Chapter 17. Working with Paths and Vector Shapes


  • Understanding vector path components

  • Defining vector paths

  • Manipulating vector paths

  • Creating vector masks

  • Adding custom vector shape layers to documents

  • Editing vector shapes

Vector data is completely foreign to most of the other functions in Photoshop that deal with pixel manipulation. Vector paths and shapes are derived from a series of mathematical functions rather than specific values for individual pixels. This chapter focuses on helping you understand how vector paths are created and manipulated as well as how to use them to create selections, masks, and shapes that can be applied to images.

Understanding Paths

You must understand the nature of paths to utilize them when working in Photoshop. Basically, a path is a series of lines called vectors. Each vector is made up of a coordinate in the image, a value that defines the direction, a value that defines the length, and parabolic parameters that define the contours. Instead of storing an image as a series of pixel values, the path data is stored as a series of mathematical functions that define the vector lines that make up the image.

Using paths has some definite advantages over simple pixel data:

  • The vector data is common to many different computer graphics applications, so you can save a vector image in one application and then use it and even manipulate it in another without losing any integrity of data. For example, you could create a path shape in Photoshop and then ...

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