GroovyPost Teaches Photoshop: Pen Tools and Shapes in Photoshop

Pen Tools and Shapes in PhotoshopHello again to all Photoshop fans! I bet that with all the groovy tutorials on Photoshop that we’ve made you have made yourself some amazing digital art masterpieces! Then again, raster images can get a bit annoying if you want to achieve good results in very high-resolution situations – we all know how it is with the lag,  the crashing… Oh boy… Well maybe you should try some vectors!  Sure, the word may sound scary, but we’ll show you just how easy it really is to work with vector representations and images in Photoshop.

What is a vector image and how is it better than a raster one?

A raster image is just a regular pixel-by-pixel representation of a certain item, photo or whatever you’re dealing with. Raster images are easy to create, but if you need to work with large monitors and if you need to transfer your work to higher resolution image files you may find distortion and low quality-looking pixely (is that a word?) images.

Vector images fix this problem completely. Instead of making a pixel-by-pixel representation, the computer works with paths and lines which are defined at certain positions.  Because of this they can be scaled up to any resolution without getting distorted. I always say a picture says a thousands words so here, let me show you.  Notice the image on the right is smooth and clean vs. the raster image on the left:

Go ahead and click the image to zoom in a bit and see the difference between the lines. The ones on the right (vector) are much smoother and are much more appealing to the eye. No doubt vectors are a great way to improve in image quality.

How can I make myself a vector image in Photoshop?

The Pen Tools

Making a vector image in Photoshop is as simple as clicking Creating a new document and then Clicking the Pen Tool.

The Pen Tools is an amazing tool and honestly, one of a kind in Photoshop.  Using the Pen Tool, you can draw a path that works kind of like a selection – you select certain areas of an image with the Pen Tool and fill them in with color to make yourself a vector image, one pen tool path at a time.  Below is an example of me selecting an odd shape using the Pen Tool:

If you use Photoshop with a tablet you can also trade in the pen tool for the Freedom Pen Tool which allows you to choose your path freely as if you were using the brush tool.  Here’s an example where I used the Freedom Pen Tool on my tablet to draw around my car I just picked up… ;)

The Shape Tools

If all that Pen Tool stuff got your head in a spin, then don’t worry – you’re not the only one – I actually had a hard time figuring it out myself the first time. I’m glad I got through it, but for any vector images of mine, I think I will be making basic stuff using the Shape Tools. They are really easy to work with and can easily make you any path from a shape and also fill it in with a color of your choice.

The tools from Rectangle Tool to Line Tool are pretty basic and need no explanation at all. What I’d like to point out, though, is that with the Custom Shape Tool you can add in a little bit of a twist  to your image with the additional shapes Adobe included with Photoshop:

Additional Tips:

If you really want to get into vector images and create vector art beyond simple selections and shapes you should give Adobe Illustrator a try. It’s the little brother of Photoshop, which has been created especially for vector images, logos, digital artwork and drawings. It will provide you with brush tools, lassos, perspective tools and much more to help you nail that vector image you’re been dreaming of all this time.

You can create some groovy art with Adobe Illustrator but, I’ll leave that for another groovyPost…

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