Program: Photoshop CS3
Involves: Fill layers, Curves, Levels, Color Balance, Gradient Map and dubilcated layers.
01. Firstly, I dublicated the base twice, and set the first one to Screen and the second one to Soft Light. This makes the icon brighter + takes away some of the washed out-ness.
02. Then I added to fill layers, both set to Soft Light. The first one with a light blue/purple-ish color, I used #a8a1ea. This removes some of the yellowness. For the second fill layer, I used a rusty-pinkish red color, I chose #a88080. That adds some redness, and removes some of the greenness.
03. Now, a Levels layer. Which one of my favourite things in Photoshop. It creates such great contrast, and brightens up things.
I made some contrast, added some light and made it a little yellow-er by using these settings:
RGB; Input levels: 39, 1,40, 250.
GREEN; Input levels: 6, 1,05, 247. Output levels: 0, 251.
BLUE; Input levels: 3, 1,02, 249. Output levels: 1, 253.
04. Another tool which is great for contrast and brightness editing is Curves. I made it brighter and created some more contrast with these settings:
RGB; Point one, Output 203, Input 187. Point two, Output 38, Input 40.
RED; Output 143, Input 146.
GREEN; Output 222, Input 223.
BLUE; Output 143, Input 141.
Too make the effect more visible, I dublicated the curves layer, and set it to 30%.
05. Color Balance to add more red, and get rid of some yellow-greenness. Here's the settings I used:
Midtones: -9, -5, +1.
Shadows: +18, -4, -10
Highlights: -15, -5, 0
Remember to have the "Preserve Luminosity" checked.
06. Another Levels layer to brighten it up;
RGB; Input levels: 8, 1,18, 253. Output levels: 2, 252
07. For even more brightening up, Brightness/Contrast is awesome. I used +5 for Brightness and +1 for Contrast.
08. The final step, to make the light and shadows more vivid, I made a Gradient Map (Layer>>New Adjustment Layer>>Gradient Map). I chose the Black&White gradient (Black to the left, white to the right). And set it to Soft Light.
Other icons with similar coloring method;
And done! Please use this more as a guide, than a "recipe". If you have any questions, just ask! This took a while to make, so if you like it, please comment!