Vectors, outlines and pixel shapes in Photoshop # 2

First part of the lesson

In this part of the lesson, we will continue to study the difference between vector shapes, contours and pixel shapes, and which type of shapes are best to choose for drawing.

Drawing pixel shapes

The third of the drawing modes is called Fill Pixels, and it allows us to draw pixel shapes. I will select this mode by clicking the corresponding icon on the settings panel:

Select the “Fill Pixel” drawing mode

The Run Fill Pixels mode is the least interesting or useful of the three drawing modes, because when you select this mode, the program draws shapes, simply filling them with colored pixels that are not easily edited and scaled like vectors.

Unlike vector shapes, which are automatically placed on a separate layer every time we draw them, pixel shapes do not acquire their layers, so if we want to place a pixel shape on a separate layer, we need to create this layer first. Again, I have only a white background layer, and I will add a new layer to my document by clicking on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the layers panel:

Click on the “New Layer” icon

The program adds a new empty layer called Layer 1 (Layer 1) above the background layer:

New empty layer added to draw pixel shape.

Also, unlike the shape layers, which easily allow us to change the color of a vector shape at any time, pixel forms do not give us this opportunity. Photoshop will consider the current primary color (image color) as the color of the pixel shape, so you need to select the desired color in advance before you draw the shape. To change the primary color, click on the color swatch icon at the bottom of the toolbar. This icon is located on the upper left (while the icon for the background color is located on the lower right):

Click on the primary color swatch icon

This action will open the color palette. For my figure, I will choose a purple color. Once you select a color, click OK to close the palette:

Choose a new primary color from the color picker.

Having selected the Fill Pixels option on the settings panel and Layer 1 on the layers panel, and having defined the purple color as the main color, I click the mouse in the document window and use the Ellipse tool to draw a shape by dragging the cursor in the direction as i did before. And again, as in the case of drawing layers of shapes and contours, as you move the cursor, we first see only the initial shape of the future shape:

Using the tool “Ellipse” draw a pixel shape

I will release the mouse button to finish drawing the shape, and at this point Photoshop will fill the outline with color. At first glance, my new shape is no different from a vector shape, which I would draw by selecting the “Layer-shape” parameter:

Pixel shape is very similar to a vector shape.

However, if we look at the layers panel, we immediately see the difference. Our shape was filled with color pixels on a regular layer. This layer does not have a color swatch icon that would help us quickly change the color of the shape, and there is no vector mask. Since the shape consists of pixels, I cannot quickly select it using the Outline Selection tool, and more importantly, it does not have anchor points and guide lines that would help me change the size and shape of the shape using the Arrow tool. . In other words, after we studied the properties of vector shapes, their ease and speed of scaling, the pixel form is not of particular interest to us, since it is necessary to put a lot of extra effort to change its shape:

The thumbnail of layer 1 displays a pixel shape that is not as easy to change as a vector shape.

The biggest problem regarding pixel forms is that pixel forms do not scale well, especially when we need to increase the original size of the shape, while the shape layers can be enlarged many times without loss of image quality. In order to visualize what I am talking about, below you can see two seemingly identical figures that I drew with the Ellips tool. Although both shapes appear to be the same, in fact, the left shape is a vector shape, and the right shape is a pixel shape:

There is a vector shape on the left and a pixel shape on the right.

Taking a quick glance at the layers panel, we will see that the vector shape is placed on the shape layer (“Figure 1”), and the pixel shape is on the “Layer 1” layer:

Vector and pixel shapes are visible on the layers panel.

When I’ve chosen a vector shape, I’ll press the Ctrl + T (Win) / Command + T (Mac) keyboard shortcut to display a free transformation frame around the figure:

A free transformation frame appears around the vector shape.

Then I will reduce the size of the vector shape to 10% by setting the corresponding values ​​of the “Vertical scaling” (Width) and “Horizontal scaling” (Height) parameters on the settings panel:

Reduce the size of the vector shape to 10% of the original size

After that, I press the Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) key to confirm the changes and remove the free transformation frame, and now the vector shape on the left looks much smaller than the right shape:

View of the shapes after reducing the vector shape

I will do the same with the pixel form, first selecting “Layer 1” on the layers panel, then pressing Ctrl + T (Win) / Command + T (Mac) to select the “Free Transform” command and setting the “Scaling” parameters. horizontally “and” Vertical scaling “equal to 10%. Next, I press the Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) key to confirm the changes and remove the transformation frame, and now both figures have decreased in size. However, they still look the same:

After reducing the size, the vector shape and pixel shape still look the same.

Let’s now see what happens to the figures when I increase their size. I’ll start with the vector shape on the left by pressing Ctrl + T (Win) / Command + T (Mac) to select the Free Transform command and then returning the shape to its original size by setting the values ​​of the Horizontal Scaling and “Vertical scaling”, equal to 100%:

Increase the size of the vector shape to 100% relative to the original size

The vector figure again became the original size and did not acquire the blurring of lines and borders. Its edges have remained as clear as they were at the beginning:

Vector shapes can be scaled as much as you like without losing image quality.

I will do the same with the pixel form, setting the values ​​of the Scaling horizontally and Vertical scaling parameters to 100%: to return the original size to the shape. Having performed these actions, we can see a significant difference between vector and pixel shapes. While the vector shape on the left retained the clarity of the lines, the enlarged pixel shape completely lost its shape. Its edges now look shapeless and vague, which once again testifies to the limited possibilities of pixel shapes compared to vector shapes:

And the winner … “Layer-figure”!

Let’s summarize the results. Despite the fact that the program Photoshop has the ability to draw three types of shapes, most often you will work with vector shapes by selecting the “Layer-shape” option. The construction of such figures is based on mathematical calculations and does not depend on pixels, which makes it easy to change the size and shape of the figures. Outlines also have a vector nature and represent the outlines of shapes without color fill. They are easily scalable and editable, like the shape layers, but are not part of the document until we do something with them.

And finally, pixel shapes (the option “Fill Pixels”) are the least useful of the three drawing modes, which are shapes filled with colored pixels, with a number of limitations inherent in all bitmap images. Such shapes are difficult to edit, unlike contours and shape layers, and as they increase, the image quality becomes much worse.

And here we are done! We considered the difference between vector shapes, contours and pixel shapes! Visit our Photoshop Basics section to learn more about the program and how to work with shapes, layers, highlights, and other necessary tools! Or skip to other lessons that might interest you!

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