Join Jim Babbage for an in-depth discussion in this video Masking objects with vector shapes, part of Fireworks CS5 Essential Training.
Vector Masks give you a different type of control than Bitmap Masks. Some would argue they are more accurate, but in my opinion, it really depends on what you're trying to do. So let's have a look at a couple of different ways to apply vector masks to a couple different images. We are going to produce some significantly different effects in both cases. And we are going to start with our little Monthly Specials sidebar. Remember this from previous movies: we've stretched this out so that it basically contains all of our different monthly specials. What I'd like do with it now is fade it out a bit at the bottom so it blends in with the Web page's background color.
So the first thing you need to do is select the shape. There we go. It's now selected. And if we take a look over in the Layers panel here, I'll just expand my monthly specials layer, and you'll see there it is down at the bottom of that monthly specials layer. But applying a fade to an image, vector or a bitmap, is not that difficult to do in Fireworks. In fact, we've got a really cool little command that does most of the work for us. So I am going to go up to my Commands menu. I am going to choose Creative and select Auto Vector Mask, and what we get is a little dialog box popping up.
And you can see, we have got about eight different choices here. This window gives us the opportunity to change the direction of the fade. So we can go from transparent to solid or solid to transparent, either top to bottom or left to right. And we can also choose different vector shapes to apply that gradient. In our case, what I really want is a vector mask that's going to fade from solid up at the top down to transparent down near the bottom, and that's the fade that's currently selected in the Auto Vector Mask dialog box. If you take a look on the canvas, you'll see that we're getting solid color at the very top fading down to basically invisible at the bottom or blending in with our background.
Anytime I change these, I can actually see a different effect. So I can get a good idea of what result I'm going to have before I actually end up applying the effect. So solid from top to transparent at the bottom is the one I want. I am going to click Apply, and you'll notice that our shape now has a couple of different things going on. We have this vertical black line running from the top to the bottom. That's actually controlling the distance of the gradient. So it's controlling the fade effect. And you might also notice some little green squares. Now, the green squares indicate what's currently selected is the vector mask.
Now, if we take a look over in the Layers panel, you'll see that our little monthly specials graphic now has a vector mask applied to it. And we can tell it's a vector mask and not a bitmap mask, because at the very bottom right corner of the vector mask we see a little Pen icon. So that's your indication that this is a vector mask. Now, if I click on the actual object itself, my original monthly specials box, you'll notice that my little solid line disappears and my green control handles disappear. So if I want to edit the effect of the mask, I have to make sure that the mask is selected. I am going to zoom in just a little bit, grab my Pointer tool again.
And by the way, you might notice when you choose different tools, like the Zoom tool in that case, I lost my vector control arm. It's disappeared from the view. I have to reselect my Pointer tool to bring that vector control arm back. So what's happening here as we are going from solid down to transparent at the very bottom. What I'd like is to have this fade occur a little bit earlier so we end up with no color at the very bottom. So all I have got to do in order to change this fade is grab that ending point, that little square, and drag upwards. And as I drag upwards, I am going to hold down the Shift key to keep myself in a straight line.
You'll notice that the fade is also changing. So you can determine where you want it to actually go. And I think right about there is pretty good. As I mentioned, it can work on vectors. It can work on bitmap images. It can work on groups. It's a really cool, fast, little feature. Now, the other effect we are going to work with is masking a bitmap image with an existing vector shape. So in this case here, I want to import an image into my design. I have got this gaping hole here where I need to have the photograph.
So I am going to choose File > Import, and I've got this really nice shot of Tahoe, and that's the image I want to use to drop into my Web design. So I am going to click on Open, and remember, I'm importing. So I get the chance to actually scale the image at the time that I am bringing it in. So I am just going to go into my upper- left area, and just going to drag out. I'm more concerned about making sure I fill the vertical space, and you'll find out why in just a minute. Now, there is my image. Okay, now obviously, it's too big for our design.
I don't want to scale it down any further. What I do want to do is give this image a bit of a different treatment. So I am going to hop over to my snowgear file, and this has a whole bunch of vector artwork that, in this case, is all themed for snowboarding. And the image that I want is this one here of the tree line. So I am going to select this, and I am going to press Ctrl+C to copy or Command+C on the Mac. I am going to hop back over to my original Web page, and I am going to press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac. And you can see the image drops in, and it's pretty tiny.
But keep in mind this is a vector shape. So I'm not stuck with it at this size. I am going to choose my standard Scaling tool, and I'm going to drag it from one corner, and I am going to drag from the other corner till I get something that's roughly the size that I need it to be, something along that range I think will worked out quite nicely. And that's good. So I am going to double-click, and that'll lock that scale vector in place. You notice we have no image breakdown. The quality is just fine the way it is, and it was scaled from a very, very tiny size.
So here is what we are going to do. We are going to make sure that that vector is selected. I am going to press Ctrl+X to cut it out of the document. You may be wondering well, gee, we just got it in there. What's the deal? Well, the deal is we are going to paste it in as a mask. So I am going to select my photo, and I am going to go to Edit > Paste as Mask and check that out. I've now got this really neat stylized photographic image here. I have got the vector of the trees handling the overall outline of the image, and the great thing about this is I am not stuck with the design exactly the way it is.
I can reposition that photo inside of my mask. So I am just going to slide over a little bit. And you eventually will run out of room because the photo has a certain limitation to its size. If you find that the size isn't quite working for you, and the mask is maybe little bit too large, no problem at all. We're just going to over to our Layers panel again. I am going to select the mask, and I am going to scale the mask. Now, if you do find your images a little bit too small for the mask or you want to change the size of a mask, not a big deal. We don't even have to ungroup anything.
I am just going to go over to my Layers panel. I am going to deselect the link between the two objects, my photograph and my mask, and then I am going to select the mask. So the mask is now independent of the photo. I am going to go over to my Scaling tool, and I'm just going to rescale this a little bit smaller. Now I'm only scaling the mask here. I'm not touching the photograph, which is pretty cool. So I've resized the mask a little bit. I can re-link these two together. I'll grab my photo, and that means I have a little more play with the image inside of my mask.
So I can move this guy around. It was mostly a hype thing I was worried about. I think I like that kind of idea, something like that. And there we go. These two techniques only scratch the surface of what you can do with masks, especially vector mask. But they are techniques I think you'll find yourself using quite often.
- Customizing the workspace
- Working with pages, layers, and states
- Importing content
- Comparing bitmaps and vectors
- Creating and editing vector shapes
- Converting artwork into graphic, button, and animation symbols
- Animating in Fireworks
- Maintaining crisp text in web images
- Sharing content between pages
- Optimizing images for export
- Integrating with Device Central, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Flash Catalyst