Battle Pug Work Log

For this project, I didn’t start off with a sketch, I wanted to combine this Spartan Helmet statue that we got in Greece. Funny story, we were supposed to go to Athens but there was rioting at the time, so we ended up in Crete. We walked into a store and before I even had a chance to look around, the shopkeeper had wrapped up this spartan helmet and was already ringing me up.

Cool Spartan helmet which stands about 6″.

The Shoot

I did a simple 2-light setup that you see in a lot of sports or athlete photo shoots with lights on the sides of the subject and just ever so slightly behind them. This creates side highlights and a mysterious shadow in the center, depending on the angle of your lights.

Here was Artsy’s take.


I started here, just aligning the helmet, modifying opacity and seeing how well it fit.

Not the best fit….

Next I took a pass at using puppet warp to try and fit the edges of the helmet to Artsy’s tiny little head. This gave me a pug-shaped helmet but the eye sockets didn’t quite work out.

A pug shaped helmet…

I did a little more puppet warping, trying to get the eyes to line up… I really wanted the Pegasus on the sides of the helmet to be visible.

More puppet warp to get the eyes aligned.

Things weren’t really working out as I had planned. I almost decided to throw the towel in here… but I really wanted this photo. I took a break and when I came back I realized that I should leave the top of the helmet alone, stop trying to fit it to her skull. Also, since the front of helmet is flat, her snout should be coming out of the helmet… the fact that it isn’t really breaks the illusion.

I outlined a basic shape for the opening of the helmet and made 2 copies of the helmet. I then applied individual puppet warps for the left and right side to have them match the outline I had just made. In previous attempts, trying to get the left and right sides looking good with a single puppet warp resulted in very stretched pixels in the center.

Now I didn’t have to worry about making 1 puppet warped layer that looked good and unstretched everywhere. I warped each side individually to make the front opening and then blended these 2 warped layers onto the original helmet layer. Finally I was getting somewhere!

Individually warped left/right sides layered on top of unwarped helmet. Still need to blend the eye area on the left.

I was unsure of how to handle her ears, I thought maybe cut them off as if they’re stuffed inside the helmet. In the end, I figured maybe shadows would help me out. After adding shadows, doing some dodge/burn and applying the Aachen LUT from ON1, this was the final image.

Artsy, ready for battle.

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