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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week I'm going to share with you a completely random trick. We're going to be putting wings on a horse in order to create one of those mythological winged horse characters. What are they called, a sphinx or a unicorn? Anyway, the interesting thing about this iSphinx is that it's a combination, as improbable as it sounds, of a horse now-- you saw that coming--and a goose. So if this were some sort of math class and I were asking you, what happens when you multiply horse times a goose, the answer the correct answer would be, you get a pegasus.
Yeah, I know what it is called. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, so let's add wings to that horse. This is the final version of this horse and silhouette here with these wings. And all of these elements, I should say upfront, come from the Fotolia image library, about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. Let's go ahead and switch over to the starter file here, which contains these grayscale elements. That's all I've done so far is to take these stock images and convert them to grayscale and then pile them on top of each other.
So I've got a couple of goose layers, as we'll be seeing in a moment. But let's start with the horse. We need to set it in silhouette, which means that we need to add a levels adjustment layer. I'm going to do that by pressing and holding the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, clicking on this black-white icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel and choosing the Levels command. Then I'll go ahead and call this new layer 'contrast', and I'll turn on Use Previous Layers to Create Clipping Mask just to make sure we're affecting the horse and nothing else, in case I decide to add some other elements on lower layers. Then I'll click OK. I'm going to go ahead and set these values to 100 for the black point right there, and then I'll press the Tab key a couple of times to advance to the white point and I'll take it down to 230, and that's it.
That goes ahead and increases the contrast of this horse like crazy, so most of the elements are now black and white--however, not quite everything. In order to fill in those hooves down here at the bottom of the screen and the romp and we've got a little bit of a problem in the snout as well, I'm going to add a new layer and I'm just going to paint inside of it. So, old-school brushwork. I'll press Ctrl+Shift+N, Command+Shift+N on the Mac in order to create a new layer, and I'll call it 'brush work' and then click OK. And now I'll go ahead the Brush tool, which I can get by pressing the B key.
Notice that I have my default foreground and background color, black and white respectively, so I'm ready to go. Now I'm going to right-click inside the image window just so that you can see that the hardness of my brush is set to 100%, and I'm going to vary the size on the fly as needed. All right, I'll go ahead and press the Enter key to hide that panel, and I'll zoom in on the hooves here. Notice that the contrast between the black of the leg here and the background, we've got some fairly tight edges going on, but they're not jagged. So I just want to make that clear. When you're setting the levels adjustment, you need to make sure that you leave a little bit of gray, just so that you have those nice anti-aliased edges.
All right I'm going to press the left bracket key a few times here in order to reduce the size of my brush. Then I'm just going to begin painting inside of this hoof area. I am pressing the left bracket key some more to get a very tiny brush there. What you want to do for the best result is just click. I would advise against painting, even if you've got a tablet or something like that. Because you want to make sure that your painting as close to inside the lines is possible. If you start dragging with a brush, you stand a very good chance of painting outside the lines. All right, so I'm just going to click, click, and so forth, increase the size of my brush a little bit by pressing the right bracket key a few times.
That takes care of those hooves. These are a little trickier. I'll go ahead and click, Shift+Click this time. When you Shift+Click with the brush, you connect the last click-point to the next click-point with a straight line, which ends up working out pretty nicely; it gives you a high degree of control. Go ahead and click here. Shift+Click at this location, click again to fill in the gap a little bit. Drag inside. Now I can drag when I'm well inside of the leg because at that point I'm not worried about doing any damage. It's just when I'm right against those edges that I want to take it easy and click for the best control.
You might want to zoom in a little farther in order to take in those edges, like so. Just fill the detail in as well as possible. It's okay to leave some rough edges in places, as long as there are organic edges-- in other words, you're paying attention to the fundamental composition of the image and you're not painting over it roughshod. All right, I'll go ahead and Shift+Click up there in order to connect that with a straight line. Shift+Click, Shift+Click-- just click inside that area. Click there as well. Click, click so forth. So, it's a lot of the same work over and over quite frankly.
Luckily, we don't have too many details to fill in. Now, here we've got a little bit of a shadow, and I could use some fancy overlay painting technique if I wanted to, but I'm just going to press the X key in order to switch to white, and click around this hoof like so, in order to paint that area away and then just paint along the shadow to get rid of it. All right, the other stuff is pretty easy because we don't have that much work left to go here. I'll press the X key in order to switch back to black as my foreground color. Zoom out, so I can take in more of the image at a time. There is that rump I was telling you about.
I'll go ahead and increase the brush size like crazy by just hammering on the right bracket key a few times and then click inside that area to fill it in. Maybe click inside the mane to fill in some of the mane areas as well. That little weird highlight needs to go away. Reduce the size of my brush a little bit, paint inside the snout--or whatever you call it, the muzzle of the horse. Press the X key, click. Perhaps right there he has got these little chin whiskers that you might or might not want to get rid of. Anyway, that's good enough. We've now got the horse rendered in silhouette.
What about the wings? Well, I'm going to press the M key to switch back to my Rectangular Marquee tool just so that I've got the cross cursor and I'm going to turn on this Goose layer. Believe it or not, I decided to give this cool horse goose wings. So, another stock image from the Fotolia image library. I am going to go ahead and click on it to select it. I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click on this black-white icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel, choose the Levels command, and I'm going to call this 'contrast' once again and turn on the check box so that we're just affecting this one layer, click OK.
This time the values that I'm dialing in are 25 for the black point, because this is a pretty dark goose. Then I'll tab over to the white point value and I will change it to 50. So I'm getting rid of that background like crazy. This ends up creating a pretty nice goose silhouette, if that's what I wanted, which it is really isn't. I just want to subtract out those wings. All right, so here's the part where I've got some stuff created in advance. I've got these path outlines that I drew with the Pen tool. And I'm not going to sit here and draw them in front of you; I'll just show you what the paths look like. There are the goose edges right there.
Once again, that's with the Pen tool. If you want to see what those path outlines look like, I'll go ahead and grab my White Arrow tool and I'll click on one of those path outlines so you can see. Everything is a smooth point, by the way, and we don't have very many smooth point, just four points in all on this one path on one side of the goose. And on the underside of the goose I've got, what is this? It looks like five smooth points. All right, but what I want to do is convert this to a selection, so I'm going to Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on that path thumbnail and I'll return to the Layers panel, click on the Goose layer to make it active, drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon. And because I want to mask these areas away, I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on that icon, and there they go.
Now those little bits of stuff that are showing up in the background, those are pieces of horse that are showing up. We do need to get rid of this bit of wing though right there, and I'll do that just choosing the Lasso tool. So I'll grab my lasso and just lasso around that wing, nothing special there. The layer mask is selected. Black is my foreground color, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+ Delete to fill that area with black in the layer mask, which makes that bit of wing go away. All right, now I'll press Ctrl+D, Command+D on a Mac, to deselect that area.
We now need to make sure the goose is active and then go up to the Blend Mode pop-up menu there in the upper-left corner of the Layers panel and choose Multiply, and that gives the horse his first wing. Now, that could be good enough. You could hang it up and say I'm done, especially if you're on deadline. However, in my case, I think the horse ought to have a rear wing too, that's sort of poking through in the background, which is why I've got Goose 2. Same darned goose as we saw before. We're just going to take his other wing--I've gone ahead and rotated him here using the Free Transform command under the Edit menu-- we're going to take this other wing and we're going to use it as a rear wing.
So I'm going to go ahead and click on that Goose layer and I'm going to change the Blend mode to Multiply because we need to multiply it in as well. We also need that contrast layer right there. I'm going to grab it because I need these exact same settings. I'll grab that contrast layer and Alt+ Drag it or Option+Drag it above Goose 2 there in order to duplicate it. Then so that this Contrast layer affects Goose 2 and only Goose 2, I'm going to press the Alt or Option key and click on that horizontal line between the two layers in order to mask the contents of the adjustment layer inside of Goose 2.
All right, we just need this little bit of wing right there, so I'm going to take my Rectangular Marquee tool like so and surround it. I think I've selected enough of it. Click on the Goose 2 layer to make it active. This time I want to mask the contents of the selection, so I'll just click on the Add Layer Mask icon. One more thing, I really think that we need more than this little bit of wing right there. We need sort of a little bit of wing elbow at this location, and wouldn't you know, I've already drawn it here inside the Paths panel. So I'll click on that Elbow layer right there, and again, it's a pretty simple path outline, as you can see.
Just so you know what it looks like, I'll press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool. I'll click on it. You can see we've got a couple of corner points right there, cusps inside the path, and then we have a couple of smooth points. So again, nothing fancy. I'll Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on that path thumbnail to convert it to a selection outline, switch back to the Layers panel, click on the top layer in the stack and press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac in order to create a new layer. Let's go ahead and call this elbow. I don't really know what part of the goose that is.
But anyway, I'll click okay in order to create that new layer. For some reason I now have white as my foreground color. I'll press the D key to make black my foreground color, and I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac in order to fill that selection with black. Now I'll press Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the image, press the F key a couple of times and there we have it, a horse surrendered in silhouette, complete with wings-- he looks great, even though they're the goose wings--here inside Photoshop.
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