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- Converting shapes to paths and paths to shapes
- Moving, deleting, copying, and rasterizing shape layers
- Drawing pen paths
- Inverting a path
- Combining shapes
- Adding strokes to shape layers
- Creating shape layers from type
- Creating custom shapes from Illustrator symbols
- Building a photo grid
- Combining vector masks and layer masks
- Converting a shape layer to a selection, vector mask, or layer mask
- Working with paths and clipping paths
Skill Level Intermediate
Before we start designing with shape layers, let's take a look at the shape layer behaviors. I'm talking about these options right here. Now if I choose my add layer and I have five separate layers here, each labeled with one of those behaviors. I'll choose my add layer. If I just start drawing a circle, that circle is going to create its own shape layer above the add layer, which is not what I want. So I'm going to undo that and to make sure that the new shape is added to this existing vector mask, I need to click on the vector mask.
With the vector mask selected with frame edges around its four corners, I then have the option of choosing any one of these five behaviors. Now I'll choose the Add to shape area and then draw my circle, and in this instance the circle is added to that vector mask. I'll now continue and do the same thing, but using the appropriate behavior for each of these layers. So now on the subtract layer, I'll make sure I have the vector mask selected, choose the Subtract from shape area behavior, draw myself a circle, and it's going to look like that.
Come to the intersect layer, make sure I'm on the vector mask, choose the Intersect behavior, draw my circle, intersect will look like that. Come down to the exclude, choose the Exclude behavior. Now I'm now going to draw a circle in the middle of the existing circle, and it's going to look like that. It's going to punch a hole through that circle. There is a fifth option and that is Combine. It's not one of these behaviors here, but what it allows us to do-- I'm going to choose my Path Selection tool just to select some of these paths-- is to combine the shapes into one, which currently is not happening.
These shapes do remain independent and you can continue to edit them independently. There may be times when you want them combined into one with any overlapping areas removed. So I'm going to come to the Combine layer and with my Path Selection tool, select the shape that is on that layer and I'm going to hold down my Alt or Option and drag away from that to create a second circle. That second circle is created with the Add behavior.
But now if I want to combine them-- and perhaps it isn't necessary to combine them. Because if we look, for example, at the Stroke layer effect, I can add a stroke or any other layer effect to these shapes without seeing the overlapping areas. So ask yourself if you really need to do this, but perhaps I want to edit the shape and have a bit more flexibility in editing the shape. If I were to combine these two shapes, and to do so, I'll come and click on the Combine button, then the overlapping shaped areas are removed.
And if I now choose my Direct Selection tool, I can click at the areas where they formerly intersected, and now I can see that I have new anchor points added. And I can come in and edit those anchor points to further customize that shape. So there we see the four basic types of behavior, Add, Subtract, Intersect, Exclude and then this fifth option of combining the shapes into one, removing any areas of overlap.
The key to making these work is to make sure that you're on the vector mask itself.