Painting a straight line

You probably already know that you can draw a straight line with the line tool. And you may be wondering why I don't include the line tool in my discussion of painting tools. Well, the reason is that as a painting tool, the line tool is pretty limited in its usefulness.

In the line tool's defense, it has evolved in Version 6. You now can draw either vector lines or raster lines using the tool, and you also can set the tool to create a work path. You set the tool's function through the trio of icons on the left end of the Options bar. Click the first button to create a vector shape on a new layer, as discussed in Chapter 14; click the middle button to create a work path, a topic I cover in Chapter 9; and click the third button to paint a regular, pixel-based line.

About the only reason I ever use the line tool in painting mode is to create arrows. (I explain how in the "Applying Strokes and Arrowheads" section of Chapter 8.) If you don't want arrows, you're better off using Photoshop's other means for creating straight lines: the Shift key. Using this method, you can paint with different brushes and access other options not available when you work with the line tool.

To paint a straight line with any of the paint tools, click at one point in the image and then press Shift and click at another point. Photoshop connects the start and end points with a straight stroke of paint. Use this same technique to apply an edit tool in a straight line.

To create free-form polygons, continue to Shift-click with the tool. Figure 5-5 features a photograph and a tracing I made on a separate layer (covered in Chapter 12) exclusively by Shift-clicking with the paintbrush tool. As an academic exercise, I never dragged with the tool, I never altered the brush size, and I used just two colors: black and gray.

Figure 5-5: Starting from an image by photographer Barbara Penoyar (left), I created a stylized tracing (right) by clicking and Shift-clicking with the paintbrush tool on a separate layer.

Tip The Shift key makes the blur and sharpen tools halfway useful. Suppose that you want to edit the perimeter of the car shown in Figure 5 6. The arrows in the figure * illustrate the path your Shift clicks should follow. Figure 5-7 shows the effect of Shift-clicking with the blur tool; Figure 5-8 demonstrates the effect of Shift-clicking with the sharpen tool.

Figure 5-6: It takes one click and 24 Shift-clicks to soften or accentuate the edges around this car using the blur or sharpen tool.
Figure 5-7: These are the results of blurring the car's perimeter with the pressure set to 50 percent (top) and 100 percent (bottom). Set the pressure by using the Pressure pop-up menu in the Options bar.
Figure 5-8: The results of sharpening the car with the pressure set to 50 percent (top) and 100 percent (bottom).
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Photoshop Secrets

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