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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Shapes and Clipping Paths

Although Chapter 3, "Harnessing the Power of Selections," covers the use of path-making tools, Adobe Systems wants every user to get with the program and start using the power of vector paths in Photoshop, right from Day One. Okay, suppose it's Day Two or Three with you and Photoshop; we are still going to show you the easiest way to start using vector paths. Paths travel under the guise of something called shapes in version 7—these are pre-made paths that you can fill, stroke, base a selection upon, and so forth. And shapes give you a way to get started understanding the relationship between vectors and designs that are filled with pixels. Shapes are a sort of vector container for the bitmap rendering you do in Photoshop.

So without further ado, let's play with some pre-made shapes we've created for you on the CD (they're really cool), and discover the different relationships vector graphics have with Photoshop 7 features.

Building Upon a Simple (But Cool) Shape

Okay, here's a perfect chance to show you a relationship between a vector design and layers in Photoshop. In the steps that follow, you will copy a path from a collection of shapes on the Companion CD, fill it to turn it into the base layer of a clipping group, load the selection, and then pile on some layer effects to create stunning artwork in less than five minutes.

By the way, the shapes you'll see in this section were all taken from the Haxton Logos typefaces on the Companion CD. So if you decide you like creating art using the steps to follow, there's plenty more shapes where these came from.

Here's how to create a shape on a layer from a path shape:

Copying and Using Paths

  1. Open the Shapes.tif image from the Examples/Chap04 folder on the Companion CD.

  2. Although this does not affect the way you use this file, I've filled the vector shapes; so when they are hidden, you can still see the designs I put in this document.

  3. Click the Paths tab of the Layers/Channels/Paths/Tra La La palette, and then click the Shapes by Bouton title. All the paths will appear in the image window.

    Choose the Path Selection tool, and then marquee drag on the train stencil in the Shapes.tif image window, as shown in Figure 4.20.

Figure 4.20Figure 4.20 Technically, all the designs are one big, composite path, because they are stored under one title. The Path Selection tool enables you to select only the train paths from all the rest in the image window.

  1. Press Ctrl()+C to copy the path to the clipboard.

    You can use the Path Selection tool to drag a copy of a path to a different image window, but we don't have a new window yet. Just a tip here.

  2. Create a new image window. Make it 3 inches by 3 inches at 72 pixels/inch, RGB Color mode, and Contents: White. This is a tad larger image window than the train, but you'll be adding special effects to the train, so we'll leave a little elbow room in the new document.

  3. Press Ctrl()+V, and then name the Work Path Train. Double-click the path title to get the Save Path name box. Center the train path in the image window by marquee selecting the train path with the Path Selection tool, and then dragging it.


Scaling and "Nailing" Paths You have the opportunity to scale the train at any time now, which you might want to do if you feel the train is too small or if you played with scale trains as a child, like I did. You marquee select all the paths using the Path Selection tool, press Ctrl()+T, and then hold Shift and drag a corner bounding box away or toward the center of the bounding box. Then press Enter to "nail" the path (make it permanent) or press Esc, and return to the path's original size.

  1. On the Layers palette, create a new layer, leave it as the current editing layer, and press D (default colors); then on the Paths palette, click the Fill path with foreground color icon, as shown in Figure 4.21. Finally, click an empty area of the Paths palette's list area to hide the path. Congratulations! You've just created a shape on a layer that can now be used for a number of things, not the least of which is the base layer for a clipping path.

  2. Save the design as Train.psd in Photoshop's native format, and keep Photoshop open.

Figure 4.21Figure 4.21 Use the Fill path with foreground color icon to give the shape some substance.

Here come the fireworks. Now that you've created a "stencil" of the train on a layer, you can fill this stencil, move it around, and add layer effects to it.

Introducing Clipping Groups

I think within the context that Adobe uses "clipping" in Photoshop, we can consider it the opposite of masking. Instead of everything outside of a selection being opaque, the inside of a shape is a container for whatever you choose.

Clipping groups can be very useful when you have dozens of different patterns, for example, and want to see what they look like on a shirt pattern. You make the shirt pattern the base of a clipping group, and then anything you toss on top of this layer—on different layers—becomes the fill. And you can move the container around and the pattern will travel, too.

Let's walk through the following steps to demonstrate the power of clipping groups.

Creating a Clipping Group

  1. Click the Create new layer button on the Layers palette (it's the folded page icon next to the trash icon). By default, this is named Layer 2.

  2. Choose the Gradient tool from the toolbox. On the Options bar, choose the linear style of filling, and then from the drop-down list of preset gradients, choose the yellow/violet, orange, blue preset. Press Enter (Return) after you click the icon to let Photoshop know you are sincere in your selection.

  3. Drag the Gradient tool from the top to the bottom of the image window. The gradient now covers the train shape.

  4. Hold Alt(Opt) and then click between the two layer titles on the Layers palette. As you can see in Figure 4.22, your cursor turns into a novel design; and after clicking, the top layer is clipped to fill only the train shape. We call the top layer the clipping layer and the train shape the base layer. Heads up for the Note that follows.

    If there were any transparency on the gradient layer, you could add another layer, and it, too, could be viewed only through the portal that the train design has become.

Figure 4.22Figure 4.22 The thumbnail of Layer 2 on the Layers palette has shifted to the right, telling you that you've successfully made the base layer a host for the visual contents of Layer 2.


Fun with Gradients There are three options on the Options bar when the Gradient tool is active, and they're kinda obscure. First, the Reverse checkbox enables you to quickly reverse the order of colors in the current gradient. Dither should be unchecked if you're composing artwork for the web. If you are designing for color printing, you probably should check dither because dithering is noise; and if you add noise to a gradient destined for print, the noise will disguise the banding that inevitably occurs when you move an RGB image to the smaller color space of CMYK printing. Transparency is an option relating to any transparency that might be in a gradient you use or create. Keep this option checked unless you want your gradient to fill 100% of a layer, with no transparent areas.

  1. For fun, click the Layer 1 title (it's underlined now because it is a base layer for a clipping group); and then with the Move tool, move the train around. You will see different areas of the partially concealed gradient layer. Now, click the box in the second column to the left of the thumbnail on the gradient layer (where a paintbrush icon would be if this were the current layer). A chain link appears. and now the base layer and the gradient layer are linked. Try dragging the train around. You'll notice that the contents remain static within the stencil of the train. This happens because the base layer is now linked to the gradient.

  2. For even more fun, let's try something else. First, move the Train.psd image to the top left of the screen so that you can preview the effects as you modify them. Then, choose Layer 1 (the base clipping group layer), and click the "f" icon on the bottom of the Layers palette; then click Bevel and Emboss. Doing this brings up a huge options palette called Layer Style. Drag the Depth slider to about 500% for a default emboss that's really noticeable and deep in shading. Now, click the Drop Shadow title, check the Drop Shadow box, and play with the sliders, as shown in Figure 4.23, until you get a soft but noticeable shadow. Click OK.

    You can add as many effects as you like in this dialog box by clicking the effect title. Only until you click OK are the effects displayed in your image. And even then, you can change your mind and delete them by dragging an effects title into the Layers palette's trash icon.

Figure 4.23Figure 4.23 You can "mix & match" effects to be applied to the target layer using the Layer Styles command.

  1. As you can see in Figure 4.24, you've created something of a mini-masterpiece without even calling on your drawing prowess. Why not save this file to your hard disk, come back to it some other time, and paint the train different colors? You can close the image at any time, but keep Photoshop open.

Figure 4.24Figure 4.24 You do not have to be a born artist to create striking visuals for a web site, a greeting card from an inkjet printer, or whatever. Simply use Adobe's (or Bouton's) preset shapes, and add a few layer effects.

Let me point out here that Adobe ships with 12 (at this writing) Shapes palettes that you access from the Options bar when you choose the Custom Shape tool. Click the down-arrow to the right of the shape icon on the Options palette. Then, click the triangle in a circle in the upper right of the palette, and choose Replace Shapes, a misnomer—the current Shapes palette is simply hidden back in the Presets files folder of your hard disk. To add shapes to an image window, you choose one by double-clicking it (which also closes the palette), and then hold Shift (to constrain proportions) and drag diagonally in the image window. This creates, by Photoshop default, a Vector Mask, similar to a path you create using the Pen tools (covered in Chapter 5, "Working with Channels and Paths"). Although you have to admit that preset shapes are quick to implement, we'll tell you right now that vector masks have special properties we'll cover; and later in the chapter, we'll show you how to create a Custom Shape palette of your own.

Now it's time to take a look at the most simple of paths to create—vector masks. What are they good for? How do you convert them to other types of image objects? You're going to find the following section to be a very integrating experience.

Working with a Vector Mask Layer (Shapes)

A vector mask layer has some nice options for enhancing your work, but at the same time, you'll discover that there are many things you've learned about Photoshop features that are not available to a Shapes layer. For example, changing the color to a gradient within the "container" shapes you create is not possible.

The best way to get a feel for Shapes is to experiment for yourself. The following steps take you on a fairly thorough investigation of these vector masks.


A Shape by Any Other Name... Before we get too far into the game, we need to clear up an ambiguity of terms Adobe has bestowed on the Shapes tool. Technically, only the Shapes Layer tool creates a shape because, hey, that's what it's called, and it produces distinctly different results in an image window than the Paths and the Fill Pixels modes on the Options bar.

All three modes on the toolbar use the Shapes tools, however. I think we can all keep a little more of our hair where it belongs if we accept the term shapes to mean a design that's a result of using any of the Shapes tools, regardless of whether the Shapes tool produces a vector mask, a simple path, or foreground colors in the shape of a checkmark, a speech balloon, or whatever.

Creating a Shapes Layer

  1. Open a new image, choose Photoshop Default Size from the Preset Sizes drop-down in the New dialog box, choose RGB color mode, and choose White as the contents. Press Enter.

  2. Click the foreground color selection box (marked as item 1 in Figure 4.25), and choose a light purple as the color you paint with and the color that will be peeking through the shapes on the Vector Path layer.

  3. Drag the face of the Shape tool on the toolbox, and then choose the Polygon tool (item 2 in Figure 4.25). Immediately, the Options bar sprouts new choices for you to make, and (as of this writing) the far left tool (item 3) is the active shapes mode—called, fairly enough, Shape Layers. Check the following Note for other choices you can make whenever you choose the Shape tool.

Figure 4.25Figure 4.25 When you choose a Shape tool, many options are available to you for creating a shape, its contents, and what is shown in non-path areas.


Paths and Fills for Shapes The other modes for Shape creation are Path creation and Fill Pixels fill modes. If you click the Fill Pixels mode icon, the shapes you drag are plain pixels against the current layer or the background. These modes pop up on the Options bar the moment you choose a Shapes tool. For comparison here (this is a new topic) the Shape Layers tool produces a shape on a new layer when you drag with the tool, and you can turn off the vector outline if you like by clicking the right thumbnail on the new layer.

If you choose the Path icon, every shape you draw will be a vector shape, but it will not clip the layer underneath it, nor will it have a fill.

Once you've thoroughly pored through this chapter and Chapter 5, you might find that the Path mode in combination with Shapes tools is the way to work. For now, we'll keep digging through stuff for you <g>.

Now, after you've created your first shape, the Boolean buttons on the Options bar (subtract from, add to, and so on) will become active. Because we want to draw oodles of shapes, click the Add to shape area icon (item 6 in Figure 4.25). Now, every shape will be on the same layer and will not create a new layer (try managing 47 layers!) when you create your second shape.

  1. Click the Layer Style drop-down list button (item 4 in Figure 4.25), and then click the No Style, international symbol. Now every time you create a polygon, the polygon will simply be foreground purple with no layered effects on it. You can add effects later; you'll see how momentarily.

  2. Start click+dragging in the image window (item 5 in Figure 4.25). You will create polygons of different sizes. If you want to create variations on the polygon, click the Options down button to the right of the Shapes button on the Options bar. Every preset shape (such as the Polygon, the Rounded Corner Rectangle, and so on) has different parameters you can change at any time. For the Polygon, you can turn it into a star, with any degree of sharpness between points. Check it out—item 7 in Figure 4.25 marks the Polygon Options used to create the unusual star in the display.

  3. Stop when you've created about four or five polygons. You will see an unusual thumbnail for this layer on the Layers palette. Paths are shown in miniature in the thumbnail, and the thumbnail looks quite a lot like a layer mask thumbnail (giving you a clue as to what to expect we can do with this layer soon).

  4. Keep the image window open and keep Photoshop open.


Create It Once, Use It Many Times with Presets See the circle around the shape icon in the very upper-left corner in Figure 4.25? That's the Presets button. If you go through the trouble of designing a really neat polygon (such as a purple rounded-edge star) and think you want to use it months from now, save yourself the steps of replicating the effect by clicking the down arrow to expose the Tool Presets palette, clicking the triangle in the circle in the top right, and choosing New Tool Preset. Give the preset an interesting name in the dialog box, and you can recall the tool and its customized options from the palette at any time in the future.

Earlier, we mentioned restrictions on editing a Shapes layer. Let's be a little more positive and explore next what you can do with Shapes layers.

Editing Clipping Path Layer Components

Although you cannot fill a Shape layer with a photograph, pattern, or unique gradient fill, you can edit the container shape using the Direct Selection tool, you can move shapes using the Path Selection tool, and you can add styles. But most importantly, you can change your mind about any of the edits mentioned earlier. Nothing is carved in stone on a Shapes layer until you choose Layer, Rasterize (change to pixels from a vector), and then click Shape.

So let's play a little with some properties of the Shape layer. Um, your image might not look like mine (because we are not the same person), but you will get the general idea of the flexibility of Shapes layers.

Manipulating a Shapes Layer

  1. Make sure that a Shapes tool is chosen (or you won't see a Styles box on the Options bar) and then click the down arrow to the right of the international "no" symbol. This extends the Style palette, which you can see marked as item 1 in Figure 4.26. The palette might seem hidden, but if you click the down arrow to reveal it, and then click the encircled triangle (upper right), you have several more palettes from which to choose. (To replace the current collection, click one, and then click OK.) Glass Buttons produces a neat effect. But don't do that yet. Click Sunset Sky (item 2), and immediately every polygon on that layer turns to multicolor not seen in Figure 4.26 because this darned book is in black and white.

Figure 4.26Figure 4.26 You apply a style to the entire layer. Anything within a path takes on the layer's style.

  1. Click the down triangle to the right of the Shape thumbnail on the Layers palette to display the layer set (item 3 in Figure 4.26).


A Slight Workaround We used the Dodge tool to make this triangle apparent in this figure, because at the time of this writing, the triangle and the Effect symbol are black against Windows Millennium, Windows 2000, and Windows XP Windows Classic interface dark blue. To fix this, you need to right-click the desktop, choose the Appearance tab and in the Scheme drop-down, pick Spruce or Rose.


Routes to the Styles Palette The Options bar is not the only place from which you can access the Styles palette. This palette is grouped with the Colors and Swatches palettes and can be called by choosing Window, Styles. We simply think you don't need this palette out all the time and accessing it from the Options bar is, um, tidier.

Suppose you want to change the style of this layer. You can do so by clicking a new style on the Styles palette. Suppose, on the other hand, that you want to change a component of the Style; this is why we have a drop-down box beneath every Layer title that is a Shapes layer. You double-click, and you're off to change the component upon which you clicked. You also can add a component by clicking the Effects button (the round one with the "f" inside of it) on the bottom of the Layers palette and then choosing a component. And, natch, you can get rid of a style component by dragging its title into the Trash icon at the bottom right of the Layers palette.


Don't Go Changin' By the way, you are affecting only the art in the image window by doing any/all of the above. You are not changing a Style on the Styles palette at all.

In addition to coloring the shape, you also can distort it and move it. In the following steps, you'll see how to rearrange stylized vector paths. That sounds almost scientific, doesn't it?

  1. Click the Direct Selection tool on the toolbox. It might be hidden right now, so hold the Path Selection tool if this is the case, and then choose the direct Selection tool from the tool flyout.

  2. Click any polygon to select it, and then click an anchor point and drag it, as item 4 in Figure 4.26 shows. Notice that regardless of where you relocate a point, the fill extends to accommodate the new shape.

  3. Switch to the Path Selection tool and move a polygon. Surprise! Even though these paths have the same fill were created on the same layer, the Path Selection tool enables you to individually sort these shapes out! And if you want all the shapes to move as one, notice the Combine button on the Options bar. (This change isn't shown in the figure.)

  4. Okay, let's say we're getting bored using the Sunset Sky style for all our polygons. Double-click the solid color thumbnail on the left of the layer title on the Layers palette. When the Color Picker appears, choose a light purple color, and then press Enter (Return) to define this new color. Now, click the international "no" swatch on the Styles palette. Woweeee! Everything inside the shapes is the color of purple you specified.

  5. Now let's say you've grown weary of looking at all the straight edges. Choose the Convert point tool from the Pen tools flyout on the toolbox, and then click+drag on an anchor on one of the polygons. As you can see in Figure 4.27, clipping path layer elements obey the same rules as a regular path. You can move path elements, reposition their anchor points, bend path segments, and even use the Add Point and Delete Point on the clipping paths.

Figure 4.27Figure 4.27 The subpaths in a vector mask (Shapes) layer can be changed using the Pen tools and selection tools.

  1. Click the "f" icon in the bottom left of the Layers palette. Choose Bevel and Emboss from the pop-up list, and then click OK in the Layer Style dialog box to accept the default properties for the embossing. In your own work, you should spend time in this dialog box to fine-tune the effect you want to apply. Feedback for your tuning is immediately shown onscreen; but if you are running less than 800x600 video resolution, the art probably is obscured by the Styles dialog box. The effect also can be seen in a square in the lower right of the dialog box.

  2. Click the "f" icon, and then choose Drop Shadow. Again, click OK in the dialog box to accept the defaults, and you are returned to the image.

  3. This image is pretty dull without a background. Open Ppaper.tif from the Examples/Chap04 folder on the Companion CD.

  4. With the Move tool, drag the title on the Layers palette into the image window with the shapes. Then, drag the title for the background all the way down so that it is beneath the clipping paths layer. Finally, drag the background, if necessary, so that it fills the whole background of the image window (see item 1 in Figure 4.28).

Figure 4.28Figure 4.28 Copy a background to the target image window, move it to the bottom layer, and then convert the vector mask layer to a layer mask.

You also can drag an image in an image window into another image window to copy it, but dragging the title on the Layers palette is sometimes easier—an image window can cover another window, but it will not cover a Photoshop palette.


Copying on Center If you want the contents you are copying from one window to land in the center of a different image window, hold Shift while you drag. This is a particularly nice feature if you want to duplicate the contents of a layer and you want the contents positioned exactly as they are in the original image.

  1. Right-click (Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click) over the path thumbnail on the Layers palette, and then choose Rasterize Vector Mask, as item 2 shows in Figure 4.28. The effect you've created is that the paths no longer exist on the clipping path layer, and it's not a clipping path layer anymore. Now, it's a layer mask.

  2. Choose Layer, Rasterize, and then choose Fill Content. The shapes are no longer linked to the layer fill (the left thumbnail on the Shape title on the Layers palette).

  3. Click the right (the right, the right, not the left!) thumbnail on the title, and then drag it into the trash icon. A dialog box pops up asking whether you want to Apply the mask before removing. Click Apply. You now have your embossed, drop-shadow images on a transparent layer on top of the tapestry background layer.

  4. You can save this image to your hard drive, if you'd like. You can close the Ppaper.tif image at any time, but keep Photoshop open.

Pretty neat, huh? Do you realize that you've created a wonderful design without once picking up the Paintbrush tool? You've been taking full advantage of Photoshop's features, both old and new.

You've turned vector paths filled with styles into an ordinary opaque area on a layer; now it's time to take a shape and turn it into a clipping path.

Using a Shape Layer as a Clipping Path

Read this carefully: there is practically no difference between a shape layer and a clipping path. The only difference is that you assign an image a Clipping Path status through the context menu, and then life is good. The vector mask (found on the left of the three tools when you choose a Shapes button) can be filled with almost anything except photos and can be moved about on its own special layer. Unlike version 6, you will not see the effect of a clipping mask if you try to apply it to an image using the previous version's commands.

With a shape—created by you or anyone else—you can set up a document so that the entire image is one color and a small design area allows the viewer to peek through to the layer underneath. Have you seen travel agency posters of say, the Bahamas, and the word Bahamas has a beach scene peeking through? Same thing—and that's what we came here for.

Here's how to do the trick of "peek through" masking so you can use it in Photoshop or any other program that reads clipping paths.

Inverting and Refining a Shape Layer

  1. Open the Chick.tif image from the Examples/Chap04 folder on the Companion CD. If you click the Paths tab, you will see (as Figure 4.29 shows) that there is already a plain (non-Shapes) outline path around the chick (we saved you the effort, but you should practice using paths, since you learn about them in Chapter 5).

Figure 4.29Figure 4.29 A chick outline path has already been provided for you on the Paths palette.

  1. Click the Chick Path title on the Paths palette, and then click the Load path as a selection icon in the bottom of the Paths palette to select the path. Make the Path Selection tool the active tool. Right-click (Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click) anywhere in the document window, and choose Clipping Path from the context menu (see Figure 4.30). Click OK.

Figure 4.30Figure 4.30 Turn an ordinary path into a clipping path, using the Clipping Path command.

  1. Save the image in TIFF format to your hard disk as Chick.tif.

  2. Open a desktop publishing program or Illustrator, and choose to place the Chick.tif image into a document. In Figure 4.31, we've set up a document that needs a chick hanging out in front of the 3D text. Perfect! The clipping mask hides all the other mess around the chick in the original picture.

Figure 4.31Figure 4.31 Import an image with clipping layer attributes, and you can position the cropped image anywhere.

  1. You can close the host program now without saving (the point's been made in this section), but keep Photoshop open.

Here's a quick tutorial to show you the versatility of paths as they can exist as clipping paths, vector masks, or just plain paths. Suppose that you drew an ordinary path, and you now want the path to be part of a Shapes layer. Additionally, you want an inverted mask—the whole page is colored, and the shape is knocked out of the design. Hard?

Not if you follow these steps:

Designing an Inverted Vector Mask Layer

  1. Open Ocean.tif from the Examples/Chap04 folder on the Companion CD.

  2. Choose the Shapes tool from the toolbox, and then drag the image borders away from the image so that you can "lasso" the entire image with a vector mask.

  3. Choose the Shape Layers tool (item 1 in Figure 4.32). Click the Rectangle Shape tool (item 2), and then choose a deep marine blue by clicking the Color swatch on the Options bar and accessing the color picker.

  4. Drag from upper left to lower right in the image (item 3 in Figure 4.32). Now, and this is an important one, click the Booleans Subtract From tool (item 4). This creates conditions where any path dropped on the Shapes layer will remove a shape through the marine color and expose the underlying ocean.

Figure 4.32Figure 4.32 Photoshop should look like this at this point.

  1. Open the Shapes.tif image, click the Path tab to view the Path palette, and click the Shapes by Bouton title to view the paths. With the Path Selection tool, marquee select the ship's wheel, as shown in Figure 4.33. Press Ctrl()+C to copy this symbol to the clipboard, and then close Shapes.tif.

Figure 4.33Figure 4.33 Copy the wheel shape to the clipboard.

  1. Press Ctrl()+V to paste the wheel into the image. Surprise! Because you chose Subtract From from the Options bar, Photoshop is showing only the subtracted area where the background and the path meet—the wheel drills out a shape from the blue background. You can see ocean within the wheel, as shown in Figure 4.34. But the wheel looks like it was designed for a 4 year old. It needs to be bigger in the design. Oh, what to do? Ya proceed to Step 7!

Figure 4.34Figure 4.34 The Subtract command is terrific for removing shapes from a plain Shapes background and showing the layer underneath.


Putting It All Together with Combine The Combine button on the Options bar is shown in Figure 4.34 for good reason. If you want to reposition a path that has a bunch of subpaths, like the wheel does, clicking Combine enables you to move the design around the canvas using the Path Selection tool. But you must click the Combine button while all the anchor points in the design are highlighted.

If you deselect the shape and decide to move it later, you must use the Direct Selection tool to marquee select all the anchor points in the design and then drag the design around.

  1. Press Ctrl()+T to put the Free Transform box around the shape, and then hold Shift and drag away from the wheel's center using a corner handle (see Figure 4.35).

Figure 4.35Figure 4.35 Press Ctrl()+T to put the Free Transform box around the shape, and then hold Shift and drag away from the wheel's center using a corner handle.

  1. Press Enter to finalize the operation when the wheel is the size you want. Hmm, an emboss effect would really help define the wheel. Click the Effects button on the bottom of the Layers palette, and then choose Bevel and Emboss. Play with the controls, and then take a look at the image by holding the Styles dialog box title bar and moving it out of the way for a moment. When you're happy with the transformation, click OK. The author is happy with Figure 4.36, so he clicked OK, too.

Figure 4.36Figure 4.36 Add any effect you like to the wheel to make it look more pronounced in the composition.

  1. You can save (or not) the Ocean composition. What you've learned about the flexibility and possibilities of vector masks is the real lesson here.


Shortcut Those Anchors (or, Anchors Away!) If the anchors on a path are highlighted, this means that the path—and not other image areas on a layer—is selected. So you can get away with a Ctrl()+A ploy instead of fussing with selecting all the anchors and copying.

Now that I've described how to access the Adobe shapes, let's see how you can create your own collection of preset shapes. Adobe doesn't know what your company wants you to design over and over again, right? And neither do I!

Creating, Saving, and Reusing Shapes

I think you'll design better paths by hand if you read Chapter 5 right now, but the wonderful thing about books is that they are not linear. You can indeed skip over this section, read up on how the Pen tool works, and then come right back here. If you want to use one of Bouton's shapes, that's fine for this section, too. We're not stressing how to design a path here—we're focusing on how to make an existing path easy to reach and modify from within Photoshop.

So get out a path or get out Logo.tif, and we'll begin.

Storing Shapes in Photoshop

  1. Copy Blank.csh from the Examples/Chap04 to your hard disk—then make it the default palette. Do this by choosing the Custom Shape tool and clicking the down arrow to the right of the Shape title on the Options palette. This action extends the palette so that you can click the flyout menu button (top right on the palette) and choose Replace Shapes. Navigate to Blank.csh and select it.

    Note that the author could not create an entirely blank palette, so there is a star on the palette that you can delete after you've added at least one new shape to the palette.

  2. Open either an image with a saved path you created, or open Patio.tif from the Examples/Chap04 folder on the Companion CD. If you're working with the CD design, copy the file to your hard disk and then open it in Photoshop. For those of you who have read Chapter 5 first and are now path gurus, create your design (it can be anything), and then save the file as Patio.tif, the same file stored in the Chap04 folder.

  3. Click the Paths tab to view the Paths palette. You see that two paths have been created; you want Path 1 for this example. Click Path 1 to select it.

  4. Now, as you see in Figure 4.37, choose Edit, Define Custom Shape. Doing this displays the Shape Name dialog box, and you should now name the shape. You're naming the shape because you can customize a shapes collection to be presented to you only by name on a palette.

Figure 4.37Figure 4.37 Create your logo using path tools so that you can make the logo easy to access from a Shapes palette in the future.

  1. Click the Shapes arrow on the Options bar, as shown in Figure 4.38. Wow! Your Patio Perfection logo is right next to the star, and you can click it and use it ad infinitum or ad nauseum!

Figure 4.38Figure 4.38 This is how you grow a palette of your own. By the way, you might want to rename the palette from a folder window when Photoshop is closed to help you remember its contents later.


Adding More Shape(s) to Your Life Now that you know how to add shapes to the Custom Shapes palette, you may want to load even more. You can add some other shapes I've created by clicking the Shapes down-arrow, clicking the flyout button, and choosing Load Shapes. When the dialog box opens, click Logos.csh and click OK. The additional logos are added to your current Shapes palette, and you're good to go.

  1. On the Options bar, the Shape Layer option should still be selected. Hold Shift, and then drag the cursor from the upper left downward in the patio image. Stop before you've reached the chair in the image (see Figure 4.39).

  2. Click the Style button, click the flyout button, choose Glass Buttons from the list and click OK in the confirmation box. Click the shape thumbnail on the Layers palette, and then give the yellow icon a click and amazingly, as shown in Figure 4.39, you now have quite an impressive picture, with special effects and everything!

Figure 4.39Figure 4.39 Create a vector path logo layer using a shape you specified yourself.

  1. Just because we haven't used it in this chapter, click the Type Tool. Choose lemon yellow as the foreground color, choose any "serious" font you like from the Options bar, and complete the logo's "P"s by adding "atio" and "erfection." With the Type Tool active, click near the top "P" and type "atio." Highlight the text and increase or decrease the point size (on the Options bar) until it's sized something like the text you see in Figure 4.40. Change tools to the Move tool (the text is a permanent entry on its own layer and the current layer is the type layer), and move the type until it appears to be centered in the composition. Repeat this process to type "erfection" near the lower "P" (of the logo).

    And yes, this figure is tricked up to show Type tool options instead of showing the Move tool. You've seen the Move tool before!

Figure 4.40Figure 4.40 Hey, you can create slides for presentations easily when you understand what tools are, where they are, and what they can do.

  1. This is a good-looking presentation piece. Save it to your hard disk in Photoshop's PSD format, and you can close it at any time. Keep Photoshop Open.

I would say, "Not bad!" for nine steps. In fact, I will. You did terrific, starting with nothing; and nine steps later, using a little stock art, you've created an attention-getting slide or logo for a company.

By the way, if you want to store a copy of the logo vector path as a regular, normal path that's hard to accidentally delete, (with the Shape layer as the active layer on the Layers palette) double-click the clipping path's title on the Paths list. Name the path, and it's now a saved path in addition to a vector mask.

Wow! How many different ways have we explored paths and shapes? To create a clipping group, to add styles to a path, to fill a path, to turn a Shape into a clipping path...okay, I'm exhausted already.

But not too tired to show you one more way to put a twist into the flexible, indispensable path in Photoshop. Let's see how to create a path based on pixel color or a selection marquee.

Creating a Path from Different Image Properties

This is the "I got to creating images from paths. Now where's the way back?" section of this chapter. There are good tools for auto-creating paths, and there are excellent ways to do it. And we're going to show you both the tools and the methods you need.

First comes the book's shortest set of steps, which you use to add text to an image. Then you click a button to perform tracing.

Here goes:

Making a Work Path from a Selection

  1. Create a new image; size is unimportant. Simply make sure the image is large enough to see, without magnification, in the workspace.

  2. Click the Type tool, and type any character from any font. Because a point is about equal to a pixel, you'd best make this single character 100 points or more (a little more than an inch) so that Photoshop is tracing a shape and not a fly speck.

  3. On the Layers palette, Ctrl()+click the type layer to create a marquee selection of the outline of the character.

  4. On the Paths palette, click the Make Work Path from selection icon, as shown in Figure 4.41, and then press Ctrl()+D to deselect the selection. Yup. It's that simple to auto-create a path from a selection. End of tutorial, but keep the image open for a moment.

Figure 4.41Figure 4.41 There's an icon you click in Photoshop to make any selection into a path (or collection of subpaths). The resulting path is of questionable benefit, though.

To be fair in our analysis of Photoshop's auto-trace feature, you can specify the degree of error (the Tolerance) with which a selection is traced. To access the Tolerance feature, Alt(Opt)+click when you click the Make work path from selection icon.

However, making the Tolerance a smaller value (the default is only two don't get much smaller than that) will not necessarily increase the fidelity of the newly created path, which was shown in Figure 4.41. Do you really want to go with using this path? I'd say not without exporting it to Illustrator and making significant changes. Let's face it—this path is a dud.

Okay, you know by now that we are not going to leave you hanging. There's a new feature in Photoshop that enables you to create a precise path based on text. And the reason why it is so precise is that the method doesn't read what's onscreen. Instead, this method you're going to learn searches the typeface's outline file and creates a path based on sound, solid numbers and geometry.

The following exercise shows how to take any typeface character and turn it into an accurate path outline. (Hint: Symbol fonts will probably be of the most use. Save them to a Shapes palette as you did earlier.)

Using the Create Path Feature

  1. Click the character you created in the last exercise by using the Move tool to select it.

  2. Choose Layer, Type, Create Work Path, or Convert to Shape

  3. That's it! Click the Paths palette tab and save the work Path as a named path, and then save it to your collection of preset shape paths.

After you've saved a path based on the character, you can do all the things you've learned in the rest of this chapter to turn the character path into High Art. Check out the precision with which Photoshop created a path from the type in Figure 4.42.

Figure 4.42Figure 4.42 It takes only two steps to accurately create a path (or group of subpaths) from a typed character.

Is this the end of the paths saga? Hardly; Chapter 5 gets you intimately involved in the creation of paths (we've been providing you with premade examples, and it would be nice if you worked out with the Pen tools!), so you have the option in Photoshop of using the paths of others or your own. If you take away one thing from this section, hopefully it's that paths are a welcome feature in Photoshop, and Adobe keeps making the capability of paths stronger and stronger with every release.

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