Pick Up The Pen Tool: Path Operations | Brian Shepard | Skillshare

Pick Up The Pen Tool: Path Operations

Brian Shepard, 2D Game Artist and Illustrator.

Pick Up The Pen Tool: Path Operations

Brian Shepard, 2D Game Artist and Illustrator.

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6 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Add

    • 3. Subtract

    • 4. Intersect

    • 5. Exclude

    • 6. Vector Landscape

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About This Class

Photoshop's Pen Tool is one of its most versatile (if unusual) features, allowing you to quickly create polygons and other shapes for a number of purposes. In the first class of this series, we learned the basics of how it works, creating anchor points in a connect-the-dots way to make shapes on a Photoshop canvas -- using those shapes to blur certain areas of an image, cut objects out of one photo and paste them into another, or add stylish, solid-colored vectors on top of a picture.

In this course, we learn how Pen Tool shapes can interact with each other for more complex results. Path operations allow you to do things such as create several vectors on a single layer, allowing you to change their color simultaneously. Or, you can create an area of transparency where several shapes overlap. These operations will open up an entirely new world of vector shapes for you to create in Photoshop, above and beyond the standard circles, squares, and triangles.

This class builds off of the first one, so before taking it, I'd recommend enrolling in that one first to make sure you understand the Pen Tool's basic concepts. We'll be using what we've learned about path operations to build a fun Photoshop landscape with more advanced vector shapes.

Meet Your Teacher

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Brian Shepard

2D Game Artist and Illustrator.


A slightly-above-average illustrator and character designer for video games. Trying to improve my understanding of character design, storytelling, and how we culturally respond to visual cues like shape and color in everyday situations. Making an effort to help anyone else who wants to learn the same things!

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1. Introduction: in the previous course, we learned exactly how Photoshopped Pencil could be used to quickly create a variety of vector shapes. Would you believe me if I told you there was more he could do with each and every one of those shapes? The pencil gives you four different ways to control how they behave. These behaviors are called path operations. We're going to examine how they work and why they're useful. Once we have, I'll show you how easy it is to create a vector landscape with just the pencil. 2. Add: Okay, so if you recall from the previous course, the pencil is basically a connect the dots store of tools where anchor points are placed wherever you click on the canvas to create vector shapes. Photo stop allows you to create them freely or by using one of a number of predetermined shapes, like basic rectangles or circles. Are you more complex? Custom symbols? All right, so normally every shape you create would have his own layer. You can see over here on the right that each vector state created automatically makes a new layer and an indicator of that victor's color. And as you can see when I double click the color indicator, I can change that layers color to whatever I want the first path operation are going to learn about and, well, actually allow us to create more than one shape on a single layer. So first thing we should do is select a pencil and try creating a state later. Normally, so as we know, every vector layer has a a color indicator and be this great box to the right of it, which is the vector mask thumbnail. Before we began adding shapes or using any of these path operations. We want to make sure that this defector masked thumbnail is selected on the current layer. You'll know it is when you click on it and there's a thin black and white border around the green box. You'll also notice the thin outline around your victor. She so whenever we want to determine a specific operation, we will look up here on the upper toolbar. This is where we'll find all of our operations throughout this particular course. So remember this area of the toolbar? Well, you see, there are a lot of options up here, but for right now, over over the second option from the lift adds a safe area and selected. All right, so we made a shape. We selected the vector mass thumbnail, and we selected at two state area at the top. Think we're finally ready to get started. So now whenever you create a pencil, say it will be added on to that layers area. Okay, you might be wondering, why is this useful big deal? I can change the color of all of these simultaneously because technically, they're all on one layer Now. If I had created a new layer for each state. I would have to change the colors one by one, like we did earlier. It's also pretty easy to copy existing shapes, which is another way of adding them to the same layer. This time, let's use the past election tool shown here on the left as an air icon. If it's not showing, click and hold down on the icon to make a menu appear, and you should see it there once you're using the past elections, who'll click on any statement created and you should see a faint box appear around it next , while holding down the all key click and drag a duplicate anywhere on the canvas. The duplicates, as you can see, also used the ad operation so they're all part of the same layer. And if you want, you can resize individual added states used in the past election tool without affecting the others. Something else you can do is copy of shape from one of vector layer and then paces onto a different one. We'll start off just like we did last time, so first select the path using the past election tool. Then in the upper toolbar, go to edit and then copy. Or you can use the appropriate keyboard shortcut for me. It's holding down the control key in the impressing. See either way. Once you've done that, select a vector mass thumbnail of a different vector layer. Now remember the vector mask thumbnail is the gray box to the right of the color indicator . Once it selected, go back to the upper toolbar and she was at it and then paste. When you do that, you'll see that the first shaping cockpit has been duplicated on his new layer, using the ad operation, you can tell because it's serious colors with the new layer instead of the Larry was copied from. So if you have Leinart for a character, you use the pencils at operation to fill in various separate shapes. Now you might be wondering, Why would you need to do that instead of just painting the color and normally on a non vector layer? If you did? But for whatever reason, you suddenly decided to change into a different color. You have to resort to other methods to achieve the same result. You could use photoshopped hue and saturation tool to adjust the layer relative to the current color, but it's not the same is choosing exactly what you want from the grid. You can also use layer style and select car overlay if to paint the whole layer one color. But now you've got to go into this menu every time you want to make a change. So is basically taking you large to do the same thing. Those methods artist fastest. Simply using the pin tool and changing all of these same colors shapes in just a few clicks , not to mention vector past can be enlarged without losing any visual quality. Path operations are all pretty useful for making compound shape that would otherwise be pretty difficult to create with a single victor. But by using ad, you can stack simple polygons, allowing you to draw all kinds of things. So before moving on to the next lesson, try out different things with the ad operation. See what you can come up with by overlapping shapes on the same layer and on different layers and my help to draw overlapping simple states with pencil and paper beforehand to plan out what they might look like as vector layers in photo shop 3. Subtract: this affect operation, as you can probably guess, is the opposite of that. Subtracting States will create a blank space where they overlap. So let's start off just like with their last time. With a normal vector layer now at the top, she used the operation that says, Subtract from safe area When you hover over it, it should be the 3rd 1 from the left. Then just draw or place the second save as you normally would. If you draw one, you can see the area gradually cut away as you plays anchor points. It's important to places of attracting in an area where it will overlap with the other seats. Otherwise, kind of hard to tell what it does. See if I place my subtracting state all the way over here, it doesn't really do anything because it's invisible on his own. But when done correctly, you should see a cut into the original state area. Any of these additional safe can be deleted at any time. If you don't like them, use the past selection tool to choose your shape. You can easily get rid of it by president delete or backspace on your keyboard, just like that we're back to our original vector layer. You can you subtract to create a wider variety of safe, Then you might normally be able to, for example, with just two circles, you can create a clean crescent moon. You can have control over the crescent by moving or re sizing this attracting shape, you could combine its of track and at operations on the same layer for even more options. All right, so when you use this ah, drawing of a skull I have used as the basis for the victims were gonna make so going to start off by making a circle here you're an ellipse, actually, kind of drag it on the canvas. And that is not quite right. So I'm gonna use the past elections, will stretch it down a little bit, just a little bit closer to the ah, does the guy drawing that I have here a little bit more. All right, now it's pretty good. Okay, So, hand of ecstasy. Um, next thing I want to do is use the ad operation to fill in the cheekbones in the teeth. So gonna go here. She's operates to add, and just kind of freehand it. And if you wanted to, you could probably filled His name was triangles and rectangles. But here I think this is faster too. Um freehand anchor points is gone, you know, draw based on where the lines are. All right now, I could manually draw the other half, but for conveniences sake, I'm just gonna copy this over here and reflect it, like so. And they're ago cheekbones, Man City's. And I'm gonna move that over a little bit. All right? So now we're going to use subtract for the eye holes and the nose hollow. So it is going to use the lips here, the I and I think, Yeah, I want to use a triangle. The nose area. You can see how these saved her life, cutting out the overall white vectors. Think that we have. I'm going to the into the same thing with the I. Hello. I'm just gonna duplicated and move it over here like this much easier, and they're ago. You can see how combining add and subtract allows us to make the most complex vector state than we normally would be able to If you use the pencil to fill in the silhouette of our character. You can use to subtract tool to sort of cut out negative space and that silhouette, like the area under the elbow here subtract, is really good for things like this. Consider like carving out of shapes and a jack o lantern. You can also create basic outline polygons by placing a subtraction inside of an identical normal state. So if I duplicate this circle, shrink it down and changes operations to subtract, I have a clean outline of a circle that shows the background underneath. You could even determine the thickness of the outlined by adjusting the size of the inner shape. Now, naturally, this works better with some shape than others. But it's a handy idea. Now that we've learned about more than one operation, I should mention again that you can change any individual safe operation at any time. Use the past election tool to choose a shape. They just go to the toolbar at the top selected different operation. You might be surprised how a simple change like this can give you vastly different results . 4. Intersect: Intersect is a bit more complex than the previous two operations. Basically, the only visible parts of an Intersect layer are the parts that overlap with each other. That might sound a little weird, so let's see it in action. Let's start with the circle. I'm going to drag a copy of it over here and changes operation to intersect of here in the toolbar. Now I have a sort of weird football, or maybe an eyeball on almond or something. But that's the same that's different than your typical you know, rectangle or a circle standard polygon to photo shop offers. Even if I move around with the past elections will, the only part that's visible is the area where they overlap. I recommend intersecting various combinations of the basic Paata Gone. It's just to see what results you can achieve. Know how, when you manually draw your intersecting, say the original state appears Advantis for a moment, it'll gradually feeling I just complete the second shape. Intersecting shapes are really good for creating easily edible layers adhere to the same silhouette as the state below. For example, if you wanted to add lighting to a state without changing its overall profile. So let's take that circle again. This time we'll leave. A separate circled is just a normal vector. Let's duplicate this layer for our operation. You can see in the layers pound that we have. Two of these circle vector layers now next believes, intersect on the top layer. I'll drag a copy and have them overlap in a way that's similar to the almond state we made before. So right now it doesn't really look like anything is happening because the two layers are the same color. But watch what happens As students, I changed the color of the top layer by leaving their original state below. It creates the illusion that the top layer is a sort of lighting effect, giving up more form than the usual single flat color. I can even use a Grady into stimulate more believable lighting. The reason we duplicate the bottom layer is to make sure that the top layer, which uses the Intersect operation, remains a visible outside of that specific circular boundary. See how the lighting effect never exceeds the circle. When I move individually with the past election tool? Bled. If I move the entirely aerial once with the move tool, the illusion of lighting is broken. Let's try hexagon this time. If I create an intersecting layer like this suddenly a Christ illusion of a three D cube, I can even make another duplicate for the second surface. And again, grays and other layer styles can work bringing here. - So let's say you have solid vector layers of a character that are flat colors, but you want to add to mention to it with lightning. The Intersect operation can be used to adjust how the lighting looks without tarnishing their original silhouette at all. 5. Exclude: the final operation Exclude is the inverse of intersect. Basically, the layer will be invisible wherever two shapes overlap. Now that probably sounds similar to subtract but exclude. Onley cuts that a hole where the shape across each other, some track creates the whole out of an entire sheet. So let's take this square. As an example, I'll make sure my operation that's set to exclude up here at the top and then I'll drag a circle out on the canvas, making sure the overlap. All right, so notice how there's a gap in the overlapping area, but most of the circle is still visible. If the circle were sent to subtract, the entire state would be invisible. No matter where I placed it. I can use exclude to create even a stranger or more complex things. By combining basic polygon by using it between two overlapping, identical rectangles. I can easily achieve a sort of checkerboard shape. Now. This is probably easier than trying to perfectly aligned for individual squares to get the same result. Exclude is very good for giving the illusion that several states are testing at the very edges, but with little space in between them. If you're ever confused about how in operation works, just choose a shape and changes operation to see the results. The more you do this memorial, understand how East one is unique from the others. Once you're confident you can start creating layers that make use of several overlapping shape that use different operations, it will take some time to understand how they all work together. But once you do, you'll be free to job pretty much anything you could think of, even with simple polygons. 6. Vector Landscape: So let's try creating an example project using what we've learned about the different path operations. First, let's open up a blank canvas and photoshopped of whatever size you feel comfortable with. Since the idea of the project is to create a landscape, it might be a good idea to work within a frame this wire that is tall. So the first thing when do is create the sky that will kind of like the background for the whole thing. So first I'll just create a giant rectangle that would basically cover the entire canvas. And since you can easily change the color of vector layers, you can decide what time of day you want. Um, weaken, you know, changes sky to a light blue if you wanna lighting Slaying day or you can even make it, you know some other weird color. But she was something that you feel comfortable working around for the rest of the project , for the foreground again, and when the state was rectangles just to create some flat, solid ground. And again, this is something where you could easily decide on the color you want, like a desert or a grassy field. Rectangles. There they were great here. Alright, rectangles are nice, but now let's try adding some other features to the landscape. So now when he is the ad operation, um, and stick a circle basically on top of a rectangle to create a kind of, ah, Hill state, um, has to make sure the circles lined up. I think so. And now this is ST that along. You re size is a bit. And now this is the state was Aiken, copy over and over again just to create a bunch of pills and that on the landscape. Um, it's gonna make a copy over here. Ah, and uses duplicate to create a kind of slightly larger ah, slightly taller hill. Just so there's some variations. They don't all look the same because that would be kind of weird. Um, actually, that's the stuff just having hills in the background when cockroaches state to a layer in the foreground like this. So now you got these darker colored hills there quote uncle up close to the camera and confidence to the ones that are farther away in the background. Just so the Holstein has a little bit more death. All right, so have a bunch of hills, but there's still love. Ah, big, empty space in the sky. So I don't want a big landmark a little bit farther ways. I'm gonna create some mountains here using triangles home. I think it using the ad operation is easy. Easy to just duplicate these triangles to create entire mountain ranges in the background. And now that I look at it, I think intersect would actually work great. Here. I'm the great like a snowy peak on top of a mountain so duplicate the mountain layer seems the color. It's like we always do and just use intersect to create a small area of this lighter blue color on on top. And you know this snow peaks. They will never exceed the boundary of the home of the mountain of the triangle vector. So now I have, ah, snowy snow Peak. Okay, this point I'm pretty happy with the landmarks. I don't think it's filled in pretty well. Look, the sky still feels like he's missing something, so I'll just make a cloud shame here. It's surprising. What you can accomplish was just a few simple Victor. This is just add operation with some circles and a triangle. Um, and already we're seeing a cloud state. Now, I'm actually gonna keep this perfect triangle here. Um, I'm gonna move. The anchor points around. So the bear if is to shape the have in mind gonna stress these out horizontally moves top one down a bit. And was the whole thing upwards the bottom lines with the bottom of the circles. So and there will very fast, easy cloud. Now I want to make a starry night sky, But I don't want to just use the normal default five point star. So let's do something weird here. We're gonna start with a normal square and then uses attract operation to put four identical circles on the corners of that square, and you'll you'll see what the result is doing Enough. So let's just duplicate this circle over here and make sure it lines up with the corners. Don't copy of both of these. You can kind of see it come together Now that these circles are subtracting from the square , we end up with this sparkly shape as a result. And now I can, you know, shrink this are duplicated our do whatever. Really. Um senses effective, very easy to modify if I want to you. And also, this is a case where applying a layer style like outer glow is great because, as you can see, the 1st 1 to change the color of the glow, That's what Fist of background. A little bit better now we're gonna see it has a nice glow, but a layer style here is great because if I copied these shapes, um, the global be applied to every other start because they're all a part of the same layer. So it was not got the worry about going in and applying the same effect. These individual instance, it's already built in for the final touch. I'm think I'm just gonna add a crescent moon to this nice guy. And I'm pretty sure you hardly know how I'm gonna make this since I use this as an example on an earlier lesson. Basically just two circles. One them will be strong down and set to subtract. And they were go crescent. Very easy, very clean shape. And I'm pretty satisfied with how things turned out. I think you don't want to overdo it. I think this is about all I'm going to add to this scene. Everything looks pretty good. So this is my final vector landscape. Oh, you were able to follow along, and it maybe get some ideas of your own about how to use operations to create different features in your own last gate. Whatever you're able to come up with, hope you have thrown, and I really look forward to seeing what you all create. So I want to thank you all for joining this course, and I hope you have fun and learn more about what the pen tool was really capable of. Now, having said that, the pencil contains another ability something very powerful that allows you to draw beyond angular polygon and is necessary for creating vectors of any real life object. No matter how detailed a complex from vehicles to human faces, I really hope you'll join me next time as we explore this very important skill