Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
I have saved my progress as Four- point template inside of the 2 _pen_tool folder, and in this exercise we are going to take this ellipse and notice I have restored an elliptical shape here, I just went ahead and back stepped a little bit. We are going to take this ellipse and we are going to modify using the White Arrow tool and only the White Arrow tool - we're not going to need the Pen tool for this project - In order to precisely or at least as precisely as possible fit the outline of this water drop. Now you may wonder why in the world I am calling this Four-point template. Well that's because there is a little bit of a cheat layer that I have included along with this file it's called points & handles and if you turn it on it shows you exactly where the points and handles ought to be located.
If you ever want to see all of the points and handles at once let me go ahead and switch over to the Isolated drop.psd image, this is where I got those points and handles from. I will click on this vector mask to make it active there in the Layers panel and I will press the A key a couple times it looks like in my case in order to switch over to the White Arrow tool and I will click on the path outline and then what you want to do is you click and you Shift+Click on each one of the anchor points and you will see the control handles for each and every anchor point just like so. Then you may be thinking, well how in the world did I isolate those points in this way, because they are on a completely entirely independently layer as you can see right here and they are set against a transparent background.
So I just have the points isolated. That is by the way a pixel representation, they are not real points, and this template works best if you are viewing the image at 50%. If you are zoomed in farther than that you may see some chunkiness going on. Anyway, in case you are wondering how in the world I got that. Did I draw that layer using the Pencil tool or something horrible like that, the answer is no, I extracted it from a screenshot using the Difference Mode and I will explain exactly how I did that using a different example but I am going to explain the technique in the next chapter, so stay tuned for that if you are interested.
Anyway, let's go ahead and turn the background layer back on because I am seeing that checkerboard there. I want to see the single drop like so and you may or may not want to have that points & handles layer turned on. It just depends, if you want that kind of guide or if you want to work free form. I am going to leave it on just so that I can show you how to work with it, because what you want make sure, at all points and times, as you're dragging the anchor points and control handles, is that you drag the gray ones, notice I will go ahead and click on this larger elliptical shape using my White Arrow tool. You want to drag the gray points and handles as opposed to the red ones.
So don't get confused and start dragging the red ones around. That won't work for you because they are not really there. All right so, for example I will grab this anchor point right there and I will move it to this location like so, so that I am more or less aligned to that point and you may wonder how in the world I figured this out in the first place. How do you figure out that it belongs here for example and not over here some place? Well you look for the angles of curvature and you want to put your points on the sides of those angles of curvature often times. So for example, it's a pretty clear call right here that we have a big curve going around this portion of the drop.
Although, you know one could argue whether I should clip in on this edge or not. But down here along this edge, notice all of a sudden the curve transforms, so we have a very smooth even contour going on and all of a sudden a very sharp turn appears at this location. Well right around the area of the sharp turn where the angle of the turn begins to change, that's where you add an anchor point. So imagine that you are driving in your car and you have your steering wheel angled because let's say you're driving around this direction, counterclockwise around this drop here, on this shape of a course, and you have your steering wheel angled and you are just holding on to that angle because you have a continuous curve and then all of a sudden at this point there you have to change the angle of the wheel, you have to turn it even farther in order to make it go around this hairpin turn right and you might even slow the car down hopefully and that's the point.
Right there when you would change the angle of the steering wheel that's when you want to add an anchor point. So might want to think about it that way if it helps. Anyway, so I am going to go ahead and drag this guy up to this location here because this is an example if we were driving the other direction this would be an example of where we had to turn harder on the steering wheel. As it is, this becomes a point, if we're driving counterclockwise, this becomes a point at which we can let up off the steering wheel a little bit. So as you work your way around these points and handles you are going to be modifying points and control handles basically back and forth.
So it's not like you want to set all of your anchor points in place first and then modify your control handles because you won't have any idea of what you are doing if you work that way. And permit me for a moment to turn off this template so we can just focus on the points and handles that I am setting up here. I am going to drag this guy down so in other words the curve is too high it needs to settle down into the shape and so I am going to drag my control handle down as well. So what you have to bear in mind is that the point outline has to go through the anchor points.
So each and every anchor point is on the path outline, but each and every control handle is off the outline. So in other words the control handles have a magnetic sort of attractive quality to them but if they are ever just sitting on the path outline like so that's entirely coincidental. That is not a necessary or even desirable application of the control handle. It does not want or need to be on the path outline. So if you drag toward the path you are going to repel it, if you drag away from the path you are going to attract it.
If you drag past the path you are going to send it in the opposite direction. But no matter what that path outline is going to curve toward that control handle. All right, so obviously I have gone too far and if you ever get one of these, where you drag the control handle in totally the wrong direction, then you're going to get a crimp in the path, and you are going to change this droplet shape into kind of a fish tail right there. In which case just grab one of those control handles and drag it on back like so. All right so, either control handle, you can drag either this top one for example or the bottom one.
Now they are not going to remain totally symmetrical, notice that I can make one control handle longer or shorter with respect to the other, you don't want to get too short because then you have this number where you are having problems controlling the angle of the control handle. However because we are working with smooth points and every point in the outline of an ellipse is a smooth point, because we are working with the smooth points the control handles are locked into alignment with each other. What that does is it ensures that we have a smooth continuous arc through that smooth point.
All right, so I will drag this guy down a little bit. Now I am going to bring my template back up so that we can follow along with it together. Oops! I almost started dragging the red handle but notice that when you get these guys aligned with each other the handles will turn cyan because what you are doing is inverting the appearance of the image at that point and at that point the image is red. So it's going to invert to cyan if you nail it, if you get the anchor points and the control handles dead on. You're not, by the way, going to get them exactly dead on because red stuff's the screenshot and your actual anchor points and control handles are being drawn live on the fly by Photoshop so their appearance could change.
Anyway, I am going to drag this guy back down here and I am going to drag this guy out. So another rule that you should bear in mind, notice if you drag your control handles too far out and they start crossing each other like this, that is, control handles from neighboring points, then you are going to end up getting a crimp in your path as well, and it can get even worse than this, you can have your path crimp well outside of your control handles here, outside where they cross. You don't want that, you don't want crossing control handles, and what you really do want, in order to maintain some nice, smooth, fluid curves is you want either each one of your control handles to be about one third the length of the entire segment.
So notice we have got a segment that's going from one anchor point to another here and if each control handle is about a third the length of that segment you are going to be in good shape, or if you want one to be, shorter because sometimes that's necessary, like around the sharp curve right here, this control handle is short and this one is longer. Then you want the two combined to take up about two thirds of the length of the segment. Now you can vary from that if you want to. That's just a rule of thumb and you can see these control handles on either side of the segment don't take up quite two thirds and these guys on the next segment, these two control handles are associated with that segment, they take up more than two thirds and what you are really interested in doing of course is accurately tracing the path outline around the droplet.
So, you can vary from it as much as you want, but that's just a rule of thumb that is going to give you that two thirds rule is to go ahead and give you very smooth results. All right, so I have completed a goodly part of my path outline here. We're going to finish things up in the next exercise, and I am going to show you how to directly drag and nudge curved segments inside Photoshop.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.