Designing a Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Applying a perspective-style transformation


Designing a Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Applying a perspective-style transformation

In this movie, we're going to take this figure that So, I'll go ahead and switch back to my image to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform.
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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 Designing a 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.

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

Applying a perspective-style transformation

In this movie, we're going to take this figure that looks like he's diving upward, and we're going to make him appear to rush out toward us, by increasing the size of the top portion of his body. And we're going to do so using a perspective style transformation. And we'll also apply a second pass of liquefy. So, I'll go ahead and switch back to my image in progress, and here's where things get a little bit confusing. With my Silhouette layer selected, I'll go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform. You don't want Perspective Warp, that's a totally different function. That's not going to serve us any good in this case. You want Free Transform, and you can also get it by pressing Ctrl+T, or Cmd+T on the Mac. And you may get this alert message, which is telling you that the existing Smart Filters will be turned off as you transform the image. So, just go ahead and click OK, and you can see that, sure enough, those Smart Filters do go away, just temporarily, and now, what you want to do is drag from either the top left corner, or the top right corner, doesn't matter which, and while you're dragging, here's the trick. You press all of the modifier keys. So on the PC, you would press and hold Ctrl+Shift+Alt.

On the Mac, you would press and hold, Cmd+Shift+Option. So keep those keys down until you finish dragging and you'll create this perspective style transformation. So, what we're doing is we're moving both the top right, and the top left handles, out equidistant from each other, to create a symmetrical effect, while the bottom right and the bottom left handles stay in place. Which is great, but as soon as I press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, things go quite haywire, as you can see here. And that's because the free transform effect is applied before any of the smart filters. Which means that my liquified mesh and my puppet warp pins are not aligned properly, so I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, or Cmd+Z on the Mac, to undo that change.

Now, if you know a thing or two about Photoshop you might say, hey Deke, I know the solution. Let's take this smart object and place it inside of another smart object. That'll take care of the problem. But if I do that, by going to the Layers panels fly out menu in the upper right corner here and choosing Convert to Smart Object. Why I end up loosing my effects entirely and that's because what Photoshop has done is it's automatically cropped the smart object to the dimensions of the figure, which means, once again, the liquefy mesh and the puppet warp pins are not properly aligned. So, what we have to do is this.

Go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, or Cmd+Z on the Mac, to undo that change. We need to create a rasterized copy of this layer. And, you do that by pressing Ctrl+A, or Cmd+A on the Mac, to select the entire image and then press Ctrl+Alt+J or Cmd+Option+J on the Mac. The J is for jump, so we're going to jump the selection to a pixel based layer by the way. So it won't be a smart object anymore. The duplicate won't be, that is. And because I had the Alt or Option key down, I brought out the New Layer dialog box, so I can go ahead and name this layer in-flight, and then I'll click OK in order to create a copy of the layer.

And there it is. You can see it's not a Smart Object because it doesn't have the little Page icon in the lower right corner of its thumbnail. Now, turn off the original. We're just keeping that original around in case later we want to come back to it. And now, with in-flight selected, right-click inside the image window with the Rectangular Marquee tool. Notice that it's selected up here at the top of the Toolbox. And choose Convert to Smart Object. I know that doesn't make any darn sense. First, we get rid of the smart object and then we make a new smart object. But, it's actually really great because, this way, we can apply the Perspective Transformation and the next application of liquefy as dynamic effects.

So, I'll go ahead and choose that command. And now, go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform, or press Ctrl+T, or Cmd+T on the Mac. And go ahead and press those modifier keys, Ctrl+Shift+Alt here on a PC, Cmd+Shift+Option on the Mac. And drag one of the top handles outward, it doesn't mater whether it's the top left handle or the top right handle, you just want one of the top corner handles. Until you see a value of negative four degrees in that heads up display located immediately above my cursor.

Now, notice that as you apply a perspective transform, you lower the head. Notice the head appears to move downwards, so we end up with these kind of gorilla arms right there which means that I need to increase the height of this figure as well. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, or Cmd+Z on the MAc, so I have just that negative four degrees of perspective distortion. And then, I'll go up to the Options bar and what you want to do is you want to lock down the bottom of the figure. And you do that by selecting the bottom middle point in this reference point matrix. So, go ahead and click on it on the far left side of the options bar. And then change the H value. You don't want the width and height values to be the same. So you don't want to link them together. You just want to change that height value to 108%, if you're working along with me. And then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac a couple of times in order to apply that change.

And you can see this time, we get the desired result. All right, so now, the only thing left to do is to smooth out the form a little more, and tuck in those ears in order to produce this effect right here, using another pass of the liquified filter. And we'll do exactly that in the very next movie.

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