Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a burst pattern with Transform


Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

Video: Creating a burst pattern with Transform

In this movie, we're going to use the Transform effect in
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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

Creating a burst pattern with Transform

In this movie, we're going to use the Transform effect in order to replicate the nine spikes that we've drawn so far. The idea being that we want to rotate these spikes over to the right and then we're going to flip him to the left in order to create that big burst pattern. So, the first thing that we need to do is to find the center of the rotation and we're going to do that by adding a single point. So, go ahead and select the pen tool here inside Illustrator once again.

And just click in the center of his neck lets say, in order to add a lone point and nothing more. All right, now press control-shift-A, or command-shift-A on a Mac, to deselect everything. And then, we want to apply a dynamic effect to this entire layer. And to do that you need to target the layer by clicking on this circle to the right of the word Spikes, here inside the layer's panel, better known internally at Adobe as the Meatball. So, I'm going to go ahead and click on that meatball, and that goes ahead and targets the entire layer. So, anything associated with the layer will now be affected by this dynamic effect which you get to by going to the effect menu, choosing distort and transform and then choosing the transform command. And that will bring up this dialogue box here. Now, you definitely want to preview the effect. You want to see what you're doing. And, we also want to go ahead and rotate these spikes. And notice, as I increase the angle value, I'm seeing the spikes rotate on screen.

But I'm not really seeing them rotate. In other words, the path outlines are still in the position they were, but their fills are rotating. And that's because this is a dynamic effect, which means that it's applied virtually, essentially. Now we want some copies, so I'm going to increase the copies value by clicking inside of it and pressing the up arrow key a few times. So right now I have four copies. Well this is a mess. And the reason is because we're rotating around the center of everything in the layer, which includes this lone point that we created just a moment ago. We want to rotate things around that lone point which represents the top of everything. So go ahead and select that top center point inside the reference point matrix down here in the lower left region of the dialog box. You may find it elsewhere if you're using an older version of the program.

And we end up with this effect here. Now I'm going to click Ok, because I need to be zoomed farther out to really see what I'm doing, and so this looks pretty good. Actually, I'll just go ahead and scroll down a little bit using the scroll wheel on my mouse. And now, let's say, I want to add some more spikes. Which, of course, I do. Then, I go up to the window menu and choose the Appearance command. In order to bring up the Appearance panel, which is located somewhere in the bottom right corner of your screen, by default. And, you'll see that the layer's active and you'll see the word Transform. Go ahead and click on Transform and that allows us to modify that dynamic effect. So, in Illustrator, the Appearance panel handles all of fill in stroke attributes, as well as effects applied from the effects menu.

And now at this point turn on the preview check box once again, you'll see all your settings that you just applied are saved. But what we need to do is add more copies, so I'm going to press shift up arrow. A couple of times in order to increase that copy's value to 20, and then I'm going to press the up arrow key by itself a couple of times until we get 22 copies in all, and now I'll click OK. Now at this point we have a problem, we really need these bursts to extend all the way outside of the art board into the pasteboard, into this dark grey area.

So that there isn't an obvious ending to things. And that means modifying the position of the lone point. So what I want you to do is get the white arrow tool, illustrator comes with the direct selection tool. But it has a keyboard short cut of A for arrow. And now I'm going to marquee this point by itself so that nothing else is selected. And now I'll press shift+up arrow in order to move that point in ten point increments upward. And if it's not moving that far for you, then press Ctrl+K or Cmd+K on a Mac to bring up the preferences dialog box, and make sure the keyboard increment is set to one point, as by default.

Anyway, I'm going to cancel that, and I'm going to continue to press Shift+Up arrow until the point appears right about where you see it there, in the center of our superhero's face. And you can see that that goes ahead and moves the final spike out to the pasteboard, which is exactly what I want. Now looks like the point could come a little more to the left. So I'm pressing the left arrow key a few times to move it into a more desirable position. That looks pretty good now what we need to do is flip everything to the left.

And to do that you want to make sure the layers active once again so just go ahead and click on the word layer here at the top of the appearance panel to target it. And you'll see the word transform once again. This time we want to apply another application of the transform effect. So go up to the effect menu, choose distort and transform and choose transform once again. At which point Illustrator is probably going to slap your hand and ask you if you really want to apply a new effect as opposed to edit the existing one. The answer is yes you do.

So click on the apply new effect button. And then go ahead and select this left hand point inside the little reference point matrix, and turn on Reflect X. Now we're not seeing anything happen, because the preview check box is off, so go ahead and turn it on, and you'll see everything flip leftward like so. And then, you want to click inside the copies value, and press the up arrow key to change it to one. So we have one copy. That way we keep the original over here, in the right hand side. And now notice the spikes are too far apart from each other.

But to fix the problem, we really need to be zoomed farther in. So, for now just go ahead, and click okay. And then press CTRL+, or Command + on the Mac, a few times to zoom in on your illustration, so you can really see what you're doing. And now, at this point, with the layer still active as it is, you can see that in the appearance panel, click on the bottom of the 2 Transforms. For some reason, Illustrator puts the most recent effect below the previous one. So, go ahead and click on the second of the 2 Transforms.

And then turn on the preview check box, very important so you can see what you're doing. And click inside the horizontal move box right there and press shift up arrow in order to scoot things over to the left and that looks pretty good. Actually, I might have gone over too far so I'll press the down arrow key. Your results are going to vary. You're going to want to just eyeball things in order to figure out how they should be arranged, but it looks like a horizontal move value of about eight points is working here, so I'll click okay, in order to accept that change, and yeah, that actually looks pretty darn good.

I might want to take it over just a little bit, so I'll click on transform again. Turn on Preview checkbox, click inside the horizontal value and press the Up-Arrow key in order to increase the value to 9 points, and you can see that gives me a little more symmetry, which is what I'm looking for. And now click OK in order to accept that change. Now, if I zoom out, you can see that we've got a pretty darn obvious problem. I'm going to press the V key to switch to my black arrow tool and then I'm going to click off the path outlines to de-select them.

We're seeing some exposure down here in the corners and that's not going to work at all. Those areas need to be filled in. Well, thankfully because our effects are applied to the entire layer, anything I draw on the layer now will get rotated and flipped along with everything else. Sso what I'm going to do is zoom in here by Ctrl spacebar clicking, or cmd spacebar clicking on the Mac and I just want to make sure that I can see my paths. And actually what I'm going to do is go up to the View menu and choose the Outline command, or you can press Control Y or Command Y on a Mac to switch to the outline mode so I can see where my original paths really are.

And now I'm going to grab my rectangle tool, which you may need to select from the shape tool fly out menu here, and then just go ahead and draw a rectangle like so. That's at least as big as the spikes and it wants to start very close to the bottom of the spikes so you're not covering up any gaps. And now, let's zoom out a bit so that we can preview the effect by pressing control Y or command Y on the Mac once again. And it looks like were almost covering those corners but not quite so I'm going to switch to my white arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the A key, then I'm going to marquee these two bottom points, like so.

So, they're selected independently of the top points and I'll press shift down arrow as many times as it takes in order to fill in the corners. And we end up with this effect here. So I'll go ahead and click off in order to deselect my artwork, we've got some darn nice symmetrical bursts. The problem is that the spikes need a bit of adjustment in order to look right because after all, we have this big gap in the center. But we've got some other sort of, weird looking gaps as well, which is why we're going to spend a little bit of time adjusting these spikes so they look their very best in the very next movie.

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