Well I noticed that in the "show off your best" people said they had trouble in a way with creating icons they liked. I go the simple but effective way with icons all the time...and usually people enjoy them, yay! Because who doesn't like some nice colouring? (this was all done in photoshop CS2, I'm pretty sure it can be done is other photoshops and possibly other programs)
Any ways to start off get a picture that is clear (try really hard to do this because it'll make everything easier for you, but it doesn't always matter)
Choose your image
Resize it to 100x100 so what you want to be shown in the icon is being shown clearly
Now...I am a dirty cheater when it comes to step 3, lol. Actions are gods gift to...everything <3 love you actions.
(What actions are, is they are a group of steps you can just click play instead of having to do them individually by yourself. This is super helpful if you create or find a good one)
(contained in this action is...duplicate layer, sharpen layer, set layer to screen, hue & saturation - saturation to +20, selective colour - Reds - cyan: -100 | magenta: +20 - Neutrals - cyan :+60 | yellow: -17 - Blacks - black: +30)
(or go here
and download it)
or you can take the selective colour layer off and get...
Add your text that you like
(Font: Augie | Size: 19 | Mode: Smooth | Leading: 13pt (have "Character" as a palette so you can get the leading))
(Blending Options - Stroke - Size: 2px | Colour: #7f4f30 (which was a colour i just picked up from the tv))
ta-da! You have an icon and you learnt to do quick colouring. More complex things I would do is brighten the colours up, so a soft light layer on 50% opacity.
This may seem like a lot but all it is is resizing your image, using the action and adding your type.
This also works nicely on photographs or anything else. This one especially with a good image can create a great pop of colour.
Examples of the action used (no other editing):