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Designing a Retro-Style Superhero

Video Introducing this tutorial


1. Turning a Person into a Silhouette
Masking a person from a white background
Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask

2. Making the Silhouette Fly
Adding power and motion with Liquify
Puppet warping the legs closer together
Applying a perspective-style transformation
Smoothing and removing details with Liquify

3. Painting the Body and the Face
Filling and stroking the silhouette
Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
Hand-painting the face
Refining brushstrokes with Median and Minimum

4. Creating a Dramatic Background
Adding complementary colored clouds
Drawing a handful of spikes in Illustrator
Creating a burst pattern with Transform
Adjusting the spikes for a better effect
Bringing the burst pattern into Photoshop

5. Adding the Grill Lines
Creating the extreme paths for the grill lines
Blending the grill lines in Illustrator
Correcting potential blending problems
Bringing the blended paths into Photoshop
Simulating pressure when stroking paths
Contouring the grill lines onto the face

6. Drawing Hands
Drawing a hand with the Pen tool
Converting the hand path to a shape layer
Finishing off the hands and gloves

7. Adding the Flames
Blend, scale, and rotate photographic flames
Filling in gaps with symmetrical flames
Shooting flames out of the hero's hands
Stroking the composite flames

8. Every Composition Needs Refinement
Drawing cartoon flames as a shape layer
Enhancing the flames with layer effects
Adjusting Puppet Warp and Expansion

9. The Monologue and Talk Balloons
Installing a free comic-lettering font
Formatting the monologue text
Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)

10. Creating a Custom Font
Selecting a font-creation software
Drawing consistently rendered letterforms
Pasting the letters into Glyphs Mini (Mac only)
Copying capitals into lowercase positions (Mac only)
Generating an OpenType font (Mac only)
Stylizing the custom font in Photoshop

Time lapse of the retro superhero
Until next time