Drawing a hand with the Pen tool
Video: Drawing a hand with the Pen toolAll right, so far, our super hero has these clenched fists. I want him to have these extended hands, which is why we're going to draw these hands in this chapter. Now, I know a lot of folks have difficulty drawing hands specifically, which is why I've gone ahead and created a template inside of this file. It's located at the top of the stack here inside the Layers panel, and it's this group right here called hands template. and I hate to see these files get too huge, for those of you who download them.
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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.
- 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
Drawing a hand with the Pen tool
All right, so far, our super hero has these clenched fists. I want him to have these extended hands, which is why we're going to draw these hands in this chapter. Now, I know a lot of folks have difficulty drawing hands specifically, which is why I've gone ahead and created a template inside of this file. It's located at the top of the stack here inside the Layers panel, and it's this group right here called hands template. So if you have access to the file, you can go ahead and turn it on. Now I am going to go ahead and simplify this file because it's getting very large, and I hate to see these files get too huge, for those of you who download them. So what I'm going to do is, select the background, way here at the bottom of the stack, and I'm going to Shift-click on the clouds layer right there. And I'm going to merge them all together by going up to the Layer menu, and choosing the Merge Layers command, or you have that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+E, or Cmd+E on the Mac. And I'm also going to merge everything about the hero. So I'll go ahead and select him, and then I'll scroll up to the top of the list here, Shift-click on hand drawn face.
So we have all the clipped layers selected, and then I'll press Ctrl+E or Cmd+E on the Mac in order to merge those as well, and that goes in and converts all those layers to a pixel-based image. And also rename this layer, merged VBQ, let's say. And then of course I'll save it under a different file name so as not to ruin the original element. Alright, let's set in now tracing the hands, and just to make sure that we have the most control possible, we're going to do so using the pen tool. So go ahead and switch over to the Paths panel, and then press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac and click on the little page icon at the bottom of the panel, and I'll call this path hand and click OK.
Because we're just going to draw one of these hands and replicate it, if only for the sake of efficiency. And after zooming in, I'll go ahead and scroll the image down and I might zoom in just a little bit closer here. And now what you want to do is select the pen tool, which you can get by pressing the P key, and I'll start dragging right about here. So we're going to draw through the center of what we're seeing. So I'll start my path right at this location and I want to start with a smooth point, like so. So I'll just go ahead and drag to make that smooth point, and I might scroll up just a little bit, and then I'll draw another smooth point right here.
So basically, between you and me, the most difficult element is the thumb. And incidentally, if you need to move that anchor point as you're drawing it, then you can press the space bar and then as soon as you get done moving that anchor point, you can release the space bar. Now quite possibly you're going to end up with a result like this where we have too much curvature, in which case just press and hold the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key on the Mac. Which will get you the white arrow tool on the fly and then you can just drag that control handle down like so, and then release the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac, and you're back in business with the pen tool. Now I'm going to drag right about here, which may or may not produce the effect I'm looking for. It actually doesn't quite work, so going to space bar nudge that guy into a better location, and then I'll press and hold the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key on the Mac, and I'll drag out on this control handle to create more of a harsh curve, so notice that my control handles are extending over a large portion of this segment.
Typically, if you want smooth results, you want each control handle to extend more or less a third the distance of this segment, but between the two of them, we're covering more than the entire segment. Which ends up creating a little bit of a crimp right there. So that we have a kind of knuckle for the thumb. And now I'm going to drag at this location in order to create yet another point, of course, and I want this to be a cusp point. In other words, I want the two control handles to be independent of each other. So once I get done setting the handle that's opposite of my cursor, I'll press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and bend that handle in a different direction, and then I'll go ahead and draw another smooth point right about there.
And because I want a cusp, I'll press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac. In order to move that control handle right there in a new direction. And now I'll drag about here, let's say, in order to create a smooth point. And I'll leave that one a smooth point, by the way. And then I'm going to drag here to create a final smooth point, specifically for this thumb. So, I've now drawn the thumb independently of everything else, and we're going to create the fingers as a separate path, like so.
So, the first step is to press the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key on a Mac, and click off the path outline in order to deselect it. That also deactivates the path, and you can see that it's no longer active when you release the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key, you'll see a little asterisk next to the pen tool cursor, and that tells you that you're ready to draw a new path. And I'm going to start this guy down here at the bottom of the palm, so right about here actually, I think I want the control handle to be. And then I'll draw another smooth point right here at this location.
And then I'm going to go all the way up to the top of the finger and drag like so. And I don't want to invoke an autoscroll, so I'm not going to drag too far, but right about there should, possibly, do it. And then I'll press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac to temporarily get my white arrow tool, and I'll move that control handle down, like so. Alright, now I want another cusp point right here at this location. So what I'm going to do is Alt drag, or Option drag from that last end-point right there, and I'll create another point at this location right there.
And I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac in order to change the direction of the control handle that's under my cursor, then I'll drag down here in order to create a smooth point. At least it'll start as a smooth point, but then I'm going to double back by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. And moving that handle back on top of the other one, so that we have a match, like so. And that way, I can draw one finger directly over the other, which I'll do now. So, here I am, drawing the left edge of the ring finger, which is the fourth finger of course, if you include the thumb. And then, I'll go ahead and Ctrl or Cmd-drag this control handle down a little bit.
So you want the segments to be pretty close to exactly on top of each other, if you can make that work. I'm actually going to take this point right there. I'll Ctrl or Cmd-click on it to select it, and then I'm going to nudge it up a little bit by pressing the up arrow key. And now, I'll switch back to this guy and I'll Alt-drag, or Option-drag, from it in order to convert it to a cusp point. I'll drag right about here, in order to create the top of the ring finger, and then I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, in order to redirect that control handle. I'll drag down right here, like so, in order to complete the ring finger, and then I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac, and once again double back in order to begin work on the tall third finger, and then I'll drag up, like so.
And I'll press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac, and drag this guy down. And then I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag this control handle and I'll go ahead and drag here and then press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac. Go ahead and drag down here at this location to complete the third finger and now, all we have let is the index finger, folks. So it's really not all that hard to draw fingers. It's mostly a matter of making sure that you have the room in order to stick all the four fingers in there, as opposed to drawing a, kind of, Simpsons hand, which is three fingers.
So, I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, in order to move that control handle back up, and I will drag from this location, and I'm going to move that guy down, and it looks like I goofed. I accidentally created a point inside of that segment that I already drew, and that's not what I want. So, I'll press Ctrl+Z, or Cmd+Z on the Mac, to undo that change. And, I'll drag right about here, to make sure that I'm creating a new point. And, I'll press the space bar in order to move it into the desired location. And now, I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, to redirect that control handle.
I'll drag right there in order to create another smooth point. And that's not quite where I want it to be, so I'll press the space bar in order to move it. And then I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac in order to redirect this control handle. And I'm going to take it down to about here, sort of out and to the right. And then I will create a new smooth point down here, and I'll kind of arc it in the opposite direction, so we have a little bit of a twist there. And that's not enough, so I'll press the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key on a Mac. And drag this control handle to redirect it, and I'll drag this guy to redirect it as well.
And so now we've got a hand, essentially, that we've drawn here inside of Photoshop using the pen tool. I'll press the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key on a Mac, and click off the path outline, in order to deselect it. Now, that's not the only way to draw, a hand of course. In fact, you might argue that these fingers are awfully squared off, but that was part of Kirby's style. And I wanted to mimic it, inside of this artwork. And it also gives the hands, a kind of heroic feeling, as well. And so that, folks, is at least one way to draw a hand, using the pen tool, here inside Photoshop.
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