Sunday, January 25, 2009

How To Make Preset Shapes in Paint Shop Pro

Don't have time for a tutorial but you would like the shape? That's cool! You can grab it here: gecko shape for Paint Shop Pro.  Place this is your User/Documents/My PSP Files/Preset Shapes folder for PSP.

For starters, only PSP versions with vector and nodes, version 8 and up, will work with this tutorial. You can even use Photoshop to follow this tutorial following its similar tools. I'll test the process in GIMP at a later time and provide the "how to" when I get to it.

Starting off, find any graphic of a solid figure. In this case, I decided to use a sillhouette of a gecko. Click the image to get the full size for copying.


Keep a few things in mind, this is someone else's outline of a gecko, but I want to convert it into a shape for PSP, so that I can use it over and over, changing the colors and elements at my own discretion. Once you have the image in PSP, we'll begin using the pen tool to create our own outline.

Open gecko.jpg and then create a new vector layer, selecting the new vector layer in the Layer Pallette, rename it "gecko".


In the Materials Pallete (see image above) select your background (bottom square) to be a lighter color 
than black, I chose white. And turn off foreground (top square) since you don't want a line or pixels taking up 

space on the outline. Select the Pen tool  and set the options in the toolbar for Mode: Draw lines and polygons. Place checks in the boxes for Connect Segments, Create On Vector, and Show Nodes - if they aren't already checked. Line style should be a solid line, and the anti-alias box should be checked. Now its time to lower the opacity on the gecko layer, to at least 50%. Zoom in on the gecko image so you can see the nodes clearly as you start drawing out the line, point to point, click by click. Then start "tracing" the gecko with the pen tool, keeping your nodes, fairly close together. (Keep in mind, if you mess up, all you need to do is undo that step and continue on from that point).






The point in lowering the gecko's layer opacity (see red arrow in layer picture shown above) is so that you can see the outline of the gecko itself, as you create a new vector line around the image. Once you have finished the line around the gecko, you need to "close" or "join" the lines you just made. This is done by lining the end point over the start point until you see "join", then release the mouse click.



Now the fun begins! Right click on a node (which is the same as the start and end points you see above) it doesn't matter which node you select, then from the right click menu select Edit - Select All. Right click a node again, be careful not to deactivate the selected nodes by clicking more than once, and from the right click menu select: Node Type - Symmetric. Your rough lines are now somewhat rounded off and the image looks sleeker.

In order for the "export shape" option to work, the image must have ONE layer and a vector image. So the existing gecko image that we traced has to be deleted from layer list. Simpy right click the background layer and select delete.

You can raise the opacity to 100% now and you can double click the New Path layer and change the background color, if you'd like. Once you have done this, it's time to export the gecko image as a shape.

Select the Arrow tool  and you should see a bounding box surrounding your image. If everything looks good and the box borders outside the actual image, we are good to go. Select File - Export - Shape. Name the shape "Gecko" and select OK.

Create a new image, select the Preset Shapes button  and you should see a box similar to this:


Scroll til you see gecko and select it. Notice in the above image that the Retain Style box is unchecked. If you uncheck this box, you can select any color you wish and even select a foreground border to surround it. It's all up to you what you want to accomplish. If you check Retain Style, it will open like you see it. You can hold the shift key down while dragging out the gecko shape to keep its aspect ratio (the image will not be distorted vertically or horizontally). And you're done!

Here is a sample of what I accomplished with the gecko using the Super Blade Pro plug-in (which can be found at http://www.flamingpear.com).


If you run into any problems while doing this tutorial, leave a comment, and I will do what I can to help you. Thanks!

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