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Adobe Photoshop CC - Advanced Training

Fake 2.5D gradient effect with paths in Photoshop

Daniel Walter Scott

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In this video we're going to do something similar to what we did in the last one, except we're going to use paths in this case. Gives us a bit more control, especially if you understand how the Pen Tool works, plus, we'll work out how to interlock these things as well. Why 38? Because that's how many birthdays I've had. And they interlock really good. All right, let's get started. 

To get started I'm just using this same background. Actually using the same file as before, we just turned everything off. You got to make a new layer. This one's going to be my '3D using Paths'. So for this to work we need a path. Paths are created using any of these tools. If you are a master at the Pen Tool, use the Pen Tool. If you have done my Illustrator course, and you're loving the Curvature Tool, use that one. If you have no idea what any of these do grab the Freehand Pen Tool. This is allowing just to draw paths or lines, but freehand, so undone. Just make sure up the top here it's set to 'Path' and not Shape. And if you want it, you can see, it says Curve Fit, I think by default it's at 4, I can't remember what the default is. It goes up to a maximum of 10, it's just going to smooth out your drawing. If it's at 0 or 1 it's not going to be very smooth. And I'm drawing, you saw at the beginning there, 38, that's my age. And it just so happens that they kind of interlock nicely. 

We really want to grab the Pen Tool. I can't do it, you can use the Freehand Pen Tool. I'm using the Curvature Tool. This is the super quick introduction, click once, click once again. It just gives you a line, but you click a third time, and it's a curve. Click out here again, it's a wiggle. Maybe one more time, a couple more times. And if I want to turn that into a corner, I hold down the 'Option' key and give it a click, and it goes from a curve to a corner. It's a weird curve. 

So, I've got my path, Freehand Tool, the Pen Tool, or the Curvature Tool. And I'm going to go to Paths. And that's what I need. Now by default a path kind of disappears when you stop working with it unless you give it a name, so double click the word 'Work Path', and this is my '3', so I can come back to him later on. Now in the Path Panel, if you can't see Paths, it's under 'Window', and there he is there. What you can do is right click any of this gray area, and say, "I'd like you to make a Stroke on this path, please." From the 'Options' I want to use the 'Mixer Brush Tool', and if you haven't already, you need to go back to the previous tutorial, to create the Ellipse, set the target to get that Mixer Brush Tool all set up; we're not going to cover that again. And just turn 'on' Simulate Pressure. 

Now what it's going to do is-- so this is a way of getting around if you don't have a Wacom tablet and you want it to be nice and smooth. If yours doesn't look anything like this there are a couple of things that might be wrong, I'm going to undo. The easiest thing to check is, copy my Mixer Brush. I'm going to go to my Mixer Brush there. I'm going to open up my Mixer 'Brush Settings'. Under 'Shape Dynamics', just make sure 'Pen Pressure' is used. Smoothing doesn't have to be on, but definitely Pen Pressure. 

Along the top here you can copy the settings that I've got. If you're finding, where it gets kind of around the bend, it gets all kind of jagged, a couple of things you might do to fix that, is go to 'Brush Tip Shape', and change the spacing down to like 1-2%. The higher it is the more kind of jagged they are. That might fix it. If it doesn't it probably means your original source, that thing we made in the last video, this guy here, isn't big enough. You've made a really small Ellipse and you're trying to stretch it really big. Photoshop is just kind of smooshing it around the place. 

The other thing we're going to do just because it's kind of cool, under the 'Shape Dynamics' we're going to say there is a 'Minimum Diameter'. Can you see the edges here? Because that one that I did have really pointy ends out of the three. Let's have a little look and compare them, so I've got one layer. Go to my 'Paths', right click. 'Stroke Path'. Makes a brush, all good. Simulate Pressure is going to put pointy ends. What I want to do is make another layer; I'll turn that one off. Go back to my 'Paths', but before I go and add the Stroke I'm going to say it's got a Minimum Diameter. Can you see there, it's going to have a-- that's as small as the line’s going to get, it's not going to be pointy anymore. 'Stroke Path'. Depends on what you're looking for. 

Let's go through it one more time from the top, and make a new layer. I'm going to grab my 'Curvature Tool', and I'm going to draw my '8'. Make sure it's on 'Path', and I'm going to say, "I want you to start kind of there." Right down here. Curvature Tool, just clicking, nothing held down, no dragging. Great if you're doing infinity designs. If you are not happy with the final result you can jump in to this white arrow here, the Direct Selection Tool. Hold down the 'Path Selection', grab this, click any of the Anchor Points, and you can make adjustments to kind of get it more how you want. I'm happy enough with it. I lie, I spent ages grappling with that. That will do, it's enough. I get one more. No. I think it was bit before I started touching it. 

Anyway, I want to move the whole thing. So I'm going to grab the 'Path Selection Tool', grab any of the edges and just move it up. I've got my own layer, I'm going to go to 'Paths'. I've done it totally wrong, all of this has been smooshed on to one layer. So what I'm going to do is select it, cut it, new path, paste it. So it's on its own Path Layer, and this one's going to be the 8. So you should do that first. Make a new layer, come into 'Paths', make a new path, then start drawing the 8. Do as I say, not as I do. With '8' selected I'm going to 'Stroke Path', 'Mixer Brush'. You can see it's starting wherever I started, so if I was going to do it again I'd probably start doing my path at the top here because it looks kind of weird this way, but it will do. 

To get rid of this line in the center here just click anywhere out of the path. Go back to 'Layers', and what I want to do is get them to interlock. One goes over the top, one goes underneath. Actually, I grab my 'Move Tool', and maybe, rotate it around a bit. Look at this. Ah, so bad. I'm rotating it around so I can hide this little join here. And I want to do two things, I want that to go underneath and this to go above. So I need a version of this, the 8, so I'm going to duplicate it. Maybe one above and one below the 3, there we go. 3 is sandwich, the top one, I want to add a Layer Mask and I grab my 'Brush Tool', make sure the foreground color is set to black. Painting on the mask, and I'm just going to paint this bit out. Things are really easy to do, this kind of interlocking thing, as long as there's one at the top, one at the bottom, and use Mask1 at the top. So that's how to do our fake 3D interlocking path 38. I will see you in the next tutorial.