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Vector Drawing Techniques

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book (2020 release), authors Faulkner and Chavez cover the differences between bitmap images and vector graphics. You'll then learn to draw straight and curved paths using the Pen tool, save paths, draw and edit shape layers, and more.

Creating a logo with text and a custom shape

Now you’ll create a logo that will overlay the image, using text and a shape layer.

  1. If the rulers aren’t visible, choose View > Rulers to display them.

  2. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) the rulers, and if they are currently displaying in pixels, choose Inches. This document will become a printed postcard, and Inches is an appropriate unit of measure for print.

  3. In the Layers panel, make sure the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer is selected, so that the layer you’re about to create will be added above it.

  4. Select the Horizontal Type tool (horizontal_type.jpg), and, in the options bar, do the following:

    • Choose a bold or heavy typeface from the Font Family pop-up menu. We used Arial Bold.

    • Type 55 pt for the Size, and press Enter or Return.

    • Click the Right Align Text button, because you’ll soon add a graphic element to the left of the text.

    • Click the color swatch and set the text color to white.

  5. Drag the Horizontal Type tool to create a text layer across the bottom of the canvas, inset about half an inch away from the sides and bottom. Ours is about 9 inches wide by 1 inch tall.

  6. Type Citrus Lane Farms to replace the placeholder text, click the Commit button (commit_button.jpg) in the options bar, and leave the text layer selected in the Layers panel.

  7. This font looks better with tighter letter spacing, so in the Character or Properties panel, apply a negative Tracking value; we used −25.

  8. Select the All Caps button (char_allcaps_icon.jpg) in the Type Options group in the Properties panel. If you don’t see this option, scroll down in the Properties panel.

  9. If needed, use the Move tool to reposition the text layer so that it looks better relative to the bottom and right sides. Leave space to the left of the text for a graphic you’re about to add.

Adding a preset shape

When you need a shape such as a symbol or object, one place you can turn to is the Shapes panel, which contains a wide selection of premade graphics. When you add a shape to a document, it becomes a shape layer.

A shape is a vector object drawn using paths, which has two advantages. You can edit it using the same techniques you used to edit the paths you drew earlier in this chapter. Also, like a text layer, a path is resolution-independent, so it will always be as smooth and detailed as the document resolution allows.

You find shapes in the Shapes panel. It’s easy to use, because it works like the other Photoshop panels that contain preset effects, such as the Swatches, Gradients, and Brushes panels: You see small visual previews of each preset, you can organize them in groups (folders), and you can create your own.

  1. Choose Window > Shapes to open the Shapes panel. The Shapes panel includes groups of shape presets.

  2. Expand the Flowers presets group.

  1. Drag the last shape preset, and drop it to the left of the Citrus Lane Farms logo.

The flower shape now appears in the Layers panel. The shape currently has a transform bounding box around it so that you can make adjustments before committing it to the document. And yes, there are some adjustments to be made.

  1. Drag any handle on the shape to resize it to be about 1.5 inches tall.

  2. Drag the flower to position it between the left edge of the document and the Citrus Lane Farms text.

  3. Click the Commit Transform button (commit_button.jpg) in the options bar, or press Enter or Return. The transformation bounding box disappears.

A shape is added using the current fill and stroke settings for shapes, which were the ones set for the practice shape earlier. The flower shape is intended to have a solid yellow fill. That change could not be done while the bounding box was active, but now that it’s been committed to the document, the colors can be changed.

  1. Make sure the flower shape is still selected in the Layers panel.

  2. In the Layers panel, double-click the name of the shape layer, type Flower, and press Return or Enter to rename the layer.

  3. Select any shape tool, such as the Rectangle tool or any tool grouped with it. The options bar now displays settings for shapes.

  4. In the options bar, click the Fill swatch, expand the RGB swatch presets group that appears in the drop-down menu, and click the yellow swatch.

  5. In the options bar, click the Stroke swatch, and set it to No Color. Close the pop-up menu by pressing Enter or Return.

  6. Choose Select > Deselect Layers. Now you can see the flower shape without its path being highlighted.

  7. If needed, use the Move tool to reposition the flower and text, composing them relative to each other as a logo, and relative to the edges of the document.

  8. Save your file.

You’ve combined an image, a color adjustment layer masked with the help of a path you drew by hand, a pre-made shape, and a text layer. The postcard is ready to go!

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