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Vector Graphics - Part 1
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Vector Graphics
Part 1
Created by: Ron Lacey


Thank you to Ron Lacey who has graciously donated this tutorial to the PSPUG to be used in our Study Sessions. We have agreed to not modify the contents of his tutorial in any way. The only changes that were made were those necessary to adapt his tutorial (originally written for PSP 6) for use with PSP 7.

I won't pretend to be an expert on vector objects, after all I'm just a cat. Okay, okay, so I'm made of vector objects but you guys are made of flesh and blood and what do you know of biochemistry? Anyway vector objects differ from raster images mainly because they don't have pixels. Well they have pixels when they're displayed of course but the information about a vector object as stored in the file describes its actual properties while a raster image stores the information about each and every pixel. Why this matters to you is that it allows you to re-size, re-colour, deform, and do a myriad of things to them without any degradation of image quality. For instance, even though I look gorgeous above in my natural brunette, I can, with the click of a mouse, become a very handsome blonde (you should have seen me in my punk period).

Enough about theory, on to the mechanics. PSP makes working with vector objects a relative breeze, at least compared to programs like Illustrator or Corel Draw. Of course there is a trade off. The tools themselves are somewhat limited as compared to the ones in those programs but, for 'tooning they're the cats meow, heh heh.

PSP gives you four vector tools, they are activated by the last four buttons on your tool bar as indicated to the left. The first three, text, drawing, and shape are for actually creating objects. Of these we'll be dealing with the shape tool mostly (after all I'm a Shape Cat, don't ya know). Once you've selected the shape tool go to the tool palette and select the attributes you want, type of shape, line thickness, and line style. The colour and texture of your object will be determined by your foreground (stroke) and background (fill) style (for 'tooning you'll almost always use Solid Color for both). In operation it works pretty much like the PSP raster selection tool in that you click and drag the shape into existence.

The last tool is for selecting vector objects. The vector selection tool can be used to select either single objects or multiple objects. To select a single object simply place the cursor over the object and click. There are a number of ways of selecting multiple objects. You can simply surround all the objects by holding down the left button and dragging the cursor through the object much the same as you use the crop tool or the rectangular selection tool. When using this method you must completely surround the objects, objects with any portion of themselves outside the selection area won't be selected. Alternately you can click on each object separately while holding down the shift key. As well you can use these two methods in combination.

The selection tool is important in that it allows us to do several things to an object or objects. You can re-size or rotate all the selected objects together by grabbing the appropriate handle on the selection box. By holding down the shift key or the ctrl key at the same time you can apply basic deformations. If, from time to time, you notice the vector selection tool is greyed out it's because you are on a raster layer. Going to the layer palette and selecting a vector layer will remedy this. Which vector layer you choose (if you have more than one) doesn't matter as the vector selection tool works across all layers.

Once selected you can arrange and change the properties of objects. To do this right click the mouse after a selection is made and you will be presented with a drop down menu and, if you select arrange, you'll see a submenu. This is similar to the conventions used in most desk top publishing software. Basically this lets you choose which objects will be in front of or behind which other objects. This can also be accomplished in the layer palette but for simplicity's sake I'll just be dealing with the arrange menu. Basically it does what it says, "bring to top" will move the object to the front and "send to the bottom"... well you get it. "Move up" and "move down" will send the object above or below the next object in line.

The properties item will open up a properties box which will allow you to change many of the object's attributes such as line width, colours and textures, and shape style. One caveat, when choosing properties for multiple objects, if said objects are of different styles you may not be able to access all the options. As well you can activate node-editing from the drop down menu. I'll be dealing with that later on.

Well this is starting to get really boring so, if I haven't already driven you off, head over to Basic Shape Cat and the real fun will begin.