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Working with Vectors: A Valentine's Card (1)
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Working with Vectors: A Valentine's Card (1)
Created by: the Prof

In this three-part tutorial we will use vectors to create a Valentine's Card. Vector layers vs raster layers allow one to manipulate lines and curves to create other types of curves. (A raster layer is the default layer for PSP and allows the drawing of images using the various PSP features.)

When one uses a vector layer, there are only certain PSP tools available. The key tools are the Text, Drawing, Preset Shapes, and the Vector Object Selection tools. However, these tools allow the creation of exciting and interesting shapes.

In this first part of the tutorial, we will use vectors to create a heart shape from a circle, curved text and a frame. In the second part we will enhance the images created, and in the third part we will use a variety of techniques to create a very realistic card that one may use on their web page or in an e-mail for Valentine's Day.

Styles Textures
Lock style and texture settings

Exploring Vectors: Basic Set-up

  • In the Color Palette:
    • Foreground = Red (255, 0, 0)
    • Background = White (255, 255, 255)
    • Styles = Solid Color
    • Textures = Null
    • Lock = checked
Standard Toolbar - New (image) button
  • Create a new canvas:
    • Width and Height = 300 x 300 Pixels
    • Background Color = Background Color
    • 16.7M Colors (24 bit)
    • Click on OK
  • Notice in the Layer Palette, the layer is labeled Background. We want a transparent area underneath so let's promote it to a layer.
    • Right-click on the Background Layer for the context menu
    • Select: Promote to Layer
    • Label it: BG
  • Now, create a new vector layer:
    • Right-click on the BG layer for the context menu
    • Select: New Vector Layer
    • Label it: Red Heart
In the Layer Palette, notice that to the left of the BG layer there is a three-colored icon representing the RGB colors. Then notice to the left of the Red Heart layer there is a red box with blue dots at each corner icon which represents a vector layer.
Tool Palette - Arrow tool

To make the drawing a tad bit easier, let's set the Grid and Ruler as guides.
  • Set Ruler: View || Rulers
  • Set Grid: View || Grid
    • In the Tool Palette, select the Arrow tool
    • Right-click in image
    • In drop-down menu, select: Select Grid and Guide Properties
  • In the Grid and Guide Properties Window:
    • Units = Pixels
    • Horizontal & Vertical Spacing = 25
    • Line Color = (your choice, mine is dark gray [128,128,128])
    • Other settings = n/a
    • Click on OK

Draw the Red Heart

Whenever one uses vectors to draw, there are a few ways to adjust the curves:
  • Using just the eyes
  • Using the ruler and grid as guides
  • Using the coordinates located at bottom left on status bar
There is no one way, nor is there value to perfection as each image is a unique creation of the artist. So, don't obsess when making the heart.
Tool Palette - Preset Shapes tool

  • Use the Preset Shapes tool
    • Shape = Ellipse
    • Retain style = checked
    • Antialias = n/a
    • Create as vector = checked
    • Line width = n/a
    • Line style = default (#1)
  • Start at coordinates (150,150)
  • Right-click mouse and hold down Shift key
  • Drag mouse to create a circle = 201,201 (or at the fourth grid lines or ruler of 50,50)
At this point, you have a circle with a box and nodes at each corner, middle of each line and in the center.
Comment: This box with nodes is similar to the raster layer Deformation tool. You are able to adjust this shape by placing the cursor on a node and dragging to a new shape. You could make this circle an ellipse either horizontally or vertically. When the cursor is over the node, it changes to a double arrow. Just hold mouse button down and drag.
If you use the center nodes, the center one will move the shape, the right one when cursor is over it changes to a double circled arrow and will create a diagonal type shape.

On the edge nodes, if you use the Shift key and drag you create another type shape. And, if you use the Control key you create even another type of shape.

We have just altered a shape using a vector technique. At some point you might want to experiment in creating some different shapes. When ready, just press Ctrl+Z until you get back to the centered circle.
To draw the heart, we need to use the Vector Object Selection tool. Once activated, we need to node-edit.

When you click on the Node Edit button in the Tool Options palette, the box disappears leaving just a circle with four nodes. When you click on a node, one of two results may occur:

  • The node turns black to indicate that this node is active and ready for drawing
  • or, the node turns black and an arrow with a pointer at one end and a small circle at the other end appears.
Tool Palette - Vector Object Selection tool

Let's now draw the heart:
  • Click on the Vector Object Selection tool
  • In the Tool Options palette, click on Node Edit
  • Use the left set of coordinates in the status bar:
  • Drag the top node (perhaps to the left/top) to (150,75)
  • Drag the left node to (75,150)
  • Drag the right node to (225,150)
  • Drag the bottom node to (150,225)
Don't worry if the circle is no longer a circle.
Next set the Node Type settings. Right-click on a node for the context menu and select Node Type with these settings:
  • Top and bottom nodes = Cusp (Ctrl+X)
  • Left and right nodes = Symmetric (Ctrl+S)
(The node type that's greyed out in the context menu is the current type of that node; so, if you want to choose Cusp and it's greyed out, just leave it as it is.) At any time you may switch Node Type.
Click on a node, then position cursor over the left side or right side of the arrow for the double circle arrows and hold mouse button down and drag to the position wanted:
  • Top Node (watch the second set of coordinates):
    • Left side coordinates: (100,25)
    • Right side coordinates: (200,25)
  • Bottom node (second set of coordinates again):
    • Left side coordinates: (100,200)
    • Right side coordinates: (200,200)
  • Left node (watch the first set of coordinates): (50,100)
  • Right node (first set of coordinates again): (250,100)
You have now created the heart vector. It still needs to be positioned on the canvas: Double-click on a node to selectt all nodes (they all turn black). Hold mouse on top node and drag to (150,75).
Next, right-click in center of heart for context menu and select: Quit Node Editing. Then use Ctrl+D to deselect the node box. If you do not like the results, you can use Ctrl+Z to get back to the node-editing window or you can click on the ellipse in the Layer Palette and in the Red Heart layer. You may have to click on the plus sign to get to the ellipse layer. Then just node-edit to your desire.

We currently do not need the Grid or Ruler. Use: View || Grid and View || Ruler to turn both off leaving the heart outline on a white background.

In the Layer Palette, if your heart has been created on another vector layer, just delete the Heart Layer and double-click on the vector layer with the heart and label it Red Heart.

Color the Heart Red

In order to work on the heart, we now need to set this Red Heart layer to a raster layer:
  • Right-click on the Red Heart layer
  • Select: Convert To Raster Layer
Tool Palette - Magic Wand toolTool Palette - Flood Fill tool

Before moving on to creating curved text, let's set the heart selection and give it a red color.
  • Use Magic Wand tool:
    • Click outside the heart
    • Use Selections || Invert
    • Use Selections || Save to Alpha Channel and label it Heart
  • Use the Flood Fill tool, click inside selection for a Red Heart
  • Deselect (Ctrl+D)
And, since we will create the text on a white lace surrounding the red heart, we need to change the background color. So, highlight the BG layer in the Layer Palette, set the background color to a light pink (255, 224, 255) and flood-fill.

Creating Curved Text Getting Ready

To create curved text, we again will need a vector layer. We create the curve wanted and then use the Text tool on the curve and the text chosen will be displayed following the curve drawn or used.

We will create the curved text along the left side of the heart with the message 'Be My Valentine'. However, we want a white lace around the red heart for our text message.

Tool Palette - Flood Fill tool

Tool Palette - Mover tool
  • Highlight the Red Heart layer and relabel it: White Heart
  • Right-click for context menu and select: Duplicate
  • Label the top layer: Red Heart
  • Turn off the Red Heart layer
  • Highlight the White Heart layer:
    • Use: Selections || Load From Alpha, the Heart selection
    • Set background color back to White
    • Use Flood-Fill tool and right-click to fill heart selection with white
  • Turn on the Red Heart layer:
  • Highlight the Red Heart layer in your layer palette
  • Use: Image || Resize
    • Percentage of Original = checked
    • Use Value = 80
    • Maintain Aspect Ratio = checked
    • Resize All Layers = unchecked
    • Click on OK
  • If needed, use the Mover Tool and position the red heart to have more white at top for a more symmetrical area of the white heart
  • Deselect (Ctrl+D)

Creating Curved Text Using Vectors

We will use the Drawing tool, free-hand, and first draw a curved line around the left side of the white heart shape. Then we will use the Vector Object Selection tool and smooth out that curve. Finally we will use the Text tool for our message.
Tool Palette - Drawing tool

  • Highlight the White Heart layer in the layer palette
  • Use the Drawing tool
    • Type = Freehand Line
    • Width = 1
    • Line style = default (#1 solid)
    • Antialias = checked
    • Create as vector = checked
    • Close path = unchecked
  • To see the shape when drawing, change foreground color to black
  • Draw a line around the left side of the white heart starting about mid-way on the top curve and ending at the heart point at bottom. Don't worry about making a totally smooth line as we will use node edit to correct it.
  • When drawn, your line may have a black left outline and a white area that cuts off part of the red heart. Don't worry about that as we will eliminate it later.
Tool Palette - Vector Object Selection tool
  • Use the Vector Object Selection tool
  • Click on the Node Edit button
  • Take your time and click on each node and move to smooth out the line. If you are not satisfied, use Ctrl+Z and start again
  • When satisfied, right-click on the line and select 'Quit Node Editing'
Tool Palette - Text tool

  • Then use the Text tool
  • Place your cursor anywhere within the node box and click for the Text Entry dialog box
    • Find a font you like (I used Brush Script BT)
    • Set size to about 18 (you may have to adjust later)
    • Set Kerning to 50 (you may not need as kerning adds spaces between letters)
    • Leading = 0
    • Text = Be My Valentine (centered)
    • Styles: Stroke = Null, Fill = Solid Color: red
    • Textures: Stroke and Fill = Null
    • Floating = checked
    • Antialias = checked
    • Click on OK
  • The text will now curve around the line you drew and will have a selection around it
  • Turn off the vector layer to just see the text
  • You might need to position the text the way you want it
  • If you are not satisfied with how it looks, just use Ctrl+Z to return to where you want to start again. You might have to use a smaller size for the font.
  • Once you are satisfied:
    • Use Selections || Save to Alpha Channel: the text selection, label it Text
    • Right-click on the Floating Selection layer in the Layer Palette and select: Promote to Layer and label it: Text
    • Highlight the vector layer, right-click and select Delete
As a final exercise, let's create what will become a neat frame for our card using vectors again.
Tool Palette - Preset Shapes tool
  • Highlight the Red Heart layer in the Layer Palette
  • Use the Preset Shapes tool
  • Select Rectangle
  • Retain style = checked
  • Antialias is grayed out
  • Create as vector = checked
  • Line width is grayed out
  • Line style = default (#1 solid)
  • Start at coordinates (15,15) and draw to (285,285)
Tool Palette - Vector Object Selection tool

Then, use the Vector Object Selection tool and click on the Node Edit button. Use any node type wanted and create some curves and loops at the corners and in the middle somewhere. Just click on a node, if necessary right-click for context menu and set to Cusp or Asymmetric. Click on an arrow and loop it around in a circle to create a loop. If you want to add a node, just place your cursor where you want it and use the Ctrl key to add a node. Once satisfied, right-click on the vector layer and select 'Convert to Raster Layer'. Label this layer: frame.
Standard Toolbar - Save (image) button Save as valentine-01.psp (File || Save As) and select the PSP option and give it a file name.
Download this tutorial fileDownload file
The PSP image in the download file will give you an idea of how this set of layers and images might look. Again, there is no right or wrong in creating shapes. Just have fun and explore this tool.
In the second part of this tutorial, we will enhance these layers using various PSP features that will end in creating a Valentine's card for use on your web page.

-- Enjoy -- :o)