Puppet Warp

I’M LOOKING forward to spring and being able to get out drawing wild flowers again but I can get a bit of practice by drawing cut flowers from the florists. The iris appealed to me more than the carnations and daisy-like flowers in the same bouquet because the structure of the flower is more obvious.

I’m continuing to familiarise myself with the features of the latest version of Photoshop and I’m intrigued by ‘Puppet Warp’, a new feature in Photoshop CS5. This works by putting a mesh across your drawing which you can then manipulate by adding node points and pulling and pushing them about to distort the drawing in various ways.

It’s useful for a whole lot more than the ‘puppet’ animation that the name suggests but that’s a good place to start to get to know what it does.

When I drew the walking Moorhen a few years ago I had to draw a dozen or more separate frames to make up the complete action. With Puppet Warp you can do just the one drawing and bend, distort and move it around in Photoshop.

It’s not going to give you the charm of a fully hand-drawn animation but for certain subjects it should work well. It has the advantage that you can avoid the ‘boiling’ effect you get from textures, such as crayon and watercolour, that you can’t possibly match between one hand-drawn frame and the next and it can save a lot of repetitive ‘in-betweening’ between the key frames of the action.

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  1. Inspired by your post I had a quick look at Puppet Warp in Ps CS5… what a great tool. It’s like a dream scene, being able to move parts of a drawing around, changing position of something instead of erasing or redrawing.

    Don’t let Editors find out about it or it’ll be ‘move this a bit to the left, bend that to the right’.

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