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Capes! by B - Part 3

By Blazej Szpakowicz     January 03, 2006

Part 3: The Last Details

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Okay, so let's continue. If you want the cape to really look 3D, you should have it foldingover itself at the edges. Here's a diagram, in case the words alone made no sense:

Got it? Ok. Let's once again commune with our friendly neighbourhood pen tool. Make a pair ofpaths sort of like the folded over edge in the diagram:

Next, make a new layer, call it, say, "cape 2"(how original!) then fill the path with some grey. Now, it's back to the old dodge and burntools. The edges of the cape are close to camera, so they shouldbe brighter. Dodge the inside edges, leave the outside edges (which are curving away from the viewer)darker. Burn them, if necessary. You'll end up with something like this:

Hmmm. It's pretty good, but there's something wrong with this picture... oh, right!We need the cape edges to cast some shadows on the material below...

...and yet again, there's several ways to make shadows. (I should copyright that phrase!) The easyway is to just use the burn tool on those parts of the cape. But there's a few problemsthat may arise if you do that (more on those below), so instead, let me show you myfavourite method for shadows... it's not exactly necessary for this, but if you want to make tinyshadows under a character's costume to make it look like they're actually wearing something otherthan just bodypaint, I find this is one of the best ways to do that. So consider this a free lessonin a useful technique.

Make a new layer under the "cape 2" layer, let's call it "shadows". Select the cape edges youjust created by going to the layers window and doing a control-click (-click on Macs) onthe "cape 2" layer. Now, making sure you're on the "shadows" layer, use the paint bucket to fillthe selection with black. Do a gaussian blur (no relation to a matrix blur). Set it to...well, however much you want, really. Iused 5%. You can get away with a pretty high amount of blur in this particular case, though ifyou were doing drop-shadows from clothing, which is right on top of the skin, you'd want tostay very low, below 1%. Try it sometime and see, it's fun for all the family! Uh... but let'sfinish the tutorial first! What we now have is a blurred black blob (alliteration!) the sameapproximate shape as the edges of the cape. Conveniently, the bits that blur into the body ofthe cape are perfectly placed to serve as a shadow. Set the "shadows" layer to multiply.Now, you'll note some ugly blurring aroundthe outside of the cape. Select the back of the cape by control-clicking on the "cape" layer.Invert the selection then hit delete. There, much better. Now, if you turn on the layerwith Natasha, you'll see she's not casting a shadow either.So, repeat the shadow technique to make her shadow show on up the cape... it's exactly the sameprocedure as described in this paragraph, only using the layer with Natasha on it in placeof the "cape 2" layer to provide the basic shape of the shadow.

If you're not happy with the way the shadow looks, BTW, you can smudge or erase parts of itto adjust the amount of shadow in various spots, say to decrease the amount of shadow on the hills ofthe cape, or to increase it on the valleys. I took a bit of time to do that, and repeated theprocess on the shadow from the cape's edges. And in case you've been wondering all this time whyI didn't just D&B the"cape" layer directly... As I said, there's a very good reason. (Well, I think it's a verygood reason, anyway!)If you add the shadows on a new layer and then screw up, you can change them more easily. If you'reworking on your original cape layer... well, hopefully you don't have to undo too far back.

Anyway, here's my final version of the back part of the cape, with shadows:

Well, it looks fine, except for the whole look-there's-a-cape-randomly-floating-behind-her thing.Let's add a bit of cape around her neck/shoulders area to make it look like she's actually,you know, wearing the thing.

Make a new layer on top of Natasha, call it (imaginatively) "cape top." Now, back to the pen toolagain... make a path something like the following:

Fill it with grey, as before. Now, as with the back, the top of the cape has peaks and valleys.Pretty obvious ones, in this case. Once again, the peaks need to be brightened, and the valleysneed to be darkened. So, let's get our old friends Messers Dodge & Burn to help. I won'tbore you with the details this time, I think you should know the drill by now! Youthen need to add a shadow from the top of the cape on Natasha. Since this tutorial is alreadytoo long, I'll again skip the messy details. Just do the above procedure for shadows yet again.Here's the result:

Yay, we have cape! Sure, we're now wishing we'd cleaned up Bra and Panties Woman before making it,cause the poor picture quality is really starting to show, but we have cape! What's that,you don't want a grey cape? Well, that's easy enough... merge the four cape layers behind Natasha,then, separately, the two above her, then apply your colour change method of choice (I suggest colorbalance, which gives you the most control) to each layer. For those who aren't aware of it,holding down alt (option on Macs) when you open the dialog box for anadjustment will automatically give you the same values you used last time you applied that adjustment,which saves time on matching colours. I'll go for red, since we were talking about Superman'scape way back when:

And that, as they say, is that. This is by no means the only way to do capes, of course. Stay tuned to the Art School for an alternate method using the displacement technique,courtesy of Dan Perceful. Even if you just stick to the method I've described here,there's a lot of possible variation depending on what type of cape you're going for. So, what Ishow you above is great for a cape fluttering heroically (or villainously, if you're doing Magneto)in the air, but if you want to have your cape just sort of limply hanging there, you have to changethings up a bit. If you want to have a thinner cape, like in that image by darthbakpao, then againyou have to make a few alterations in how you use the dodge and burn tools. Still, thebasic technique is almost always applicable to any type of cape you may want to create, as wellas to other costume elements that involve hanging fabric, like Blink's leotard/loincloth thing.Just play around, experiment a bit with different brushes and different levels of contrast, andwith experience, you'll be able to figure out exactly what to do for a particular image.

And if you have any questions, concerns, comment, or cheques,feel free to drop me a line at zek@site.uottawa.ca, orto send me a Private Message using the built-in messaging system in the forums.Cheers, all!

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