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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In this movie, we will mask the car against this grass and sky background using a combination of vector-based path outlines. I will go ahead and switch back to my image in progress here. And I am going to turn off these two layers of black, that is the layer called blue and a layer called neutral and then I will click on the Car layer to make it active. And by turning those layers off, we can just get a better sense of what's going on with the details inside of the car. Then I'll switch over to the Paths panel, and you'll notice that I have gone ahead and drawn a handful of these paths in advance.
There is this big body path that I drew exclusively using the Pen tool all the way around. So that took a fair amount of labor frankly. Then there is these paths around the insides of the windows, and those are going to cut holes so that we can see the background through those windows, and then we've got the steering wheel because we will need to mask it back in. This windshield will come into play later. What we are going to do inside this movie is draw the path outlines around the tires. So as I say, I have done a lot of work in advance, but there is plenty of work left for you to do.
So let�s start things off by creating a new path and we will do that by Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking on that little page icon at the bottom of the Paths panel, and that will force the display the New Path dialog box, so I could go ahead and name this layer wheels and then click OK. We are going to start things off by tracing this forward wheel using the Ellipse tool. So select the Ellipse tool from the Shape tool flyout menu down here toward the bottom of the toolbox. Then go up to the Options bar and switch this first option from Shape to Path, and then you want to go out to this guy and you want to switch it to Combine Shapes, and that�s in a different location in previous versions of the software but you will still be able to find it.
All right, now I am going to drag a big ellipse around the tire and it doesn�t have to exactly fit the tire, and notice by the way, that I'm using the spacebar in order to move the ellipse on the fly. It doesn't have to fit the top portion of the tire because that will be covered up by the body path. However, you do want to more or less to trace the bottom portion of the tire. If you cut in on the tires as I have, that's perfectly okay. It's a much better practice to select too little of the car than too much because if you select too much, you may end up with some aberrant edges.
All right, now we want to subtract the interior of the wheel away and we will do that by changing the Path operation from Combine Shapes to Subtract Front Shape and then go ahead and drag inside of this area, and again, we are most concerned about the bottom region of the inside edge of this rim. We are not nearly as concerned as the top area because that area doesn't represent a hole through which we can see the background. In fact, we are going to add these two areas back in just a moment. All right, now I need to add that will yellow thing back in.
It's another ellipse. So I will switch the Path operation back to Combine Shapes. You should see a plus sign next to your cursor and then go ahead and drag around that yellow object as best you can. Now notice that I am cheating up into this little region right here because there is not really anything you see in that area. So we are just going to keep this little sort of arc but we definitely want to keep this region of yellow. In fact, that�s the most important area. All right, I am going to switch to my Black Arrow tool which Photoshop calls the Path Selection tool, and I am going to click on that inside shape and press the left arrow key a couple of times to nudge it over so that I am completely enclosing this area inside here.
All right, now we need to cut away these regions using the Pen tool and I will show you how that works. I will go ahead and select the Pen which you can get by pressing the P key and then I will go back up to the Options bar, and I will click on that Path operations icon and I will switch back to Combine Shapes which adds path outlines to each other incidentally. We don�t want the default which is Exclude. So I will go ahead and choose Combine Shapes, and then I will drag like so, and of course, you are going to need to know how to use the Pen tool in order to make this work but I will go ahead and drag along these edges.
At any point, if you change your mind about something, you can press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac to get the White Arrow tool. Then you'd click on the point that you want to adjust and go ahead, in my case, drag up that Control handle. All right, now I am going to Alt+Drag from this location. That would be an Option+Drag on the Mac to create a cusp point and I will drag at this location right there and then press Alt or Option on the Mac and create another cusp point, and I will drag down here in order to create a smooth point right there at that corner.
However, I have got to move this control handle up a little bit. So I will press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and drag it up using that White Arrow tool that I have selected on the fly. Then I will release the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, go ahead and drag out that cusp point. I will drag like so with this location, this corner here, and then I will press the Alt key or the Option key in order to make that a cusp point on the fly, and then I will move up to this location, drag again, and it looks like I got a pretty good match there.
So I don�t need to go back any other adjustments. Now I am going to zoom out a little bit here and I will just Alt click on that end point to cut away its control handle, and I will click here, click here as well; notice that I am clicking above this inner ellipse and drop down to this location and then Alt+Click or Option+Click on the first end point in order to close the shape, and what we have done is we have added these regions back in, including this area which will not show the background, rather it�s showing the sort of inside haunches of the car.
All right to check that you got everything right, press the Ctrl key or Command key on the Mac and click on the thumbnail for this Wheels path here inside the Paths panel in order to convert it to the Selection outline, and you should see something along the lines of what I am seeing here. All right, that was just a test. I am going to press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image. Then let�s go to the other tire, which is the other tire at the front of the car, and I will click on my wheels path at the bottom of the Paths panel to reselect it, and actually I am zoomed in too far. Sorry about that. I have got to be able to draw an ellipse for starters here.
So I will go ahead and select the Ellipse tool. You want to confirm, by the way, that your path operation is set to Combine Shapes which it isn�t for me. So I will go ahead and switch it back and then you want to drag a big ellipse around the wheel like so. Again you would rather select too little of the wheel than too much because you definitely do not want to select background detail in the background. Next we want to subtract away this inside area so I will go up to the Path operations icon and choose Subtract Front Shape. You should see a minus sign next to your cursor this time.
Go ahead and draw inside of that wheel, like so, and again you can use the spacebar in order to adjust the placement. Now we want to add in this little guy and we will do that by going back up to the Options bar, and switching the Path Operation back to Combine Shapes, and you should see a plus sign next to the cursor this time. Go ahead and drag around that interior element right there. This is where I need to zoom in. I am not that interested in keeping these kinds of little weird things here because frankly, they don�t really lend anything to the final effect, but I do want to keep these spokes.
So I will switch back to my Pen tool. Again I can get that by pressing the P key. I will go back up to the Path operation, click on it, change it to Combine Shapes so that we are adding to the wheel, and I will drag like I did before around these details. I will Alt+Click here, click at this location. Of course the Alt+Click would be an Option+Click on the Mac. Drag away from that end point, drag down here. Go ahead and Alt+Click. Click at this location, then drag up, drag up around here as well. Alt+Click, click about there, drag from that end point, drag down inside the wheel, then Alt+Click and Alt+Click.
That would be Option+Click and Option+Click to close off that shape. To test that it worked, go ahead and press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, and click on the thumbnail for the wheels path there in the Paths panel. It looks like I did that one properly as well. All right I am going to press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac to zoom back out and now I will press Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac, to deselect the image and I am going to zoom in on this rear wheel which is the last one we will need do because the other wheel is hidden, and we can select it mostly using the Ellipse tool. So go ahead and switch back to the Ellipse tool.
With any luck we can see, by the way, that we are back to the Exclude mode because there is a little X inside a circle next to the cursor, it�s not what I want. So I will go back to that Path Operations icon, click on it and switch back to Combine Shapes, and I will drag a big ellipse like this that will represent the forward part of the wheel, and again, I want to select too little rather than too much, and now I will grab my Black Arrow tool, which I can get by pressing A, and I will click on this path in order to select it, and then I will Alt+Drag it or Option+Drag it over to the left in order to define the left edge of that wheel.
And because I press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, that went ahead and duplicated the Path outline. Now we need to reshape the path a bit, and to pull that off we will need to switch from the Black Arrow tool to the White Arrow tool, which Photoshop calls a Direct Selection tool, and I will marquee these two points and press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to get rid of them, and now I am going to click off the paths for a moment and click on this point right there, because I want to drag this control handle up and over just a little bit, like so. All right, now let�s join these areas together using the Pen tool.
So I will switch over to the Pen and I will drag from this location in order to continue the smooth point and then I will drag at this location in order to join those two areas together, and if you want to give this area a little bit more roundness, which I do, I am going to drag this point down ever so slightly, and now we have I think some nice roundness at the bottom of the tire. We don�t care about the top of the tire fortunately, so you can just Alt+Click or Option+Click at this point and then just Alt+Click or Option+ Click at that point in order to join them with the straight segment.
All right, gang! Now we are going to put the whole thing together. So I will press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac, and I goofed up. I went ahead and created this wheel independently of the others which is a problem, so I will switch back to the Black Arrow tool and I will select this guy by clicking on it, and I will press Ctrl+X or Command+X on the Mac to cut that path and then I will click on the wheels path to select it, and I will press Ctrl+V or Command+V on that Mac to paste that wheel into place. All right, let�s turn these wheels into a vector mask.
By switching back to the Layers panel, make sure the car layer is active and then dropdown to the Add Layer Mask icon and instead of clicking on it press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and click on it, and that will convert those path outlines into a vector mask as you see here. All right, now let�s assemble the rest of the paths. We will do that by switching back to the Paths panel, click on the Body path to make it active, and then assuming that you're still working with the Black Arrow tool, click on the Path Outline to select it and press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac to copy it and then click on this final path which should read car Vector Mask in order to make it active and press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac in order to paste the body of the car into place.
Now let�s get the windows. Click on the windows path to make it active, go ahead and marquee the windows like so, in order to select all six I believe of these paths. Press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac to copy them, switch back to the car vector mask and then press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac to paste them. These path outlines should be holes however, so go up to the Option bar, click on that Path Operations icon and choose Subtract Front Shape and that will turn them in to holes as you see there, and the only thing we are missing now is the steering wheel.
So go ahead and click on the steering wheel path to make it active, there are two paths right there that you should marquee. After doing so, press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac to copy them. Switch back to car vector mask and press Ctrl+V or Command+V on that Mac in order to paste. All right let�s switch back to the Layers panel, and if you want to see how beautifully masked your car is, then click on the Vector Mask thumbnail in order to deactivate it and that will hide those path outlines. Then you want to go ahead and turn the blue layer and the neutral layer back on, but my goodness, they are making a total mess of things. That's because they need to be clipped.
So press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click the horizontal line between blue and car and then Alt+Click or Option+ Click on the horizontal line between neutral and blue, and that goes ahead and clips both of those layers inside of the car layer and now we have ourselves one beautifully masked car against a much better looking background.
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