Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Adjusting the spikes for a better effect


Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

Video: Adjusting the spikes for a better effect

In this movie, we're going to modify our spikes in order to
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  1. 41s
    1. Welcome
  2. 13m 6s
    1. Masking a person from a white background
      8m 20s
    2. Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask
      4m 46s
  3. 28m 52s
    1. Adding power and motion with Liquify
      8m 21s
    2. Puppet warping the legs closer together
      6m 36s
    3. Applying a perspective-style transformation
      5m 34s
    4. Smoothing and removing details with Liquify
      8m 21s
  4. 28m 34s
    1. Filling and stroking the silhouette
      3m 47s
    2. Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
      7m 56s
    3. Hand-painting the face
      8m 56s
    4. Refining brushstrokes with Median and Minimum
      7m 55s
  5. 39m 2s
    1. Adding complementary colored clouds
      5m 28s
    2. Drawing a handful of spikes in Illustrator
      8m 34s
    3. Creating a burst pattern with Transform
      9m 36s
    4. Adjusting the spikes for a better effect
      7m 20s
    5. Bringing the burst pattern into Photoshop
      8m 4s
  6. 51m 4s
    1. Creating the extreme paths for the grill lines
      7m 31s
    2. Blending the grill lines in Illustrator
      9m 42s
    3. Correcting potential blending problems
      9m 58s
    4. Bringing the blended paths into Photoshop
      8m 27s
    5. Simulating pressure when stroking paths
      5m 35s
    6. Contouring the grill lines onto the face
      9m 51s
  7. 23m 47s
    1. Drawing a hand with the Pen tool
      9m 29s
    2. Converting the hand path to a shape layer
      6m 2s
    3. Finishing off the hands and gloves
      8m 16s
  8. 28m 49s
    1. Blend, scale, and rotate photographic flames
      6m 17s
    2. Filling in gaps with symmetrical flames
      7m 15s
    3. Shooting flames out of the hero's hands
      7m 34s
    4. Stroking the composite flames
      7m 43s
  9. 19m 13s
    1. Drawing cartoon flames as a shape layer
      5m 56s
    2. Enhancing the flames with layer effects
      5m 32s
    3. Adjusting Puppet Warp and Expansion
      7m 45s
  10. 16m 56s
    1. Installing a free comic-lettering font
      3m 59s
    2. Formatting the monologue text
      5m 43s
    3. Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)
      7m 14s
  11. 43m 10s
    1. Selecting a font-creation software
      5m 17s
    2. Drawing consistently rendered letterforms
      9m 10s
    3. Pasting the letters into Glyphs Mini (Mac only)
      8m 11s
    4. Copying capitals into lowercase positions (Mac only)
      6m 45s
    5. Generating an OpenType font (Mac only)
      7m 56s
    6. Stylizing the custom font in Photoshop
      5m 51s
  12. 4m 24s
    1. Time lapse of the retro superhero
      3m 4s
    2. Until next time
      1m 20s

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Watch the Online Video Course Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
4h 57m Intermediate Jun 30, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learn what it takes to design and create your own custom silver-age superhero. Join Deke as he starts by tracing a photo to create the hero's body and then jumps into Illustrator for the creation of the final effects. Finally, Deke takes us through the steps to lay out our own custom type to complete the comic.

Want more of Designs dekeConstructed, the series that breaks down popular graphic designs so you can re-create them on your own? Check out Deke's page.

Topics include:
  • Turning a person into a silhouette
  • Adding power and motion with Liquify
  • Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
  • Creating a dramatic background
  • Adding grill lines and flames
  • Inserting talk balloons
  • Creating a custom comic font
Illustrator Photoshop
Deke McClelland

Adjusting the spikes for a better effect

In this movie, we're going to modify our spikes in order to achieve a better effect, one that looks a little more consistent. And the great thing is that we can do so just by editing those original nine spikes. So, we don't have to spend a lot of time messing with every single spike appearance that we see on screen. The first thing that you want to do is just click, regardless of which arrow tool you have selected, just click on some spike some place in order to select it.

And then inside the appearance panel, click on layer in order to gain access to your transform effects once again. And now I'm going to zoom in. The reason that we have this big gap here is because the rectangle shoved over the left edge. So now we need to move this group, the flipped spikes in to the right just a little bit. So you want to click on that second appearance of the word Transform, the bottom one. And then here inside the Transform Effect dialog box, turn on the Preview check box, click inside the Horizontal Move value and press shift+up arrow a couple of times in order to increase the horizontal value to 20 points and then you'll just need to eyeball things and decide which direction the spikes need to go. In my case, I think they need to go one more point over to the right. And so I've increased my move horizontal value to 21 points, as you see here. Then go ahead and click okay in order to accept that change. Now, if you zoom in, you'll see that we've got a little bit of an issue with the angle of the spikes. So here's the last of the actual real spikes that I drew. And here's the first of the replicated spikes. And so they're not aligned properly with each other in terms of their angle and I want them to be properly aligned. The thing is, it's very difficult to get in here and edit these spikes now. And the reason is because the new spikes, the temporary artificial virtual spikes get in the way of the real ones. So notice, even when I'm working with the white arrow tool, I'll go ahead and zoom out another click. If I click off the spikes like so, I'll make sure I'm clicking in an empty area right there, then everything gets deselected. And if I click on the edge of a real spike, I'll select the real spike, but if I click somewhere in the black region of one of the virtual spikes, I'll select everything which can really prove to be a problem when you're working on complex effect like this. So what you want to do is press Ctrl+K, or Cmd+K on a Mac, to bring up the Preferences dialog box. Then select this option right here, selection and anchor display, and turn on the top check box, object selection by path only. And that way, you won't accidentally select something you don't want to select. Then click OK. And now notice if I click in this black virtual spike region, I deselect everything which is exactly what I want. Now, I can hunt around and see exactly what spikes I want to select. So, it appears that this is the last of the real spikes. This is the first of the virtual ones. So, I'm going to click on this guy to select him. And I actually want to marquee a few paths. So I'm just going to marquee like this in order to grab a bunch of bottoms of paths. And I didn't go up far enough so I'll try again. And go ahead and drag upward to about here. And, there is till one more guide located to this position. And you can tell there is another spike right there, another bottom of the spike because I can see a little square next to my white arrow cursor. So I'll go ahead an shift+click in order to select the bottom of that guy and I might as well click+shift the anchor points to select them. I do not want to select this spike, so I shift alt, click on it. That's a shift, option click, a couple of times, to deselect it. Same with this one here, for now, I think. And same with, of course, the rectangle. I'm going to shift+alt, or shift+option click to deselect it. And now, with these guys selected, like so, you can press the left arrow key, and that goes ahead and nudges the bottoms over, like so.

So, now, I think, what I'm going to do is click off the shapes and deselect them. This guy I think is too fat so I'll go ahead and click on an edge and then drag its point over. And now that gives me some more room to move some of these other paths. So I'll just go ahead and click on the bottom edge here and press the right arrow key to nudge it over. And I'll select the top point and nudge it over as well. And what I want you to notice is as you nudge these path outlines around, you'll see that the virtual replication of those paths move in kind.

So I'll select this next guy over, grab it's bottom edge here, and move it to about this location, actually, is looking pretty darn good. And then we've got this guy who remains a big problem. So I'll go ahead and click on it's bottom edge and press the left arrow key several times in order to move it over. Then I'll select this top point and nudge it into place as well. And you're just going to have to do that quite a few times. This is a virtual replication right there. So we just need to leave it as is and move the other guys to better match its angle.

So, I'll go ahead and select this guy again, select its bottom edge, nudge it over quite a bit, like so. This is still that first replicated one so I'm going to leave it as it is. Go ahead and move this guy over, move this into a better location, click there. Move this anchor point over a little bit as well. I think this entire spike wants to come over so I'll Alt+click on it or Option+click on a Mac to select the entire thing. Then I'm going to grab the top of this spike and drag it upward a bit in order to fill things in a little better and let's take this guy and move him over.

So again, you're going to have to do whatever. And it is fairly complicated, by the way. Can be confusing at times to figure out where you're at and exactly who's real and who's a dynamic effect ghost, essentially. So now move this guy over a little bit. I think that is going to do it, folks. Now, let's see. There might be some utility in trying to separate these two from each other. So this is the very first, spike, by the way. I'll click its bottom edge and press the right arrow key.

Well, a couple of times actually, move it over. And now lets move this guy over by Alt+clicking on it to select the entire thing and then pressing the right arrow key to move it over just a little bit. That's a little bit too far, actually, so I'm going to take this bottom point, which as I recall is right there and nudge it.just a point over to the left. And now I'll press ctrl+shift+a or cmd+shift+a on a Mac to deselect everything and let's go ahead and press ctrl+0 or cmd+0 on a Mac, to zoom out, as well as center the zoom.

And we end up with this, I think, very pleasing effect right here. Now all we have to do is select these spikes and move them over into Photoshop which not surprisingly, we will do in the next movie.

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