Paths do not allow soft edges, and generally find the most use in print applications. However, creating a path from an existing mask or channel is easy.
Step 1. Make an active selection. If you are in Quick Mask mode, exit. If you have an alpha channel or layer mask, hold down the KSi ( B) key and click on the layer's thumbnail.
Step 2. Switch over to the Paths palette, which is usually docked with the Layers palette.
Step 3. Click on the Make Work Path from Selection button at the bottom of the palette. You should see a path appear with the title Work Path.
Step 4. Italicized paths or masks are temporary. It is necessary to double-click on these and assign a name.
Step 5. The path can now be exported out to Adobe Illustrator, where it can be cleaned up or sized. This can be useful for creating a silhouette image. Vector graphics have the advantage of unlimited scaling, with no quality loss.
Name: Path 1
( Cancel )
You may need to go the other direction when using stock images. Because paths are vector-based, they take up much less room in file size. These savings make it much more likely to find clipping paths with stock photos collections on CD-ROM. You can B-a+click (^0+click) on the path's icon, and then switch over to the Channels palette. Click on the Save Selection as Channel icon, and you are set.
The Pen tool can be used to create paths from scratch, and is well suited for images that contain curved shapes. While many users swear by the Pen tool, keep in mind that it's not the easiest tool to use. The Pen tool creates a path when you click around the image and add anchor points. Photoshop connects those points with vector lines, which can be adjusted or repositioned. If you use Adobe Illustrator or After Effects, you may find the Pen Tool relatively easy to use. Let's give the Pen Tool a try:
Step 1. Open the file Ch04_Pen_Tool.tif from the chapter's folder on the DVD-ROM.
Step 2. Choose the Pen tool from the Toolbox or press the keyboard shortcut Q
Step 3. Choose the following options from the Options Bar:
• Choose Paths from the first three buttons. This will create a new path in the Paths palette.
• Select Auto Add/Delete so anchor points will automatically be added when you click a line segment. Likewise, Photoshop will automatically delete an anchor point when you click on it with the Pen tool.
Gray is Not Boring
It is best to view channels in grayscale to see contrast and detail.
• Click the inverted arrow next to the shape buttons in the Options Bar to access the submenu. Choose the Rubber Band option, which will make it easier to preview path segments while drawing.
Step 4. Position the Pen tool in the top-left corner of the cockpit and click. An initial anchor point is added.
Step 5. You'll now need to draw curved paths. When you click to add a new point, keep the mouse button depressed. You can drag to create the curve.
• Drag towards the curve for the first point. Drag the opposite direction for the second point.
• Hold down the Command (L) key to modify handles while drawing.
• Hold down the ( A ) key to change a handle's direction while drawing.
• Dragging both direction points in the same direction will create an S-shaped curve.
• Try to minimize the number of anchor points added... move forward along the object and pull to form the curve.
Step 6. When you reach the end of your path, you can click to close the shape. Just like the Polygonal Lasso tool, you must click on your starting point to close the path.
Step 7. To end an open path, jj-a+Click (^0+Click) away from the path.
Step 8. The path can be adjusted by using the Direct Selection tool (A). This will allow you to click on an anchor point or handle, and adjust the position or shape.
When satisfied, you can jj + Click (^0+Click) on the path's thumbnail in the Layers palette. You will see the "marching ants," which indicate an active selection has been made.
Keep in mind, the Pen tool and Paths are not for the meek. You will likely have strong feelings that will either draw you to the Pen tool all of the time or send you seeking alternatives. With practice, the Pen tool can become easier to the less initiated.
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