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Chapter 4. Working with Vector Graphics > Creating custom shapes

Creating custom shapes

Creating custom vector shapes opens up a lot of creative options. In this exercise, you will use the Pen tool to do this. This image has a bitmap background and a complex vector illustration of the movie’s lead actor. To practice custom shapes, you’ll create a stylized background to run behind the movie title in this design. First you will import the movie title.

Importing and resizing a vector object

1.
Open street_scene.png.

2.
Choose File > Import, and browse to the Lesson04 folder.

3.
Locate and select the movie_title.png file, and click OK to return to the canvas. The import tool icon replaces the standard cursor.

4.
Click anywhere on the canvas to import the title at its original size.

5.
Resize the title to a specific size by choosing Modify > Transform > Numeric Transform.

6.
Change the sizing option from Scale to Resize.

7.
Set the width to 467 pixels. The height will adjust automatically—so long as Constrain Proportions is selected—giving you dimensions of 467 × 342.

Note

Did you notice that the movie title’s overall quality did not change after resizing? That’s because the title is made up of a group of vectors. And, to ensure that the text style does not change from designer to designer, the text was converted from true text to paths.

8.
Click OK.

9.
Use the Pointer tool to position the title so the letter “Y” is near the brim of the detective’s hat. The x and y coordinates should be around 198 × 121.

Drawing the shape

Now you’re ready to draw the shape for the title. You will do your best to imitate the shape shown in the following figure. It’s made up of a series of straight anchor point segments. This is a custom shape, so don’t worry if you don’t create an exact match. To help you further, you can make the original shape visible in the Layers panel and use it as a guide.

1.
Lock all other objects in the Layers panel (click on the empty square to the left of each object name) so you don’t accidentally move or edit them, and hide the detective so you can see the full vector example.

2.
Select the Pen tool.

3.
In the Property inspector, set the Fill to None and the stroke Basic > Hard Line. Set the stroke’s color to #990000 and the Texture to 0%.

4.
Click and release the mouse to set each point for the shape. There is no need to click and drag any of these points as you set them, because they all need to be straight lines.

5.
When you bring the cursor back to your starting point, you will notice the icon changes to the Pen tool icon with a small circle, indicating you can close the path by clicking. This closed path is your custom shape.

6.
If you were using the original image as a guide, hide it now in the Layers panel.

7.
Reselect the new vector object you just created in the Layers panel.

8.
Select the Subselection tool.

9.
If necessary, you can reposition any anchor points in the new object; use the mouse to reposition anchor points. Note how both paths extending from the anchor point adjust based on the new location of the anchor point. Feel free to adjust anchor points until you have the shape you want.

10.
Save the file.

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