get into the first phase of making our icon. Not making it! That's right, we're not going to start quite yet because we must do a little bit of research. We'll need to figure out a good way to symbolize this culture in a way that people can understand.

    Since they're a modern country, I'll start by looking at their flag.


    See those little 'B' shaped things upon the shield that's on the bird's breast? Those things interest me. But let's keep looking. On to coats of arms.



    Again, if we look hard enough, we can see the little 'B' shaped things. It's in the bottom of circle, the little circle with the cross on the left. This, by the way, is their coat of arms from the First Uprising era, which was in basically the first decade of the nineteenth century. Let's look at some more.



    Here's their greater coat of arms during the Principality days, which was during the mid to latter nineteenth century. Again, we see the 'B' things. A little bit of research seems to lead us to the conclusion that these are supposed to be representation of firesteels, which are items that were used to strike something with to generate sparks to light tinder with. This symbolism streches back to its use by the Byzantine Empire. Perhaps Serbia's making some sort of claim here? Just a little deeper into this research, and we discover that the firesteels are actually just stylized betas, abbreviating the Byzantine Greek phrase "Basileus Basileon, Basileuon Basileuonton," or "King of Kings, Ruling over Kings." This phrase was the motto of the Palaiologoans of the Byzantine Empire, which was also the dynasty that used the cross and firesteels symbolism.



    So again, even in the Yugoslavian days, Serbia stuck to the firesteels to represent themselves. I think I'm set firm upon using it to represent Serbia in Civ.

    So now that our research is done, we need to grab the firesteel real quickly. Be sure to respect the terms of the licensor of the work you pull from. A little bit of looking around nets us a public domain image, found here. Be sure to grab the highest resolution image you can, because we need the absolute best quality for our works!



    Now that we've downloaded our image, it's time to build our icon. For this icon, I'll be making a 600 by 600 pixel document, using an 8-Bit RGB colour mode at 72 pixels per inch. The colour mode and DPI are pretty much standard. You shouldn't use a higher bit colour mode because when you export to DDS, you'll be exporting to an 8-Bit colour mode. So any higher colour depth will be lost and possible artifacting will occur.

    Let's make a black background layer. This is done by selecting the paint bucket tool, and making sure that black is on your foreground colour (the top left square.) Click the background, and make it black! Now make a new layer by pressing Ctrl + Shift + N, and we'll get to making our icon background.

    Select your Elliptical Marquee tool. If you can't find it, then right click your Rectangular Marquee Tool to access it.



    Now, up at the top you should see Feather, Style, and Width and Height and all that junk. Hit the Style dropdown menu, and select Fixed Size. To the right of that, dial in the numbers to 512 px by 512 px. Now take and place your circular selection down. Don't worry about getting it perfectly centered, we'll do that right now.

    In your File/Edit bar, click Select. In the dropdown that appears, select Transform Selection. Up at the top, you should see fields for X: and Y:, W: and H:, and Degrees of Rotation. Set X and Y to 300.0 px and 300.0 px. Or if you didn't listen to me, like a dumbass, and made your document a different size, set X and Y to half of the document dimensions. This should center your circular selection. Once you've got that done, grab the paint bucket tool to apply your changes.

    Set your foreground colour to white and, with Layer 2 selected, use your paint bucket inside the selected circle. You should now have a white circle. But don't deselect that selection just yet! Make a new layer, then go back and find Transform Selection. You remember how to do that, right? This time you want to set W and H to 80%, and fill the smaller circle with a nice gray colour that's bound to contrast with most things. You may now deselect the elliptical selection by pressing Ctrl + Shift + D. Right now, you should have something that looks like this...



    I'll tell you what the gray circle is about later, but for now, in your Layers box, click the tickbox with the eye in it until the eye disappears on Layer 3. The gray circle should now be gone.

    Now, time make our logo and get it placed on the icon background. I'll spare you making the logo, you should be able to do it with a bit of common sense and reasoning. Once you've got that made, cut it out and paste it into your photoshop document. Make sure it's a separate layer. It should be this way by default. Now, bring up your gray circle layer. Click the tickbox so the eye is there again, and select your logo. In your File/Edit bar, click Edit, then click Free Transform. Up between W and H, click the chain icon. This locks the W and H to each other. Now click one of the two's field, and then press Down Arrow on your keyboard. Keep doing this until the icon fits completely within the gray circle. That's what the gray circle's for! A guide for setting your logos on the icon. As a general rule of thumb, all logos should fit inside this circle. But like all rules, this one's meant to be broken under the proper circumstances. What these circumstances are is entirely up to you. It's your world.



    Anyway, this is what I've got. I'm going to click a tool over on the toolbar to apply my selection, hide the gray circle again, and continue.

    Now it's time to pick our colours. For this icon, even though they're overused, I'll go with 235, 235, 235 White, and 189, 27, 43 Red. Let's see how they look. I'll be using Blending Options -> Colour Overlay to do this. Right click the layer and click Blending Options to see your... Blending Options. While we're at it, I'll also be applying a Drop Shadow to the logo layer, with the settings being 50% Opacity, 8 Distance, 3 Size, and Light Angle 135 degrees. Let's see how they look.



    And, if your image looks anything like this: Congratulations, you're not dumb and should not reconsider what you're doing with your life! If it doesn't look like that, I didn't really mean what I said before and you should go back and try again or something because that's what losers do.

    Now's time for the fancy effects. We'll start with our "sheen" layer. Make a new layer. Get your Elliptical marquee tool, and set the fixed size to 500 x 500 in this instance. For other instances, it should be just a tad smaller than your icon background layer (red circle.) The bottom of the marquee should extend just a tad below center, and the marquee should be offset to the left. In this instance, the center of your selection (should you choose to precision move with Transform Selection,) would be at or around 285, 95. Now that we've got our selection, we're going to deselect everything outside of the red circle, or icon background layer. While holding Ctrl, Alt, and Shift, click the little picture thumbnail of the icon background layer. This should deselect everything outside of that layer and your selection. You should end up with something like this.



    Now, right click your paint bucket tool. You should see Gradient tool. Select it. Set your foreground colour to 255 White, and then up top you should see a little dropdown box with a bunch of gradient styles in it. Select the one that goes from white to checkerboard. Now, starting at the top of your selection, click and drag the line down to the bottom of the selection. You should now have a nice white to transparent gradient. Leave this alone for now, you may even want to hide it while we do the shadow work. By the way, you should have something like this.



    Taking a break on the tutorial, will pick it up again. Hope you're still with me.
     
    TahamiTsunami likes this.
  2. Irkalla

    Irkalla ENTP POWWWEEEEEER

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    Now. Click our Layer 2, or the icon background layer. The one we set to be red with Color Overlay. Make a new Layer, and take your brush tool, and set your brush size to something relatively high, I chose the arbitrary size of 917 px. Set the hardness to 0%, and in the lower right quadrant, with the edge of the brush circle tangent to the centerpoint of the icon, click twice to doubly apply the brush. Once you've got something you like, with the layer we just did Ctrl + Click the little layer icon of Layer 2, or the red icon background layer. This will select the parts of the layer with stuff in it, or the positive space in that layer. Invert your selection with Ctrl + Shift + I, and press the Delete key. This will trim everything off that isn't within the background. You should have something that looks like this.



    But that kinda looks like crap, right? Well, right click Layer 6, or our shadow layer, and click Blending Options. Set a Colour Overlay, and when you go to pick the colour, sample a part of the icon background that isn't affected by the shadow layer. Then drag the colour down (darken it) towards the black, and a drag it right (saturate it) towards the red. Doing this regardless of the background colour should give you a shadow that compliments your colour. You should get something that looks like this.



    Now, time for our little border. This should be gone when you set the icon to be used, but you don't have to. Generally, the border should be 110% of the background size. In this instance, it's roughly equivalent to 564 px. So let's dial that into a Fixed Size elliptical selction, and place it and then center it using Transform Selection. While this selection is active, we'll make a new layer above everything else. Now, before we go placing this, we'll deselect the positive space of the background by Ctrl + Alt + Clicking the icon preview in the Layers window. Your selection should look like this.



    If you notice, there's a bit of space between our selection and the background, so let's use Transform Selection to size our selection down a bit. Using our paint bucket tool, let's paint it any old colour. After this, we can hit Ctrl + Shift + D to deselect the selection, and then right click the icon background layer and click Copy Layer Style. Then, on our ring layer, let's Paste Layer Style. This should give us matching colours between the two. We should have something that looks like this:



    With the ring layer selected, use our magic wand tool to select the inside of the circle. Make a new layer above the ring layer, and click Edit -> Stroke. For this example, I've set the colour to white, the direction to Inside, and the width to 2 px. Set the Layer Style from Normal to Overlay. Play with the Fill a bit, until you get something you like. Mine turned out like this:



    Right click the overlain thin ring layer, and use Filter -> Gaussian Blur on it. I used a 16.0 px blur. Move this below the border ring layer, and duplicate it thrice. Select these triplicate layers, and hit Ctrl + E to merge them. Set the Layer style from Normal to Overlay, and play with the fill a bit until you get it right. At this point, you may notice that the overlay ring above is a bit too bright, so you may turn the fill down on it. I did. I got something like this.



    At this point, we're pretty much done. We need to play with the sheen layer a bit, because it looks like crap. Try duplicating the layer, playing with fill and layer options until you get something you like. With different colour logos, you may want to select the logo, and Ctrl + C to copy that part of the sheen layer to give a more bold effect of the sheen on the logo. With white, you generally don't need to worry. But if you think you should, then do it. Anyway, after all my playing about, I get something like this:



    And at a proper show-off size, (50% of original,) it looks like this.



    So hey, let's have some celebratory music!


    Link to video.



    I hope this helps you, reader. Perhaps you might see fit to localize this tutorial to your specific editing with layers program. I hope you do. If there's anything you don't quite understand, feel free to ask below.
     
    TahamiTsunami likes this.
  3. ilya_d

    ilya_d Chieftain

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    I gotta thank you for this tutorial. I started a basic mod and struggled with making something that looked decent until i stumbled onto your tutorial. Your tutorial not only helped me with the icon but also got me more into photoshop. While waiting for the second half of your tutorial i was able to finish the icon based on a quick explanation you gave in another post. Now i can go back and patch up my icons a to make them a bit better. Once again thanks for you help.
     
  4. Irkalla

    Irkalla ENTP POWWWEEEEEER

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    I'm proud to hear it. Could you, by chance, show what you ended up with?
     
  5. albie_123

    albie_123 Modding In Secret

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    Because I absolutely love people who make tutorials, I decided I'd make one even though I have no use for it. ;)

    I had my own way of making icons but this is far superior. Used Fireworks as opposed to Photoshop (How I was raised, unfortunately) so was a little bit different but turned out pretty much the same.

    So, here's what I managed to make for Italy, using the House of Savoy shield:



    Probably a bit similar to China's colour scheme, but, hey, I'm not actually using it!
     
  6. Irkalla

    Irkalla ENTP POWWWEEEEEER

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    Oh wow. I'm impressed. At both of us. I'm a terrible teacher, and I thought I'd be tough to understand or that I'd understate things because I take them for granted. Thanks for playing!
     
  7. albie_123

    albie_123 Modding In Secret

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    Now if only it were as easy to make a good unit icon - or, even more so, a good map!

    But, seriously, it's good to see the one of the artistically talented CiVvers making a tutorial. More information available = more chance of everyone making quality assets = better modding.
     
  8. ilya_d

    ilya_d Chieftain

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    Well here is an icon that still needs work, but this is what i got so far.



    I'm making a Fallout civ mod and this one is for the Khans.
     
  9. ilya_d

    ilya_d Chieftain

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    Here is another one.



    It's for the Caesar's legion.
     
  10. ilya_d

    ilya_d Chieftain

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    This one isn't fully tweaked yet.



    It's for the NCR.
     
  11. ilya_d

    ilya_d Chieftain

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    They all vary is different aspects like border size and the sheen quality and logo sharpness, because there all in different stages but i wanted to show what i made so far.
     
  12. Homusubi

    Homusubi Lafcadio Hearn Wannabe

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    Please, is there a way to do this without Photoshop? (or any other paid-for software)
     
  13. albie_123

    albie_123 Modding In Secret

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    Try GIMP, it's a free Photoshop equivalent on the GNU license. Not identical, and usually considered less powerful, but it's comparable.

    Might take some getting used to if you've never used a similar program, but so does everything worth learning. :)
     
  14. Irkalla

    Irkalla ENTP POWWWEEEEEER

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    I've heard of a thing called GIMPShop that is laid out like photoshop. Beware of opt-out crapware in the installation.

    Also, the border size doesn't matter. When you convert it to single icon DDS, your border should be expanded to the negative space around the icon itself. Here's Sparta's DDS for example...

     
  15. Homusubi

    Homusubi Lafcadio Hearn Wannabe

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    I managed to do this in Paint.NET with a plugin, after deciding that I couldn't grasp how to use Gimp.
     
  16. Homusubi

    Homusubi Lafcadio Hearn Wannabe

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    I'm getting the hang of it...
     
  17. Ekmek

    Ekmek on steam: ekmek_e

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    Thanks for creating this.

    One thing I did to get shading was to take the empty civ button (the one that is just dark blue) then gray scale it, lighten it, and then set its opacity it really cut down all the half circle time
     
  18. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Emperor

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    Amazing tutorial, Irkalla. Thank you very much for doing this! You've done a very good job of making the process something that can be repeated for different Civ types but also has room for adaptation to the unique aspects of each icon.

    I made an icon, just to see how well I could follow the tutorial (I hope I get to use it in a mod some day). The render the central icon is based on wasn't the best quality, I had to scale it up slightly to fill the gray circle, so it's a bit jagged. I used black as the background color, which I realized part of the way through kinda axes the whole shadowing step. Is there a better way to approach that for black backgrounds or are they fine without shadows?



    Also, I used GIMP and I've got a few simple pointers for people doing that.

    GIMP users:

    GIMP's elliptical selection tool measures 'position' from the top left of the selection's rectangle, not the middle. So you want to put the 512x512 circle at 44,44.

    GIMP's shrink selection didn't seem to have a % option (though I did see %'s elsewhere so I may be mistaken), so I made the gray circle by shrinking the 512x512 circle by 45 pixels.

    GIMP doesn't have layer styles like photoshop does (without plugins). To achieve the ring overlay effect, I created a layer mask that uses a transparency gradient to achieve a similar effect. (This doesn't look as good, I don't think, but it does work.)

    GIMP's Gaussian Blur tool seems to be a lot more aggressive than Photoshop's. I used a blur length of 3 (vs Irkalla's 16) and mine seems to be more blurred than the tutorial one. (A GIMP blur of 16 basically made it transparent.)

    And those are the small things I ran into! I was pleasantly surprised by several keyboard shortcuts used in the tutorial being the same in GIMP.

    If anyone has any pointers for improving the above icon, I welcome the assistance!

    Thanks again, Irkalla!
     
  19. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Emperor

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    And I tried another one, with a different color scheme this time to try out shadows in GIMP. I ran into an unexpected issue at the "Color Overlay" step for the shadow. GIMP lets me set the layer to "Overlay" mode, but that makes the shadow disappear (not sure why). I got around that by setting the brush to the final shadow color, instead of using the overlay settings to go from black to that color.

    Here we go:

     
  20. kingchris20

    kingchris20 Wisdom Seeker

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    Thanks a bunch for making this tutorial! Extremely helpful! No particular civ in mind, just a practice Icon... Looks weird in the thumbnail, but when you click the thumbnail, looks pretty good!
     

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