Welcome to the first portrait tutorial!
Some people like working on pictures that are very large, and resize later. I dont. I like to work with the right size to begin with, so the first step in this tutorial is to resize your image. Do this by cropping, or using image size in the image menu. We work on the huge portrait first of course, so your picture should be 256*400 pixels in size. Be careful not to stretch the image, it can really ruin the whole thing if you do. Make sure constrain propertions are on. You can use the rectangle marquee tool to make sure your portrait is of proper size; Set style to fixed size instead of normal, and click anywhere on your portrait. Use ctrl-c to copy, when you think you have the right "capture", and then select new, from the file menu. Make sure the proportions are right (256*400). Use ctrl-v to paste into your new file, and there's your portrait. Now, in your layers "box" click the arrow beneath the cross that closes the box, and select flatten image. Now your portrait is ready to begin working on.
ctrl-v : Paste
ctrl-c : copy selected
ctrl-a : select all (good before ctrl-c)
In this step, we will make sure the overall light in the picture looks good. You dont need to work much on this lady, it's already looking fine. But, we could make it better. Since she is outside, the light can come from anywhere, so we will just use the sources that are already made for us. Go to the image menu, and select adjustments/brightness contrast. Play around with this tool until you find something you like. +5, +30 worked for me. If you want, you should check some of the other tools and see what they do. Try one of these; Hue/Saturation, Levels, Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, Auto color and color balance. Hue saturation can be great to control the colors you want your portraits to have. I gave my portrait -5 in hue to give her a better skin color. When you think the contrast and colors in your portrait work, you can move on.
In this step, you will be introduced to the most important tools of making portraits; The smudge tool. You can't make portraits without this tool. If you cant find the smudge tool, move your cursor above either the blur tool (a raindrop) or the sharpen tool (a triangle), click one of these tools (if the smudge tool isnt there, which is a hand), and keep the button down until you can select other tools. Choose the hand with the pointy finger. If you havent used the tool before, it will propably have a high strength. Thats no good. Make sure strength is lowered to 20-30%, no more! The smudge tool make your picture look more painted. Smudge every single place of the picture, except the eyes, nose and mouth. These areas are a little touchy, and you can quickly ruin your portrait is they are smudged to heavily. Use a smaller brush on these areas, and a lower strength. The eyes are the one of the most important part of a portrait. If your eyes are blurry, you lack personality. When you have smudged every area of the portrait (including the eyes, nose and mouth, with less strong smudging), you are ready to move on. Your portrait should look somewhat like mine. If its to blurry already, do it over. Be careful around the cheek too! When you do the hair, follow the lines of the hair, dont go against them. Patience.
Now she is all smudged up, and looks very pretty. But not very painted yet. Thats fine, we will get her to look more painted by doing a couple of things to her. First, we will use the burn and dodge tool to control the light and dark spots on her. These tools are located next to the smudge tool. Start with the burn tool. When you use these tools, it is important that you use the midtones to burn or dodge to begin with. When you are familiar with that, try using highlights (light areas) or shadows (dark areas). But first, lets burn the proper areas. Like smudge, your strentgh shouldnt be higher than 30%. Try and burn the areas around her eyes, her cheeks and her neck. Use my portrait as a guide. Remember, she is outside, so she shouldnt be too dark. Smudge the areas you darken just a little. Darkened something you shouldnt have? Use the history tool to delete the actions you have done recently. When you think she have been burned enough, begin to dodge her. Just like burning, but doing the opposite. Her cheekbones, forehead and chin should be dodged a little. Use my portrait as guide. Be careful she doesnt begin looking like a skeleton! Thats for the pale masters to deal with. Smudge around a little when you have dodged. If you want to, you could dodge her teeths as well. When it looks somewhat like mine, you can move on.
Getting too powerful colors when burning? Use the sponge tool, and set it to desaturate. The sponge tool is together with the dodge and burn tools. You could make more powerful colors if you choose saturate instead of desaturate as well.
She is okay now? Sure? Really? Thats good, because if she is not you are going to regret it. We are going to use a couple of filters now, to finish her. Well, you are already finished with her, lets get going. First, use the watercolor filter, you can find this in the filter menu, under artistic. Brush detail should be as high as it can get. Shadow intensity and texture as low as they can get. Looks great when you click ok, doesnt it? No, dont worry. When you use filters, you have to fade them. Otherwise, they are too strong. Go to the edit menu, and choose fade watercolor. try 22%. Be careful not to go higher- you will loose detail if you do. Now, when you are done with watercolor, use the filter named paint daubs. Also, under artistic. Brush size should be 1, Sharpness 2 or 3. You can fade this filter as well (actually, you can fade almost anything in photoshop), but i would advise you to use blur where it seems like its too sharp. Hair can become too sharp easily. Paint Daubs removes the blurryness of your portrait, making it less dizzy to look at. In this case, with this easy portrait, you dont have to do anything else. Your portrait is finished! This lovely woman will be a great rogue or ranger perhabs! ;) Well done.
Now, to get the portrait to work in Neverwinter Nigths, there is a couple of things you must do. First, save this image. Next, take a look at your layer box. Right click on your layer (you should have only one), and duplicate it. Erase the old layer. Now, go to the image menu, and choose canvas size. Make sure photoshop uses pixels instead of cms. Height should be 512 pixels. Dont do anything to width.
Choose the move tool, and move your portrait to the top of the image. Then, choose the paint bucket tool, select a black color, and use the bucket on the lower part of the image (not the portrait!!!!). Thats all you have to do for now. if you want to, you could use the text tool and give her a name, but you wont see the black area in game (if you choose to use text now, flatten the image when you are done with the text!). Go to the file menu, choose save as (not just save!), and save in this format: po_f_xxxxxxx_H (where po means portrait, f means female and xxxxxxx can be anything you desire, H means huge of course). Its important you remember to save in Targa files. Nothing else will work in the game, and may cause it to crash. This is the huge portrait, it will be used on the select portrait menu in neverwinter nigths. Make sure you save the portrait files in the portrait map in NWN.
In Neverwinter Nights, there are 5 different versions of the portrait, each one smaller than the last one. You already made the huge portrait. Now, you must resize the portrait, and save the smaller images as well. Remember to save as, when you save, otherwise you will end up having only the tiny version of the portrait, and thats not very fun ;) Below are the different versions of the portrait, how big they should be, and what you should name them. Remember to save as every time you resize, so you will end up with 5 different targa files-
The huge portrait (used in "choose portrait" in-game, when you start a new character): 256*512 pixels, save as po_f_xxxxxxx_H
The large portrait (used in character sheet): 128*256 pixels, save as po_f_xxxxxxx_L
The medium size portrait (used in game): 64*128 pixels, save as po_f_xxxxxxx_M
The small portrait (can't remember where this is used, but it's in there somewhere): 32*64 pixels, save as po_f_xxxxxxx_S
The tiny portrait (used in the scrollbar in-game): 16*32 pixels, save as po_f_xxxxxxx_T
Check your portraits folder. If you have 5 different targa files, it should work. Start the game, and check out your portrait! If it's really good you could share it on the vault. If you used this lovely woman right here, don't share her, she's already out there. Good luck on your future portraits! If you have any questions, email me at Apricane@yahoo.dk