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Fun with Puppet Warp in Photoshop CS5

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One of the more entertaining (and powerful) new features in Photoshop CS5 is the Puppet Warp command. This feature provides the ability to apply a warping mesh to any selected object in your scene, and then bend and twist that object around in different ways. Dan Moughamian, author of Adobe Digital Imaging How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques for Photoshop CS5, Lightroom 3, and Camera Raw 6, shows you how to combine both Puppet Warp and the new Content-Aware Fill command to apply a snowman effect to a lighthouse.
Warping the Subject

Warping the Subject

At this point we’re ready to start warping! Select your target layer again and choose Edit > Puppet Warp. This will produce a new set of controls in the Options Bar as well as a grid mesh that overlays the contents of your target layer, as see in Figure 5. For smoother-looking warps and curves, and more flexibility in the shapes you create, you can choose Mode: Distort and Density: More Points. Note this will also increase processing time when you apply the changes at the end of the process. You may also want to use the Expansion slider to widen the mesh several pixels beyond the layer boundary, to help avoid any sharp corners as you nudge and move the pixels around.

Figure 5 The Options bar provides a Mode menu to define how rigid or flexible the mesh warp can be, and a Density option to define how fine the warping mesh is. The more points, the more precisely you can warp a small area. The other options are explained in Tip 83 in the book.

Almost there! Now we just need to place a series of yellow “Pins” around the edge of the areas being warped, taking care to place those along the corners and other areas that we want to “stay put” while we warp the rest of the layer. Figure 6 shows the pins that were used for this example—in this case, the pins at and near the bottom of the lighthouse are strictly used as anchors, while the upper pins were used to warp and extend parts of the layer.

Figure 6 Pins are placed on the layer mesh to both anchor and warp the layer’s content. The active pin has a black dot in the middle of it.

Once all the pins are in place, you can click and drag them in any direction to warp the shape of the layer. Don’t be afraid to experiment! If you mess up, you can click the Reset button on the Options bar to create a “fresh mesh.” Once you’re finished, press Return or click the Commit button on the Options bar (it looks like a check mark).

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