Build half of the face

Put your new shape layer skills to good use as you create all of the details for the left side of the face on a series of shape layers.

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1 I Use the methods employed so far to create a new, red, elliptical shape layer. Choose Edit>Free>Transform Path from the menu. Drag the corner points to resize, then click and drag outside of the box to rotate. Press Enter to apply the transformation.

2 I Use this method to create a smaller, orange ellipse shape layer on top of the red one. Then repeat the process again, creating a smaller, black ellipse shape layer. Create a white ellipse shape layer overtop of the black ellipse and reduce the layer opacity.

3 I Use the pen tool, the ellipse tool, and the skills you've learned so far to create the rest of his face details on a series of new shape layers until the left side of his face is complete. Target all of these layers, including the antenna layer, and add them to a new group.

' J Creative Photoshop

Part 1: Drawing and Painting

19 I Ensure that your group is targeted in the layers palette and select the move tool. Hold down the alt(PC)/option(Mac) and shift keys as you click on the canvas and drag to the right, duplicating the group and ensuring that it stays aligned vertically with the previous group. After that choose Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal from the menu to flip the group. Use the move tool or the arrow keys on the keyboard to adjust the positioning on the canvas if necessary. Target all of the layers and groups that make up the alien character in the layers palette and add them to a new group.

Transforming and flipping artwork

You don't always have to go to the edit menu each time you wish to perform a transformation or flip a layer, shape component, or group. Simply type Control/ Command-t to activate the free-transform command. You'll see the bounding box appear, allowing you to transform your object, layer, or group. While the bounding box is present, right-c lick(PC)/control-click(Mac) within the box to access a pop-up menu. Alongside other options, you'll be able to flip your artwork by choosing the appropriate option from the menu. As always, pressing Enter will apply the transformation.

20 I Now that you've created two distinctly different characters out of shape layers, storing each in a group of its own, create one more for the sake of diversity. Use the pen tool to click and drag, creating a closed object that resembles tentacles on a new shape layer. Specify a green fill color and then switch to the ellipse tool. Ensure that the add to shape area function is enabled in the tool options bar. Click and drag to create a large ellipse that overlaps the top of the tentacles shape on the same layer, creating a strange octopus body.

Creating Characters with Shape Layers

Creating Characters with Shape Layers

21 I Again, as you've done with the previous two characters, create a series of new shape layers to add the character's essential features and details to the file. All of the methods are the same as before. Even the mouth, although it has more teeth, can be created by using the same methods that you used to create the blue creature's mouth earlier on. When you're finished, target all of the shape layers that make up the octopus in the layers palette and add them to a new group.

22 I Now, just because your finished creatures are neatly organized into groups in the layers palette, it doesn't mean that you can't add more shape layers within a group or edit existing ones. Here, new shape layers were added to the octopus group as well as the alien group. Spots were added to the tentacles of the octopus on a new shape layer, and spots were added to the alien's forehead using the same method. Each new layer was placed in the appropriate group, ensuring that the layers palette remained organized.

Examine the CD files

At this point in this chapter, you should have the three main characters completed and organized into groups. Everything you need to know to effectively create the characters has been outlined on the previous pages. However, if you still find yourself confused by a small detail or are scratching your head over something, have a look at the sample files on the CD. The files are called: sample-1.psd, sample-2.psd, and sample-3.psd. Each file contains a single character group and you can inspect the shape layers and components in detail within these files. The sample files can be found on the CD in the folder entitled chapter_02.

23 I Duplicate the octopus group. Use free transform to rotate, resize it and move it to another location on the canvas. Double-click individual layers within the group and change their fill colors. Delete the shape layers that make up his mouth by dragging them into the trash in the layers palette. Then add a new shape layer that contains a small black ellipse to the group, creating a new mouth with a different facial expression. Use this method to create a number of different octopus groups on the canvas. Alter colors and shape layers as you see fit.

Changing fill content

Shape layers are solid fill color layers with vector masks attached to them. You can change the solid color to a gradient or pattern fill by choosing Layer>Change Layer Content from the menu and then either choosing the pattern or gradient option found there. If you're feeling adventurous, you can also change the layer content to that of any of the available adjustment layer options included in the list. No matter what option you choose, the existing vector mask will remain intact.

24 I Continue to make duplicates of your groups, moving them to different areas of the canvas, using free-transform to rotate and resize your groups. Move them up and down within the layers palette, so that some characters are overlapping others. Try varying blending modes of your duplicate groups here and there. Also experiment with reduced opacity to make some of them less prominent.

Chapter 2

Creating Characters with Shape Layers

Chapter 2

25 I Duplicate the blue creature group. Move it to another location and use tree-transform to resize and rotate the group. Repeat this process over and over, adding a number of blue creatures to the scene. Inside some of your groups, disable the visibility of some of the layers, or delete them, so that only selected portions of the characters face remain visible. Like you did previously with the octopus, move duplicate groups up and down within the layers palette, altering the blending modes and opacity settings of entire groups as you go.

26 I Use these methods to introduce a variety copied alien groups into the image as well. Alter blending modes, opacity, and try disabling the visibility of some layers. Try combining some of your duplicates into groups as well. Here, this creature was created by adding a blue creature group and an octopus group into a new group. The blue creature was positioned on top of the octopus and the fill color of the octopus layer was changed to match the blue creature's fill color. Then, the blending mode of the new group was changed to luminosity.

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Hiding versus deleting

When you are creating duplicate character groups and wish to remove layers from the group, disable them rather than delete them. You can disable the visibility of any layers you wish to hide, and when you transform an entire group, these hidden layers will be transformed alongside the rest. This is a better option than deleting as it gives you the option of making the layers visible again if you change your mind later on.

27 I Now that you're finished with the character groups, apply the same methods you've used so far to create some shape layers out of basic shape combinations. Use the subtract and add to shape area options freely. Also, have some fun with different blending modes, color fills, and layer opacity settings. Drag all of the new shape layers beneath the character groups in the layers palette, so that the new shape layers are used to enhance the painted background, rather than overlapping the creatures. Place the new shape layers in a group of their own, just to keep the layers palette organized.

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