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Vector Goose Tutorial

For this tutorial we will be creating a Canada Goose entirely of vector objects. Once the image is completed, the goose can be exported as a Preset Shape.

The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce a drawing technique that allows you to edit nodes or line segments as you draw. This technique can be used either when in Drawing Mode (only available when node editing), or any time you use the "Point-to-point" setting for the Draw tool.

If you've never worked with vectors before, you may find this tutorial somewhat complicated. I have, however, tried to be as thorough as possible so that with a little time and patience you may be able to follow along.

Images have been resized for illustrative purposes, and have been optimized to decrease download time.



Before beginning, let me remind you to save often. This is a fairly long tutorial.

Open a new 600 X 500 pixel image with a white or light background. We are creating this image rather large so that the nodes are clearly visible and easier to edit.

Set the stroke style to "Null" and the fill style to "Solid Color," with black as the color. Activate the Preset Shapes tool, with the following settings, and drag from right to left to draw an ellipse near the upper left corner of the canvas. This ellipse will be shaped to create the goose's head.

Preset Shapes - Tool Options
Shape: Ellipse
Retain Style: unchecked
Antialias: Checked
Create as vector: checked
*The line style and width are not important since there will be no outline around the shape.

The instructions above stress that you draw from right to left when creating the ellipse because this creates a counter-clockwise path. For most projects the path direction wouldn't matter, but for this tutorial we will be creating one object made up of two separate contours; the head and the neck. If the path for the head contour is opposite that of the neck contour, when overlapped, the result will be a cutout effect.

Figure 2

Activate the Object Selector , click on the ellipse to select it, and then click the Node Edit button in the Tool Options palette. Pull the node on the left outward, toward the left edge of the canvas. Drag a selection around the other three nodes, and then right-click on the canvas and choose Node Type > Asymmetric from the context menu. Click on a blank area of the canvas to cancel the nodes selections, and then select and edit each node by pulling the control arm handles and adjusting the node positions until you have a shape similar to the one shown in Figure 2.

When in Node Edit mode, keep all clicks confined to the canvas. If you click outside the canvas, Node Edit mode will be deactivated and you will have to reset. Knowing this can save you a lot of time and frustration.

For the next step, we will create the neck. Using Figure 3 as a guide, follow the instructions below to draw the neck shape. It is important that you follow the directions and add the nodes in numbered order so that the contour flows counter-clockwise. The red nodes are for illustrative purposes only and were added so that the nodes that make up the neck contour would be distinguished easily from the nodes in the head contour.

Tip: While in Drawing Mode, if you make a mistake, don't start over. Hit the Delete key on your keyboard, select the last node added, and continue drawing.

Figure 3
  1. If you've exited Node Edit mode for the head shape, go into it again. Right-click within the canvas and choose Drawing Mode from the context menu.


  2. Click slightly below the line segment for the head contour to create Node 1, and then drag the node so that it is positioned over the line segment on the head contour. Adjustment is necessary because you cannot click directly on a line segment or node on an existing contour when drawing a new contour.


  3. Position your cursor for Node 2. When you click to create the node, hold the mouse button in and drag downward to create a Symmetric (curve) node. Rotate and drag the handles to adjust the curve of the neck. Notice that, when working with a Symmetric node, the handles on either side of the node remain aligned as you rotate. Also notice that, as you shorten or lengthen one handle, the other handle mirrors it . . . symmetrically.


  4. Click to create Nodes 3 and 4, then go back and select node 3—either by holding the Shift key while pressing the left arrow key on your keyboard, or carefully clicking on the node. If you accidentally add a node when trying to select, just hit the Delete key on your keyboard, and try to select again. Right-click and choose Node Type > Curve After from the context menu. Drag the handle that appears to create a slight curve at the bottom of the neck.


  5. Hold your Shift key and use the right arrow on your keyboard, or click, to select Node 4 again, then continue on to the next step.


  6. Click and drag to create another Symmetric (curve) node for Node 5, as we did with the second node, and then adjust the curve by pulling and/or rotating the handles.


  7. Click slightly above the head contour to create Node 6, and then pull the node to align it with the head.

  8. Click to exit Node Edit mode and check the shape. If it needs a little more adjustment, go back into Node Edit mode and position the nodes and adjust the node handles until you are satisfied with the shape.

    If, for some reason, you did end up with a cutout effect, go back into Node Edit mode, select a node on one of the contours, and then right-click and choose Edit > Reverse Contour.

Expand the vector layer in the Layer Palette. Notice that, although we created two shapes, there is only one object listed. This is because we actually added a contour to an existing object. Objects can be created from one or several contours. Now, since we're focusing on the layer palette, right-click on the "Ellipse" object and choose "Rename." Name the object "Head and Neck." It's not necessary to name the objects, but it makes it a bit easier to find an object later should you need to edit again.

A custom gradient will be used for the goose's body. If you haven't done so already, you may want to customize file and folder locations before creating this gradient.

    Custom Gradient

  1. Change the fill style in the Color Palette to "Gradient"


  2. Click on the fill button. You should be presented with a Gradient dialog box. Click the Edit button.


  3. Click "New," name your gradient, and click "OK."


  4. Under the Gradient section of the remaining dialog box, click on the left marker under the gradient bar. Click on the Custom button, and then click on the color box beside the button. When the Color dialog box opens, type #F0EEE8 into the HTML Entry area at the bottom. This will result in an off-white/cream color.


  5. Click under the gradient bar to create a new marker, type 39 in the location box. With this marker still selected, click the Custom button, and change the color to #BFBBB1. This should be a light grayish-beige color.


  6. Click the right marker and create a custom color for this marker by typing #433F35 into the HTML Entry area. This color should be a dark taupe (grayish-beige) color.


  7. There should only be three markers on the gradient bar. If there are more, drag them away from the bar to delete them.


  8. Click on the diamond shape on the left—above the gradient bar—to select it, and then either drag the diamond until you see 53 appear in the location box, or type it in. Repeat this for the other diamond shape to set the location to 45%.



  9. Click "OK" to close the Gradient Editor. In the remaining Gradient dialog box, use the following settings:
    Style: Sunburst Gradient
    Invert Gradient: unchecked
    Horizontal: 0
    Vertical: 21
    Repeats: 0
  10. Click "OK" to exit.

Activate the Draw tool with the following settings. Using Figure 4 as a guide, follow the instructions below to create the body shape. The path of this contour is not important, but following the steps in order will lead to less confusion. If you accidentally set the shape before it is completed: activate the Object Selector , click the Node Edit button in the Tool Options palette, right-click on the canvas and choose Drawing Mode, select the last node added (End Node), and continue drawing from this point.

Draw- Tool Options
Type: Point-to-point
Width: 1
Line style: #1 Solid
Antialias: checked
Create as vector: checked
Close path: checked
Figure 4
  1. If there is a bounding box around the head, press Ctrl + D to cancel the selection and get it out or your way. Click to add Node 1.


  2. Click and drag upward to create Node 2, then right-click anywhere within the canvas, and choose Node Type > Asymmetric. Drag the bottom handle toward the node to shorten the curve. Asymmetric nodes, like Symmetric nodes, are considered curve nodes. With either node type, the handles on either side of the node remain aligned when the handle is rotated, but with an Asymmetric node the distance between each handle and the node can vary.


  3. Click to add Node 3.


  4. Click to add Nodes 4, 5, 6, and 7. When you add these nodes you will not have any curves, we'll add curves in the next step.


  5. Right-click on the canvas and choose Edit Mode. Drag around Nodes 4, 5, 6, and 7 to select them, right-click on the canvas and choose Node Type > Asymmetric from the context menu. Click on a blank area of the canvas to cancel the node selections, and then adjust the handles for each node to create the curves and to shape.


  6. Right-click on the canvas again, choose Drawing Mode, and then carefully click on Node 7 to select it. Whenever you exit Drawing Mode and return, select the last node added (End Node) and continue drawing. Also, while in Drawing mode, if you accidentally create a new node when trying to select another node, hit the Delete key on your keyboard.

  7. Click to create Nodes 8 and 9, hold the Shift button on your keyboard and press the left arrow key to go back and select Node 8, right-click and choose Node Type > Curve Before. Right-click again and choose Node Type > Curve After. Drag the handles to create a slight curve one each side of the node. Node 8 is a Cusp node, notice how the handles of this node move completely independent of each other.


  8. Select Node 9 by clicking on it, or by using the Shift + Right Arrow key combination.


  9. Click and drag to create the curve for Node 10.


  10. Click to add Node 11.


  11. Click outside the canvas to exit Node Edit mode. If you feel that the shape isn't quite right, go back into Node Edit mode again, and then adjust the nodes and handles to your satisfaction.


Tip: You can edit nodes as you draw any time you're working with the "Point-to-point" setting for the Draw tool, whether you are in vector mode or adding a shape or line to a raster layer. When not in vector mode, however, once you have edited the nodes and set the line or shape it is converted to raster data and cannot be edited further using the Node Edit feature.

Once you have created the body shape, expand the vector layer in the Layer Palette. Right-click on the "Drawing" object and rename this object "Body." Drag the object so that it is under the "Head and Neck" object on the layer.

Figure5

Change the fill style to "Solid Color," click on the button and type #69655B into the HTML Entry area of the resulting Color dialog box. Activate the Draw tool, and, if there is a bounding box surrounding the body shape, press Ctrl + D to cancel the selection and get it out of the way. Click to create the four points illustrated in Figure 5. Right-click on the canvas and choose Edit Mode from the context menu, and then drag around the two bottom nodes to select them. Right-click again and choose Node Type > Asymmetric to give this part of the back leg a slight curve. When you have completed the shape, right-click on the object in the Layer palette and rename "Back Leg." Drag this object under the "Body" object in the Layer Palette.

Click on the fill button again and type #F0EEE8 in the HTML entry area of the resulting Color dialog box. This will change the color to cream/off-white.

Figure 6

Activate the Preset Shapes tool (don't change the settings) and draw an ellipse for the goose's tail. Use the handles on the bounding box that surrounds the shape to rotate, resize, and position. See Figure 6. The illustration shows the ellipse with an outline so that you can clearly see the placement. Your image will not have the outline. Drag this object to the bottom of the other objects in the Layer Palette, right-click and rename "Tail."

Activate the Draw tool once again (don't change the settings) and, using the techniques you learned earlier, draw the shape for the off-white color on the goose's face. See Figure 7. From this point on, step-by-step instructions for node placement and editing will not be given. Just remember:

  • Click for straight lines.
  • Click and drag to create a curve and, if necessary, change the node type to Symmetric or Asymmetric to further define how the handles move when adjusting the curve.
  • Change the line segments that precede or follow a node by right-clicking, choosing Node Type, and then using one of the following commands: Curve Before, Curve After, Line Before, or Line After.
Figure 7

Keep the Draw tool activated because we'll need it for the next few steps. Use the illustration and instructions below to add a little more detail to the tail and add a wing accent.

Figure 8 - A, B & C

Figure 8A: Change the fill color to #33312D, and draw the darker feathers of the wings and tail. Go the the Layer Palette and drag this new object so that it is just below the body shape and rename "Tail Feathers 1."

Figure 8B: Ctrl + D to get rid of the bounding box. Change the fill color to #474541, and draw another layer of dark feathers, following the curve of the body as illustrated. Rename this object "Tail Feathers 2."

Figure 8C: Press Ctrl + D to get rid of the bounding box again, change the color to #6E6962, and draw a swish shape to distinguish the wing. Right click and rename "Wing Accent."


Right-click on the fill button and change the fill color to black. Draw the shape for the front leg. See Figure 9. You may want to Zoom in on the image to see the shape more clearly as you draw. Once you have the shape drawn, right-click on the object in the Layer Palette and name it "Front Leg," and then drag it to the bottom of all of the other objects on the layer.

If the leg shape is not selected (surrounded by a bounding box), activate the Object Selector and click on it. Press Ctrl + C to copy, and then press Ctrl + G to "Paste As New Vector Selection." Position the pasted shape where the back leg would be, and then click on the canvas to complete the paste operation. Shorten this leg by pulling the bottom-center handle of the bounding box upward (Figure 10A). Hold the Shift key and drag the center-bottom handle to the right to angle the leg (Figure 10B). Rename this object "Back Leg" and drag it to the bottom of the other objects on the vector layer in the Layer Palette.

Figure 9
Figure 10AFigure 10B
Figure 11

Using Figure 11 as a guide, activate the Draw tool once again and draw one shape for both feet. Since the feet are black, you can hint that there are actually two feet by the shape. This may cause problems later if you want to edit the shape to create another goose, but for now we'll use this method to save time. Rename the object "Feet" and, if you want to keep the feet and legs together, drag this shape so that it is above the two leg objects at the bottom of the Layer palette.


Figure 12

Change the fill color to a medium gray-blue color—I used #63636F. Zoom in on the image and draw a shape similar to the one illustrated in Figure 12. This gives the goose's bill a little highlight and distinguishes the bill from the rest of the head. If you are tired of using the draw method, just use a triangle Preset Shape and then node edit. You can also use this same color to highlight the legs so that you can tell them apart and/or highlight the front of the neck.

Now, for the finishing touch, we'll add an eye. Aren't you glad I said "finishing"?

Figure 13

Activate the Preset Shapes tool and, using Figure 13 as a guide, draw an ellipse. Go into Node Edit mode, click on the node on the left to select it, and then pull the handles slightly inward, toward the center of the ellipse, to create a point. Repeat for the node on the right. Click outside the image to exit Node Edit, and then press Ctrl + D to cancel the selection and get the bounding box out of the way.

Draw a black ellipse to create the pupil, press Ctrl + D, and then draw a small white circle/ellipse for the shiny area of the eye. Activate the Object Selector , hold the Shift key and click on the white area, the black area, and the gray-blue ring around the eye to select them all. Right-click on the image and choose "Group" from the context menu, then grab the handle that extends from the center handle of the bounding box and drag up to rotate the eye slightly to the left. Position the eye on the head.

If you intend to export the image as a Preset Shape, you may want to resize it first. To resize, click on the Object Selector , right-click on the canvas and choose "Select All" from the context menu, right-click on a corner handle of the bounding box and drag.

Guess what? You're finished! You can export the image as a Preset Shape so you'll never have to draw it again! Or, if your still in a creative mood, keep adding more detail until the goose looks the way you want it to look. *S*
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