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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. Now you're going to notice a couple of things upfront here, first of all, I have this tragic scratch along my arm, it's extremely painful, in case you're curious, and it's the result of a bar fight. Literally, I stumbled and fell into a bar. It's, wasn't even at a pub or anything, it's very sad. And secondly I'm wearing this brightly colored shirt to try to distract you from the scrape on my arm. I don't know if it's going to work or not, we'll see. Now this week begins a series of three weeks devoted to an exploration of how to create a custom avatar.
That is a profile picture. However, rendered as a cartoon. And, so by way of example, I'm going to take this image, this photograph of my good friend Colleen, and we're going to turn her into this cartoon right here. And I want you not to follow along with me with Colleen necessarily, but rather to do this same thing with a picture of yourself so you can end up with your own custom avatar. Now, we're going to start things off in this movie, inside of Photoshop.
We're going to take the photograph and we're going to trace it with path outlines that we can bring into Illustrator later. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, we're starting things off in Photoshop. Here's the original photograph that I captured a few years ago. And you can see here inside the layers panel that I have another layer called Avatar. That contains the final version of my vector based avatar that I'll be creating in Illustrator. But we're going to starts things off by tracing the paths here in Photoshop, just because that's the easiest way to work.
So I'll turn off the avatar, and then switch over to the Paths panel, which you can also get by going up to the window menu, and choosing the Paths command. And notice that I've drawn some paths in advance. You can go ahead and click on this features layer if you have access to this file to see those paths outlines. But I'm going to be retracing them, so I'll create a new path by clicking on a little page icon down here in the bottom right corner of the paths panel and I'll go ahead and rename this path container new face and then click on it to make sure that it's selected.
Alright, now you want to select the Pen tool. And if you'll do me a favor, go up here to the options bar on the far left side. Make sure that this pop up menu right here is set to path, that way you won't be drawing a new shape layer which wouldn't really do you any good. Alright, now I'm going to start up here by dragging and hopefully you know how to use the Pen tool. I'm just dragging to create a smooth point and I'll drag at this location here and then I'll drag inward. And I'm just tracing along Colleen's features. She's got a pretty sculpted nose, so I want to make sure to retain that.
I'll go ahead and zoom in, here. And you may end up making entirely different decisions, whether you're working with me, or whether you're more likely, creating your own Avatar. Now, if you find that a point isn't exactly where you want it to be, you can press the Control key, or the Command key on a Mac, to get the white error tool on the fly. Then click on that point. And then I'm just going to nudge it slightly over, by pressing the left arrow key. You can see that my path outline is still active, becuase my pen tool cursor doesn't have any asterisks or anything else next to it. So, I'll just go ahead and drag down here, in order to create another point, and I'll drag inside the lips, like so, in order to add the lip.
And I want that to be a little crisper, so I'm going to Ctrl+drag or Cmd+drag this anchor point down a little bit like so, just to make sure we have a nice, sharp corner. And then I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac and drag from this point. So that I convert it from a smooth point to a cusp point, and then, I'll go ahead and drag at this location to create a point there. If you want to move it on a fly, by the way, you press and hold the space bar as you drag. And then, release the space bar in order to set that point down, and then I'll drag down here.
And notice that I'm tracing around the entire face to start things off. So down into the neck is what you want to do. And actually, I want this control handle to come down. So I'll Ctrl+drag or Cmd+drag it like so. And then I'll Ctrl or Cmd+drag this control handle upward. And the only reason I'm pressing the Ctrl or Cmd key is so I can access that white arrow tool on the fly, as you see right there. Then I'm going to drag at this approximate location. Like so. Now that I've completed the outline of the face and profile I want to draw some of the features including this jaw line.
But if I just start dragging then I'll connect this point to the last point, which is not what I want. So I'll press Ctrl+z here or Cmd+Z on a Mac to undo that change and I'll press the Ctrl key or the Cmd Key on the Mac and click off the path outline to deselect it. That's the best way to deactivate it. And notice now my Pen tool cursor has a little asterisk next to it. Which indicates that I'm going to draw a new path outline. And I'll start right about there, and I'll create a smooth point at that location, and then I'll create a smooth point up here. As long as we're down in this region, might as well draw the ear.
So I'll press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac, click inside the image window in order to deselect that path outline. And now let's drag around the ear. I might take that earlobe up a little bit, because it's being stretched by the earring, and I'm not going to include an earring in the avatar. And now I'll go ahead and drag all the way around. Like so, in order to trace the ear. Might sort of do this number here, where I'm sending the control handle down a little bit. Which means that I need to Ctrl+drag or Cmd+drag this control handle up and over in order to create a nicely arched ear.
Then I'll Ctrl or Cmdd+click to deselect that path outline. And let's draw some of these ear shapes, that define the inside of the ear. We're not going to keep them all, because this is too much detail. But we might as well track the original, absolute, accurate information in the first place. Before we go stylizing inside Illustrator. Alright now, I'll Ctrl+click, Cmd+click on the Mac, in order to deselect that path. And I'll go ahead and trace this portion of the ear like so. Ctrl+click, Cmd+click on a Mac in order to deselect.
And drag inside here to create whatever this detail's called. I don't know the names of things inside of an ear. Now Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on the Mac in order to deselect that ear shape over there. And I'm going to go ahead and trace the mouth as it is. Later though, I'm going to make her smile more than this. But again, might as well get the accurate information now. Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on the mac to deselect the ear. Let's go for the nostril here. Very nicely sculpted nostril, I do believe. And I'll kind of trace up and over like so. Alight, now for the eye brow and the eye.
Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on the Mac in order to deselect the nostril. And let's just go ahead and trace that eyebrow like so. That's good enough. And I'll Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on the Mac to deselect it. And then I'll drag from here up to this location right there, I think we want a little bit of a point, and then I'll drag out here then to complete the eyelash. And next I'll Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on a Mac, to deselect and I'll trace the upper eyelid. LIke so, with three anchor points, as you can see.
Ctrl+click, Cmd+click on the Mac in order to deselect. Now let's trace the lower eyelid. Again, I'm going to use three anchor points, which is pretty necessary in order to pull this off. And then finally Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on Mac to deselect, and, trace along the front of the iris, like so. Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on a Mac to deselect and let's trace this, little, eyelash that's coming off the other side. I don't think we need to worry about this eyelid, so that's good enough. Now, you could, if you want to, if you go in there and trace the hair.
So, for example, I could start by Ctrl+clicking or Cmd+clicking on the Mac to deselect the last path outline, very important. And, then I could drag down the neck line, like so. I'm not sure I need this much detail. I might just Ctrl+drag or Cmd+drag that anchor point down. Ctrl+drag or Cmd+drag that control handle up. And Ctrl+drag or Cmd+drag that control handle down. Of course, you're going to be doing totally different stuff. But might as well know what I'm up to, I guess. Then I'll Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on a Mac to deselect that path outline.
I'll go ahead and trace like so, along those hairs. Ctrl+click, Cmd+click on the Mac, to de-select, and let's go ahead and trace like this as well, to create another hair path. Ctrl+click, Cmd+click on the Mac. Might as well, I guess, trace this hair. You know, you never know, what you're going to use in your avatar, so just grab everything you can, as long as you're here inside Photoshop. Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on Mac to deselect our path outline and now trace the back of the hair, Alt+drag or Opt+drag in a Mac in order to convert that guy to a cusp point.
You can also do that on the fly by pressing the Alt key or the Opt key on the Mac as you're drawing that anchor point. And then finally, I'm just going to do this number where I kind of bring the hair back to the neck. That's it. Now, Ctrl+click or Cmd+click on the Mac in order to deselect all the path outlines and you can press the m key to switch back to the default rectangular marquee tool. And you can see that we now have a new face path and if you want to see a large thumbnail of that path outline by the way, you right click inside of an empty portion of the paths panel and you choose large.
And this, by the way, this is as large as these things get. One last think I recommend you do, just to test things out here. Switch back to the layers panel. Let's create a new layer by pressing Ctrl + Shift + n, Cmd +Shift + n on the Mac in order to bring up the newlayer dialogue box and I'll call this layer tracing and click OK. And now, I'll switch back to the Paths panel. Make sure your new Face Path or whatever you called it is selected. And then, you want to select the Brush tool right here. And I'm going to go ahead, in my color panel, notice that I'm looking at the RGB Sliders.
If you're not, you can click on the fly out menu icon and choose RGB Sliders, and I'm just going to change the foreground color to red 255, so the r value is 255 the other two are zero and then I'll right click inside the image window and I'll crank the hardness value up to a 100%. I think a size value of 20 pixels is going to work just fine, press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac in order to trace all those path outlines with red brush strokes. And if you really want to test out what's going on here, go ahead and click off that path container to deselect it.
And then, let's create yet another layer. I'll click on the background later in order to select it. And then I'll press Ctrl+shift+N or Cmd+shift+N on the Mac in order to bring up the new layer dialogue box. I'll call it white. And I'll press Ctrl+backspace or Cmd+delete on a Mac in order to fill that layer with white. And you can now see our traced outlines showing up nicely in red. And if you want to see a little more detail so that the paths aren't glomming together, that's no problem. Just right click inside the image window once again. Let's take the size value down to ten pixels this time.
Maybe press the D key in order to reinstate a foreground color of black. Click on the tracing layer to make it active and then switch back to the paths panel, click on that new face path or whatever you called it and press the Enter key, assuming you still have the Brush tool selected. Press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to trace those lines with black. Click off the path so you no longer see him. And I, for one, end up with this effect here. And that friends is how you trace your initial Avatar lines from an actual photograph using the Pen tool, here inside Photoshop. All right.
So we got a start, but it's only a start. Next week I'm going to show you how to take those path outlines that you just traced of your own face, I'm hoping, your own face, and we're going to bring them in the illustrator and we're going to turn them into this lustrous, high contrast avatar that can survive getting very small. Don't you know. So much fun, don't you think. Deke's Techniques, each and every week. Keep watching.
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