Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

Video: Enhancing the flames with layer effects

In this movie, we're going to enhance our flames using a couple of layer to white, by dragging that little bubble to the upper
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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

Enhancing the flames with layer effects

In this movie, we're going to enhance our flames using a couple of layer effects, and then we'll duplicate the flames so that they cover the character's body. So, the first thing I'm going to do, is with the tiny flames layer selected here inside the Layers panel, I'll drop down to the effects icon and choose Inner Shadow. And what we're trying to do here, is create a highlight that's coming up from the bottom of the flame. They might not associate a highlight with the Inner Shadow effect, but both Inner Shadow and Drop Shadow are really designed to create directional effects, as opposed to specifically shadows.

To create a highlight, all you need to do is, click on the color swatch there, and change the color to white, by dragging that little bubble to the upper left corner of the color field, and then click OK. And now I'm going to change the Blend Mode from Multiply to Normal and I'm going to crank the Opacity up to 100%. Now, you're not going to see anything yet because the shadow is covered up by the stroke. So what you need to do is increase the Distance value, and I'm going to take it up to 45 pixels, and I'll also take the Size value up to 25 pixels, so we have a little bit of a soft highlight drifting down. Now I really want it to rise up, so I need to change the Angle value from 90 degrees, as it is in my case, to negative 90 degrees. Then you can go ahead and click OK to see that effect. All right, now I also need to create some definition at the top of the flames because as you'll see, if you turn the merge BBQ layer back on, those flames are still fighting for attention, and they're fighting for attention with the path outlines visible, which is a function of the fact that I have the black arrow tool active.

If I switch back to the rectangular marquee tool, thereby hiding those path outlines, you can see that they really start to disappear. So what I'm going to do is drop down to the effects icon once again, and this time I'm going to choose Drop Shadow from the bottom of the list. And I do want a black drop shadow, which is the default setting, but I want to crank the Opacity value up to 100%. Notice that the global light is now set to negative 90 degrees, which is exactly what I want, and that way the drop shadow rises. And now I'm going to change the Distance value to 25 pixels, and I'm going to take the Size value down to 0 pixels, so we have a nice sharp cartoon shadow. And now, I'll click OK in order to accept that effect. Okay now, one problem with what we've done, is we have changed that global light direction, as we saw there, to negative 90 degrees. And that has ended up impacting another effect inside of this document. Specifically, this bright burst at the top of the composition.

I'll go ahead and scroll up a little more so you can see that. So, for example, if I were to go up to the Window menu and choose the History command, in order to bring up the History panel, if I click on the Open state right there, you can see these lone hands just floating in space. But also notice that the spikes up here at the top of the composition look different, whereas, if I click on Drop Shadow down here at the bottom of the list, see how things switch around right there? So, it's a pretty subtle distinction but I liked it the way it was before. So what I'm going to do is scroll down my Layers panel. Go ahead and twirl open the spikes group by clicking on the little twirly triangle, and then notice this white layer right there and its drop shadow. Go and and double-click on it, and you can see that it is using the global light, so its angle also changes to negative 90 degrees. I want to change it to positive 90 degrees so I'm going to turn off Use Global Light. Very important you do that first, otherwise you're going to mess up the flame effects. And then go ahead and change that angle value to positive 90 and we'll restore the original bright burst effect up here, once again at the top of the composition. And now click OK in order to accept that change. All right, now we need to duplicate our flames. So I'll go ahead and twirl the spikes group closed, and I'll scroll up to the top of the list to the tiny flames layer, click on it to select it. Then we want to press the A key to switch back to the black arrow tool, and I might go ahead and zoom in a little bit so I can better see what I'm doing. And, I'll drag this flame to, let's say, this location. And, I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag another flame here, and then Alt or Option-drag a flame, and Alt or Option-drag, and you're going to do that a ton of times. It is basically what it comes down to. In all, I created something like 60 flames over the course of his body, and I'll show you what that looks like as opposed to doing it in front of you. Which is a little laborious and boring, frankly. Go ahead and switch to this file, and you can see that we've got a ton of flames that are stretching up his arms, so they're found throughout the torso, down here in the hips as well. They stretch up the arms on both sides, up his neck as well, though not into his face. So again, that's a Kirby convention. He never put flames in Human Torch's face. So I'm not going to do it with my Blue Barbecue. I do have a couple of flames however, dancing off the fingers. So one coming off the thumb over here on the left-hand side and then, one coming off the finger, over here, on the right-hand side. And, for the sake of the talk balloons, which we'll be adding in a later chapter, I don't recommend you have any flames on the top of the left-hand fingers. And then, I'll go ahead and show you, just so you can see, the flames that are dancing down his legs.

And, there's a couple of flames in each one of the boots. And that, folks, is how you enhance the flames using a couple of layer effects, as well as how you duplicate the flames in order to cover the character's body.

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