Home>Tutorials>Basics Tutorials>
Vectors: Creating Hollow Objects
E-mail this tutorial to a friendEmail to a Friend

Vectors: Creating Hollow Objects
Created by:Doro Sensen

Ever wondered what you can do with the "Reverse Contour" and "Reverse Path" commands in the Node-Edit pop-up menu? Well, reading in the PSP help files I found a neat technique that uses these features!


Standard Toolbar - New (image) button
Begin with a new image:
Width and Height = 200
Background color = white
Image type = 16.7 Million Colors (24 Bit)

Set your styles and colours:
Foreground and background styles = both Solid Color
Foreground color = black
Background color = purple (Red = 128, Green = 0, Blue = 128)
Foreground and background textures = both None
Lock = checked

Tool Palette - Preset Shapes tool
Click on the Preset-Shapes tool in your tool palette:
Shape = Ellipse
Retain style = unchecked
Antialias = checked
Create as vector = checked
Line width = 1
Line style = Default line

Press the Shift key so your ellipse will be a circle and, with your right mouse button, draw a circle into the center of your image. (Drawing with the right mouse button allows you to draw your circle from the center to the edges instead of from top left to bottom right.)

Then go to Objects || Align || Center in Canvas to center your circle in your image. Go to Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D) to deselect.

In the Tool Options palette, change the Shape = Six-pointed Star. Again pressing the Shift key so that the star will be symmetrical, and again with your right mouse button beginning in the center of the image, draw a star within the circle.

(If you move the mouse around a bit while drawing the star you'll notice that the star outline will move around as well that way you can rotate your star while drawing!)

Again, go to Objects || Align || Center in Canvas and deselect with Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D).

What we've got now is a purple star with black outline on a purple circle with black outline. Let's now see how we can cut the star out of the circle! First we have to find out in which direction these two objects' paths are running.

Tool Palette - Vector Object Selection tool


Click on the Vector-Object Selection tool in your tool palette and click on the circle to select it, then click on the "Node-Edit" button in your Tool Options palette. Your circle changes into an outlined circle with 4 nodes.

Click on one of the nodes. A node handle will appear at the node with an arrow on one end and a circle on the other end. The direction in which the arrow points shows the direction of the path: In our example on the left, the path of the circle object runs clockwise.

Click somewhere beside your image into the workspace of PSP to quit node-editing.


Layer Palette - Layer visibility on



In the Layer palette, turn your circle invisible by clicking on the little glasses; that way you can better see the nodes of the star when we now node-edit that object.

Click on the star, then on the "Node-Edit" button in the Tool Option palette and last click on one of the nodes to select it. You'll notice that there's no node handle here.

To find out in which direction the path runs, press your Shift key and then the Arrow key to the right. This will select the node either to the right or to the left of the previously selected node which indicates the direction of the path. In most cases, the right node to the previous one will be selected which means this path also runs clockwise.

Well, we need this path running the other way round, so right-click into your image and go to either Edit || Reverse Contour or to Edit || Reverse Path in the pop-up menu. (If none of the nodes was selected, the command "Reverse Contour" would be greyed out.)

Again press the Shift key and the Arrow key to the right your selection should now wander to the left, i.e. counter-clockwise.

Now right-click into the image again and go to Edit || Select All (Ctrl+A) in the pop-up menu. Now all your nodes should be selected and look solid black. Right-click again and this time go to Edit || Copy (Ctrl+C) in the pop-up menu. Then click somewhere beside your image to quit node-editing.

Layer Palette - Layer visibility off

Click on the crossed-out glasses on the circle layer in the Layer palette to make it visible again, click on the circle layer to make it the active layer and then click on the "Node-Edit" button in the Tool Options palette.

Now right-click into your image and go to Edit || Paste (Ctrl+V) in the pop-up menu. Your star nodes are pasted into the circle layer, you can see them all a bit to the right and below the purple star.

Take one of the nodes with your mouse (take care that the other nodes are not deselected!) and move the star nodes above the purple star. You can fine-tune their position by pressing the Ctrl key and then the arrow keys to move the selected nodes by only one pixel in either direction.

Now click beside your image again to quit node-editing and deselect with Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D).

Now click on the purple star in your image to select it, and then press the Delete key.

On the first glance you could think that your star turned white. However, you'll notice in your Layer palette that there's only your circle layer left meaning you have really cut the star out of the circle! :-))

You've just created a whole new object! If you want to have it available with your Preset-Shapes tool, rename the circle layer, select the object with your Vector-Object Selection tool and then go to File || Export || Shape, then enter a file name for your shape.

Standard Toolbar - New (image) button Let's try this again with two other objects! Begin again with a new image, same settings as the first one.
Tool Palette - Preset Shapes tool

Click on the Preset-Shapes tool in your tool palette. The shape should still be set to the six-pointed star.

Press your Shift key and draw a star into your image, then go to Objects || Align || Center in Canvas.


Standard Toolbar - Copy button
With your star still selected, go to Edit || Copy (Ctrl+C), then to Edit || Paste || As new Layer (Ctrl+L). You've now got two vector layers in your Layer palette and two stars in your image, one exactly above the other. (You might want to go to Objects || Align || Center in Canvas again to make sure they're both exactly centered in the image.)

Let's rotate the upper star so that we get something that looks like a twelve-pointed star: go to Image || Rotate:
Direction = doesn't matter
Degrees = Free: 30
All Layers = unchecked

Tool Palette - Vector Object Selection tool

Since the upper star is a copy of the lower star we know that their paths run into the same direction, so we don't have to check that out this time.

Click on the Vector-Object Selection tool in your tool palette. The upper star should still be selected. Click on the "Node-Edit" button in your Tool Options palette, then right-click into your image and go to Edit || Reverse Path in the pop-up menu, right-click again and go to Edit || Select All (Ctrl+A), another right-click and go to Edit || Copy (Ctrl+C). Then click beside your image to quit node-editing.

In your Layer palette, click on the star layer in the vector "Layer1" to select the lower star. Then click on the "Node-Edit" button in your Tool Options palette. Right-click into your image and go to Edit || Paste (Ctrl+V) in the pop-up menu, then move all the selected nodes that have just been pasted above the purple star, using the mouse and/or the arrow keys.

Click somewhere beside your image to quit node-editing and deselect with Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D).

If you now turn the upper vector layer invisible or delete it, you see that you've got an interesting new object in your lower vector layer: A twelve-pointed star with a hollow center the whole area where the two stars had overlapped has been cut out!

Now I got curious and wanted to know what I could do with a third object!





Tool Palette - Preset Shapes toolTool Palette - Vector Object Selection tool

First right-click on your six-pointed star layer in your layer palette, choose "Rename" from the pop-up menu and rename it to "Star - 12 points".

Then click on the Preset-Shapes tool in your tool palette and draw another six-pointed star in the center of your hollow star. Move it to the center of the star with your mouse, then click on the Vector-Object Selection tool and move and resize it so that the six points meet the inner outline of the purple 12-pointed star.

Click on the "Node-Edit" button in your Tool Options palette, right-click and go to Edit || Reverse Path, right-click again and go to Edit || Select All (Ctrl+A), right-click a third time and go to Edit || Copy (Ctrl+C).

Now you have to paste these nodes into the 12-pointed star layer: Click on the layer "Star - 12 points" in your layer palette and then on the "Node-Edit" button in your Tool Options palette, then right-click into your image and go to Edit || Paste (Ctrl+V). Move the pasted nodes with your mouse and/or arrow keys over the purple six-pointed star so that the selected nodes meet with the inner nodes of the 12-pointed star, then click somewhere beside your image to quit node-editing and deselect with Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D).

Now turn your six-pointed star layer invisible or delete it and look at your new object a 12-pointed, hollow star filled with a six-pointed star, all as one object!

You can handle this object like any other object, such as edit the properties (right-click and go to "Properties" in the pop-up menu) to make the fill a gradient like I did in the image on the left.

This technique opens up a whole new world of creating objects! You just have to make sure that one object's path runs clockwise and the other object's path runs counter-clockwise to create exciting new, hollow objects.

Of course you can use this technique not only with preset-shape objects, but also with curves that you drew with the Drawing tool (Close path = checked) and with vector text. Before reversing the path of vector text, remember to turn the text into a curve: Click on the Vector-Object Selection tool, then right-click into the image and go to Convert Text to Curves || As Single Shape.

Happy hollowing! :-))