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In this movie, I'll show you how to modify a geometric shape to create a custom path outline. And the idea behind this project is we're going to select this droplet -- once again, this photograph comes to us from the Fotolia Image Library -- and we're going to send it to a couple of layers; one that includes the droplet itself, and another one to represent the shadow. I created both of these layers using path outlines, and vector masks. So I'll go ahead and switch over to the original photo. And the first thing we need to do is pop this image onto an independent layer, but I want to keep the background.
If you check out the final version of the composition, I have an empty background down at the bottom of the stack. So there's two ways to accomplish this by the way. One is tedious, and nonintuitive in my opinion, and then there's a simpler technique that makes more sense. The first way of working, which is the more typical approach, is to convert the background to an independent layer by double-clicking on it, and then you call the layer drops, or what have you, and click OK. So that would be step one. The next step is to create another layer that's going to service the background, and you can just press Control+Shift+N, or Command+Shift+N on the Mac, and click OK.
There's no sense in naming this layer, because it's ultimately going to be named Background. And then the third step is to tap the D key to make sure your background color is white, and then go up to the Layer menu, choose New, and choose Background from Layer, and that goes ahead and converts the layer into a static background. As I say, to me, that doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense, and it's pretty darn and tedious, especially if you're working your way through a lot of images. Here's the better two step approach, and you can do the whole thing from the keyboard. I'll go ahead and press the F12 key in order to reinstate the flat version of the photo.
And the first step is to press Control+A, or Command+A on the Mac, in order to select the entire image. And the next step is to send that selection to an independent layer, and remove the photograph from the background, and you do that by pressing mash your fist J. So that is to say, Control+Shift+Alt+J on the PC, or Command+Shift+Option+J on the Mac. Now, here's the rationale behind that keyboard shortcut: Control+J or Command+J jumps the layer. When you add the Alt key, you force the display of the New Layer dialog box, as we have here.
When you add the Alt or Option key, you force the display of the New Layer dialog box, and when you add the Shift key, you go ahead and transfer the pixels, as opposed to copying them. So I'll call this layer shadow, because that will ultimately be its purpose, and then I'll click OK, and you can see that I've moved the pixels to a new layer, and I've gone ahead and filled the background with the background color, which is white. So just those two steps: Control+A or Command+A, and then mash your fist J, and you get the job done. All right, now I need another copy of the layer; the droplet by itself.
So I'll press Control+Alt+J, or Command+Option+J on the Mac; this time I don't need the Shift key, and I'll go ahead and call this layer drop, and click OK. And then I'll turn off the shadow layer; we'll come back to it later. All right, now let's create a path outline in the form of an ellipse, and you do that by dropping down to the Shape tool icon, click and hold on it, and then select the Ellipse tool from the flyout menu. By default, the Shape tools are set up to create shape layers, of course. We want a path outline, so go up to this first pop-up menu in the options bar, and change it to path.
You'll see that your cursor changes to a cross with a little circle around an X. Now if you drag with the Shape tool, you'll create an empty path outline, as we're seeing here, and you want to just more or less surround this droplet. Obviously, you're not going to exactly match it, and then release to create a path outline. And if you were to switch to the Paths panel, you would see that you have new Work Path. You probably want to take a moment just to go ahead and double-click on it to save that path, and I'll name this guy single droplet, let's say, and click OK. All right.
Now I'll switch back to the Layers panel; I don't need to see that path anymore. Now, assuming that you generally use your Shape tools to create shape layers, you might want to go ahead and reset that pop-up menu in the options bar to Shape. All right, now I am going to drop down to the arrow tool icon, click and hold on it, and select the white arrow tool; that is to say, the Direct Selection tool. And I'll click someplace on this path outline, so that you can see that we have a total of four anchor points, all of which are smooth points, by the way. So I'll click on the one on the left here, and you can see that the control handles are each equidistant from the anchor point, and they're either arranged vertically, as in the case of the side points right here, or they're arranged horizontally, as in the case of the points at the top and the bottom.
But that doesn't mean they have to stay this way. As long as you've got the white arrow tool active, you can go ahead and click on a segment, for example, and then drag the control handles to any position you desire. And you can also drag the anchor points around as well in order to better trace this droplet. And so that's what I'm doing, obviously. I showed you that you can drag directly on a segment in order to change its curvature, but notice that it also affects the curvature of the neighboring segments; both that segment over to the right-hand side, and the segment below are being affected by this drag.
That's not the way it used to be in Photoshop CS5, and earlier. The surrounding segments were not affected, and if you want to restore that behavior, you've got a checkbox up here that says Constrain Path Dragging. If you turn that checkbox on, then you get the old behavior, where the control handles are locked into their previous alignment, and they either get longer, or shorter, but nothing more. So that's totally up to you. I am going to go ahead and turn that checkbox off, because I actually like the new behavior. All right. So that's how you transform what was formerly a geometric shape into a custom path outline.
In the next movie, I'll show you how to properly position the anchor points, and the control handles, and I'll offer a little bit of path drawing advice as well.
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