Photoshop is an image-editing tool, the most advanced software available for manipulating photographs. But Photoshop also has excellent tools for drawing simple shapes and lines- especially for the artistically challenged. This month we pull out the drawing tools, explore their capabilities, and show you how to create a simple icon graphic.
Set up for drawing. Letís start with a large practice area. Go to File, New and specify a file 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall. Set the resolution to 150, mode to RGB, and background to White. Click OK. Next, click the Foreground Color button on the toolbar. In the Color Picker window, set the color to white.
Pick Up The Shape Toolsrectangle, ellipse, polygon, line, and custom shape.
But thatís just the beginning. Each shape has many options. For example, click the Layer Style drop-down menu to see fills and other nifty effects we can apply to shapes. For the moment, stick with the default style, which is none.
Now click the Rectangle shape and then the Geometry Options drop-down menu. Among other things, you can specify that the rectangle be a square. You can also specify the exact pixel height and width of your rectangle. Enter a height and width. Just click the page, and the exact shape appears.
Some shapes have still more options. Click the Polygon button. Youíll see an option for entering the number of sides youíd like the polygon to have. Try several. (Be sure to test out the Geometry options, too.) Next, click the Rounded Rectangle button. It has an option for setting the corner radius. The higher the radius, the rounder the edge.
Lines and arrows. Now letís select the Line tool. In the Weight box, specify a width of 15 pixels. Now draw a line. To keep it straight, press and hold down the SHIFT key as you draw. Now click the Geometry arrow button in the Options menu. Check the option to put arrowheads at both ends of the line. Select a concavity of 10%. The greater the concavity, the sharper the inside edges of the arrow. Practice some of these.Custom shapes. For even more shapes, click the Custom Shape button. Then click the Shape Picker and choose one of the shapes. Your options include a footprint, heart, starburst, and crescent moon, among others.
In fact, take a moment to play around with all the shapes. Test the possibilities. If your space gets crowded with shapes, close the file without saving it and open a new one.
Fill and intersect shapes. Now letís experiment with alternative settings in the left side of the Options menu. They allow for overlapping and intersecting shapes. Select the Rectangle tool and then click the far-left button: two intersecting squares of the same color. This setting is for adding a shape to an area. Next, return to the toolbar and click in the foreground color. Choose a shade from the Color Picker. Now click any shape tool and draw and watch it fill with color. Experiment with the other settings in this area. Select new colors and shapes to draw. Youíre a modern day Kandinsky!
Keep That Shape
Shape tools are great for making custom graphics for use in print or electronic documents. Letís create a simple starburst for highlighting a new product or service. Close the practice document and open a new one, using the same file settings. Click the Shape Tool.
Experiment with settings to create overlapping and intersecting shapes.
This time choose a Layer Style. Select the Color Target button. Then select the starburst shape and draw one. Make it large; you can resize it later. Now, returning to the toolbar, select the Type tool. Type NEW! in the text box. Select an appropriate font size and color. Use the Move tool to place the word precisely on the starburst. Next, crop the image. Finally, go to Image, Image Size and specify image size. (Ours is 200 pixels wide.) We want to use it for a print advertisement, so we save the image as a TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) file.
Most desktop publishing programs, including Microsoft Word, let you simply insert graphics like this into a document. Give it a try.
In the coming months, weíll show you how to create Web buttons with the Shape tools in Photoshop. In the meantime, try on another shape for size.