Recommended Software: Adobe Photoshop
Editor's Note: From the beginning, the vast majority of the Neon Heads in the galleries have been those made by Aussie Ben, and therefore his serve as the central "style". He has posted several brief how-to guides on the DK Vine Forums related to creating Neon Head Avatars, the most recent dated 2007. The following is an amalgamation of these posts, edited for clarity and presentation.
Righto, tutorial time. Here's the Sour Crowla as a PSD.
G'DAY LADS! ...Er, wait, wrong Sour avatar.
As you can see in this PSD, there are four layers: rods, glow, source image and black. Here's how I do it:
1. Grab a source image. Make sure it's nice and large.
2. Re-size the source image to 200x200.
3. Create two new blank layers: one on top of the source image, and one on the bottom. Bucket fill the bottom layer with black.
4. Slide the opacity for the source image to about 70%.
5. On the top layer, trace over key points of the character with appropriate colors. Remember to use bright colors (NEON, remember?), a brush width of 5, and try your best to NOT connect the lines together. You're aiming for a neon rod effect here. (Compare the construction to real-world neon signs).
6. Once the rod layer is complete, duplicate it. On the underneath layer, use the Minimum filter to about 3.0 or 4.0 (this will make a big blob-y mess underneath - it's supposed to do this), and then apply the Gaussian Blur filter on about 3.0. This creates your neon-like glow. This is another reason to keep the lines a bit apart - the colors will blob together if you have them too close.
7. Fiddle with the opacity of the glow layer. Around 50% seems to do it, but keep tweaking it until it looks nice to you.
8. Re-size the image to 71x62 (this will smooth out some of your smaller mistakes, too). If the glow looks shit, fiddle with it some more until it looks nice again. Turn off the black layer and source image, then save the image as a png with transparency.
And that's about it. Oh, one other thing - DON'T use different sized brushes. ONLY use the same size brush on the image - keep it consistent.
This How-To Guide has been brought to you by Aussie Ben through the slap-dash editing of Cameron.