Love them or hate them, profile photos are now a way of life. You can hardly navigate the online world without having an avatar that shows who you are. And why would you want to? Sharing a photo of yourself as you participate online inspires trust and establishes you as a real human, ready to be yourself in both the real and online worlds. If you do it right, a profile photo can be an extension of your personality. A good one can be your own personal logo, making you instantly recognizable online.
So let’s make a good one, shall we? This week I’m sharing Part 2 of the Creating an Interesting Profile Photo tutorial, which steps you through the process I used to create my and my son’s new profile photos, shown below.
Step 4 – Alter the Color
I wanted to add some geometric effects to the profile photos, and adding effects to a full color photo can be hit or miss. It is very easy to create visual mess with lots of color and lots of shapes, so going to a simpler color palette allows you more complexity in effects later.
I started the color alterations on Brandon’s by going black and white in an earlier step. In iColorama, I exaggerated the black and white, giving it a more graphic feel by increasing contrast and grain using an effect found under the Style > Hatch menu.
From there I altered the color using a preset under the Tone > Tint menu. Explore the blending mode options when using this menu. Screen blending mode worked best to tone the black and white in this case.
For my profile photo, I started with the color version and went straight into the Tone > Dutone menu. In this case, I didn’t change the Blend Mode but I did change the Opacity setting to 80%, letting a little bit of the original color come through so it was not a flat blue. In many iColorama menus there are a range of adjustment options like Blend Modes and Opacity. Experiment with these to get a custom look for your image.
Step 5 – Add effects
Now I’m ready for the fun part, adding effects! iColorama has a great range of geometric effects, which is what I wanted here to represent the “techie-ness” of my son, and myself too. That geeky engineering background needs to come through! You will want to choose your own effects based on your personality. Do you want to go painterly and soft? Are natural fibers and textures more your thing? Think about what you like to wear, the art you choose, the colors you gravitate to. It’s not only the photo, but the application of color and effects that make the profile photo represent you.
So… Geometric effects for me and Brandon. This is where I’m going to go into more detail, and share a great feature in iColorama: The Swatch.
All of the effects I used in these images are found under the Preset menu, either Grids or Shift. In Grids, you have a number of preset grid options you can overlay onto your image. When you first try out the Grid presets, you may notice the grid is a distracting black and it may cover important parts of the photo… Like your eyes and face. But there is a great range of adjustability in these Grids. Start with with Size and Feature sliders at the bottom to see what they do. In this case. The grid flips around to be where I want it – away from Brandon’s face – just by adjusting these sliders.
Once you have a grid where you want it, it’s time to change the color. Tap the Grid Color icon at the bottom of the screen, and another menu comes up to change the color. Tap “Swatch” in that menu to get to the color swatch.
This is the awesome feature… It creates a color swatch from the colors in your image, so you can match the color of the grid to the colors in your image. Now you can tap the different options to change the color of the grid and see what looks best with your photo. It makes a big difference to change from the basic black of the preset options to a color from the swatch. Look for the Swatch menu anywhere you see the Color icon. It may not be available in all menus and presets, but it’s worth it to check.
Here’s the sequence of added effects I used for Brandon’s photo, starting with Preset > Grid effect…
Then adding a Preset > Shift effect, again using the swatch to adjust the color…
And finally another Preset > Shift effect to add in the colored pixels…
For my image, it was a similar process using similar effects, although I wanted the vanishing lines on the right side of the photo instead of the left. Try as I might, none of the options in iColorama would allow me to rotate that effect to the opposite side, so I rotated my image instead. Here’s what it looked like coming out of that step:
Remember you have lots of tools that you can use interchangeably! Don’t get stuck thinking you have to work in a linear fashion in one app. Here’s the final application of geometric effects for my photo:
After adding the geometric effects, the images were almost done. Just a few finishing touches to close things off!
For Brandon’s photo, the right edge of his face got lost in some of the processing. No worries! I blended the final geometric version with the earlier black and white version in Image Blender, bringing back the structure of his face without losing the impact of the edit:
For me, I had a couple of things to do. First, I didn’t like the brighter spot of my hair in the upper left corner or the fact the pixels did not end neatly on the edge of the screen on the right side. So I took care of that with a crop in Snapseed.
Second, I didn’t like how my lips looked chapped. Anyone who is around me for even a short length of time knows I’m obsessive about applying Chapstick, so how did that happen? The roughness seemed to be highlighted by the color conversion, and I thought it was a distraction. (Not to mention, once I noticed it, I needed to apply Chapstick every time I saw the photo because it looked so uncomfortable! See? Obsessive.) So I used Retouch in Handy Photo and cleaned things up to even out the bright spots.
Voila! Finished photo… You will now see it everywhere on my social media streams. Fun!
So what do you think? Are you ready to try creating a more interesting profile photo for yourself? What colors and effects will you choose to represent your personality? It’s your turn to create a profile photo that shows the true you!
And for one lucky person, I will create a profile photo for you! Just leave a comment with what colors and effects would represent you this week, and I’ll randomly select one of the commenters to win. I’ll contact the winner via the email to get a starting photo. Should be fun!