Puppet Warp

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Puppet Warp

Photoshop is famous, if not downright notorious, for its ability to distort reality, which is ironic, given that most of us whose job it is to distort reality are frustrated by Photoshop's dearth of reality-distortion tools. I mean, there's Liquify. There's Content-Aware Scale. There's Liquify. I ask you, where are all the distortion tools? Well, in CS5, the hand wringers finally have something that wring their hands about, and it goes by the name Puppet Warp. Take the subject of an image, jump it to a new layer, choose the Puppet Warp command, add a few pins, and drag those pins anywhere you like.

Photoshop stretches and twists and bends an image any way you want it to go, even behind itself, which is weird. But hey, Puppet Warp is fun to use. It's funny to watch, and it's extremely powerful. If you thought you couldn't believe your eyes before, just wait until you see the Puppet Warp. Easily the most amusing new feature inside the Photoshop CS5 and a powerful feature to boot is located under the Edit menu. It's this guy right there, Puppet Warp. And it's yet another transformation/ distortion feature inside the software.

What it is going to let you do is assign points, known as Pins, inside of an image, and then stretch the distance between those pins in order to create relative distortions that are quite well- suited to appendages, such as arms and legs. We'll also see how you can distort individual characters of type. So the first thing I'm going to do is select this guy and pop him to a layer so I can modify him independently of the rest of the image. I'll switch over to my Channels panel where I have an Alpha Channel called mask, and you can see that he is white, and the background is black, meaning he'll be selected. The background will not be selected.

I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and click on that channel in order to convert it to a selection outline. Then I'll switch to the RGB image. I'll switch back to the Layers panel. And in order to jump him to a new layer, pardon the pun, I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J for Jump, and then I'll name this new layer jumper, and click OK. Now, the problem is, at this point, that we've got two copies of this fellow. If I move him to a different location, you can see his doppelganger in the background.

We need to get rid of him because that will rather ruin the effect. So I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+ Z on a Mac to undo that movement. I'll turn off the jumper, switch to this guy in grass layer. I need to, once again, load that selection. So I'll switch back to the Channels panel, Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on the mask channel to load it as a selection, switch back to layers. I need a little extra wiggle room around this selection to make sure I've selected each and every pixel associate with this dude. So I'll go up to the Select menu, choose Modify, and choose the Expand command.

And expansion of about 20 pixels should work. I'll click OK. That moves the selection outline outward. If I were working on a background layer, I could press the Backspace key here on the PC, or the Delete key on a Mac in order to bring up the Fill dialog box. But if I do that when working on a floating layer like this one, I'll just go ahead and remove the pixels inside of the selection. I don't want to do that so I'll undo that modification, and then I'll go out to the Edit menu and choose the Fill command, or you have a keyboard shortcut of Shift+Backspace or Shift+Delete on the Mac.

Once I have brought up the Fill dialog box, I'll make sure that Use is set to Content-Aware. That's exactly what I want for the Content-Aware Fill feature. I'll click OK. And Photoshop will go ahead and look outside the selection, grab those pixels from the sky and map them into the selection as you see there. Now, I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+ D on the Mac to deselect the image. Now, you might see a few halos in a background or a slight shadow associated with the Content-Aware Fill feature. If that bothers you, I urge you to go ahead and heal those details using something like the standard Healing Brush tool.

Now, you can use the Spot Healing Brush tool, by the way, which has been made more intelligent by the addition of this Content-Aware feature here in the Options bar. It still doesn't work quite up to snuff in my opinion. So I'm going to switch over to the standard Healing Brush. I'm going to press the Alt or Option key and click to set a source point, and then I'm going to paint inside of the sky in order to heal that location. I might have to do that several times. I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click, paint again. Alt+Click or Option+Click at this location, paint along what used to be a leg and so on until I achieve the effect that I want.

Now, bear in mind that you've got this guy floating in front of this area of the image so you don't have to get it exactly right. He's going to be pretty distracting by time we're done with him. So now I'm going to switch back to my jumper layer, click on it in order to select it. If were I to go up to the Edit menu at this point in time and choose the Puppet Warp command then I would be permanently modifying the pixels inside of this layer. In order to protect those pixels, I'm first going to convert this jumper layer to a Smart Object. So I'll go up to the Layers panel menu.

I'll choose Convert to Smart Object, like so. That goes ahead and places this layer inside of a protective container so that the original pixels cannot be harmed. Now, I'll go up to the Edit menu and choose the Puppet Warp command. Now, there is another advantage to working with the Smart Object, and that is you'll be able to edit your Puppet Warp settings well into the future. Now that I've entered the Puppet Warp mode, you can see that my cursor changes to a little pin icon which allows me to set pins inside of my image. So for example, I could set a pin at the shoulder and set another pin at the elbow.

And now if I were to drag one pin or the other, I would stretch the distance between the two as well as move the items that are out beyond that pin, and rotate them to different locations. I don't really want that effect, so I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo it. I'm going to lay down a few more points, for example, one here in this shoulder, one on the inside of this elbow. I'll click in his head to make sure that that's locked down, because each pin not only serves as a point of stretching, like so, I'll go ahead and undo that, but it also serves to lock down that portion of the image when you stretch a different pin.

Again, I'll undo that modification because right now I'm just interested in setting pins inside of this image. I'll go ahead and set pins on either side of the guys abdomen, one up here at the top of his thigh, on his knee as well at the top of this thigh and this knee. And then I could move these pins to different locations. I might drag this leg outward a little bit. I might drag this leg to this location like so. If you want to move two pins at the same time then you can click in one and Shift+Click in the other, and then you could drag down or up in order to move both of those pins at the same time.

Another thing that you might find quite helpful here: I'll go ahead and click on one pin to make it active, drag it out just a little bit so that he is not too distorted there in his upper arm. Notice if you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and hover over one of the pins, you get a scissors icon that allows you to delete that pins. So you Alt+Click or Option+ Click on a pin to delete it. However, if you move your cursor outward while the Alt or Option key is down, you'll see this rotation interface. Go ahead and drag the pivot, the four-arm in this case around that pin.

Now, you have to be careful not to go too far with your effects. Bear in mind that the Puppet tool was originally introduced inside of the Motion Graphics equivalent to Photoshop, which is Adobe After Effects. And there the Puppet tool has sort of a humorous connotation, because you can do all kinds of wacky stuff to it, and make people move in ways they wouldn't normally move and create sort of cartoon animation effects. When you're working inside of Photoshop, cartoony effects may not be your final goal. So just be sure to take it easy as you're working with the tool.

I'm going to go ahead and Alt+drag or Option+drag his arm back out here. I'll also show you here is something else you can do. If I Alt+drag or Option+drag his arm down like so, and then I drag this point down like that so that his arm is back of his thigh, another fairly ridiculous effect so far, but notice that you can move the point up and down in terms of stacking order. So let's say you want the arm to be in front of the thigh. You go up here to the Options bar, notice this Pin Depth option. The first one tells you you can set the pin forward, the second one, you can set the pin backward.

We want to move it forward so I'd click on this icon in order to move the arm in front of the thigh. All right. Well, that's hardly the effect I'm looking for. So I think I'll go ahead and put this guy back. And it's sort of dangling down there in a disturbing fashion. So I'll Alt+drag or Option+ drag to rotate the point upward. And let's say this is as far as I want to go for now. I'll go to the Options bar, and I'll click on the checkmark. I could also press the Enter key on the PC or the Return key on the Mac in order to apply that Puppet Warp effect. And notice, if you look here in the Layers panel, you'll see a Puppet Warp effect that's applied non- destructively to the jumper layer.

Now, we have got our filter mask. You can add a mask if you want to add a paint away some of the Warp effect. I'm going to go ahead and get rid of this mask by right-clicking on that thumbnail and choosing the Delete Filter Mask command. That just goes ahead and tidies up my panel a little bit, but here's the really cool thing. Now, if you want to preview the before and after version of your effect, you can just turn off Puppet Warp, and that shows you the original image. Turn it back on to see the after version of the image. To edit the warped version of the image, just double-click on Puppet Warp, and that takes you right back into the Puppet Warp mode.

And you can continue to modify the image to your hearts content. Notice also you have the option of looking at the mesh if you want to so that you can see just how computationally intensive these effects are. I'm going to go ahead and turn that back off. Also, notice if you try to set one pin very close to another, it's very possible that CS5 is going to invite you to choose the More Points command from the Density menu. While there is no Density menu up here in the menu bar What you do, I'll go ahead and click OK, is you go up to this Density option here in the Options bar and switch it from Normal to More Points.

So More Points is great if you need densely packed pins. If you want to do more with fewer pins then you choose a Fewer Points Command. I'm going to leave it set to Normal. All right. Now, I'm going to click in the hand and drag that hand outward, like so. I'll also drag the elbow a little farther out there. I am getting a fair amount of stretching going on so I could move the shoulder out just slightly. However, I'm looking for something of a cartoony effect, as you'll see once we're done with this composition. Still, let's go ahead and drag these guys back just a little bit.

I'll drag this shoulder out a little, click in the hand in order to set a point there, move it outward, move this elbow out there as well. I want you to notice that when you drag something like the knee, you're moving the calf and the foot together. So if you're not concerned about the relative positioning of that foot and calf, that's a great way to go. However, if you want to go ahead and stretch that, just as I'm stretching the thigh, then you need to set a point at that location and move it outward. And I want to do the same thing here as well. So I want this heavily exaggerated jumping effect.

I also want the guy to look pretty skinny so I'll go ahead and drag his abs in just a little bit like so. And then once I'm done, I'll go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, once again, in order to apply that effect. It's still modifiable. You can still double-click on Puppet Warp anytime because you're working with the Smart Object. Now, let's say you want to edit the type. And the great thing about modifying type thing about modifying type using Puppet Warp is that you can get some uniquely hand-drawn effects. However, if I select the type layer, and I go up to the Edit menu and choose Puppet Warp, Photoshop will tell me I have to rasterize that layer before proceeding, that is, I need to convert the type to pixels.

I don't want to do that so I'll cancel out. And I'll go over to the Layers panel, once again. Click in the flyout menu and choose Convert to Smart Object. So I've gone ahead and place the type in a protective container. Now I'll go up to the Edit menu and choose Puppet Warp. This time Photoshop doesn't complain, and I'll click in the top of this P here and at the bottom of the P and notice that stretches that P independently of the others. So now, because they are not connected to each other, each and every letter is independent. And this would be true too if I had multiple people on this jumper layer that were disconnected from each other. All right.

So I'll click on the top of this P, the bottom here as well. Drag it up like so. Click at the top of the E. Click at the bottom. You may see this kind of an effect when you drag one pin away from the other. You may see other portions of the image collapsing. I don't want that so I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. I'll click to lock down that bottom of the E then drag up to top like so. Now, I'll click on the top of the T and the bottom of the T, drag it up just a little bit to create a little bit of bend there. Might as well drag the top of the E up a little bit farther, the top of the P as well.

Now, I'll click four points around this U in order to set points, like so. Shift+Click on the tops of each of the stems of U and drag them upward. And I may actually take this point a little farther up, click at the top of the P, at the bottom of the P. For some reason, the P does beautifully. It always bends exactly the way I want it to. Click at the top of this P and the bottom of this one, drag it up as well so it's pretty much the same thing over and over again, where the Ps are concerned. On the M, I'm going to set four pins like so.

And I'll go ahead and click and Shift+ Click on those two pins and move them up. Apparently I need pin at this location on the M so that I can drag it back down into position. And you get a sense of just how fun this feature is to use. Now, things can go a little wrong there, and in this case, what I think I'm going to do is set a point right at that location, Alt+Click or Option+Click on the top point to get rid of it. And then go ahead and move that up a little bit. So you have all kinds of flexibility when you're using this feature.

Notice, by the way, I got that error message telling me I need more points. No I don't. I just clicked in the wrong location. So I'll go ahead and click around the U some more, like so, drag this point upward, drag this point upward as well. Click on the top of the J, the bottom of the J and drag that J upward. You know what? I think it would be a great idea to move that comma to a different location. So I'm going to click in it and then just drag it independently of everything else. So if you only have one click point in an object then you move the entire object like so. Now, I'll go ahead and click at the bottom of the comma in order to lock it down and move the top of the comma up just a little bit, because I want to stretch it like so. And we're done.

I'll press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, to accept those modifications. You can achieve these distortion effects and many, many more using the new Puppet Warp command inside Photoshop CS5.

Puppet Warp
Video duration: 14m 56s 1h 9m Intermediate


Puppet Warp provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS5 Top 5

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