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Spotlight on Photoshop CS2: Vanishing Point

Cloning, duplicating and transforming with perspective By Dave Nagel
Of the myriad new features in Adobe Photoshop CS2, probably the most flashy is Vanishing Point--a function that allows you to design and edit with perspective. But Vanishing Point isn't all flash. It's there to help you in some difficult editing and compositing situations, situations that require your to move elements across 3D space, clone on tricky perspective planes or paint on surfaces at varying angles. In this spotlight feature, we'll take a look at everything Vanishing Point has to offer, along with some practical examples of this feature in action.

Vanishing Point operates as a filter in a way similar to Liquify or Pattern Maker. That is, you call it up via the Filter menu (or a keyboard shortcut), and it opens up into its own workspace with its own set of tools. These include many of the tools present in the main Photoshop interface, but with some differences:

? Edit Plane (arrow)
? Create Plane
? Marquee
? Stamp (clone)
? Paint Brush
? Transform
? Eyedropper
? Hand
? Zoom

Each one of these tools, in turn, includes its own set of options for accomplishing various types of tasks, which we'll get to below. First, a look at the basic starting procedure of Vanishing Point.

Setting up: plane creation
When you launch Vanishing Point, the only available tool is the Create Plane tool. This is used for setting up the perspective planes in your image and is central to all other Vanishing Point functions. Creating a plane is a simple process: simply click on four points to create a four-sided 2D object that follows the perspective of your image.

Once the initial plane is created, you can then use either the Edit Plane (arrow) tool or the Create Plane tool to make further changes to it. For example, to fine-tune the perspective of your initial grid, you need only drag one of the four corner points on your plane. To extend the plane, you grab one of the side handles. To add perpendicular planes connected to your initial plane, you hold down the Command key (Mac) or Control key (Windows) and drag on a side handle. The perpendicular plane pulls off the main plane, and, from there, you can continue to manipulate the new plane or add more perpendicular planes.

In the QuickTime movie below, you'll see the plane creation process in action. Here I create an initial plane, then modify its depth and corner points; then I add more planes to it; then I select a plane with the Marquee tool and clone from the top of my object to one of the sides with perspective. (We'll get into cloning and marquee selections below.) You can see it's a fairly simple process. Everything that happens in the video below happens in real time.

The Create Plane tool itself, I should mention, includes two options: one for showing the edges of the grid, the other for setting the size of the grid. (This second can be useful for helping you line up multiple reference points in a plane.)

I should also note that once you apply Vanishing Point, Photoshop remembers the grid you've created as long as you don't resize the image. The grid remains even after closing and reopening your document, as long as it was saved in the Photoshop format, and as long as it hasn't been resized.

Vanishing Point's main interface

So now that we know how to create basic planes (or sets of planes), we'll look at what we can do with those.

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Related Keywords:adobe photoshop cs2, vanishing point, cloning, marquee selections, perspective, 3d compositing


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