photoshop creative

Create block animals

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
December 13, 2017

Have fun pushing pixels around to make this cute cuboid gerbil

1. Open the start image

Open your animal image. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+J to duplicate the background layer, in order to preserve a copy. Go to Filter>Liquify (or press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+X) and select the Forward Warp Tool. Choose a Brush Size of around 400, Brush Density: 16, Brush Pressure: 100 and Brush Rate: 20.

2. Straighten the back

Start to click and drag along the left edge of the gerbil’s body to manipulate it into a straight edge. Using a larger brush size creates a more natural result and prevents the fur projecting over the edges from being compressed.

3. Create corners and edges

Create a diagonal edge at the top of the gerbil’s back, leading towards his ear. Use a smaller brush size (around 80) to create a sharper corner at the top of his back. Flatten the top of the head.

4. Edit the leg

On the right leg, create a flattened edge along the bottom, with a corner each side, dragging outwards with a large brush size, then refining the corners with a smaller size. Flatten and straighten the underneath of the gerbil’s body.

5. Now the other leg

On the left leg, create a 3D cuboid shape, remembering to use a fairly large brush size (around 150) to prevent the edge becoming compressed and losing the soft blurred appearance. A smaller brush (eg 60) can be used to sharpen the corners.

6. Apply a Freeze Mask

To preserve the progress made so far, select the Freeze Mask Tool within the Liquify filter and apply a mask over the straightened edges of the gerbil, and also over his paws as we want to leave these unchanged.

7. Cheeks and arms

Switch back to the Forward Warp Tool, drag his cheek down and left and create more of a squared shape. Alter his arm to create a sharper right-angled point at the elbow, then a straight edge along the bottom and up the left side of the arm.

8. Extend the Freeze Mask

Once you are happy with these areas, paint over them with the Freeze Mask Tool to preserve them, then also apply the Freeze Mask to the whiskers on the right side to prevent them from becoming distorted.

9. Edit the nose

Switch back to the Forward Warp Tool. Straighten the edges of the bridge of the gerbil’s nose, and straighten the underneath of his mouth. Reduce the brush size so you have the necessary control to turn the pink tip of his nose into a square.

10. Create a rectangular ear

With the Freeze Mask preserving the straight edge of the gerbil’s back, use the Forward Warp Tool on the left ear to create a rectangular shape. Zoom in to tidy and straighten the edges, and adjust the fur within the ear so it maintains a natural curved shape.

11. Tweak the other ear

For the right ear, think of it as a similar 3D shape to the left ear, but angling away from the viewer. Create a diagonal top edge, then a straight vertical edge on the right.

12. Now for the eyes

Apply the Freeze Mask on an area around the eye, then use the Forward Warp Tool to create a square-shaped eye. Use a small brush size to make the corners and edges sharp. Also straighten the light and shadows within the eye. Flatten the right eye.

13. Feet and tail

Slightly straighten the edges of the feet and toes, but take care not to create edges or corners that are too sharp, as this will contrast unnaturally with their blurriness. Straighten the tail, working your way along it gradually, and square off the tip.

14. Add a shadow layer

Add a new layer at the top of the layer stack, name it Shadows, set the blending mode to Multiply and layer Opacity to 30%. Use a Soft Round Brush with R: 80 G: 47 B: 25 to paint in shadows beneath the gerbil.

15. Angular shadows

Keep the shadows angular with straight edges to match the gerbil’s new body shape. To create a straight line, hold down Shift while left-clicking at the start and then the end point of your line.

16. Some shading

Reduce the brush Opacity to 30% and apply some faint shading underneath parts of the gerbil that would project and cast a shadow, for example, beneath his arms and chin. Keep these shadows subtle, and again apply them with straight edges to match the form of the gerbil.

17. Finishing touches

Check your image over and make any final tweaks or edits with the Liquify filter. Finally, give your image a boost by adding a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer at the top of the layer stack. Set the Brightness to +7 and Contrast to +3.