Again, thank you so much for your questions! I really didn't expect that many questions. :)
It depends on the situation. If it's for an icontest with a certain theme, I often think of a certain cap or scene and icon that. But often I look through the caps I have saved on my laptop and when I find a pretty one, I icon that one. When looking for screencaps to icon later, I go to online sites. If there are tons of caps (I mean like, many caps per second of the tv-show/movie) I usually just hit the most viewed button (if it's available). But most of the time I go through the episode page by page. I like to choose caps that I can picture how I can make an icon look using it. I love caps with odd colors, like this one or wonderful contrasts like this one. Odd lighting is also a favorite of mine, example (not the best example, but I hope you get what I mean). And then it's the expressive and dramatic types of caps, motion and great negative space, a different kind of camera angle, strange shadows and emotions. This reply might have gotten a bit longer than intended, sorry about that!
Well, I think you maybe you guys have noticed how I over-use certain textures. :P
It goes with almost EVERYTHING. I often put this as the last layer on icons with a monotone color and big contrasts. I usually stamp all the layers and sharpen it (then fade the sharpen to fit). Gives a nice little touch. :)
Used in these icons:
This one is lovely on soft light, either in it's original color or desaturated. Sometimes I use Gaussian Blur on it, if the lines are too strong for the icon.
Used in these icons:
Oh gawd, the grungyness this texture gives! Totally over-using it in my Lost icons.
Used in these icons:
Good question! I guess the main answers are gradient maps and color fill layers set to normal and with lowered opacity. For example, I use colors like #ede1c3 on around 20% along with some soft light duplicates of the base. And then a gradient map with this dark maroon/pink-ish color at the bottom and a much brighter color at the top, set on 50%. And curves, selective coloring, whatever you'd like to change the colors. I add this green-ish coloring to my Lost icons, because I think it fits the theme and mood of the show. But really, gradient maps are your best friends! With different colors as well.
Actually, most of the time I start out with an icon that I think looks rather boring and lacks something. If you see my tutorial here, you'll see one way I do it. But there are many ways of making complex compositions. You can use a texture as your base and add images at different settings to see what works like I did with this and this icon. Adding another cap to the icon or duplicating your icon and dragging it around, changing settings, etc. Adding textures in the weirdest ways. Get out your comfort zone and you might end up with some butt-ugly icons where you can't even see what's going on, but also some wonderful masterpieces!
99,99% of the time I crop first. I've figured out that if I color first and then crop, the outcome might be different than what I thought it would be. After I've cropped, I lighten the icon (if needed that is, most of the time it is on screencaps). I vary the way I do this, sometimes I use the auto tone/contrast/color function that PS has, but sometimes that doesn't look good so I either duplicate the base and set it to screen or I brighten it in curves. I don't think you can find an icon I made that doesn't have at least one curves layer in it, I LOVE CURVES (that can be interpreted in more ways, but I think you get what I mean :P). It makes such good color contrasts! Besides this, I don't think I have a routine. Tools I basically never use: Channel Mixer, Exposure & Hue/saturation. But my favorite tools are curves, color balance, gradient map, vibrance, gradients, color fill layers and selective coloring. When it comes to filters, my favorites are Sharpen, Gaussian Blur & Angled Strokes. And of course the eraser tool and brush tool for masking things. I like using the dodge tool and the burn tool on icons/pictures where the subject has remarkable beautiful eyes, to lighten the brighter parts and darken the darker parts, creating this lovely contrast. And then there's the smudge tool, the spot healing brush and the clone stamp tool that I use when creating fake backgrounds or removing unwanted spots. I think that's it? :)
See above. :)
I like them all! Really, if done well, they can all look magnificent. Rotated icons might be an exception, though. You have to be really tough to do that, and you have to make sure it doesn't look weird or change your view on the icon as a whole. Blended icons can be a bit tricky as well. I don't consider myself good at this at all. I'm a big fan of icons where the maker has really captured the emotion of the picture/screencap. That can be close-ups, negative space icons or central crops. It all depends on how it's executed.
Like, color-tones? Well, I've been a bit obsessed with purple lately (no surprise there :P). But I also like sepia and blue, sometime green, sometime orange. Idk, I guess it depends on where my mind is at the moment. :P Also, I really like green and purple together for some reason. And pink and blue.
Gashh, that is such a tricky question! But again, it all depends on how well it's executed. I think everyone should vary, don't make all textless but certainly don't put text on every icon either. I think I'm quite bad when it comes to text, it might be because I rarely use because I'm afraid to use it. There's no reason to be, though, I mean, practice is what helps! When I do use text on icons, I like to use quotes, either from the person in the icon or aimed at the person in the icon. I think sometimes my text is a bit too small for people to read. :S Idk, I like small text. :P More often I end up using text-textures, shame on me. -.- But yeah, it goes both ways!
Also, I'm sorry if my replies got a bit too long. :P