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Quick Tip: Cutting Corners in Adobe Photoshop

Modifying path-based objects By Dave Nagel
A goodly number of Photoshop users out there haven't quite taken to working with paths. Photoshop has always been about raster images, and, for those without experience in illustration programs, path tools can be a little confusing. They all look the same, and their functions can sometimes seem elusive.

Nevertheless, at one point or another, you'll encounter a situation where you need to use Photoshop's path tools. So I thought today I'd take a quick trip into the world of paths in Photoshop 6 and 7 and show you one way to modify Photoshop's path-based objects, such as rectangles ellipses and the like. Incidentally, this tutorial comes in response to a question posted in our Photoshop user forum. If you have not visited that forum but would like help from your fellow professional users, be sure to stop by. The forum is at http://www.wwug.com/forums/adobe_photoshop/index.htm.


For our exercise, we're simply going to create a rectangle and then round off one of the corners. It's a simple exercise, but one that will give you an idea of how to modify any kind of path-based object in Photoshop. While I happen to be using Photoshop 7 for illustration, the same principles (and tools) apply in Photoshop 6 as well.

1. Select the Rectangle tool from the Tool palette.



2. Draw your rectangle. This will create a rectangular shape with path outlines. When you first draw the object, you will be unable to see the points in the path. If you'd like, you can activate the path by clicking on it with the Path Selection tool (the black cursor arrow in the Tool palette), but it's not necessary.



3. Select the Add Anchor Point tool, which is buried under the Pen tool in the Tool palette.



4. Use the Add Anchor Point tool to add points to your rectangular path. To do this, simply click somewhere on the path. In our case, we're going to be rounding off the top right corner of our rectangle, so I'm going to add new anchor points to the top and right sides of my polygon, as shown below.



5. Finally, without switching tools, I''m going to click and drag the point on the top right corner. Notice that even though you still have the Add Anchor Point tool selected, the cursor changes when you move it over an existing point. This is because Photoshop automatically switches the tool into a Direct Selection tool, saving a trip to the Tool palette.



Here's a quick video of the process in action.



That's it. Note two things about this process. First, if you don't like where you've placed your points on the rectangle, you can simply click on the point and drag it to a preferred location. By holding down the shift key, you can constrain the point on the horizontal or vertical axis. Second, when you pull the corner in, you can hold down the shift key to bring it in at a 45-degree angle so that you don't have to rely on your eyeballs for accuracy.

If you'd like to have any of your Photoshop questions answered, be sure to drop me a line or visit our user forum here.


Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at dnagel@digitalmedianet.com.

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