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If  Your Guy’s Awry, Try Liquify!

July 21, 2011

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly asked me to do an illustration for a story about serial filers: people who clog the court system by filing hundreds of frivolous lawsuits. Mass Lawyers requested an image of a person hauling large bins of “cases to be filed” up the steps of a courthouse.

I submitted a rough which was approved. But when I submitted the final, the client requested a change. Here’s the original final, scroll down to read more about the problem and how it was solved.illustration for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly showing a man pulling a huge crate of case files up steps of a courthouse prior to filing corresponding lawsuits hoping to make money from the lawsuits

The problem: the serial filer was wearing a suit— which might cause readers to draw a wrong conclusion: that the serial filer was, himself, a lawyer.

Could I change the character to someone wearing slacks, sneakers, and a polo shirt? I could.

(Note: I requested and received an additional fee for this late change, since the client had approved my rough sketch, and had never mentioned that the serial filer character should not be wearing a suit.)

I created a new serial filer character, doing the line drawing by hand, scanning in the drawing, then adding the color in Photoshop. Then I pasted the new character into
my original (layered) Photoshop document. I saw I had two problems: the new serial
filer was too big (compared to the six lawyers on the left), and he was also too static
for someone hauling a load up some steps.

I used Photoshop’s Liquify tool to alter the character’s posture. I then used the Scale
tool to shrink him a bit, proportionately, and the Dodge tool to create a bit of reflected light on his shirt and pants. Here’s a Before and After comparison:

before and after images related to using Photoshop's Liquify tool to change the pose, position, and orientation of man pulling bins of case files up courthouse steps

The Liquify tool (actually categorized as a Filter for some strange reason) is one of Photoshop’s most powerful and underutilized tools. (Most how-to books show it being used to comic effect by distorting people’s faces in photographs.) I find it much easier
to use and control than the Warp tool for altering images.

I won’t go into details here re its use, because Alvaro Guzman has written this very comprehensive tutorial on the Liquify tool. I highly recommend it. I would suggest taking special note of the tool’s Freeze Mask feature which allows you to protect parts
of an image while you are warping other parts. It provides an extra measure of control, and I used it here in altering the serial filer character.

Here’s the revised final, always happy to have your comments and feedback.

illustration for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly showing a man pulling a huge crate of case files up steps of a courthouse prior to filing corresponding lawsuits hoping to make money from the lawsuits

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2011 1:16 PM

    It’s a definite change for the better. The man stands out much more clearly from the other figures and background (as it’s mainly a fixture of greys, blues, whites and lawyers). Also he is, along with the big haul of files, the first thing I see when looking at this illustration, which is overall the main focus of this piece.

    Great work!


    • July 21, 2011 6:54 PM

      A very insightful comment– and knowing your keen eye for design, I’m not surprised… : ) The change certainly did create a much-needed focal point. I remember thinking the original had an unrelieved sameness– too many neutrals, as you so astutely pointed out. I debated giving the original serial filer a green serge suit, but I was afraid the fashion police would be hauling me into court… : )

      A great pleasure having you stop by, and many thanks for your kind and supportive comment!


  2. July 22, 2011 11:47 AM

    I enjoy seeing what your talented mind produces and also think the change provided a focal point. Well done!


    • July 22, 2011 12:34 PM

      My talented mind is delighted you stopped by– and that goes for the rest of me, too! : )

      Many thanks for your support and kind comment.


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