Using Paths, Shapes and Clipping Mask by the Pen Tool – Advanced

HomeTechUsing Paths, Shapes and Clipping Mask by the Pen Tool - Advanced


Working with Shapes

My Tools Town Photoshop provides several tools that help add stylistic elements, such as shapes, to your work. You can add either a shape or a rasterized shape to an image. A shape is simply a vector object that keeps its crisp appearance when it is resized, edited, moved, reshaped, or copied. A rasterized shape is converted into a bitmapped object that cannot be moved or copied; the advantage is that it can occupy a small file size, if compressed. The disadvantage is that a bitmapped object is resolution dependent. You can add either kind of shape as a predesigned shape, such as an ellipse, circle, or rectangle, or you can create a unique shape using a pen tool.

Defining Clipping Masks and Paths

A clipping mask (also called a clipping group) creates an effect in which the lower layer acts as a mask for all other layers in the group. You can use a path to turn an area defined within an object into a separate individual object-like an individual layer. A path is defined as one or more straight or curved line segments connected by anchor points, small squares similar to fastening points. Paths can be either open or closed. An open path, such as a line, has two distinct endpoints, anchor points at each end of the open path. A closed path, such as a circle, is one continuous path without endpoints. A path component consists of one or more anchor points joined by line segments. You can use another type of path called a clipping path, to extract a Photoshop object from within a layer, place it in another program (such as QuarkXPress or Adobe Illustrator), and retain its transparent background.

Creating Paths

Using a path, you can manipulate images on a layer. Each path is stored on the Paths panel. You can create a path using the Pen tool or the Freeform Pen tool. Each pen tool lets you draw a path by placing anchor points along the edge of another image, or wherever you need them, to draw a specific shape. As you place anchor points, line segments automatically fall between them. The Freeform Pen tool acts just like a traditional pen or pencil. Just draw with it, and it automatically places both the anchor points and line segments wherever necessary to achieve the shape you want. With these tools, you can create freeform shapes or use existing edges within an image by tracing on top of it. After you create a path, you can use the Path Selection tool to select the entire path, or the Direct Selection tool to select and manipulate individual anchor points and segments to reshape the path. Unlike selections, multiple paths can be saved using the Paths panel. When first created, a path is called a work path. The work path is temporary, but becomes a permanent part of your image when you name it. Paths, like layers, can be named, viewed, deleted, and duplicated.


Understanding the Clipping Mask Effect

If you want to display type in one layer using an interesting image or pattern in another layer as the fill for the type, then look no further. You can create this effect using a clipping mask. With a clipping mask, you can isolate area and make images outside the area transparent. This works very well with type, and can be used with a variety of images. Figure below shows an example of this effect in which type acts as a mask for imagery. In this effect, the (rasterized) type layer becomes a mask for the imagery. The image of the roses is masked by the text. For this effect to work, the layer that is being masked (the imagery, in this case) must be positioned above the mask layer (in this case, the type layer) on the Layers panel.

Rasterizing Text and Shape Layers

To use type or a shape in a clipping mask, the type or shape layer must first be rasterized, or changed from vector graphics into a normal object layer. Rasterizing changes the vector graphic into a bitmapped object, one that is made up of a fixed number of colored pixels. Vector graphics are made up of lines and curves defined by mathematical objects called vectors. The advantage to using vector graphics for shapes is that they can be resized and moved without losing image quality.

Using Transform Commands

Before you create a clipping mask, you might want to use one of the transform commands on the Edit menu to reshape layer contents so the shapes conform to the imagery that will be displayed. Samples of the transform commands are shown in Figure below. When a transform command is selected, a bounding box is displayed around the object. The bounding box contains handles that you can drag to modify the selection. A reference point is located in the center of the bounding box. This is the point around which the transform command takes place.

Transform a type layer for use in a clipping mask

1. Open any image from the drive and folder where you store your Data Files, save the file as Postage, then reset the Essentials workspace. The postage type layer is active.

2. Click Layer on the Application bar, point to Rasterize, then click Type. The postage layer is no longer a type layer, as shown in Figure below left.

3. Click the Move tool on the Tools panel.

4. Click Edit on the Application bar, point to Transform, then click Skew.

5. Type -15 in the Set horizontal skew text box on the options bar, as shown in Figure below middle, so the type is slanted.

TIP You can also drag the handles surrounding the object until the skew effect looks just right.


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