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Lidded Boxes as Preset Shapes (1):
Making the Preset Shape
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Lidded Boxes as Preset Shapes (1): Making the Preset Shape
Created by: Brian


I wanted to draw a lidded box and save it so it could be reused and modified. I wanted to be able to:

  • change the panel fills and edges,
  • take the lid off and place it alongside,
  • put things inside the box.

All this can be done by starting with a preset shape, and you learn a lot about vector and raster layers along the way.

Creating a box using vectors and changing outlines and fills is easy enough and then you save it as a preset shape.

A preset shape is made with vector objects only, and they must all be on the same layer. Putting something into the box requires interweaving raster and vector layers, so if we start with a preset shape we will need to pull the shape apart and put each vector object on its own layer. Also, some of the vector layers may need to be copied and then converted to raster for some effect that only works on raster layers.

Consider your viewpoint: we will look down on the box from the front right-hand side and later, identify the panels with colour:
– top dark blue (currently transparent)
– bottom pink (hidden)
– front red
– back green
– left side pale blue
– right side yellow

To create this all-purpose reusable box we can use this method:

  1. Make and save a wireframe box. Depending on the order you create the panels you can easily end up with the layer stack in the wrong order and some panels might be hidden by others if they are solid. The order is easily corrected when the panels are filled in and we will colour the panels for easier identification. Later use any object property you like. You can save this as a *.psp file to reuse but keep going and:
  2. Use this box to create a preset shape. You can change all the panels and outline easily by creating the shape as a vector and "do not retain style". The box will then be drawn with the current fore- and background styles in the Materials palette. For example, use the brass gradient as foreground and choose a textured background.
  3. With a copy of the box preset shape you can make a lid and manipulate it.
  4. To put something in the box or make holes in the panels you need to introduce some raster layers so you must:
  • Put each vector object on its own vector layer.
  • Include raster layers for a picture panel and panel holes to see box contents.

Remember these handy keyboard shortcuts to use in this project:

Ctrl+C Copy
Ctrl+L Paste As New Layer
Ctrl+D Deselect
O (on keyboard) Object Selection Tool
V (on keyboard) Pen Tool
Ctrl+Alt+M Toggle Magnifier on and off
F8 Toggle Layer palette on and off. It can take up a lot of screen space but you will be using it a lot.

New Image

Making the Box

Create a new image: 500x500 pixels, with a transparent background.


Turn on your rulers: Go to View || Rulers.
Turn on the guides: Go to View || Guides.
Turn on the snap-to-guides: Go to View || Snap To Guides.

Now set three vertical guides at 100, 250, and 350.
Then set three horizontal guides at 300, 350, and 450.

(To set a vertical guide, you go onto the left-hand ruler with your mouse, click and hold the left mouse button and drag the guide towards the right into position. For a horizontal guide, you do the same starting on the top ruler. To fine-position the guides, you can right- or double-click on their handles in the rulers and then correct the value if needed.)


Preset Shapes Tool (PSP 8)


Select the Preset Shapes tool and set:
– Shape = Rectangle
– Retain style = checked
– Create as vector = checked

Starting at the 250 x 350 intersection of the guide lines, snap a rectangle to the left to 100 x 450 to fill the guideline rectangle.

Select the mid-left bounding box handle and, with the Shift key down to skew the rectangle, raise the left side of it so that its top corner is on the horizontal guide line at 300.

In your Layer palette, rename this object (within the vector layer) "Front Red". I have added a colour in the name as that is the colour I will use to identify this layer. Do not fill in the colour yet.

Note: For better visibility in the screenshots, the stroke width of the vector objects was increased for these steps. In your image, the black lines might be thinner.


Starting at the 250 x 350 intersection, snap a rectangle to the right to fill the guideline rectangle.

Select the mid right-hand bounding box handle and, with the Shift key down, raise the top right corner and the side of the rectangle to the same 300 horizontal guide line.

Rename this layer object "Right Side Yellow".


A copy of the right side and then of the front will form the left side and the back of the box.

While the right side is still selected, copy it (Edit || Copy or Ctrl+C) and paste as a new layer (Edit || Paste || Paste As New Layer or Ctrl+L) and carefully move it to the left so that the two left hand corners coincide with the two left hand corners of the front.

Rename the vector object rectangle (within vector layer 'Vector 2') to "Left Side Pale Blue".


Repeat this procedure by selecting the "Front Red" object in the Layer palette, copy it (Edit || Copy or Ctrl+C), paste it as a new layer (Edit || Paste || Paste As New Layer or Ctrl+L) and align it to form the back panel of the box.

Rename this new layer object (within vector layer 'Vector 3') "Back Green".

For the moment, ignore the way the Layer palette is developing. We will organise it later.

New Vector Layer

Now we will add the bottom and top of the box by positioning the corner nodes of another vector rectangle.

First turn off the snap-to-guides: Go to View || Snap To Guides.

You can also turn off the visibility of the guidelines if desired (View || Guides).

The drawing looks like a box now but it has no top or bottom panels yet.

Create a new vector layer (Layers || New Vector Layer) and draw a random-sized rectangle anywhere nearby.

Pen Tool

Select the Pen tool ("V" on the keyboard). The corner nodes of the random rectangle change to nodes that can be moved by left-clicking and holding the mouse button down.

Turn on the Magnifer (View || Magnifier or Ctrl+Alt+M) for accuracy and carefully move the corner nodes over the four bottom box corners.

Rename this vector object (within vector layer 'Vector 4') "Bottom Pink".

Now either repeat this procedure with another random rectangle, or activate your Object Selection Tool ("O" on the keyboard) and copy the bottom rectangle (Edit || Copy or Ctrl+C) and paste it as a new layer (Edit || Paste || Paste As New Layer or Ctrl+L) to create the "Top Dark Blue" object (within vector layer 'Vector 4' or 'Vector 5', dependent on the way you chose).


The six panels of the box are now complete but the Layer palette probably looks a bit of a mess and can't be used to make a preset shape in its present state. All the vector objects – the box panels – need to be on one vector layer.

Expand all the layers so that all the named objects are visible.

Left-click and drag each object onto any layer you choose. I used "Vector 4" and renamed it "Box".

Delete the empty layers.

Now check the object stacking order:


Right-click on each object's name in the Layer palette, select "Properties" from the pop-up menu and fill each panel with the colour you have in the layer name. Leave the top with no fill.

If the stack order is wrong, you may have some weird result. Think about the box. You cannot see the box bottom, only parts of the left side and back, and you will need to remove the dark blue fill from the top of the box to see inside. You may need to rearrange the layer stacking order so you see a red front and yellow right side, some pale blue left side and some green back.

In the end, the stack order in the Layer palette should look like this:
– Right Side Yellow
– Front Red
– Top Dark Blue
– Back Green
– Left Side Pale Blue
– Bottom Pink

The "Top Dark Blue" object is left transparent so you can see inside the box.


Making the Preset Shape

Select all the objects: Click on any object name in the Layer palette, hold down the Shift key and click on each of the other names so that all names are in bold type.

Go to Objects || Group. "Group 1" is created. Rename "Group 1" to "My_Box". This is the name that will appear in the Preset Shapes library.

Now go to File || Export || Shape. Enter "My_Box" for the file name and click on OK.

The preset shape is now saved in the default folder, \My PSP8 Files\Preset Shapes.

New Image     Preset Shapes Tool

Create a new image, activate the Preset Shapes tool and select "My_Box" as the shape.

Draw two boxes, one with "Retain style" checked and another one with "Retain style" unchecked in the Tool Options palette to use the current settings in the Materials palette.

In this case I used the gradient "Metal Brass" on an angle for the Foreground Material and the "Seedbeads" pattern as the Background Material.

Download File Download File
Here's a box preset shape for you if you got desperate on the way ;-)) – just download it with the file on the left and unzip it into your \My PSP8 Files\Preset Shapes folder.
  In Part 2 of this tutorial we will use and manipulate our box preset shape in various ways.