Look Ma ... No Pixels pg 5: Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at webreference.com | WebReference

Look Ma ... No Pixels pg 5: Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at webreference.com

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Look Ma ... No Pixels: Selections, Exporting and Importing

 

OK, we have unraveled the mysteries of paths, but what can we do with them? I have already talked about saving your paths with your document, and sharing with other documents – a most valuable use. For very few bytes, you can save paths for future use.

I have said all along that paths were really only selections. And that, for the most part, is what they are. In fact, you can easily transform any path into a selection, and and selection into a path.

   

Creating Selections from Paths
As we filled and stroked the path, you will have noticed the similarities between paths and selections. While paths are easier to create (especially when we get into curves next), selections are much more versatile (see Photoshop Selections: Back to Basics).

Simply activate the path you wish to turn into a selection. Right click on the Paths palette listing or the path on the canvas, or use the side menu on the Paths palette to open the Paths menu. Select Make Selection. That's it. You now have a selection.

   

 

Creating Paths from Selections
Suppose you have a selection that you would like to convert to a path ... easily done. Simply right click on your selection, and select Make Work Path from the popup menu. The selection becomes a work path that can be named and treated like any other path that is created in Photoshop. Unlike when it is a selection, you can delete nodes, or add curves – very difficult changes to make to using selection tools. And you can change back and forth from selection to path as many times as you want.

Once you have worked with bezier curves, and have mastered the general idea of how to create and edit the curve segments, you will never return to struggling with difficult selections. You will often find that you will convert paths to selections once the basic shape is in place, but you will have saved much time and aggravation by using the right tools to create your basic shape.

   

 

Exporting Paths to Illustrator
There is yet one more reason to get comfortable with paths. If you use an illustration program that will read Adobe Illustrator (.ai) files, you can export any path from Photoshop and open it in the vector program.

The process is very simple, but the export action will pick up any path that you have in the Photoshop document. Of course, since they are exported as vector objects, Illustrator considers each path to be a separate object.

I have illustrated the paths in a Photoshop document (large thumbnail view in the Paths palette) and the resulting objects in Illustrator. The paths come into Illustrator with no stroke or fill, but that is easily added to the vector program.

This exporting function is very valuable, especially now that Photoshop text remains as vector until the layer is rasterized. The Web to print implications are quite exciting, since any path that is exported as a vector becomes completely resolution independent.

To export paths, simply select File > Export paths to Illustrator. You will be asked to assign a name to the file, and that is it. Open Illustrator, and open the file.

 

 

   

 

Importing Illustrator Files
Here is where things get exciting. Paths are the route to importing vector art directly into Photoshop. While the path tools are very good in Photoshop, any vector program has much more path power. You can create your art in Illustrator and import it into Photoshop as a finished piece of art.

You can also use the superior vector tools in an illustration program, and create simple objects to import into Photoshop. You can then make a selection from the imported art, create a path, edit it, and if desired, export to Illustrator again.

Give it a try. Simply save your Illustrator file and select File > Place in Photoshop. The object will come in with a cross through it for placement. Place it where you desire, double click on the object and the object becomes a layer in Photoshop.

Get comfortable with paths in Photoshop. It is well worth it. Next time we look at Photoshop and paths, we will focus on the Shapes tool and tie all that you have learned here into working with vector layers in Photoshop. Paths will feel funny for a while, but with the instructions you have here and a little homework, you will soon be dragging control handles as if you were born to it. Have fun!

   

 

Back to start

Look Ma ... No Pixels: Tutorial Index

Paths in Raster Programs
Creating Simple Paths in Photoshop
Working with Paths and Nodes
Creating and Editing Curves
Selections, Importing and Exporting

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URL: http://www.webreference.com/graphics/column45/
Created: April 2, 2001
Revised: April 2, 2001