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Lesson 4: Improved Vector Handling

Advanced Adobe Photoshop Tutorials

Table of Contents

New Type Tool

In this lesson, we're discussing Photoshop's improved vector handling capabilities, including a new Type tool that doesn't rely on the previous version's annoying and constricting Type dialog box. Those of you familiar with Adobe Illustrator's Type palettes will find yourself at home with Photoshop's improved features. Let's take a look at the Type tool's options. The Options bar holds some of the Type tool's options, such as the Vertical Type tool, Type masks, point size, and color (Figure 4-1). Let's go through each of the items:

Figure 4-1: The Type tool options bar.

Figure 4-1: The Type tool options bar.

  1. Create regular type or a Type mask. A Type mask is a mask, or selection, in the shape of a font.
  2. Set the type horizontally or vertically.
  3. Choose your typeface and style.
  4. Choose the point size for your type.
  5. These are anti-alias options (see sidebar for definition of anti-alias).
  6. None: No anti-aliasing will be applied.
  7. Crisp: Appears to sharpen type.
  8. Strong: Appears to make type bolder.
  9. Smooth: Appears to smooth type.
  10. Choose the alignment of type here: left-justified, centered, or right-justified.
  11. Choose the color of your type.
  12. Warp your type. (We'll discuss this later in the lesson.)
  13. Bring up the Character and Paragraph palettes with this button. I generally like to dock these palettes to my Layers, Channels, and Paths palettes for easy access.

As I said earlier, the Character and Paragraph palettes in Photoshop 6 are the same as those in Adobe Illustrator. Let's briefly touch on these two palettes (Figure 4-2).

Figure 4-2: The Character and Paragraph palettes are similar to those in Adobe Illustrator.

Figure 4-2: The Character and Paragraph palettes are similar to those in Adobe Illustrator.

These palettes allow you greater typographic control than you've ever had before in Photoshop. As in previous versions, you can kern and track (although it's easier in this version), adjust leading, and change color, but now you have increased alignment and indention controls, super and subscript capability, and the option of turning hyphenation on or off.

Note to Photoshop 5.5 users: The type dialog box provides what Adobe calls reeditable type , which means you can go back and change the type without having to redo it. The Type Warp, Character, and Paragraph palettes are new to version 6.

And there's more good news. Do you remember that horrid type dialog box of yesteryear? It's gone. Now you can type directly onscreen without having to go through a dialog box. All you have to do is click with the Type tool anywhere on the canvas and then start typing. (Figure 4-3).

Figure 4-3: To add text to an image, simply click and type.

Figure 4-3: To add text to an image, simply click and type.

When you begin to type, the Options bar will change. You will see two new options, the Cancel and Commit to edits buttons (Figure 4-4).

Figure 4-4: The Cancel and Commit to edits buttons.

Figure 4-4: The Cancel and Commit to edits buttons.

The button with the X will cancel, or delete, any text you've added. While the button with the check mark will set your type and remove the cursor, allowing you to use key commands. While you are in Text Edit mode, quite a few of Photoshop's keyboard shortcuts don't work, such as the single letter shortcuts to choose tools. If you try to access tools this way, you simply type the letter instead of summoning the tool. This may seem obvious, but it takes a couple of tries to get used to this.

Type Warp

People have often asked me whether there is a way to curve type in Photoshop. Before version 6, the answer was yes, but the process was neither quick or easy. One way was to draw a path in Photoshop where you wanted your curved text to appear, and then export that path to Illustrator. Once there, you would use the Type Path tool in Illustrator to create type along the path and then import the curved type back into Photoshop.

Another way was to buy third-party plug-ins designed to do the job. But Photoshop 6 provides a better, easier option.

The new Type Warp feature (Figure 4-1, #8) allows you to avoid most convoluted type warping procedures. There may still be some instances where one or more of these options will be a necessity, but it's a great improvement over previous oferings (Figure 4-5).

Figure 4-5: Four different Type Warp styles.

Figure 4-5: Four different Type Warp styles.

The beauty of this command is that the type is still a vector object that is editable,which means you can add or remove letters; change the point size, kerning or tracking; and even change the baseline shift if you want.

Rasterizing Type

Vector objects are a beautiful thing because they allow you to resize and change as much as you want without degradation of your image and all with a low impact to file size. The downside is that you can't apply filters to vector objects in Photoshop. If you want to apply filters, you must first rasterize , or reduce to pixels, the object you're working with. If you try to apply a filter before rasterizing, you'll see the error message in Figure 4-6.

Figure 4-6: This error message will appear if you try to apply a filter to an editable type layer.

Figure 4-6: This error message will appear if you try to apply a filter to an editable type layer.

If you click OK in the dialog box, Photoshop will turn your type into pixels. Once your type is turned into pixels, it means you can't edit the type using the Character or Paragraph palettes or the Options bar. There are other ways to rasterize your type layer. Choose Layer > Rasterize > Type, control-click (Mac), or right-click (Windows) to bring up a contextual menu, then choose Rasterize Type.

Shape Tools

We briefly covered Shape tools in Lesson 2, but they apply here as well because they're vector objects. The Shape tools and Layer Clipping paths allow you to save raster images with vector images intact. Sounds weird, doesn't it? I thought so too, until I tried it.

Remember from our previous lessons that when you use a Shape tool, you get a Fill layer accompanied by a Layer Clipping path in the Layers palette. (To refresh your memory, a Fill layer is a layer that is filled by a color, pattern or gradient.) While a Layer Clipping path is a vector object, it only shows the fill within its boundaries (Figure 4-7).

Figure 4-7: A shape was drawn with the Custom Shape tool resulting in a Fill layer and Layer Clipping path.

Figure 4-7: A shape was drawn with the Custom Shape tool resulting in a Fill layer and Layer Clipping path.

You can turn the Layer Clipping path off to see what the layer would look like without it by Shift-clicking on the Layer Clipping path thumbnail (Figure 4-8).

Figure 4-8: The Layer Clipping path turned off.

Figure 4-8: The Layer Clipping path turned off.

Because these are vector objects, you can draw more shapes on a Layer Clipping path and they'll remain separate items. That is not the case for raster objects. If you draw more than one raster object on a regular layer, the objects would still become one object. This means that if you moved a vector shape, nothing would happen to a shape it overlapped, whereas if you moved a raster object, it would remove the pixels from any overlapped objects (Figure 4-9).

Figure 4-9: Moving a vector shape doesn't harm underlying shapes but moving a raster object does.

Figure 4-9: Moving a vector shape doesn't harm underlying shapes but moving a raster object does.

Paths Palette

This section will focus on the Paths palette .Hopefully, this discussion will alleviate some of the mystery surrounding the palette. The primary tool associated with this palette is the Pen tool . Many people have problems using this tool, but it can be very easy once you understand its quirks. The Pen tool is located next to the Shape tool in the toolbar (Figure 4-10). Let's discuss two of its options:

Figure 4-10: The Pen tool and two of its options in the Options bar.

Figure 4-10: The Pen tool and two of its options in the Options bar.

  • Create New Shape layer: If you have this option clicked and you draw with the Pen, a Shape layer will be created. (Remember that a Shape layer is composed of a Fill layer and a Layer Clipping path.)
  • Create New Work path: With this option, you will see your path as you draw it, but it will not create a Shape layer. Instead, your Work path will be stored in the Paths palette where it can be saved.

In addition, there are several Pen tools which serve different function (Figure 4-11).

Figure 4-11: The different Pen tools that appear when you click and hold the Pen in the toolbar.

Figure 4-11: The different Pen tools that appear when you click and hold the Pen in the toolbar.

The best way for me to define these tools is by showing you how they work. Below (Figure 4-12) is a straight path with two endpoints, called an open path.

Figure 4-12: An open path has two endpoints.

Figure 4-12: An open path has two endpoints.

I can add a point to the path by using the Add Anchor Point tool. Choose this tool from the toolbar by clicking and holding the Pen tool (see Figure 4-11).

Now, I hold the Add Anchor Point tool over the path and click to add a new point (Figure 4-13). To delete an anchor point, simply hold the Delete Anchor Point tool over the point you would like to delete and click.

Figure 4-13: An Anchor point has been added to the open path.

Figure 4-13: An Anchor point has been added to the open path.

The coolest part about paths is that you can create precise shapes using Bézier curves . These are a collection of formulas named after Frenchman Pierre Bézier, used to describe curved lines. The curve is facilitated by two "handles" attached to an anchor point (Figure 4-14). These handles are composed of direction lines and direction points .

Figure 4-14: Direction lines look like barbells attached to the Anchor point.

Figure 4-14: Direction lines look like barbells attached to the Anchor point.

To draw a curved path without having to add an extra point, begin by clicking with the Pen tool on the canvas. Then move to another place on the canvas and click again, but don't let go of the mouse button . Instead, drag, and the line will curve. The second Anchor point will now have direction lines attached to it. (Figure 4-15).

Figure 4-15: A new curved path.

Figure 4-15: A new curved path.

To continue the path, I simply need to click again on the canvas (Figure 4-16). I want you to notice two things about this path: First, there is only one direction line for the middle Anchor point now, and it goes in the same direction as the next curve. Second, there is a new Anchor point with two new handles.

Figure 4-16: A new point and curve has been added to the path.

Figure 4-16: A new point and curve has been added to the path.

I can adjust the direction of the curve (Figure 4-17) by clicking on a direction point and dragging with the Direct Selection tool (white arrow).

Figure 4-17: The same path has been adjusted by moving a direction line.

Figure 4-17: The same path has been adjusted by moving a direction line.

The last tool we're going to talk about in this lesson is the Convert Point tool. If you have a point with direction lines, use this tool to convert it to a point without any direction, and vice versa (Figure 4-18). Simply place this tool over any point you want to convert, click and drag. Easy as pie!

Figure 4-18: Before: An open path. After: The Convert Point tool converted the straight path into a curve.

Figure 4-18: Before: An open path. After: The Convert Point tool converted the straight path into a curve.

The Paths palette stores different kinds of paths. You will even see your Layer Clipping path here (Figure 4-19). Let's talk about some of the paths that can be stored:

Figure 4-19: The Paths palettes stores all kinds of paths.

Figure 4-19: The Paths palettes stores all kinds of paths.

  • Saved path: This path has been drawn with the Pen tool and then saved for further use. To save, use the dropdown menu (triangle in upper right-hand corner).
  • Clipping path: A Clipping path removes the image from its background in much the same way a Layer Clipping path hides the layer outside its bounds. You use clipping paths when you want to isolate an image from its background for use in vector and page layout programs (such as Adobe Illustrator and Quark Xpress).
  • Work path: A Work path is a path that has been drawn with the Pen tool but has not been saved. These paths must be saved if you want to keep them, otherwise beginning a new path replace it.
  • Shape 1 Clipping path: This is simply a Layer Clipping path shown in the Paths palette.

In the next lesson, we're going to take what we've learned so far and have some fun. We'll talk about cast and drop shadows. I'll cover how to create awesome effects with type and spice up logos. Also, we'll be talking about colorizing line art and turning a page. There is a lot to look forward to, but don't forget to do your quiz and assignment for this lesson so you will be ready to move on!

Other Resources

Try Real World Photoshop 6: Industrial Strength Production Techniques by David Blatner and Bruce Fraser.

If you're looking for something a little less advanced, try Photoshop 6 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas.

Also, check out these sites:

www.photoshopuser.com -- Become a member!
www.planetphotoshop.com -- Contains resources and tutorials
www.designsbymark.com -- Tutorials and tips gurus.onlinedesignschool.com -- Tutorials and tips

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