How paths work

Paths differ from normal selections because they exist on the equivalent of a distinct, object-oriented layer that sits in front of the bitmapped image. This setup enables you to edit a path with point-by-point precision with no fear that you'll accidentally mess up the image, as you can when you edit ordinary selection outlines. After you get a path just so, you convert it into a standard selection outline, which you can then use to edit the contents of the image. (I detail this part of the process in the section "Converting and saving paths" later in this chapter.)

The following steps explain the basic process of drawing a selection outline with the path tools. I explain each step in more detail throughout the remainder of this chapter.


2. Edit the path. If the path requires some adjustment, reshape it using the other path tools.

3. Save the path. When you get the path exactly as you want it, save the path by choosing the Save Path command from the Paths palette menu. Or doubleclick the Work Path item in the scrolling list.

4. Convert the path to a selection. You can make the path a selection outline by choosing the Make Selection command or by pressing Enter on the numeric keypad when a path or selection tool is active.

That's it. After you convert the path to a selection, it works like any of the selection outlines described earlier. You can feather a selection, move it, copy it, clone it, or apply one of the special effects described in future chapters. The path remains intact in case you want to do further editing or use it again.

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