Cars, Motorsport, Video Games, Movies, Computers, Food, Travel, SharePoint and Social Computing

Posts tagged “Project CARS

Tutorial – Combining Paths in PhotoShop

1.0 Introduction:
I have been using PhotoShop for a number of years, but in the last 12 months as I have been creating custom liveries for Need For Speed – Shift 2 (Link) and Project CARS (Link) I have started to started to make greater use of Paths and Vector Shapes.

pCARS_BMW_Z4_GT3_Contest

However, one area that I have always found difficult to master is combining multiple Paths into a single Path. For some reason it just didn’t work they way I expected it to and sometimes the results appeared to be totally random.

When I mentioned the challenges that I was having when combining paths a fellow member (Ryno917) on the Project CARS forum he recommended that I check out this tutorial (Link). Unfortunately, this tutorial did not answer all my questions about combining paths. However, it did start me thinking in a new direction that ultimately led to me finally getting my head around how to combine Paths in PhotoShop to get the result that I wanted.

2.0 Getting Started
For this tutorial I’m using PhotoShop CS2 on the PC, not the most recent version I know but this tutorial should also work for newer versions of the application and for the Mac. I’m also going to assume that you understand how to create vector shapes and select paths, so that I can focus on the detail of combining paths in PhotoShop.

I’m going to start with the basics of joining two Paths together (Union) and creating a new path from the overlapping area between two paths (Intersection). I will then move on to look at how you can create a new Path by removing the over lapping area between two paths (Exclusion). Removing one path from another (Subtraction) is the function that I have experienced the most difficulty with, so I’ll leave that one to the end.

For each step of this tutorial you need a PhotoShop file with two layers each containing a vector shape. To keep things simple for this tutorial I have created a Red circle on the lower layer and a Blue rectangle on the upper layer as shown below:

Tutorial_Combining_Paths_000

You will need to start from this point for each of the 4 exercises in this tutorial, therefore I highly recommend saving this file so you can quickly revert back to this position when you have completed each exercice.

3.0 Union:
This is the most basic and easily understood of the PhotoShop combine functions for Paths and Shapes. You take two Paths and combine them into a new path that defines the same area that the two paths outlined.

Step 1: Select the rectangular path in the upper layer, copy the path and then hide the upper layer
Step 2: Select the lower layer, select the Vector Mask and paste the path
Step 3: Using the Path Selection Tool hold down the shift key and select both paths. You will know that both paths are selected because they will have a small back square on each of their vertexes
Step 4: From the top toolbar select the first icon (Add shape to area) and click the Combine button

You should now have a single shape that defines the same area that the two paths previously outlined.

Tutorial_Combining_Paths_001

4.0 Intersection:
This is another straight forward function to understand. Take two paths that overlap and combining them together to create a new path which only includes the area of overlap.

Step 1: Select the rectangular path in the upper layer, copy the path and then hide the upper layer
Step 2: Select the lower layer, select the Vector Mask and paste the path
Step 3: Using the Path Selection Tool hold down the shift key and select both paths
Step 4: From the top toolbar select the third icon (Intersect shape areas) and click the Combine button

You should now have a single shape that defines the same area that was overlapped by the two paths.

Tutorial_Combining_Paths_002

5.0 Exclusion:
Now we are starting to get a bit more complex. Exclusion is effectively the inverse of Intersection. So rather than being left with the area that the two paths overlapped, you are left with the area the two paths defined excluding the area that they over lapped. I’m not sure how often you would use this option, but good to know it is there if you need it.

Step 1: Select the rectangular path in the upper layer, copy the path and then hide the upper layer
Step 2: Select the lower layer, select the Vector Mask and paste the path
Step 3: Using the Path Selection Tool hold down the shift key and select both paths
Step 4: From the top toolbar select the fourth icon (Exclude overlapping shape areas) and click the Combine button

You should now have a single shape that defines the same area that was outlined by the two paths, but excluding the area of overlap between the two shapes.

Tutorial_Combining_Paths_003

6.0 Subtraction
Now we get to the function that has caused me so many issues in understanding how it works. I’ll begin by sharing the key lesson that I learnt from the tutorial (Link) that I was recommended to look at. In the previous three exercise it does not matter if you copy the circular path to the rectangle layer or the rectangle layer to the circle layer, the end result once you combine the paths will be the same. For the Subtraction function this is NOT the case, and you will get a different result depending which layer you copy from and to.

In the the previous three exercises it was necessary to select both paths once they were on the same layer before clicking the “Combine” button to create the new path. However, for the Subtraction exercises it is important to make sure that only the path that you have pasted into the layer is selected.

6.1 Copying path to a lower layer
In the previous three exercises we have copied the rectangle path from the higher layer to the lower layer containing the circle, so lets see what result that gives when using the Subtraction function.

Step 1: Select the rectangular path in the upper layer, copy the path and then hide the upper layer
Step 2: Select the lower layer, select the Vector Mask and paste the path
Step 3: Select only the path that you just pasted (do NOT select both paths)
Step 4: From the top toolbar select the second icon (Subtract from shape areas) and click the Combine button

You should now have a single shape that defines the same area outlined by the circle, but with the area outlined by the rectangle subtracted from it, which looks a bit like Pac-Man.

Tutorial_Combining_Paths_004a

6.2 Copying path to a higher layer
But what if that was not the result you are after, and you actually wanted a rectangle with a curve subtracted from the lefthand side? Well lets try copying the circle path form the lower layer to the higher layer containing the rectangle.

Step 1: Select the circule path in the lower layer, copy the path and then hide the lower layer
Step 2: Select the higher layer, select the Vector Mask and paste the path
Step 3: Select only the path that you just pasted (do NOT select both paths)
Step 4: From the top toolbar select the second icon (Subtract from shape areas) and click the Combine button

You should now have a single shape that defines the same area outlined by the rectangle, but with the area outlined by the circle subtracted from it, which looks a bit like a chocolate bar that someone has taken a bite out of.

Tutorial_Combining_Paths_004b

So in summary, for the Subtract function you create the path that you want to subtract from on one layer and the path you want to subtract on another layer. It does not matter which layer is above or below the other. Then select the path that you want to subtract, copy and paste this into the layer containing the path that you want to subtract from. With only the path to be subtracted select the Subtract function and click the “Combine” button

7.0 Conclusion
Hope fully this tutorial has explained how to combine paths in PhotoShop to get the end result that you are looking for. Initially it may see a bit confusing (especially the subtract function), but with some practice it soon becomes easy to use and understand.

And a final tip, when you have the two paths on the same layer you can preview the final result by clicking the Union, Intersection, Exclusion and Subtraction options before you click the “Combine” and create the new path.

Links:
Need For Speed – Shift 2 Gallery: Link
Project CARS Gallery: Link
Tutorial: Link

Advertisements