My Secret dekeOderings, of late, I've been trying to unlock the minor mysteries of Photoshop shape layers. Mostly, because if I don't pay strict attention, they don't always work the way I sort of absent-mindedly expect them to. And any passive knowledge I might have once had about using shape layers got disrupted by some recent changes to how they work.
So, after watching some dekeVideos, reading through some of our One-on-One books, and perusing the internet for advice from trusted friends, I have arrived at the following helpful (to me) observations.
1) Those once-inscrutable options bar icons for using a shape tool have now been replaced by equally inscrutable words (which you could have found in the tooltips pre-CS6). Either way, there are three options for what happens when you use a shape tool.
Whether you're used to the pre-CS6 era icons (square with smaller squares, square with pen, square) or the new drop-down menu offerings (Shape, Path, Pixels), the bottom line is that there are three options for whatever's going to happen when you use a shape tool (or draw a shape with the pen tool).
A shape layer is created when you do the first option---that is, use a shape tool (rectangle, ellipse, polygon...) or the pen tool to create, well, a shape. Like, oh, a martini glass. You scoff. You wonder about my sobriety. But in truth, the classic universal martini shape is a great mixture of curves, perpendicular lines, angled lines, and of course, an olive drawn with the ellipse tool.
I've decided, arbitrarily, and without the benefit of real martinis (it's too early) or Deke (off camping at Sasquatch with his man-friends) that for me, it's easiest to think about a shape in Photoshopland as being a combination of a vector (a mathematical expression of a line or curve) and the pixels that decorate that line in the form of strokes and fills.
The other two options you can create with a shape tool are paths (which is just the vector with no decoration, thus they live only in the Paths panel) or pixels (which are just the decoration, plopped down one time, then abandoned by the line that gave the initial instruction).
Read on for more of my sober, if whimsical and ingenue-esque, observations. (If you're not a member of dekeOnline, you can become one here for free then continue reading.) Read more »