2007 SLP Curriculum Guide #20 Vectors - Basics I
Curriculum Guide Index

Paintshop Pro has three graphic modes, Raster, Vector and Art Media (since Version 9). In this series of guides we will be exploring Vector graphics.

Raster Graphics is the most common and primary PSP mode as all PSP features can be used on Raster layers. Raster graphics are pixel painting, so to speak, in that each pixel on a canvas is a color. Thus, the way colors are used for each pixel produces the results. Pixel colors can be fully opaque to transparent. Shapes and curves if examined in a zoomed canvas are actually very zagged and can be made to appear fairly decent by the transparency values used around the edges of the shape or curve (anti-alias values).

Art Media Graphics is a mode of graphics that mimics real life painting. One can simulate oils (brush strokes), pencil, crayon, chalk and marker painting. Art Media graphics also have its own palette where colors can be fully to partially mixed to give a varied painting result particularly when using brushes (oil painting).

Vector Graphics is a mode where one draws shapes, lines, curves which are produced mathematically (one does not need to understand nor use mathematical means) which allows one to manipulate the shapes, lines and curves without any change in the quality of them. There are only certain PSP features that can be used with Vector graphics. Other PSP features require the Vector Layer to be converted to a Raster Layer before the feature can be used.

Each of these three types of graphic modes are drawn on their respective layer. The techniques for managing and manipulating layers for the most part are similar so one only needs to learn how to use vectors to draw.


In this first guide on using Vectors, we will just explore some of the features of Vector graphics. Initially, vector drawing can be a bit intimidating until one masters the basics which requires just a little time in exploring them.

The Vector Tools (which also can be used as Raster Tools dependent upon whether or not the Vector Check box is checked) are all created on a Vector Layer. If one has not started a canvas as a vector layer when using one of these tools as a vector graphic tool the vector layer will be automatically created.

Vector Tools

  • Text Tool: Allows creating text in the canvas and/or having text shaped around a curved line.
  • Preset Shapes: Draws a preset shape which is selected in the 'Shape List' option box.
  • Rectangle: Draws either a rectangle or square shape.
  • Ellipse: Draws either an ellipse or circle shape.
  • Symmetric Shapes: Draws either a polygon or stellated (star) shape.
  • Pen Tool: Allows drawings of lines, point to point (bezier) shapes, and freehand drawings.

Vector Options

For the most part each of the Vector Tools have similar options one can set, change and use. We will only cover some of the basics in this guide and cover other options in additional guides as we explore.

  • Two key options are the 'Show Nodes' and 'Create on Vector' check boxes. Both in these guides should be checked.
  • Once a shape, curve, line has been finished then one uses the 'Apply' button (arrow) to set the shape on the canvas.
  • A third check box, Anti-Alias, can be checked and usually I leave it checked.

Object Selection and Alignment

There are two additional tools/features that one will use when working with Vectors.

  1. Pick (Object Selection) tool:
    The Pick (Object Selection) Tool will set a rectangular selection around the object drawn. It will have 'nodes' that can be manipulated just as one would use the Pick tool in a Raster drawing. This tool has a number of options to choose from that can manipulate the object. The one option for 'basic tools' is the 'Properties' Option which is the light blue circle on a darker blue square on a red check icon at the far right of the Tools Option Palette. When selecting the Properties button a dialogue box appears which allows one to manipulate the object such as the 'Stroke' (object outline), Fill (object color within the object outline), Stroke Width (size of outline, Style of outline, and some other options.
  2. Objects Menu Item:
    The 'Objects Menu Item' has a number of selections one can make. For now the one to know about is the 'Align' selection that allows one to align the object often just using the 'Center in Canvas' option.


To get us started on using Vector Graphics just explore these above basic tools and options for purposes of becoming initially familiar with them.
  1. New Raster Canvas, 600 x 600 with a white background in order to more easily see the object outline drawn.
  2. Select the 'Rectangle' Tool and in the Tool Options Palette select Square, and check show nodes and create on Vector. Draw a square.
  3. Look at the Layers Palette now and notice that the square is drawn on a vector layer. Also notice that the layer has a plus sign to the left so click on it to make it a minus sign and notice that you now have a sub-layer with your square drawing.
  4. Click on the Objects menu item and select Objects || Align || Center in Canvas to center your drawing.
  5. Select the Pick Tool (Object Selection in earlier version than 10) and click on the Properties Tool to view and use (experiment) with the dialogue box options that appears.
  6. Use the Properties dialogue options to experiment with 'Stroke' (color, size, etc) and when playing with larger size and colors note that you can click in that box to bring up the Materials palette to select color, gradient, pattern.
  7. Experiment also with the 'Fill' check box.
  8. Now, other than the Text Vector and Pen Tools, experiment with all other tools and draw some Preset, Rectangular, Elliptical and Symmetrical Shapes.
  9. Use the Properties Dialogue (Pick tool) on each of the drawings to just become more familiar with its options.

Once you have a good idea of these basic tools and their options you are ready to move on to Basic II.


  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • Name or Screen Name.
    • Web Site URL.
    • Version of PSP using.
    • List of Tutorials completed.
  2. Post your Work:
    • List what you did, feature, options used, values.
    • Indicate steps taken and results.
    • Indicate things you found interesting, worthwhile and any other comments.
  3. Comment on any particular techniques you used or discovered, any particular results you found perhaps by accident and any ideas you have for creating a particular result.
  4. Post any questions and comments in the SLP Forum.

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