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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this exercise, we're going to draw this swash, which is currently represented as a pixel-based layer, we're going to draw it using a series of vector-based shapes. These are simple shapes by the way. We can create this entire swash effect using nothing more than two ellipses and two rectangles. That's all it takes. And not only is it a good experience for you to learn how the Shape tools work, but you can scale it to any size you like, and it will always be razor-sharp, as opposed to a pixel-based layer, which is going to soften as you up sample it.
All right, so I'm going to go ahead and zoom out from my composition quite a bit, because we're going to have to start things off with a very big shape indeed. I want you to click on the underline layer. The only reason it's there, by the way, is so that we have something to trace. I actually created this underline layer using the Shape tools and then ultimately converted it to pixels. All right, so step one: let's go ahead and grab ourselves a tool that allows us to create an arc, and the best tool for that purpose, aside from the Pen tool, we could go in and draw this guy with the Pen tool, but we're going to get more precise results, and I think it's going to be a simpler approach if we use the Ellipse tool.
So go down to the current Shape tool. Click and hold, bring up the flyout menu and choose the Ellipse tool, like so. Make sure that your Style is set to nothing for now. Why don't we set the Color to white, because eventually that's what we're going to want. So I'll just go ahead and raise -- notice my Hue value is 0. That doesn't matter. My Saturation value is 0. So all I need to do is raise my Brightness value to 100% and make it white. Click OK. Now then, I'm going to draw a big whopping ellipse, so I'm starting well outside of the image as you can see. Then as I drag, because I'm not aligned properly, I'll press and hold the Spacebar in order to move that ellipse into the proper position, and it looks like I want it to be about there.
So I may have to press the Spacebar and release the Spacebar a few times in order to get the position and the scaling right, but once I do, I get a result like this. I'm tracing the top of the swash as you can see there. Go ahead and release. The problem now is I can't see anything in back of my ellipse, so I've fairly well covered up my composition. That's kind of a problem. But I'm going to go ahead and call this guy swash, so that I know I'm in the middle of creating a cool swash underline effect. All right, now at this point, you want to reduce your Fill value. I say reduce the Fill value to 0%, so you can just strictly see through the entire layer, like so.
You can still see the vector-based outline, so you know what the edges are going to look like, but you can't see the Fill. Fantastic! All right, next, what I want to do is I want this vector-based shape layer to remain active. If I draw another ellipse along the bottom of the swash this time, which is what I'm suggesting we do, then I will go ahead and create a new shape layer. If I make the mistake of spending a lot of time trying to get this ellipse aligned, like so, then I'm going to be sorely disappointed when I see I drew a new shape layer, I didn't combine it with the old swash layer. That's okay.
You can still use it. So go ahead and grab your Black Arrow tool, which allows you to modify these path outlines, because all the Shape tools draw path outlines, whether you know it or not. Go ahead and grab that Black Arrow tool. Click on the outline of the ellipse. In my case, I'm going to nudge it up a little. I just press the Up Arrow key to nudge it into a better place. Now, I'm going to go ahead and cut this shape by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Cut command, or I can press Ctrl+X, Command+X on the Mac. Now, at this point, Photoshop is going to bellyache at you.
It's going to ask you, okay, buster, what in the world do you want to delete? You've got a vector-based shape outline selected here, do you want to delete the vector mask contents, which is the whiteness, do you want to delete the vector mask, which is the thing you've got selected, or do you want to delete the entire layer? I'll say, entire layer please. Make the whole thing go away. Then my swash layer is selected again. Make sure you can see its path outline, like so. If you can't, click on this gray and white thumbnail inside the Layers panel to make it active. It should have a heavy outline around it, like so.
Then go up to the Edit menu and choose the Paste command or press Ctrl+V, Command+V on the Mac. Now, notice we don't have access to Paste in Place, because where path outlines are concerned, they always Paste in Place inside of Photoshop, curiously enough. So anyway, press Ctrl+V, Command+V on the Mac, and I went ahead and pasted this guy into the proper location. All right, so we have a big ellipse with the little ellipse inside of it. However, if I increase that Fill value now to 100%, and I'm hoping that the little ellipse cuts a hole in the big ellipse, I'm going to be disappointed, because they're just sitting on top of each other.
We have one white ellipse sitting on top of another white ellipse. We need one of them to cut a hole into the other, and you do that by going up here to the Options bar, and assuming your Black Arrow tool is active; it's very important that it's the Black Arrow tool that's active, because if you've got the White Arrow tool, a.k. a. the Direct Selection tool active, you don't get anything. There are no options for the Direct Selection tool, which is nonsense by the way. I don't understand that reasoning at all. We should see the same options we saw a moment ago. Anyway, I'll laboriously switch back to my Black Arrow tool.
Notice I have these options, these shape options for combining these two shapes together. Currently I'm adding one shape to the other. That's not what I want. Notice this is very important, the interior ellipse is selected, so I can move over to this next option here, subtract from shape area, click on it, and that totally solves our problem. So now the selected inner ellipse is being subtracted from the deselected outer ellipse. Now, you have a couple of other options at your disposal. You could try to find the intersection of the two, which would be the interior ellipse by the way. That's no good.
The only reason we're seeing this little bit of swash in the background is because the underline layer is now exposed. And then your other option is to cut out the intersection, so we're excluding the overlapping areas, which would work for us just as well. Do either exclude this final option or subtract is going to do the trick. I'm going to go ahead and switch to subtract, because it was the first and simplest option that we ran across. All right, so that takes care of much of the swash, except you may recall, if I turn off the swash layer, that our underline actually began and ended at a specific location, and we need to define the beginning and the ending using a couple of subtracting rectangles.
I'll show you how that works in the next exercise.
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