Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Creating Curved Lines with the Pen Tool

Select the Pen tool. In the options bar, make sure you’ve selected the Paths option.

I think it’s easier to start with paths when using the Pen tool, even if you’re using it to create shapes. When using the Pen tool with the Shapes layer selected, you’ll find that Photoshop begins to color in your image. Sometimes, this is distracting (especially if it seems Photoshop is filling in the color on the wrong side of your drawing lines).
Start with paths. You can make them shapes and fill them in later, as you’ll do in this chapter.
You’re now ready to begin. Perform the following:

  1. Access the 775x420 blank image window you just created. This is the size of the web page you’ll design. Set your background to Transparent.

    We’re designing a header for an 800x600 web page, which is the most frequent screen size we Figure visitors to the site will use. If you design for a larger page (say, 1024x768), your 800x600 visitors will find themselves scrolling horizontally to view your web page.
    The 775x420 size leaves room for the web browser (such as Microsoft Explorer).

  2. Select the Pen tool. Click on an area outside the image, as shown in figure below.

  3. Click and hold another point somewhere within the image. Then, drag your mouse up and to the right. Notice that the line begins to bend. The second point you created becomes an anchor point.
    A line forms that extends from the anchor point. This is a direction line that helps you define the curvature of the line. Release the mouse button when you’re pleased with the shape of your line. Figure below displays some of these elements.

    Learning how to maneuver this direction line is tricky at first. Don’t give up, though. Keep at it. Eventually, it’ll just click and you’ll find yourself using it to create all kinds of irregular shapes without even thinking about it.

  4. Hold the Alt key on you keyboard and click the filled-in anchor point (which is a dark colored square). This is where your line will continue. Click and release another point to make the next curve, as shown in figure below.

It’s cool to use curved shapes in web pages. You’ll see many web pages with a straight-edged, square look. Straight columns. Straight tables. Using some curves helps the images on your web page pop!
However, this isn’t to say everything on your web page should be organic. Let’s look at creating some straight lines with the Pen tool as well.

Creating Straight Lines with the Pen Tool

An easy way to create straight lines with the Pen tool is to hold the Shift key as you click your points. Continuing from the last anchor point, perform the following:

  1. Hold down the Shift key. Then click anywhere to the right of the last anchor point, even somewhere off the image window.
    Notice that Photoshop creates a straight line between the two points, as shown in figure below.

  2. Continue working your way around the image window. Don’t worry about the shapes outside the image window. They won’t display.
Work your way around the image window until you’re back where you started. Click the anchor point you started with. The anchor points disappear, and you’re left with a path, as shown in figure below.

Congratulations! You’ve created your first Photoshop path. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Drawing paths is about getting a rough version onto your screen. From there, you can then tweak and fine-tune using the Path Selection tools.

In this tutorial:
  1. Creating Web Headers
  2. Exploring the Pen Tool
  3. Creating Curved Lines with the Pen Tool
  4. Editing with Path Selection Tools 
  5. Editing with the Point Tool 
  6. Changing Path to Selections 
  7. Adding Patterns to your Selections

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