I was asked specifically for these two icons here:
These icons got the painted look from TEXTURES I've used. Keep in mind that I really like to use the hue/saturation tool on my textures to change their colours to fit better with my works so you should do the same; I mostly use gritty coloured textures from lookslikerain @ soaked because a lot of those already have the painted look in them, or are just brush strokes.
In those specific icons I've used these two textures and a variation of the first to which I changed and saturated the colors.
lookslikerain / pamkips (I think I edited the color on this one too...)
As for normal colouring, I honestly didn't do ANYTHING except fixing the caps beforehand, and maybe a vibrance layer afterward. I usually let the texture do most of the job if I'm going for a faux painting feeling.
I've prepared a collection of textures (from lookslikerain only) that are my way to go when it comes to iconing with a gritty-painted texture:
So, the previous cut was really a fast thing to look at, now tho, we're facing some REAL painting, and this is where things gets complicated.
First thing first: I do own a TABLET, which means that I can use pen pressure, this is really something that makes the difference in the long run, so if you have one, keep reading, if not, you MIGHT translate something with a mouse, but not everything, anyway, I'll try to show you all the way you might achieve the same end or a similar one.
Let's start by saying that I read about color theory and all those cool things because it's a job related thing (I do work, in fact, with a painter) and because I'm trying my hand at this illustraton business; thing is: color theory is just a guideline when it comes to painting in icons. I will usually do what FEELS better, instead of what's correct.
The best way I could guide you through it is by making gifs of each portion of the icon, and rant about the how's and why's so, let's start.
Sorry for the HUGE gif, anyway, this is where I start from:
♣ I work on a 500*500px canvas to start giving the caps come colors each one on a different layer and, usually, all the layers are on multiply on various opacity %. First one is almost always my base colour, in this case the yellow, then the shadow color, the cyan and lastly the "highlight" colour, the magenta. You can go with any colour you want, but those three are the one I go for each time (especially because when mixed up I get green and green is love).
♣ Hair base colour is usually the last part I do right before high lights, hair colour should be set on any mode that fits your base, for example, in my case was set on overlay because i really wanted them to be like fire, since she's Phoenix.
♣ After all this jazz, with a beige (no flat out white for anything) I lighten up part of her face to make the colours more prominent, this new layer is set on overlay with a varing % because it all depends on how dark your base is.
♣ After all that I resize to a 100*100. When I say resize I do mean resize the canvas, before doing so I make a copy of my icon up to that moment, reduce the canvas size and reduce the copy layer so, in case I need to go back, I just have to re-resize the canvas to the previous dimension. Been doing this for ages now and it's so good I can't even tell you how many times it saved me.
♣ I fix colours as I go, usually blending, and picking them with my colour wheel, DON'T LIMIT yourself on picking the convenient colours already on the canvas, push them around, and while you're doing that, make the coloring. For this Phoenix one I used a LOT of gradient maps because it was just so easy and also because there was a certain look I was trying to achieve. But any kind of layer is welcome. Textures are welcome too, just remember that when you blend colours or add them in, you'll smooth the texture away/blend it in.
♣ I ALWAYS, and I do mean ALWAYS use a hard round brush when I paint on icons, because I do wan to keep people features in place and with that brush is just easier to follow features instead of brushing them off. As you can notice, the more go on with the icon, the more bold the colours get and also blended, that's because vibrance layers set on "COLOR" helps you to keep values around and, once more, picking colours is important. Don't limit.
♣ Finishing details are important, for example, my last layer on that icon is a BLUE shadow on her face and rim of her hair. Why? Because it gave the icon and her fce a nice heavy contrast I wanted; the left side of her face during the coloring process got washed out, that nice deep green turned to a washed out dark one so I picked a very bright cyan and repainted part of her cheek. It gives the icon a very vibrant vibe.
Another couple of gifs of painted icons, consider that these two are not super recent, but not that old!
*first gif will stop, sorry about that, just open it in a new window and refresh when it finishes*
And, if gifs aren't enough, I actually have an "old" video of me doing sh*ts on a Silent Hill Revelations caps, maybe that one can be more helpful than this useless and pointless rant I've made here.
Heather Mason from Lex CCC. on Vimeo.
Sorry about the music in background, I forgot, at the time, to mute it! (Look, video is pretty old, but that's my method even if that icon is not my prettiest)
So... That's a wrap. I know I didn't really explain much or showed much, but as you can see from the gifs it's all about building up your work on a specific cap going layer by layer and mixing paint and adjustment layers, if you have ANY question tho, ask, I'll get back at you as soon as I see it/can!