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> Mdc - The Complete Guide, Tutorials tips tricks and more
post Jun 24 2011, 11:40 AM
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Introduction to the MDC

(IMG:style_emoticons/default/wow.gif) Exciting News (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wow.gif)

On the first weekend of July 2011 we will be launching a new Monthly Design Challenge (MDC).
The MDC will be for Photoshop Elements/Photoshop Creative Studio or GIMP users only – no other software allowed.
Every month we will be giving you a topic and you will have to create something from scratch, using only the tools & techniques available to the PS & GIMP software. That includes resources like custom shapes & brushes.

How will it work?

The challenge will work more or less the same as the normal weekly challenges. We will give you a topic and you will have to create everything from start to finish. Most of the topics will focus on making M9 Gifts, but we won’t let you get bored so there will be many other topics also (like making mascots for the M9 competitions and social groups).
Each topic will end on the last Sunday of the month and the next topic will be announced at the same time. Voting will start soon after the close of each topic.

What else is different in the MDC?

A new feature of the MDC will be that participants will be allowed to enter more than once in the same challenge! That means if you made 2 or 3 entries you can enter them all individually (as separate entries) and you can end up winning 1st, 2nd & 3rd place in one challenge!! Because of this new future you will have to give your entry a unique name and voting will be for that name (not for the person’s user name).
Another new feature: If your creation does not win or get used you will be allowed to enter it again in another challenge. So for example if you made something for July you can tweak/improve/change it and enter it again in September. But of course if your entry won or got used you should not use it again.

How do I make something from scratch?

The answer in short: read/view lots & lots of tutorials. It takes a little time but once you’ve created something unique all on your own, you’ll be so proud and happy that you did! Make sure you know how to use the tools of your software. For example make sure you know all the functions/uses of the Pen Tool by reading a thorough tutorial like this one by Melissa Evans: http://www.melissaevans.com/tutorials/how-...oshops-pen-tool (Don’t miss the part at end were she explains how to make your own custom shapes.)
Reduce things for yourself into simple shapes. You don’t need a lot of complicated shapes and tools to create your entry. Take a look at this animal icon set http://www.iconarchive.com/show/animal-ico...tin-berube.html Do you see how he made a large variety of animals by breaking up each body part into (mostly) very simple shapes?

Here is an example M9 gift I made – a little Giraffe Toy: (IMG:http://i1195.photobucket.com/albums/aa398/EricMMann/giraffe-toy-animal-small.png)
The whole thing was created with 4 simple shapes.
The body is the default Raindrop custom shape
The top/tip of the horns is the default Flower 1 custom shape
The marks/spots on the body is the default Blob 1 custom shape
And the rest of the image (head, eyes, ears, horns & legs) are the normal Ellipse Tool.
Incredible isn’t it? Just 4 shapes! And that’s because the end result will only be seen in such small dimensions so you won’t have to worry about a lot of little details.

If you look here at the original size I created it in, you will see that it doesn’t looks so great (IMG:style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif)
But as you saw above when it’s scaled down to the 48x48px we use for M9 gifts it looks perfectly acceptable:


I almost forgot – before you start making something it’s probably I good idea to find some image that you can use as a reference.
For the giraffe toy I used this image of a handmade giraffe plushy as reference.


Some more examples, tips, links and downloads below (IMG:style_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif)
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post Jun 24 2011, 12:02 PM
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For the first MDC we will be creating a mascot. What is a mascot? There are 2 well known mascots in use on M9. The first of course is Cube the site mascot & the other is the MiniDJ mascot used by Masters of Sound (MOS).




Another well known mascot wood be Andy for Android phones:


I’m going to use the RC as an example of 2 different types of mascots you can make.
Keep in mind that (unlike the M9 gifts) the image should look good in big & small dimensions.
Here is the two possible examples of mascots for the RC (small view).
The first is a simple black and white image in the same style as the MOS MiniDJ and the second is a slightly more complicated color mascot.

We’ll call the little fuzzy black & white mascot MegaWatt and the songbird we’ll just call RoC
(IMG:http://i1195.photobucket.com/albums/aa398/EricMMann/Fuzzy-mascot-smal.png) (IMG:http://i1195.photobucket.com/albums/aa398/EricMMann/Bird-Mascot-small.png)

You can download the psd files here:

MegaWatt Download Link

RoC Download Link

Giraffe toy animal Download Link

You can have a look at the psd’s to learn how they were made.
I will give some general explanations of how some parts were made, but you should have a close look at the Layer Styles (Blending options) market with a fx .
I’m not going to explain them since no 2 images will ever have the same Layer Styles.
However it is very important that you learn how to use them if you want to make a good color mascot. Play around with the Styles I used to see what happens when you change them (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)

This post has been edited by CrazEric: Jun 24 2011, 11:30 PM
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post Jun 24 2011, 12:06 PM
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Okay let’s look at how I made MegaWatt.

There’s not much to say about it since it’s a simple 2 dimensional black and white image.
So this is not a tutorial just an explanation in broad terms.

I started with the fuzzy body.
This is from a custom shape set called Flash Line Shapes (mangaflashline) download here Link
And just delete the big flash lines on the sides. (you can also make your own with the Pen tool)

Now I add the 2 white eyes using the Ellipse Tool using different sizes to give it a little personality.
In the same way I now make the 2 small black eye pupils over the white of the eyes

Once again using the Ellipse tool I make two circular shapes for the headphones/earphones.
But this time I use the Move Tool to panel beat (adjust the width &height) them into a more acceptable oval shape and to move and rotate them into the right place.
Do the same on the other side or just duplicate the layers and flip them horizontally (menu: Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal) and move them into the right place again.

Lastly we make the sound waves/spikes with the pen tool. Since they are straight lines it should be easy enough to make.
Select the Pen Tool (check that it’s set to the Paths icon on top) and click a simple zigzag pattern to create the sound waves/spikes.
Once you complete the path back at the first anchor point just click somewhere inside the image area and choose Make Selection from the menu (you may have to Inverse the selection with Shift+Ctrl+I) and then fill it with black using the Paint Bucket Tool. Repeat this on the other side & you’re done!

MegaWatt is born:

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post Jun 24 2011, 12:17 PM
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Now let’s have a look at how the bird mascot RoC was made.

I create a new file (width 800px and height 800px)
Set 2 guidelines to find the center of your canvas: View – New Guide and type in the Position 50 % (do this for both the horizontal & vertical orientation)

Part 1: The Body

1.1 Choose your Ellipse Tool make sure that you have the Ellipse option set to From Center and if you want a perfect circle change the option from Unconstrained to Circle.
Now start your circle at the middle where the 2 guide lines cross and draw the circle to whatever size you want it – just make sure you leave enough open space for the wings, headphones and feet.


1.2 Duplicate the layer and hide the original layer. Now working on the duplicate/copy layer we will change the oval (circle) shape a little. Go to Edit – Transform Path – Warp (make sure you don’t have the Move tool selected before doing this). A block grid will now show over your circle – pull the left bottom corner down and to the left a little and then pull the bottom right corner down and to the right a little until you have a shape you like. Just click on any other tool (like Brush for example) and choose Apply when prompted to apply the transformation. Now you have a more interesting shape than just the plain round circle for your birds body. (This same technique can also be used to create other interesting and more complex body shapes.)


1.3 Now right click on the Layer Thump and choose Rasterize Layer.


1.4 On a new layer use the Pen tool to create a path for the little bit of crest (hair) on the head (the same way we did the sound waves/spikes for MegaWatt) fill it with black again. Right click on the crest/hair thump (in the layers window) and choose Merge Down to merge it with the body layer copy.


1.5 Now we’re going to add color and shade to this layer with the fx Add a layer style option. I’m not going to describe this – the possibilities are endless. Take a look at the psd the layer called: Shape 1 body copy. I used 2 effects – Gradient Overlay and Inner Shadow. Just double click on it to look at the settings I used for them. You can use any color gradient of course instead of the green I used. Take care with the Inner Shadow effect that your Blend Mode is set to: Multiply.


1.6 To finish off our body we’re going to create a new layer for the gloss/reflection at the top of RoC’s head .
This time instead of the Ellipse Tool we will use the Ellipse Marque Tool. Create a new layer (mine is called top gloss in the psd). Choose the Ellipse Marque Tool and make sure the New selection icon is selected at the top.


Make a big circular selection somewhere at the top of the head then on the menu go to Select – Transform Selection. Now you can move the selection into the right place on the head and at the same time adjust the height or width to the size you want it. Click on any other tool (like Brush tool) and choose Apply when prompted. Now we’re going to fill the selection with a white to transparent gradient. Choose the Gradient Tool and the current gradient will appear in a block at the top left part of your screen. You will probably have a white to transparent gradient as 1 of the pre-loaded gradients. Apply this gradient from the top to the bottom of your selection.


Sidetrack: If you don’t have a white to transparent gradient.
Choose any (2 color) gradient and change the settings: click on the gradient – a Gradient Editor box will pop up. Click the bottom left tab and set it to white (#ffffff) and the same with the bottom right tab – now click on the top right tab and change the Opacity from 100% to 0% and click OK. Now you will have a white to transparent gradient.


Part 2: The Eyes

2.1 On a new layer use the Ellipse Marque tool to make an oval selection for the outer part of the eye. (on the menu you can go to Select – Transform Selection again to move the selection into the right place or make it bigger/smaller/wider/narrower or rotate it). Use the Gradient Tool and apply your gradient top to bottom of the selection. Since I used green for the body I used a similar darker green to a lighter green as my gradient (see the layer called outer eye in the psd). Do the same for the other eye or simply duplicate the first layer and move it into position.


2.2 On a new layer we create the white of the eye with the Ellipse Marque Tool the same way we did just now for the outer eye. This time we just fill the whole selection with white instead of using a gradient. Now we choose the fx Add Layer style option to add the Effect: Inner Glow (see the layer called eye white left in the psd). You can play around with the setting – just make sure you have the Blend Mode : Multiply. On a new layer do the same for the other eye. Now we add a reflection/gloss at the top of each eye again – the same way we added it to the body – using the Ellipse Marque Tool and a white to transparent gradient.


2.3 No we make the black pupils of the eyes on a new layer. This time I used the Ellipse Tool to make the shape and apply some fx Layer styles (Effects: Inner Shadow/Inner Glow/Color Overlay/Gradient Overlay) but you can just leave it plain black if you want. Duplicate the layer and move it to the other eye also. Now we will add a reflection/gloss to the pupils again the same way we did with the body and the whites of the eyes – Ellipse Marque Tool and fill it with a white to transparent gradient.


Part 3: The Beak (nose) and Feet

3.1 On a new layer we use the Polygon Tool to create the beak/nose shape. Choose the Polygon Tool and at the top (below the menu) there will now be a block called Sides. By default it will usually show 10 – we will just change that to 3 sides for the beak. From the Polygon Options tab we choose: Smooth Corners (otherwise you will get a sharp triangle shape).
Now just draw your beak by left clicking on your mouse and pulling outward somewhere below the eyes. You can rotate the angle as you are drawing it (before you let go of the mouse). Use the Move tool to place it in the right spot or if you want to adjust the size and angle some more.


3.2 Now you can color it using some fx Layer style Effects. If you look at the layer called Shape 2 nose in the psd you can see how I used the Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss & Gradient Overlay effects.

3.3 On new layers we create the two feet in exactly the same way simply by creating the shapes a little bigger and wider and rotating them. Use the same Layer style effects that you used for the beak and just make some small adjustments to the size of the Bevel and Inner Glow effects.
Useful Tip: You can right click on the layer thumb (in the Layers window) of the beak/nose layer and choose Copy Layer Style – then right click on 1 of the feet layer thumbs and choose Paste Layer Style.


Part 4: The Wings

4.1 On a new layer we use the Ellipse Marque Tool shape to draw a (long) oval shape. Right click on the layer in the Layers window and choose Rasterize Layer. Duplicate this layer and use the Move tool to rotate the copy a little to the left and make it just a little bit smaller than the first one. Make another copy and move this one to the left side. Now we merge all 3 these layers into 1 layer for the wing.


4.2 Apply the same fx Layer Styles you used for the body to the wings. Move the layer down so it will be below the body layer. Simply click and hold the wing layer thumb (in the layers window) and drag it down to below the body layer). Use the move tool to place & rotate it in the right position partly behind the body.


4.3 Simply duplicate this wing layer and flip it horizontally (menu: Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal) and move it to the other side of the body.

Part 5: The Headphones

5.1 I don’t know how useful this will be since my headphones didn’t turn out great but maybe you will find some parts useful. We’ll start with the earpiece. Above the other layers on a new layer we create an oval shape with the Ellipse Marque tool and on another layer above that we create a second one that’s got a slightly rounder oval shape. Now go back to the first oval and use the Warp tool to make it into a kind of kidney or bean shape (menu: Edit – Transform – Warp). Simply use the mouse to drag one of the sides inwards and make little adjustments until you’re happy with the shape.
Move and rotate the shape into a position that will look like it covers the bird’s ear. Move the second oval over this kidney/bean shape to complete look of the earpiece – size and rotate it till it looks right.


5.2 To give them a 3 dimensional look you can apply some reflections like you did with the eyes or you can duplicate the 2 layers – rasterize and merge them into 1 layer and apply some Layer Styles. There’s no right or wrong way and I didn’t have much success with them so you can do your own thing here – if you look at the psd you will see I created the shapes on the layers called Shape 3 HP (the kidney /bean shape) and Shape 4 HP. On the layer called Shape 3 HP light you can see that I merged copies of the 2 layers and applied some layer styles.
Create copies of these layers – flip them horizontally and move them to the other side of the head.

5.3 Now below these earpiece layers we will create the connecting arch piece. Up to now we’ve created all our shapes in the default black but to make it easier to see what you are doing we’ll change the foreground color to some color we haven’t used like purple. Okay so now on a new layer we select our Ellipse Tool with the ellipse options set to Circle and to From Center. Starting at the center point of our image we draw our circle outwards until it reaches the outer edge at the top of the earpieces.


5.4 Now we change the settings of the Ellipse Tool to: Subtract from shape area. Once again starting at the center point of our image we draw outwards until there’s a narrow band left from our previous circle. Let go of the mouse and now the middle part of your circle will be removed.


5.5 Now take the Rectangle Tool with the setting still on Subtract from shape area – change the Rectangle Options to Unconstrained and uncheck the From Centre box. Use the tool to remove the bottom half of the circle.


5.6 Use the Move Tool to move the remaining top half of the circle higher and adjust the sides so they line up with the 2 earpieces.

5.7 Finally because we used a different color to create this shape we’ll apply a layer style with a black Color Overlay (or gradient) and whatever other layer effects you want to use like Bevel or Inner Glow etc.

And there we are – done … we have a RoC star :


For a different perspective you can check out these tutorials:

This is a Coreldraw tutorial but similar to my tutorial for RoC: Link

Tutorial for Tux G1 made with Photoshop CS2: Link

Tutorial for Tux G2 made with Photoshop CS2: Link

This post has been edited by CrazEric: Dec 27 2011, 02:47 AM
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post Jun 25 2011, 07:24 AM
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Some tutorials for GIMP users:

Making something from scratch in GIMP will be a little more difficult.
And getting good, relevant tutorials is almost impossible.

However I found these tutorials from mahvin(dot)com - they are nicely explained for begginers.

Making a ladybug: link

Making a dragonfly: link

Making a bumblebee link

Once you have mastered these tutotials and you are completely familiar with the tools available in GIMP you can start exploring PS tutorials.
You wont have all the same tools available to you, but there's usually some other way to get the same result (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)
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post Dec 27 2011, 02:46 AM
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What you need to know about using the Pen Tool
(video tutorial)

Keybord Shortcuts explained

Ctrl (Cmd) - moving your anchor points
Alt (Option) - convert points
Shift - for horizontal & vertical line

Note: This video is also helpful for those who draw on paper and want to "trace" create shapes using the the drawing as reference.

Alternative video showing Pen Tool techniques to draw a twitter icon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTsRjrdwMyc

Some Twitter Bird Tutorials:











Alternative tutorials:

Penguin Character tutorial



Rupert the Owl tutorial



For those who want to draw their own cartoon like wallpaper backgrounds:




This post has been edited by CrazEric: Jan 2 2012, 06:15 AM
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