Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Smoothing and removing details with Liquify


Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

Video: Smoothing and removing details with Liquify

In this movie, we're going to further smooth out the So, for example, I might press the right bracket key a
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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

Smoothing and removing details with Liquify

In this movie, we're going to further smooth out the form of this figure, and get rid of some of the wrinkles in the fabric, as well as this fellow's ears in order to create this effect here. And, we're going to do so using a second pass of liquify. Now, you might reasonable say, well gosh Deke, is this the best approach? Because, after all, we could just paint away these ears using something like a layer mask. But, I also want to paint in more of a jaw line, as we're seeing here.

And, I want to give you a sense for just how far you can go with liquefy. You can do basically anything, especially if you're working with a silhouette like this. You have tons and tons of freedom. And, the great thing about liquify in Photoshop CC, is that you can apply it as a dynamic effect. And, then go back and modify your mesh later on as much as you like. I'm going to switch over to my image so far, and as you can see, it is a smart object. So, you're going to need to subscribe to the creative cloud in order to pull off this next step dynamically.

In which case, go up to the filter menu, and then choose the liquify command. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in. Now, I made a lot of modifications to the rumples in the fabric using the warp tool. So, for example, I might press the right bracket key a few times in order to expand the size of my brush. And, then go ahead and paint these areas out, and then reduce the size of my brush and paint this in. So, a lot of fine tuning that needs to go on here, and I also went ahead and moved this shoulder line out. And, I moved this sort of love handle in here. But, I'm more concerned, frankly, with the shape of the toes. For example, notice that they are awfully rumply at this point. And so, it's not really difficult to make the outside edges smoother just by working back and forth with differently sized brushes, as you see me doing here. It's the inside edges that are tough. And so, what you have to do, is work with the very small brush in order to move this edge outward, for example. And, then if you want to separate these guys from each other just a little bit, you're going to have to work with a very small brush indeed. Or, you can try something like the bloat tool, and then what you'd want to do, is reduce the size of the cursor quite a bit. And, let's see how small I need to take this. You need to drag up the middle, like so. But, as you can see here, if you don't do it right, you're going to get some pretty awful results. Which is why, I'll go ahead and reduce the size of my cursor even more. And, I'll just click right there, and shift + click up there, in order to move the feet a little bit apart. And, I'll try it again. So, notice that I'm clicking in the transparent areas. Click there, and shift + click down here, for example, to move things even farther apart. That goes a little bit too far, though, which is why, even though, it's a lot of work, I ended up doing everything using just the old work tool here. And also, that way you don't get such soft edges as you're seeing, resulting from the blow tool. We'll go ahead and zoom out. So, just a lot of little work that you have to do in order to pull this off. And, then if you want to make the toes dip down a little more, then you can increase the size of your cursor and just drag down on those toes, like so. And, again, you can use the scroll bar down here at the bottom of the screen to test that those toes are in alignment with each other. All right, now, I'm going to go up to that collar, and I'm just spacebar dragging over and over again until I can see these little collar edges. I don't want the to be here, so I'll reduce the size of my cursor by pressing the left bracket key. And, then I'll drag down into these regions with, once again, the warp tool. And, I'll go ahead and drag this up, and I want to keep that nice sort of round contouring. And, I have to work on this a little bit. This does require a fair amount of work to pull this off. The great thing is that you can do it. And, the results can be quite spectacular. Now, the ear is a totally different issue. First of all, I want to take the jaw line out. So, I'm going to drag the jaw out. Basically, to manufacture a jaw that's not really showing up very well there. And, then I'm going to zoom in on that ear, and I might make my cursor smaller by pressing the left bracket key and drag out on that jaw some more, because I want it to be pretty squarish. And now, I'll increase the size of my brush and drag in on the ear. Now at first, the results are going to look just awful. And, what you're going to have to do, is kind of work back and forth once again with differently sized cursors in order to create a smooth edge, as you're seeing right here. Now, the toughest spot, quite frankly, is at the bottom of the ear. Notice that it's still not looking right, even if the other areas are looking better. If not totally right, of course, still need to make some adjustments, but watch this. I'll go ahead and zoom in. Sometimes, these tools that you never use inside liquefy, can come in handy, such as the twirl tool, but I'm not seeing the twirl tool of course. And, that's because I need to turn on the advance mode check box. So, I'll go ahead and turn it on, and then suddenly I have this tool that reads twirl clockwise. So, I'll go ahead and select it, and I'll reduce the size of my cursor a little bit. And, then I'll click and hold, and notice that I'm twirling the edge in the wrong direction. So, I'll press Ctrl + Z, or Cmd + Z on the Mac to undo that. And, if you want to twirl the other way counter-clockwise, you press and hold the Alt key, or the option key on a Mac and click. And, notice now, I'm twirling that guy into a better place, like so. And, now I'm going to switch back to my warp tool. And, I'll reduce the size of my cursor and drag this edge in, and drag this one out, in order to create a smoother effect, like so. Again, just going to take a lot of back and forthing to get that worked out properly. Or, if you're working along with me, and you have access to my exercise files, you can click on the load mesh button at this point. And, then you can select this file, secondadjustment.msh, and click on the open button. I'm going to deactivate that button by turning off the Advance Mode check box. Not an issue on the Mac. I'll spacebar drag upward here, and you can see that everything's reconciling very nicely. But, if you're seeing a problem, especially with the feet, if the feet aren't working out properly with the settings you just loaded with my settings, that's because your puppet warp was a little different.

You set your pins a little differently than I did, in which case, you're just going to have to make some manual modifications on your own. After which point, I invite you to click the OK button in order to apply those changes. And, now I'll just zoom out enough, so that I can see the entire figure right here. And, just for the sake of comparison, I'll press Ctrl + Z, or Cmd + Z on the Mac in order to undo the liquefy. So, this is the lumpier version of the guy with ears.

A little bit of lumpy action on the top of his head. We can see sort of the color of that shirt he was wearing, and some other fabric details as well. And, then if I press Control+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, to reapply liquefy, you can see that we have a much smoother form. At this distance, at 12.5%, the zoom level right here, it appears that we have a little bit of a weird edge on his arm. But, if I zoom in a little bit, you can see that, that edge disappears, and that tells you that it's just a function of Photoshop screen redraw.

And, then the final thing I'm going to do just a little bit of housekeeping. I'm going to right-click on this filter mask right there, and I'm going to choose Delete Filter Mask in order to get rid of it, and that'll give me some more room to work inside my layers panel. And, incidentally, just in case you really want to work along with me, because this proves confusing for folks sometimes, I have my thumbnails set to medium thumbnails, so I can better see what I'm doing. And, you can do that, as well, by right clicking in an empty portion of the layers panel down below the layers, at which point you would then choose medium thumbnails, in order to change their size.

And, that friends, in molecular detail, is how you go about smoothing a human form that's set on an independent layer using the liquify filter here inside Photoshop.

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