The image is the key. A good image can improve the results so much while there's only so much you can do with a base that is too dark, too light, blurry, grainy etc.
Harry Potter Images:
bunnysneezes.net: a very nice collection of caps from the Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Nice quality.
Teh_Indy's PoA Caps: Prisoner of Azkaban
Impervius: Caps from all three movies, plus trailers. Need to register, but it's free.
Hogwarts Gallery: publicity shots, OOC actor pics, HP products. Searchable!
Mugglethai: a Thai site that gets some great publicity shots.
various picspams, especially by froda_baggins and shocolate
raven_annabelle: list of episodes here (these are zip files of the episodes - a bit unweidly to download, but helpful for entertainment when the internet is down)
I've also gotten some Carnivale caps from cassiee. I'm not sure if she's taken them offline or not. But thanks to her. Plus I can remind myself that she has links in her userinfo to Firefly resources. If you haven't noticed, Firefly is my new obsession.
Still-Flying.net: caps of every episode, special features, promo images. Also includes episode guides and quotes (great for icon text)
Dust Til Dawn: Firefly caps still under construction, but nice site for all things Joss-ish
House, MD images:
Screencaps via bluebear_74, spiffydaze and dj43
Studio 60 Images:
Veronica Mars Images:
Other Fannish Image Sources:
Melissa's Screencaps: The OC. My guilty pleasure.
Secret Obsession: Various movies. This is where I got my Chicago caps.
cap_it: amazing resource on LJ. Check the memories. There's literally hundreds of movies, animes, tv shows, music videos. Cap_It is love.
Getty Images Creative: beautiful stock photography
Getty Images Editorial: where I get my sports photography
Stock Exchange: Stock Photos. Registration is free.
Because sometimes a brush isn't enough, textures can add color and texture, sometimes even detailing and a border to an icon. They work nicely on "lighten" and "darken" blend modes, but you do have to be careful not to obscure the image beneath. Textures can also work well as a base with a smaller icon-image blended into the pre-made background.
Icon-Sized Textures (some people call these bases, but that can be confusing, as a base is also a cropped-sharpened-bordered but otherwise unmanipulated icon):
disappearicons: I, II, III, IV, V, VI (these are the best icon-sized textures I've seen, but there's one problem: everyone else feels the same way. If you're using these, be sure to do other stuff as well, or your icon will look a lot like many others.)
metrosex: here. These are bright and pretty.
julia_thorne13: here. Another bright, pretty set. I have a bit of trouble figuring out how to make these inobstrusive, but I'm working on it.
icons_with_love: various sets in memories. I particularly like the parchment-like ones.
killprettyx: gradient-ish textures.
blimey_icons: watercolor: digitial, real, textured. Various sizes and types
missambs: shiny icon textures. Not sure if the link is up to date, though...
oxoniensis: Four sets here. A bit more subtle than most, four seperate sests with different color themes.
dearest: Gender has some absolutely gorgeous texture sets. The only fault I can find is that some are *too* good, that you could practically paste an image onto part of it and have an amazing icon with no thought on your own part.
colorfilter: tons of gorgeous textures, pattern and color and light yaye.
My own! set of ten
1Greeneye.net textures (see also brushes. 1greeneye.net is teh sex)
Daydreaming: sorted by type
Tre-xture: various sizes, some icon-sized as well
Hybrid-Genesis: pretty pretty textures, also some great texture brushes
painted-passion.org: large textures made by hecatesknickers
oxoniensis: nature and art gradients, fashion gradients. These are all three color solids (my favorite type) and work very nicely with icons. A fourth set of more muted earthy shades was just posted here.
broomsticks: one set of five at her website. Very pretty.
crumblingwalls: six sets in her memories. Almost everyone uses these, but they're great. Most are three-color and of similar level colors so they work nicely in most blending modes.
lysrouge: gradient set 1. Various numbers of colors, styles, brightnesses.
cooldecade: her fabulous tutorial on gradient maps includes a set of gradients made for that purpose.
spectacular: these gradients work very nicely if you gaussian blur the layer they're on
noctuidae: delphi and palespring, other sets in memories
roseicons: forgetful and shiny or dull?
magdalenaicons: there's almost a dozen sets in her memories. A lot of these are muted two-color sets.
pekeana: refried gradients various noise sets
My own sets! smoothnoise: various smoothish noise gradients AND autumncolors: made from images of autumn leaves. Lots of red, green, orange, yellow. I'm also making a third set, which will be up whenever it's done.
jubilli: some random, very pretty gradients with varying numbers of colors
hermintage: this set contains 80+ gradients than span the spectrum.
I have collected an obnoxiously large brush collection over the year-plus I've been making icons. You really don't need nearly this many. Note that I use PS7 and in some cases the brushes I link to may only be compatible with that program. Many brush-makers, though, offer image packs which contain stamps of all the brushes which can then be used to make brushes in PSP or earlier versions of Photoshop. Information on all things brush-related can be fouond here in the memories of icon_tutorial.
Square Pretties: 100x100 brushes by quebelly. Lots of great basic stuff, some simple grungy borders I really like.
pekeana: borders and textures (along with noise gradients) at her website.
Juuichi: a nice grungy border set I use, other stuff I'd download if I didn't already have 200 sets or so
crumblingwalls: I really really like aged sets 2 and 3, but she has several sets, which can be found here.
dtissagirl: basic stuff, scanlines, grids, etc
hecatesknickers: lots of unique textures. Icon-sized brushes in memories here.
isabellecs: over a dozen brush sets, linked in memories
gegenschein: brushes found at counterglow. Newer sets are for Photoshop CS
oxoniensis: brushes found here. I mostly use her border sets and her gradients, which I lust after.
teh_indy: my favorites are texture sets I and II. Others are linked to here.
cosmo_mouse: aka evenstar. brushes found here
parrotdroppings: Jackson Pollock texture set
calixa: I downloaded set 9 awhile ago and it's one of my all-time favorite sets. Her brushes were offline for awhile, but are back. This makes me squee. Find them all here.
fatexsucks: texture set made from her own photography. Very nice for grungy texture.
icons_with_love: brushes linked to here. Some fun icon textures, also larger brushes. See also icon-sized textures.
callmefreak: Textures and decorative, textures and torn edges. Love her textures.
purposeicons: link doesn't seem to be active anymore...
disorderedmind: square set. I don't use these too often, but they're a great set for the lighter-rectangles sort of style.
miggy: tons of brushes in various styles. found in her memories.
claudia6913: I really like her doodle set and her screenporch set, which is a nice twist on the usual grid. (some of the latter are bigger than 100x100)
AbsoluteTrouble has tons of stuff, much of it gorgeous.
kurogane: PSP brush sets. Found here.
hotoko: layered-looking textures
dark_soul_lost: somewhat ornate borders, paint-like textures
cdg_brushes: one of my favorite texture sets
dojie: brushes made using Dante illustrations.
_synergy: grungy yet ornate textures
sistasouljah99: gorgeous border brushes. Made for PSP8.
lysrouge: this texture set makes me squee because Lily made it from pictures I took last fall around my neighborhood. Leaves, water, flowers... <33
eightfour___: huge set of ornamental brushes.
lornyloo: art-texture. I love this set. Texture plus paint splatter.
_ducksinarow: Graphite Set. These are great for scribbly detailing. Several of them are very large and I shrink down for icon use.
oh_pants: I love her most recent sets. Dirty and Filters.
lovemelikemusic: this post contains three nice texture sets.
liminalstate: her rough around the edges set looks to be great for grungy erasures.
trash_graphics has a lovely grungy border set here.
Hybrid-Genesis: texture brushes by inxsomniax. Just downloaded these a couple weeks ago and they're already staples. (also contains pretty textures!)
vBrush: lots and lots of brushes. The halftone watercolor is a must-have.
1greeneye.net: some of my favorite brushes ever. Parchment001 is FABULOUS for both textures and borders. Also contains large textures.
[bioRUST]: some grungy brushes, and a runes-themed one from here. Also contains tutorials, gradients, patterns, shapes, etc etc
8nero.net: over 200 sets. gah!
Touchstone: a fabulously amazing digital artist, she has a few nice brush sets for download. I use the 424pixel brush in set nine for almost all my blending and masking work.
Painted-Passion: larger brushes and textures by hecatesknickers
Miss M's Brushes: I really like "caffeine."
Text: I haven't yet used any of these trendy text-brushes and don't intend to. Personally, I like to choose my own text, font, size and layout. Here's some of my favorites.
Fonts: Fonts are like brushes. I have to restrain myself sometimes or I'll end up with 2000 on my computer and remind myself not to stick with the same 5 over and over.
About 80% of the fonts I use come from dafont.com. Other sites: 1001fonts, High Fonts, fontaddicts and their Community Resource Page
Some of my favorite fonts: (may be adjusted as my tastes change)
Cursive: Lainie Day, Monika,
Quasi-Whimsical: Alpha Mack, Timtastic, Mumsies
Grunge: Base02, Viper Nora
Specialty: Lumos and Parseltongue (don't use these often, but with my HP obsession, good to have some HP fonts!)
And then there's the ones that came with Windows, which I use more than anything else:
Times New Roman, Georgia, Minion, Arial, Century Gothic. Do NOT underestimate the basic fonts. They're often the best. (note that most of these are not freeware, but if you don't have them, there are similar fonts available on dafont and elsewhere)
commonly used fonts by teh_indy
References by crumblingwalls: pixel fonts, script fonts, other fonts (these are fabulous! side by side comparison so you don't have to)
A word on choosing text:
For my icons, I use one of the following sources for text:
1) Quotes from source material. Particularly nice when source material is funny.
2) Some crap I made up after staring blankly at the icon for a few seconds.
3) The obvious. Character's name, title of movie, etc.
4) Song lyrics
Song lyrics fall into three categories.
1) The song I'm listening to, random lyrics repeated over and over in tiny text. You can't read it, who cares.
2) Hey, the song I'm listening to has good lyrics that fit. *scribbles onto icon*
3) Good lyrics that stick in my head. A few people have posts specifically to keep track of this stuff. I don't yet. But when I want lyrics, I usually go to www.bobdylan.com/songs because Dylan's lyrics are the best. And that's that. (also good: The Beatles, Radiohead, Guster, Simon and Garfunkel... okay I'm lazy, but you get the idea)
I'll update this if I do have a cool-lyrics post to link to. Some people that do are raelala [here], ignited [here and here] and 07six10 [here].
There's a million tutorials out there. The level they're written for varies a LOT. Some are basic basic, others are very advanced.
I like to keep a listing of tutorials I find helpful in my memories.
While browsing around for this site, I found that spectacular's memories contain over 175 tutorial links! So check that link, too!
Here's a few tutorials that are personal favorites of mine:
hecatesknickers: tutorial, focus on coloring
callmefreak: Ron icon with many gradients
zerohundred: Bonnie Wright tutorial. Lots of color burn.
cooldecade: gradient map tutorial
inexorablyhere: gradient tutorial
sheepisonfire: coloring tutorial
withpaperwings_ guide to all things icon
ignited: icon overview (includes lots of great basic info on icon-making)
iconbitch: Clarify tips and tricks
___robotpirate: vague but very helpful guide to blending modes
awmp: some great tutorials including burn for you and this background-heavy icon tutorial.
And my own tutorials: (written for PS, some knowledge of program)
Seamus icon, lots of steps, gradients
Dreamy-looking Ron icon
bright-colored Simon icon with insets
Other resource posts:
dtissagirl: here. So many image sites and brushes and font sites and yeah, very very helpful.
teh_indy: again, tons of resources. Links to a lot of screencaps she's done herself as well as resources by others. Found here.
hotoko: lots of links to brushes. here.
raelala: I love this girl's icons. Here's her resource page.
calixa: here. Inclludes links to her own tutorials and a couple fonts pages I didn't know about
Most icon resource pages link to others which link to others, so I could do this all day long. This is just a small sample.
Additionally, icon_turorial has a list of resource posts.
Helpful Livejournal Communities:
icon_tutorial: the standby. A whole variety of stuff here, the memories are an absolute goldmine. From full tutorials to questions answered, The Resource.
100x100_brushes: TONS of icon-sized brushes. The memories are in the process of being organized. I check this place daily because I am a brush addict.
photoshopextras: brushes, gradients, textures. Everything you could want. A new community, but I check it frequently because it is teh shit.
icongradients: gradients, which I love.
icon_extras: all sorts of extras for icon-making. Brushes, gradients, textures, bases, templates.
icon_textures: 100x100 textures. Another new community.
fontaddicts: for font-related questions, issues, etc
And that's it! Until I decide to add more. I really hope this is helpful to people as it took me way, way too much time to get done. Time that could have been spent learning accounting or writing one of the half-dozen fics I need to get written. Or, you know, making icons.
Got a similarly over-sized resource page and want me to link to it? Got a cool resource like a texture site or a lyrics post I should include? Comment and let me know!
Broken links, missed tags? Let me know.
Want to say "hi" or "omg you are a dork" or "whoa, that's awesome" or "get off your ass and make more hp/firefly/carnivale/yankees/etcetc icons." Go do it! I didn't do this for my own entertainment. Or maybe I did..