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Creating Geometric Paint Effects in Photoshop

Delving into directionality to create 'Spirographic' brushes By Dave Nagel
This is our fifth exploration into the Paint Engine in Adobe Photoshop 7. Since so many of the remaining parameters in this program are self-explanatory, I thought we'd break away for a while from simple feature explanations to a more practical look at what you can do with some of the Paint Engine's dynamics--in this case directionality for creating geometric and "Spirographic" line effects.

If you haven't already, you might want to backtrack to read the first four installments in the Photoshop 7 Paint Engine Series. You can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. (My DMN subscribers can find the ad-free versions here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)

The goal of this particular tutorial is to work with various directionality settings in Photoshop 7 to create two sorts of effects: intertwining lines and "Spirographic" patterns, similar to what you could produce with a Hasbro Spirograph game. That is, effects that produce repeating, overlapping lines like meshes. This needn't be applied simply to lines, however. You can use this same trick on ore complex brushes for producing repeating, but shifting patterns out of any brush tip shape, including images. In the end, we'll wind up with a paint brush that can accomplish this effect interactively by simple freehand drawing or through path stroking.

Creating line-effect brushes
Since the goal of this tutorial is to produce brushes that create line effects, we'll begin with the creation of a single-pixel-wide brush. But, again, you can use any brush tip shape for this process. (Later in this tutorial we'll look at more "Spirographic" brushes as well.)

Open Photoshop, and create a new document. Switch to the Single-Column Marquee Tool, and click somewhere in your canvas. Then choose Edit > Stroke. In the dialog that pops up, enter a one-pixel stroke width using black as the stroke color.

Deselect your column (Command-D Macintosh, Control-D Windows), and you should be left with a simple vertical line.

Now switch to the Paint Brush Tool and then choose Edit > Define Brush. This will use all of the visible pixels in your image to create a brush tip shape.

Now open up your Brushes palette. The currently selected brush should be the one you just defined. If you try to use it at this stage, you'll get sort of a scrolling effect. But we want to take this a step farther.

So click on the dynamic in the Brushes palette called "Shape Dynamics." Turn everything off, and then switch the Angle setting to "Direction." (Leave the Jitter at 0.)

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