Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

Video: Puppet warping the legs closer together

In this movie, we're going to move this guy's legs closer together, So, I'm going to switch over to my image in progress here.
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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

Puppet warping the legs closer together

In this movie, we're going to move this guy's legs closer together, so that they form a kind of straight line, like so. Once again, thereby conveying a greater sense of power. And the best way to that is with Puppet Warp. The Puppet Warp command is great for rearranging limbs, that is to say, arms and legs. So, I'm going to switch over to my image in progress here. Note that I'm working on a smart object. Regardless of which version of Photoshop you're using, Puppet Warp is always compatible with smart objects. So, just to save a little room inside the Layers panel, because we are going to end up with an awful lot of layers. I'm going to right-click inside of this empty filter mask, which appears as a white thumbnail, and then I'll choose Delete Filter Mask like so. All right, next, I'm going to zoom on in a little bit here. Now, we're only interested in the legs. We don't need to make any modifications to the arms or the torso, so I'm going to zoom in on those legs. And then I'll go up to the Edit menu and choose the Puppet Warp command. So it's very important by the way that that smart object layer is selected, then choose Puppet Warp. And you'll immediately see this network of triangles appear inside of your image. And now what you want to do, as painful as it might seem here, we need to nail down his crotch. So, I'm just going to go ahead and click to set a pin, right there, at that location. That's very important, by the way. And then I'll click over here on the hip, so what we're doing is we're anchoring down areas that we don't want to see move, and you want to anchor down this hip as well. Now they're not necessarily right there at the same latitude. In other words, they're not horizontally aligned. That doesn't really matter. A little bit of asymmetrical variation is going to work out nicely. Then, click right here. To form a kind of arch right there along the top of that thigh, and then do the same at the top of the left thigh as well. Now, these are all points that are not going to move, and they will in turn anchor down the top portion of the body as well. Now what you want to do is create pins at each of the knees. So, one here and another one here. And you create these pins just by clicking. And then you want to nail down the center of each foot. So go ahead and click to set a pin on the right foot, and then click to set a pin in the left foot. All right, now what I recommend you do, just so that you can keep track of where these legs need to go. Go ahead and press Ctrl+R or Cmd+R on a Mac to bring up the horizontal and vertical rulers. And then, drag out from the vertical ruler like so to create a guide. And you want to leave that guide right there in the middle of the region between his legs, if you can. So, you want it positioned equidistant between the two legs. I didn't quite get it where I want it to be, so I'm going to zoom in farther. And then you can move the guide, by the way, by pressing the Enter key, or the Return key on a Mac. And now we'll go ahead and exit the Puppet Warp mode for a moment, but you can see that we do have a Puppet Warp transformation applied. It's not doing anything yet. But it is applied to the smart object, as indicated by the words Puppet Warp here inside the Layers panel. Now, press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac. And position your cursor over that guide. And see if you can move it to the center. Right like that, in order to get things exactly where we need them to be. All right, now you can press Ctrl+R or Cmd+R on a Mac to get rid of those rulers. And now we want to reenter the Puppet Warp mode. So go ahead and zoom out a little bit, if you're working along with me. And then double-click on the words, Puppet Warp, here inside the Layers panel, and that will take you back into the mode with all seven of your pins intact. And now, what I'd like you to do is drag the knees inward, like so. So just go ahead and take each of the knees and move them in. And that's going to give him a kind of pigeon-toed appearance, which is, of course, not what we want. So, go ahead and scroll down and then drag the feet in as well. And you want the feet to be almost touching. So just a tiny little bit of room between them. And, by the way, when a pin is active, as in the case of the pin on the left foot here, and I'm zooming in on it by Ctrl+space bar clicking, or Cmd+space bar clicking on a Mac.

When a pin is selected, you can press an arrow key in order to nudge it around. So right now I'm pressing the left arrow key. If you want a bigger nudge, you press Shift+left arrow in this case, or Shift+right arrow, as you see me doing here. But I want to nudge 'em in, so the two feet are more or less equidistant from either side of that vertical guide. So, I'll go ahead and click on this one and press the right arrow key a couple of times to move it out. Click on this guy and press the right arrow key to move it in. And you also want to make sure that the tips of the toes are lining up nicely.

The right toe here is a little bit high. So I'll click on that right pin. And I'll press the down arrow key a few times to nudge that toe down. And I'll go ahead and select this guy. And nudge him down a little bit, as well. All right, now let's zoom out, and see what's up with the knees these days. They're in too far now, because the calves are overlapping. So I'll go ahead and zoom back in. I'll select this knee by clicking on it. And press the right arrow key a few times to move it out. And then I'll select this knee. And press the left arrow key to nudge it outward a little bit as well.

And now let's go ahead and zoom out and see what we got. And he's looking pretty darn good, actually. So I'll press the Enter key, or the Return key on a Mac to accept that modification. And, just to get a sense of what we've been able to do, I'll go ahead and of course, press Ctrl+Z, or Cmd+Z on the Mac, in order to undo the movement of those legs. So that's how the legs looked at the outset of the movie. And if I press Ctrl or Cmd+Z again, this is how they look now. And you can see that there's very little movement above the hips.

So again, this is the way things looked before. His head's a little slightly over to the left. And then when I press Ctrl or Cmd+Z to reapply the change, you can see that the body wiggles a little bit over to the right, just slightly. You may or may not see that. You may get slightly different results. But you should see very little movement going on above the hips, and some nice straight legs going on below the hips. Thanks to our ability to modify limbs independently of the body, using Puppet Warp, here inside Photoshop

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