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Tools: The Deform Tool
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Tools: The Deform Tool
Created by: Prof

 
This series of tutorials is oriented toward helping those new users of PSP 9 to learn the basics of this great graphic program. The tutorials are written to introduce the basic features, tools and palettes and build upon one another. Also, the tutorials may be used as a reference for using particular tools, palettes and features of PSP.
 

The Deform Tools

The Deform tools (Deform, Straighten, Perspective Correction, and Mesh Warp tools) are tools that one can use to create and fix various shapes. Though most often the tools are used on photographs, one can use them on any graphics. The tools can create or fix perspective in pictures.

Purpose and Goal of this Tutorial:

Each tool is relatively easy to learn and use. However, there are some techniques that one can learn that can make using these tools to create some very interesting and unique effects and end results for pictures and graphics.

  • Explore the Deform tool and its options with examples (this tutorial)
  • Explore the Straighten tool (next tutorial in this series)
  • Explore the Perspective Correction tool (following tutorial)
  • Explore the Mesh Warp tool with examples (last tutorial of Deform tools)
 

Download File Download File
The download file is the same we already used in tutorial no. 7 and 11 of this series. We will be using this file again in subsequent tutorials so, after you unzip the file, duplicate the original to preserve it and work only on a duplicated copy. Also, when you save your work, first save it as a .pspimage or .psp file and only save a final .jpg file when done. (Jpeg files are a lossy compression and there is a small loss of quality each time a .jpg file is saved.)
 



Deform Tool

The Deform Tool

The Deform tool is a very versatile and powerful tool to create perspective from pictures and graphics. When activated it will set up a type of selection with handles on each corner, in the middle of each edge line and in the middle of the image/layer. One could first set a selection for the area to be 'deformed'. At default (with no selection areas) the whole canvas or picture is outlined with the Deform selection.

 


Tip

Undo Last Action

Tip

Often one will deform a whole picture rather than just a selection area. One way to more easily use this tool is to first expand the window in order to get some margin space around the canvas. Then one can access the handles more easily. Just grab a corner of the canvas window and drag out to get the margin.

The tool is basically used by grabbing one of the handles and dragging that handle. The corner handles work differently than the side-middle handles. The middle (center) handle is used to rotate the image.

Also, use the Undo feature often (Ctrl+Z) and as needed.

 







Drag Corner Handle

Drag Corner Handle

The Corner Handles

There are four (4) options in using the corner handles which will deform the picture in different ways:

  1. Grab it and drag in or out;
  2. Press the Shift key and drag it in or out;
  3. Press the Control key and drag it in or out;
  4. Press both the Control and Shift keys and drag it in or out.

When grabbing a corner handle the cursor will change to double crossed arrows with a rectangle icon. The rectangle icon will change shape when the Shift and/or Control keys are pressed at the same time.

Dragging a corner handle will decrease (drag in) or increase (drag out) the picture in a perspectively correct way. In this illustration I grabbed the top right corner handle and dragged toward the center. Note the image now is smaller, though in perspective, and resides in the lower left corner.

 
Move Image

Moving the Image Around

To easily move the image around the canvas, place the cursor anywhere within the image. The cursor changes and now looks like the Move tool, with crossed arrows. Then just drag the image to the location wanted. In the illustration I moved it to the center.

 
Rotate Image

Rotate Image

Rotate the Image

To rotate the image work with the the rotation handle. This is the square that is connected by a line to the center handle; when covered by the cursor, the cursor will change to a double curved set of arrows.

Then, drag either up or down to rotate the image to the desired position.

 
Corner Handle with Shift Key

Corner Handle with Shift Key

Corner Handle with Shift Key

When using the Shift key and dragging a corner handle, the cursor will change to double crossed arrow with a slanted rectangle (top illustration). Dragging will only deform just that corner.

The bottom illustration shows how I used the top right corner handle with the Shift key, dragging the corner handle down. This action gives a type of perspective to the image. Also I began again with a full sized photograph.

 
Corner Handle with Control Key

Corner Handle with Control Key

Corner Handle with Control Key

When using the Control key and dragging a corner handle, the cursor will change to a double crossed arrow with a trapezoid rectangle (top illustration). Dragging will deform both handles along the line or side of the picture that is used in dragging the handle.

The bottom illustration shows how I used the top right corner handle with the Control key, dragging the corner handle down. Gives a horizontal perspective to the photograph.

 
Corner Handle with Control and Shift Key

Corner Handle with Control and Shift Key

Corner Handle with Control and Shift Key

When using the Control and Shift keys together and dragging a corner handle, the cursor will change a to double-crossed arrow with a half trapezoid rectangle (top illustration). On can then drag that corner in any direction (different from the Shift key alone which is just along the line of the outer picture edge).

The bottom illustration shows how I used the top right corner handle with the Control and Shift key, dragging the corner handle down and in towards the center. Gives a horizontal perspective to the photograph but with a twisting perspective of the deformed corner.

 





A Side Middle Handle

A Side Middle Handle

A Side Middle Handle

When grabbing and dragging a side middle handle (I used the top middle handle in the illustration), there are also three options available:

  1. grabbing and dragging out from or into the picture;
  2. using the Shift key and dragging along the side either way (left/right or up/down);
  3. using the Control and Shift keys and dragging in any direction.

Each way will create a different perspective.

When grabbing a middle handle (top illustration) the cursor changes to a double arrow pointing into and out of the picture with a rectangle icon. Dragging will reduce (or increase) that side. In the bottom illustration I used the top middle handle and dragged down.

 
A Side Middle Handle with the Shift Key

A Side Middle Handle with the Shift Key

A Side Middle Handle with the Shift Key

When grabbing a middle handle with the Shift key depressed (top illustration) the cursor changes to a double arrow pointing parallel to that side. Dragging will move the picture either way deforming it. In the bottom illustration I used the top middle handle and dragged to the left.

 
A Side Middle Handle with the Shift Key

A Side Middle Handle with the Shift Key

A Side Middle Handle with the Shift and Control Keys

When grabbing a middle handle with the Shift and Control keys depressed (top illustration) the cursor changes to a box and a half trapezoid box. One can then drag it any way, up or down and in or out. In the second illustration, I grabbed the handle and pulled both down and to the left. The deformation is actually smaller and more in perspective than using just the Shift key alone.

 

Some Comments

The Deform tool with its various options for deforming selections and/or pictures is a very powerful and versatile tool for creating some very neat images with perspective. Take time to try each of the options. Try all handles. Try combinations of deformation techniques. Master this tool and you will have a very good arsenal of options for creating very unique and interesting images.

In the next section, I will show you two deformed images. We will use the Flag picture from the download and in the second illustration will also use the Flag only image that you created in the lesson on erasing backgrounds (Lesson 11).

 



Open Image

Deform Tool


Picture Resized Smaller with Deform Tool

An Example with the Deform Tool

We will create an interesting image by using the deform tool on our picture to create a 3D perspective picture.

  • Open the Flag picture from your download and duplicate it (Window || Duplicate or Shift+D). Then grab a corner of the window to open it up to give a margin around the picture.
  • In the Layer palette, right-click on the Background layer and choose 'Promote Background Layer' from the pop-up menu.
  • Select the Deform Tool.
  • Grab a corner handle and drag into the center to create a smaller picture.
  • Move the picture to center it into the canvas with a transparent border roughly 1 inch for each side. (We will modify it as needed.)
  • Duplicate this layer twice so that you have three separate layers of this smaller picture (in the Layer palette, right-click and choose 'Duplicate' from the pop-up menu, doing this twice.)
 


Layer Visibility Off

Deformed Flag on Left

Next, we will deform one of the flags. (Keep in mind that you may have to tweak the image at various times to get the correct perspective.)

  • Turn off two of the three duplicated layers (click on the eye icon in the Layers palette for the layer to turn off).
  • Make sure the layer with the picture showing is the active layer.
  • With the Control key pressed, grab the top left handle and drag down until the edge of the flag picture is about 1 inch high.
  • Grab the right-side middle handle and drag it in towards the center to reduce its width to about 1/2 of the image.
  • Move the picture to the left very close to the edge of the canvas for now (grab in the center of the picture and drag to the left).
 
Layer Visibility On

Center Flag

Next we will change the perspective of the main picture and line it up with the deformed picture on the left.

  • Turn on another layer of the picture. That layer now should be highlighted and the deform rectangle should be around it. If not, click on the layer in the Layers palette to highlight it.
  • Grab the right-side middle handle and drag in until the picture is about two inches wide. Move it to the right to have a small area of transparency showing between the two pictures of the flag.
 


Layer Visibility On



Right Flag

Now we will deform the third picture and create a mirror image of the first one we deformed.

  • Turn on the third layer of the picture. That layer now should be highlighted and the deform rectangle should be around it. If not, click on the layer in the Layers palette to highlight it.
  • First move it all the way to the left.
  • Grab the left-side middle handle and drag it all the way to the right. This action will make a mirror image of the flag picture.
  • Now, grab the top right handle of the mirrored flag image using the Control key and drag it down until that side is about 1 inch high.
  • Grab the right middle handle and drag left into the center of the canvas.
  • Move this image to the right, leaving a little space between the center flag and the right flag.
 





All Three Flags

We will now tweak our three flags. You will need to highlight the left and the right flag layers and tweak them so that, by eye balling, they appear the same size but are mirror images of one another. Also, you want the spacing between them and the center picture to also be the same.

  • Highlight either the left or the right flag layer. Use the Control key and drag the deformed side again to make it about 1 inch high. Then drag that side middle handle in to make the picture more narrow and more sharply angled in its perspective.
  • Alternate between the right and left flags until you are satisfied.
  • To easily set the spacing, highlight the layer to move. Use the Shift plus Arrow keys (usually the left or right keys for this picture) to make the spacing between it and the center picture the same as with the other deformed flag.
  • This technique of using the Shift plus Arrow keys to move a deform rectangle is a great way to easily refine position of an object.
 
Move Tool

New Raster Layer     Flood Fill Tool



Background added

Once you are satisfied with the perspectives of the three flags, you want to merge them into a single layer. If you have more than three layers, make sure only those three are visible and one of them is active. Then go to Layers || Merge || Merge Visible or right-click on the active layer in the Layers palette and choose 'Merge || Merge Visible' from the pop-up menu. Then move the image to center it into the canvas.

Create a new bottom layer. The new layer most likely will appear above the merged layers, so drag it down to the bottom in the Layers palette or go to Layers || Arrange || Move Down (if the new layer is highlighted and to move down) or to Layers || Arrange || Move Up (if the merged layer is highlighted and to be moved up). One could also right-click on the layer in the Layers palette and choose 'Arrange || Move Down' or Arrange || Move Up' from the pop-up menu as needed.

Flood-fill that new layer with a color, gradient or pattern of your choice. I used the "Duotone light blue" gradient for my illustration.

 
Perspective Shadow Added

In a later tutorial on shadow effects and exploring 3D images I will also show you how to create a perspective shadow using the Deform tool. The illustration on the left uses that technique to create a shadow that enhances the 3D appearance of the flag image.

Briefly, the technique involves duplicating the image, setting it to all black using Adjust || Brightness and Contrast || Brightness/Contrast and setting the Brightness value to -255. Then using the Deform tool, one reduces the size of the image, in this case I grabbed the top middle handle and made a very short black image below the main image and then moved it up just a bit. Then I used Adjust || Blur || Gaussian Blur at a value of 40. If needed I would also lower the opacity of that layer. Then the layer is dragged below the other layer in the Layers palette.

 
3D Flag Picture

Final Comments

The Deform tool has a number of options one can use to create various perspective images that will give the image a 3D look. Take time to explore the various options as ways to deform an object. We have only worked with deforming a full picture. Once could also set a selection and then deform it.

In this final illustration, I mainly used the Deform tool. I first added a frame to the picture, then deformed it. Then erasing the background around the flag, I used the flag as a new layer. I tweaked both using the deform tool. When done, I duplicated the flag image and used the Deform tool with the Adjust-Brightness technique briefly outlined above to create a shadow over the deformed frame picture. I finished up using a mask to create a neat look. (We will cover these techniques in subsequent tutorials.)

Enjoy.