This tutorial assumes you know the basics of photoshop, so I will not explain how to do basic things (making new document, how to drag/cut a render into your sig, how to create duplicate layers, etc).
Creating the base of the project
1. Open a new document with a white background, you can size it how you wish but during this tutorial I will be using 420 X 160.
2. Open up whatever Render you want to use, I will be using a render of Samus from Metroid, and drag it into your new document.
3. Size the render down to fit in the sig however you like, however, don't make it too big and make sure there is room on each side of the sig to have space to work with.
4. I always turn my background into "layer 0" via double clicking it and making it a normal layer. This is simply my choice, you do not have to do this, but I put this in here to explain why the below image has layer 0 instead of background layer.
Below is what it should look like generally:
Dupe layers and basic Smuding
1. Duplicate your Render 4-8 times. You never know when you will want to remove a smudged layer or wish you had an extra to work with, so dupe it however many times you are comfortable.
2. I always make all my dupe Renders invisible except my Main Render and the Render I am smudging, as it helps me be clear on which layer I am smudging at the time. You can put them on invisible, or not, it's up to you. Also, I always rename my top Render "Main" so I can also be more clear about my work.
It should look like this:
3. Pick a brush that you would like to use. For the sake of this tutorial, I'll be using the #33 brush that comes with Photoshop CS5. You may choose to use whatever brush you want. The brush I will be using is not the best brush you can use, I'm just using it casue it works decently and it's a default brush.
4. Click on the Smudge tool, and go to the smudging options. This is located in the same area where the opacity and other options are located - in the main bar at the top. Make it look like it does in the below pic.
Note: You don't have to make it EXACTLY like my settings, play around and adjust scattering and shape dynamics how you like best.
5. Now that we have our smudge brush and our smudge settings, it's time to get on with the actual work.
Click on the dupe layer right below your Main Render (layer 1 in the pic I have above showing my layers), and starting from the middle of the render, click and hold, then move outward. Keep smudging like this (you can experiment how you wish to smudge, click and drag, click and drag, or hold and drag, etc). Just keep smudging until you get something like the below pic:
6. Make the layer below the one you just smudged visible (Layer copy 1 in the pic above with my layers), and do the same thing. Use a different brush if you want, only smudge on the outline if you want, smude further out, smudge closer in, explore and get it how you want. Keep doing this for all of your dupe renders until they are all smudged and look how you want. After all were smudged for me, this is what it looked like:
1. Now that we have all of our layers smudged, we can now start blending them along with our Main Render.
Depending on what Render you used, what colors the render had, that lighting was on the render, etc, etc, you are going to want to use different blend modes for each of your layers. What you need to do is click on the little drop down menu:
Then go through the different blend modes. Try Overlay, vivid light, try color burn, etc, and on each layer play with the blend modes until you find something you want. Once you have the colors/blending how you like, erase what you don't want, dupe more layers if you want, play with the previous steps and get it how you like it.
Mine turned out like this:
2. Now that we have the colors down, we want to blend our Main render into the sig itself, to give it a real "blend" effect. Take the eraser tool and erase the outline of some of the Main Render until it looks blended in. On mine, I erased the outline of both arms mainly, as shown below:
3. Create a duplicate of your Main render, and set it on Overlay via the drop down menu you used to play with your smudge layers. Make sure the overlay Render is on top of your original Main Render.
Below is how it should look:
1. Depending on the image, it may or may not need more lighting. However, generally speaking, lighting always makes your work look better. In the case of my Render, Samus' gun glows green, and you can slightly see some lighting on her face from it. So, what I'm going to do is make that brighter.
2. The easiest way to make lighting is to create a new blank layer, place it at the top of all your layers (above the Main Render and it's overlayed copy), set the new blank layer to overlay.
3. Use a soft round brush at about 60 in size and at about 30-40 opacity, Make the brush white (white for light lighting, black for darker lighting) and brush where you think the lighting should be (use common sense to judge).
Below is how mine came out:
Border and Text
1. To me, this sig feels like hollywood border, so that's what I'm going to use.
Again, this tutorial is for those who know how to make borders and the basics of sig making, and if you have a question as to how to make a border, you can PM me.
2. For the text, use your normal photoshop instinct. Keep it close to the render so it doesn't mess up your focal point (the render), don't make it too big or too bright so that also doesn't take focus off the focal point, and just be creative.
Always remember, sometimes the most simple text is actually the best.
My finish product:
I hope you enjoy it and can learn from it. It's not the most in depth tutorial, but I believe it gets the job done for a basic, everyday smudge/blend sig.