In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques movie, Deke McClelland demonstrates how to trace a fairly complex shape in Photoshop without relying heavily on the often unintuitive Pen tool. Being able to select a complex shape—like this week’s light bulb—without relying on a complex manipulation of anchor points and control handles can be a very handy way to trace objects in Photoshop. For those of you, like me, who find the Pen tool somewhat daunting, this week’s technique is an early holiday gift from Master Deke.
Deke starts with this image from the Fotolia image library:
Then, deftly adding and subtracting ‘primitive shapes’ (namely circles and rectangles), Deke ultimately creates an accurate vector-based path outline around the entire object. Here’s a diagram of all the shapes that go into creating this combined path.
After you ingeniously apply the Combine button to your primitives, you magically arrive at this single meticulous path:
Of course, aside from just merely selecting the light bulb, having it designated by a vector-based path means that you can easily create a vector mask from it. By doing so, you can apply effects that remain constrained to the light bulb. In this week’s Online Training Library® exclusive members-only movie, Turning path outlines into a vector mask, Deke shows you how to create that mask and then apply some cool effects to create this image:
If you’d like to dive deeper into this light bulb project in particular, check out Chapter 27 of Deke’s Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery course. If you tend to create your vectors in Illustrator instead, Mordy Golding walks you through a similar Illustrator philosophy in the Drawing artwork vs. building artwork chapter of his Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing Without the Pen Tool course.
See you back next week with more Deke’s Techniques.
Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop Designers: Shape Layers
• Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
• Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing Without the Pen Tool