Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding power and motion with Liquify, part of Designing a Retro-Style Superhero.
In this chapter, we're going to take our silhouette, which is quite obviously standing on the ground. And we're going to put him in flight, as you see here, as well as get rid of his ears because, after all, Jack Kirby's original human torch doesn't have ears when he catches on fire, they go away. And we're going to do all this using a combination of three distortion features namely, Liquefy, Puppet Warp, and a Perspective transformation. And it's really fascinating how you can combine these three features, in order to convey a sense of power.
So, I'm going to go ahead and switch back to my image so far. And because I want to apply my distortions as dynamic modifications, I'm going to convert this image into a smart object. So I'll go ahead and right-click somewhere inside the image window, using my rectangular marquee tool, which you can see is selected toward the top of the tool box. And then I'll choose convert to smart object. And now I'll go up to the filter menu and choose to liquefy command. Now note that liquefy only works as a dynamics smart filter if you subscribe to the Creative Cloud.
If you're working inside Photoshop CC, for example. Otherwise you can still apply it, but you're going to have to do so before converting the image into a smart object. I'll go ahead and choose liquefy. And now, you want to zoom in on the image of course. And, we need to make this guy look more powerful. Now, he is already pretty built. If you remember the original version of this guy, he's got a pretty buff looking form, but he just doesn't hold a candle to an actual super hero. So, you probably going to want to start be selecting the Bloat Tool, which is a few tools down over here in the upper left corner of the window.
And then increase the size of your cursor so that it's about 500 pixels, as you can see indicated by this Brush Size value. But you can also press the right bracket key in order to increase the size of the cursor or press left bracket key to reduce the size of the cursor. And these are the square bracket keys to the right of the P, as in Paul key, on an American keyboard. I'm going to zoom in just a little bit more. And then I'll click on his bicep, in order to increase its size. And of course, you're going to have to make reciprocal modifications every once in a while. In other words, you don't want him to have a really skinny elbow when he's got these really pumped up biceps. And, we want to increase the size of his forearms as well. You'll probably want to increase the size of his shoulders, a little bit. You can go ahead and increase the size of your cursor like crazy, and then click a few times to increase the size of his chest. But that's not necessarily going to make his chest look all that realistic. Go ahead and switch up to the Forward Warp tool which I just call the warp tool because after all there is no such thing as a backward warp. And then just go ahead and drag around in the chest in order to move it out. You might want to reduce the size of the cursor at various points. We'll go ahead and tuck in his waist as well here, a little bit, like so. We don't want to take it in too far, because he doesn't really need an hourglass figure. But we do want to see a lot of contrast between the chest and the stomach. That's really going to convey the kind of power that we're going for. All right. Now I'm going to scroll down a little bit. And you can spend some time trying to smooth out some of these details, so that we don't have all this lumpy fabric. And that is often best achieved by reducing the size of your cursor and that way you can make smaller modifications, like so. Now of course we're going to have to beef up his thighs, so I'll select a blow tool once again. Reduce the size of my cursor a little bit, and just click and hold like so inside those thighs. We don't need the knees to be quite that precarious. We'll make them bigger as well. And then we'll increase the size of the calves so that they look very mighty indeed. Now, the most important thing where this effect is concerned is to make his feet go downward. Because right now they are obviously standing on some sort of surface, they need to go straight down as they would if he was really in flight, one would presume. So I'll go ahead and switch once again to the warp tool. And then I'm going to increase the size of my cursor and just drag down like so.
Now, it's going to seem like you're making a nutty modification at this point. But the great thing about liquefy even if you apply it as a static effect, is that as long as you're inside of this dialogue box here, you can do anything you want to because its all going to get concatenated. In other words, every single modification you make is going to be basically added up together in order to create the final effect. So feel free to just absolutely make radical modifications like I'm doing here and if you have a little experience with liquefy it helps. But if you spend enough time and you're willing to change the size of your brush on the fly every once in a while, so sometimes you want it to be nice and big and other times when you're making small modification likes this you want it to be small, you want a small cursor, then you can end up coming up with a really nice result, like this one right here. And then of course, you can do the same darn thing with the other foot. I don't really want to bore you though, because it's really just the sort of the symmetrical version of what I did a moment ago. But it's just a matter really of warping with a big brush and then following up with smaller brushes. And I'm going to drag these guys out a little bit, so his outfit looks nice, and smooth. And if you want to make sure that the toes, are lined up with each other. It's hard to follow the checkers all the way across. What you want to do is space bar dragging, in order to scroll down. And I can see, that this guy's right there at the tip of the scroll bar, and this guy's a little high. So go ahead and move this toe down a little bit. Again, just by dragging with that warp tool, so great. All right. And then finally, what we need to do is smooth out his head. The human torch, like I said, he loses his ears when he catches on fire, we'll take care of that later. But he also loses his hair. And again that's Jack Kirby's original Human Torch and because my, you know, Blue Barbecue is really just a knock-off, I'm going to do the exact same thing. So, I'll drag this up, I'll drag this guy down a little bit. And again, the key is when you want to make big modifications, go with the big brush. When you want to make tiny modifications, go with the small brush. But you'd be surprised how often that doesn't occur to you while your working inside of this dialogue box. I'll go ahead and drag around like so. And then in order to get rid of some of the fluff in his hair, I'll go with a very small brush and brush against the thing that's coming up and brush up on the thing that I want to rise. You see? And so, eventually, I will get a smoother look to this guy's skull like so. Now, of course, I went ahead and saved my settings in advance, just so then I can achieve predictable results. And, if you're working along with me, if you have access to my exercise files, you can load my mesh as well by turning on the advance mode check box, and then click on the load mesh button. Notice that when you turn on advance mode, you get all these extra options right here, including load mesh. Go ahead and click on it in order to bring up the open dialog box. Find this mesh right here called Flyboyfly.msh. We'll use the other one later. And then click the Open button in order to open that guy up. And you can see, if I were able to scroll up by space bar dragging, but I'm not, here on Windows, because the Load Mesh button is active. So what I need to do is turn off the advanced mode check box. You Macintosh people don't need to do that. And I'll go ahead and space bar drag up now and you can see that he does indeed look like he's at least leaping up in the air. And now in order to apply that effect, I'll click on the okay button and then a moment later we'll see that leaping figure. So if I press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac, that's the appearance of the guy before I liquifed him. So, a little bit scrawny by comparison anyway. And of course ruffled hair and he's standing on the ground. And then if I press Ctrl or Cmd+Z again to reapply my changes, you can see that he's bulkier, has a very smooth head and his feet are pointing downward. And that's how you turn a standing silhouette into a leaping silhouette, using the liquefy filter, here inside Photoshop.
- 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