Getting started with Puppet Warp
Getting started with Puppet Warp
In every new version of Photoshop there is one feature that wows the crowd. In Photoshop CS5 that new feature is Puppet Warp. Puppet Warp is the next generation of Transform features in Photoshop. It allows you to intelligently deform graphic and photographic objects, for more realistic results than you'd be able to get with the traditional Transform tools in Photoshop. Before I start to warp this figure, there are a couple of things that I need to do. One is that I need to isolate the objects that I'm going to warp on a transparent layer.
I've done that in this file. You can see them here on the graphics layer, where there's this figure and then these separate snowflakes. And the important thing about them is that they're all surrounded by transparency. I also have a Background layer that's just decorative in this case. So, I have the graphics layer selected and there's one more thing that I want to do to that layer. Now this isn't a requirement for Puppet Warp, but I think it's a really good idea and that is to convert the layer that contains the objects to be warped into a Smart Object layer.
That way, if I change my mind after I perform the warp and I want to go back in and tweak things, I can do that without worrying about degrading the quality of the image. So, I'm going to right-click on the graphics layer and I'm going to choose Convert to Smart Object. And now this is a Smart Object layer as you can see by the icon here on the graphics thumbnail. Now I'm ready to enter Puppet Warp Mode. To do that I'll go up to the Edit menu and I'll choose Puppet Warp. In the Options bar for Puppet Warp Mode there is a check box for Show Mesh.
I'm going to click that so that you can see the triangular Mesh that's at the heart of Puppet Warp. The way that the Warp works is that I'll add pins to this Mesh and use some of those pins as handles and others as anchors. Notice also that the separate items on this layer have their own meshes, and that means I'll be able to deform each object on this layer separately, without impacting the other objects. There are a couple of other Mesh controls in the Options bar to take note of. One is the Expansion field here. If I click-and-drag to the right, you'll notice that the Mesh around each object expands outward and I can go the other way too.
I'm going to leave that setting at its default for now. The next setting, the Density setting, determines the number and density of pins that I can add to the mesh. If I need to add lots of pins and they have to be close together, I may need to change the mesh to Fewer Points. If I need to add lots of pins and they have to be close together, I may not be able to do that with a Normal size mesh. In that case, I may need to choose More Points and that gives me a finer Mesh as you can see. But I'll start with Normal and change it if I get a warning telling me that I can't add points because they're too close together.
There's also a Mode menu here. The choices in this menu determine the elasticity of the mesh. If I choose Rigid, then the movement that I'll get will be a little less flexible and more Rigid than it is with Normal. And if I choose Distort, I can get some unusual distorted effects. So, I'm going to leave this at Normal to start. I'm also going to make the mesh invisible so that I can see the figure underneath. Now it's time to add some points to the mesh on this figure. I'm going to add one point to start and all I have to do is click anywhere on the Mesh and that adds a yellow point, the black dot in the center of the point means that point is selected.
If I click-and-drag on this single point, the whole figure moves with me, but notice that the other objects on this layer don't move because each has a separate mesh. The whole idea of Puppet Warp is to bend and deform the figure, so I normally want more than just one pin. In most cases I want at least three pins. I'm going to click in a couple of other places to add some more pins here and then I'll click on one of the pins and I'll drag. And you can see that now the figure is staying put and the areas that are not frozen by anchor points are moving with me as I move the arm.
But where I have added some anchor points to the torso and to the left arm, the figure doesn't move. I can add more anchor points to the mesh at any time. So let's say that I want the feet to stay in place, I might add a few more points here at the torso and maybe on top of the feet as well and I can even add anchor points to the head. When I want to warp the figure, I can select one or more than one anchor point. Let's say I want both of her arms to move at once. I'll click on one of the anchor points and then I'll hold the Shift key and click on another.
And now if I click-and-drag on either one of those anchor points, both arms move together. Now I'm going to grab this anchor point and move it so that the arm is behind the scarf. What if I wanted this arm to be in front of the scarf, not behind it? I can do that by changing Pin Depth up here in the Options bar. But notice that the Pin Depth Icons are grayed out. That's because I have more than one pin selected at the moment. To use these icons I can only have one pin selected at a time.
So, I'm going to click on this pin to deselect any other selected pins and now I'll come up to the Pin Depth icon and I'm going to click the Set pin forward icon. Keep your eye on the character's right arm as I do that, and you can see that it's now in front of her scarf. Sometimes you may find that you have to click a couple of times on the Pin Depth icons to get the results that you want. There's also a Set pin back icon here and if I click that, her arm goes behind her scarf. Before I show you anything more, I'd like to show you how you can hide and delete pins.
So, let's say that the pins are in the way and you can't really see the figure behind. You can hide them temporarily by pressing the Control key and the H key together on a Mac like this and then releasing to bring the pins back and that's Right-click+H on a PC. There are times when I want to delete pins. So for example, let's say I can't get this arm back the way I want it. I can just select that pin and then I'll move my mouse right on top of the pin, hold down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC, I don't want to see this circular icon, I need to move right on top of the pin until I see this Scissors icon and then with the Option or Alt key still held down I'll click and that'll remove that pin and the arm will snap back to the way it was before I deformed it.
Sometimes I may get such a messed up warp that I need to delete all the pins and start again. In that case, I'll come up to the Options bar and I'll click this curved arrow and that gets rid of all the pins and reverses the deforming so that the figure looks the way it did when I first entered Puppet Warp. I've shown you that you can use pins as anchor points or as handles. You can also use pins as hinges. So let's say I want this arm to move as if it's rotating around an elbow joint.
I'll click to place a pin where the elbow might be and then I'm going to click to place a few more pins as anchor points. Now I'll select the pin that's at the elbow joint and then I'm going to hold down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC and move my mouse over that pin, not so that it shows the scissors Icon but just outside the pin so that it shows this rotation icon. And then I'll click-and-drag. And as I do you can see the arm rotate around that hinge point.
So any point can be a hinge. Now I'm going to move over the wrist and I'm going to set a point right here and let's say I need another point right nearby to make the bend work as I want it to. If I go too close to that first point then I'll get this alert that Photoshop can't add a new pin because it's too close to an existing pin. So I'll click OK and this is the time when I can come up to the Density menu and choose More Points. And now I should be able to add a couple of points right next to each other at the figure's wrist like that.
I mentioned earlier that each of the objects has a separate mesh so that I can deform or move any one of these objects without disturbing the others. So for example, if I come up to this snowflake and I click on each one of the spokes of the snowflake, I can move any one of those points and I'm not disturbing any of the other snowflakes or the figure. And I could hold the Shift key and select all these points and then click-and-drag on any one of them to move that snowflake and none of the other objects move.
When I'm all finished doing my warping, I'll move up to the options bar and I'll click this check mark and that commits the warp. Take a look at the graphics layer and you'll see that the Puppet Warp is there as a Smart Filter. That's because I first converted the graphics layer to a Smart Object layer. So Photoshop rendered the Puppet Warp as a re-editable Smart Filter. That means that I can click on the layer mask that comes with this Smart Filter and then move in to the image and then get my Brush tool, make sure I have black as my foreground color and with a slightly bigger Brush, I can paint over this arm and the warp that I'd added there will disappear.
I'm basically hiding the warp with a layer mask and you can see the black paint on the Smart Filter layer mask indicating where the warp is hidden. In addition, because I did use a Smart Object layer, I can reopen the Puppet Warp by double-clicking on it here as a Smart Filter and that brings back all of the points and sends me right back into Puppet Warp Mode with all of my options available and I can click on any point and continue to warp the figure. And when I'm done, I'll click the check mark again.
You may be wondering whether Puppet Warp just applies to graphic images like this and the answer is no. You can also apply Puppet Warp to part of a photograph, to a Type layer, to Vector shapes and even to layer masks and Vector masks. Now that you know the basics of using this exciting new feature, I suggest you give it a try on those types of layers. I think you'll find that Puppet Warp is a really significant enhancement to the warping capabilities in Photoshop. It's more intuitive, less limiting and can return more realistic results in the Transform commands.
In the next movie, I'm going to show you some practical uses for Puppet Warp.
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