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Vector Drawing Techniques in Adobe Photoshop CS6

Article Description

Learn how to differentiate between bitmap and vector graphics, draw straight and curved paths using the Pen tool, convert a path to a selection, and convert a selection to a path, save paths, draw and edit shape layers, draw custom shapes, and import and edit a Smart Object from Adobe Illustrator.

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Importing a Smart Object

Smart Objects are layers that you can edit in Photoshop nondestructively; that is, changes you make to the image remain editable and don’t affect the actual image pixels, which are preserved. Regardless of how often you scale, rotate, skew, or otherwise transform a Smart Object, it retains its sharp, precise edges.

You can import vector objects from Adobe Illustrator as Smart Objects. If you edit the original object in Illustrator, the changes will be reflected in the placed Smart Object in your Photoshop image file. You’ll work with a Smart Object now by placing text created in Illustrator into the toy-store poster.

Adding the title

The toy-store name was created in Illustrator. You’ll add it to the poster now.

  1. Select the Move tool (Image) in the Tools panel. Then select the Spaceship layer, and choose File > Place. Navigate to the Lessons/Lesson08 folder, select the Title.ai file, and click Place. Click OK in the Place PDF dialog box that appears.
  2. The Retro Toyz text is added to the middle of the composition, inside a bounding box with adjustable handles. A new layer, Title, appears in the Layers panel.

  3. Drag the Retro Toyz object to the upper left corner of the poster, and then press Shift and drag a corner to make the text object proportionally larger—so that it fills the top portion of the poster, as in the following figure. When you’ve finished, either press Enter or Return, or click the Commit Transform button (Image) in the options bar.

When you commit to the transformation, the layer thumbnail icon changes to reflect that the title layer is a Smart Object.

As with any shape layer or Smart Object, you can continue to edit its size and shape if you’d like. Simply select the layer, choose Edit > Free Transform to access the control handles, and drag to adjust them. Or, select the Move tool (Image), and select Show Transform Controls in the options bar. Then adjust the handles.

Adding a vector mask to a Smart Object

For a fun effect, you’ll turn the center of each letter “O” in the title into a star that matches the cutout you created earlier. You’ll use a vector mask, which you can link to a Smart Object in Photoshop.

  1. Select the Title layer, and then choose Layer > Vector Mask > Reveal All.
  2. Select the Polygon tool (Image), hidden beneath the Custom Shape tool (Image). The options you used earlier to create the star should still be in effect: settings for an 11-sided star with a 50% indent. The Polygon tool holds your settings until you change them again.
  3. Choose Path from the Tool Mode menu in the options bar. Make sure Subtract From Front is still selected from the Path Operations menu. Then select the vector mask thumbnail in the Title layer.
  4. Click in the center of the “O” in “Toyz,” and drag the cursor outward until the star covers the center of the “O.”
  5. Repeat step 4 to add a star in the small “O” in Retro.

Rotating the canvas (OpenGL only)

You’ve been working with the image with “Retro Toyz” at the top of the work area and the ground at the bottom. But if your video card supports OpenGL, you can rotate the work area to draw, type, or position objects from a different perspective. You’ll rotate the view as you add a copyright statement along the side of the image. (If your video card doesn’t support OpenGL, skip this section.)

First, you’ll type the text.

  1. Choose Window > Character to open the Character panel. Select a serif font such as Myriad Pro with a small size such as 10 pt, and set the color to white.
  2. Select the Horizontal Type tool, and then click in the lower left corner of the image. Type Copyright YOUR NAME Productions, substituting your own name.
  3. You want the copyright to run along the left side of the image. You’ll rotate the canvas to make it easier to place.

  4. Select the Rotate View tool (Image), hidden beneath the Hand tool (Image).
  5. Press the Shift key as you drag the tool in an arc to rotate the canvas 90 degrees clockwise. Pressing the Shift key restrains the rotation to 45-degree increments.
  6. Select the Copyright text layer, and then choose Edit > Transform > Rotate 90° CCW.
  7. Use the Move tool to align the text along the top edge of the image, which will be the left edge when it is in its usual position.
  8. Select the Rotate View tool again, and then click Reset View in the options bar.
  9. Choose File > Save to save your work.

Finishing up

As a final step, clean up the Layers panel by deleting your guide template layers.

  1. Make sure that the Copyright, Title, Spaceship, Pattern, Retro Shape, Grass, and Background layers are the only visible layers in the Layers panel.
  2. Choose Delete Hidden Layers from the Layers panel menu, and then click Yes to confirm the deletion.
  3. Choose File > Save to save your work.

Congratulations! You’ve finished the poster. It should look similar to the following image.