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Hour 13. Paths > Summary


The path is a magical Photoshop feature that has many applications in your daily Photoshop existence. You can use paths as permanent Photoshop selections that can be reused anytime, as the means to fill or stroke part of an image, as a way to convert areas of an image or work on an image in Illustrator, or as clipping paths to be exported into a page layout program. Photoshop provides an array of tools and options for creating paths: You can do so by converting a selection you have already made, or by drawing a path from scratch by using a Pen Tool. You can also edit existing paths with the assorted Path tools, and you can create shaped paths with the Shape tools. You can even make and use custom path shapes.


Q1: How can I use paths to draw shapes onto my pictures?
A1: Choose the Shape Tool that's appropriate, and select Shape Layer on the Tool Options bar. Your shape will appear on a new layer in the foreground color. To draw a custom shape, select the appropriate Pen Tool and draw the path you need. Once you have placed the path, stroke it or fill it as necessary.
Q2:What does the Magnetic Pen do that the other Pen Tools don't?
A2: The Magnetic Pen bases its selection on contrast. This automates path creation to some degree, as you don't have to rely on your own hand-eye coordination to follow a complex path.
Q3:How do you know what tolerance to set when you convert a path to a selection?
A3: That depends on how smooth—or how accurate—you want the finished path to be. A tolerance of 1 pixel or less will make the path follow the selection as precisely as possible. A tolerance of 5–10 will give you a smoothed out path, following your selection to within 5 to 10 pixels.



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