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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.
In this movie, we're going to take our many flame layers, which look great against this black background, but if I take away the background, we're starting to lose some definition. And we're going to stroke all of the flames as a group to create this kind of xerography effect, as in a Xerox machine. So, I'll go and switch over to my image so far. And I'll turn the black back layer back on and then I'll go ahead and turn these layers off. The layers above the flames because for the moment we don't need them.
And we never need the hands template group ever again. So, I'm going to select it and press the Backspace key to get rid of it. And we're going to be doing a lot of file cleanup to try to reduce the size of these incremental files as we move along. Now I'll switch over to the channels panel, and speaking of file reduction, notice that we've got a couple of masks here. We're done with those, we've got backups, so I'm going to select both of them, by clicking on one and shift clicking on the other. And then I'll drop down to the trash icon and I'll alt+click on it, or opti+click on the Mac, and by virtue the fact that you hold the alt or option key down, you bypass the alert message.
Now you want to select the channel with the most contrast, and because we're looking at a very warm image, that's going to be red, although you can check out the others. There's green, and there of course is blue. So I'll go ahead and grab the red channel, and I'll drag it and drop it onto the little page icon at the bottom of the panel to create a copy of it. And I'm not going to bother to name this alpha channel because we're going to throw it away in just a moment and you'll see why. We're actually going to be able to throw it away and keep it at the same time, strange as that sounds.
But first I need to increase the contrast by going up to the image menu, choosing adjustments and choosing the levels command. Which you can also get by pressing ctrl+l and I'm going to change the black point value to 100. So, we're darkening up this mask quite a bit and then I'll press the tab key twice to advance to the white point value and I'll take it down to 235. And that increases the contrast as you see right there. So, if I turn off the preview check box, this is the way it looked before. This is the way it looks now. Alright, now click OK in order to accept that change.
Now we want to load this mask as a selection outline by pressing the ctrl key or the cmd key on a Mac and clicking on it's thumbnail right there. And now we're done with this alpha channel, so you can grab it and throw it away. Cause otherwise it's going to add unnecessarily to the file size. Because we're going to convert this selection outline right now to a layer mask. And converting from an alpha channel to a selection outline and back to a layer mask is altogether, 100%, non-destructive. So now I'll switch over to the layers panel, and I'll turn off that black back layer right there and I'll go ahead and click on it to make it active. And now I want to create this selection outline right here filled with yellow. And so first what I want to do is turn off the flames group, right there just for a second. And now I'll drop down to the black and white circle down here at the bottom of the layers panel. I'll press the alt key or the option key on the mac, and I'll choose the solid color command. And even though I'm going to fill this layer with yellow, I'm going to call it stroke, because it's main purpose is to stroke as opposed to stoke the flames. So I'll go ahead and click OK. And now, what you want to do is dial in a yellow, so I'll change the hue value to 50 degrees. I'll take the saturation value up to a 100% and I'll take the brightness value up to 100% as well and click OK. And notice now if I Alt+click or Option+click on the layer mask in order to view the mask independently of the image, that's that exact same mask that we saw represented as an alpha channel a moment ago. That's why I got rid of it, we just don't need it in this file twice. So now, alt+click or opt+click on that layer mask thumbnail again, and I'll drop down to the fx icon, at the bottom of the layers panel, and I'll choose stroke. In order to bring up the layer style dialog box. I'll leave the position set to outside by default, the color's black, also a default setting, to opacity is 100%, the blend mode is normal, that's all good. The one change that you want to make is to the size value. And I suggest you crank it up to 25 pixels in order to create the effect that you see here in the background. And, now, I'm going to click OK. I don't want this much yellow showing through. I want the yellow fill to be translucent. And, any time you want the fill to be translucent, but you don't want to effect any of the layer affects, such as the stroke. Why then you want to modify the fill value, as opposed to the opacity value. So, I'm going to go ahead and click on the word fill, in order to select it. And, I'm going to change that to 50% and press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac, to accept that change. And now, notice, if I turn on the flames group, we have this wonderful interaction of flames, along with the zerography effect and the stroke, and everything else. So, it looks nice and old timey comic book, I still want it to look retro, even though it's a photographic effect. And now, I'm going to go ahead and turn on these three layers, merge, BBQ hands and hand grills that are sitting on top that represent the character himself. So that we can see the character shooting those flames. And then finally, these flames layers are taking up a ton of room inside the file. And, the only reason I'm doing this, normally I would keep all of these independent flames in case I wanted to change my mind later. But, I've been saving these various synchronization of the files and they are getting to be 200 megs, they are getting to be very huge. And we can cut that file size in half by merging these flames together, and you can do that just by going up to the layer menu and choosing merge group, or you can press that keyboard shortcut ctrl+E, or cmd+e on the Mac. And now that goes ahead and merges all the flames, now messes up the blend mode, and the reason is we used to be able to see through all of the flame layers to the background because they were also at the screen. Now Photoshop has merged them all according to the screen blend mode, so they're merged with each other but the blend mode is set back to normal. You want to change that mode to screen once again in order to get exactly the same effect we had a moment ago. If you bring up the history panel by going to the Window menu and choosing History and, you back up, two steps here, to fill opacity change. Notice that you're going to see exactly the same effect on screen. So, it's not changing the appearance, it's just changing our ability to access all of those layers and, it's reducing the file size. Now, I need to make this extremely important because I, every once in a while, I get this question. Well, what do you do, after you merge the layers? How do you get back to them? You don't. That's the whole point. They're gone. But the upside is that we have a smaller file and aside folks will make is like well you can always buy more hard drives. You know, why would you do this? Well I've got multiple incarnations and that's not really true. Yes, you can buy more hard drives till the cows come home but they have limited lifespans and sometimes you want to be able to keep everything on a portable machine that has a small hard drive. And so, we don't all have just gobs and gobs of storage space to work with or to access very quickly. So, I like to keep things trim when I can. In any case, that aside you can do what you want. Just to give you sense for what we were able to accomplish in this specific movie I'll go ahead and press the F key a couple of times to fill the screen with this image. And, we now have this awesome version of the superhero, and I'm going to zoom in a little bit as well. With these flames not only circling his body, but leaping from his hands as well. Thanks to our, just mind boggling ability to add photographic flame effects, whether old school or new, whichever you like here inside Photoshop.
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