Sign & Digital Graphics

June '17

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56 • June 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S DIGITAL PRINTING AND FINISHING DIGITAL GRAPHICS Welcome to Vectorland The ins and outs of working with vector objects Stephen Romaniello is and artist and educator teaching digital art at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, for over 27 years. He is a certified instructor in Adobe Photoshop and the author of numer- ous books and articles on the creative use of digital graphics software. Steve is the founder of GlobalEye Systems, a company that offers training and consulting in digital graphics software and creative imaging. B Y S T E P H E N R O M A N I E L L O The Digital Eye Vectors vs. Pixels What is a vector anyway? A vector is simply an area deter- mined by a path. A path is a graphic element that defines a specific distance and direction between two points. Tools that generate paths deposit points, segments and direction handles. Vector tools can be used to draw and edit lines and shapes. Like pixels, vectors are a distinct breed of graphic element. Where pixels are little colored squares that are confined to a grid, vectors are defined by anchor points, path segments and direction handles. • Anchor points look like little squares on the edge of an object. They control the position of curve or corner. • Path segments look like thin lines that connect the points. • Direction handles emanate from the points and can be adjusted to determine the precise shape and direction of the path. A vector object can be an open path that looks like a line, or a closed path which looks like a shape (see Figure 1). Paths in themselves do not print until they are stroked or filled with a color, a gradient or a pattern, as shown in Figure 2. Bézier Curves Paths are created and edited by depositing points with special tools. These paths are called Bézier curves after their inventor, Pierre Bézier, a French engineer who worked for the A student—we'll call her Salina—asked me the other day; "What is vector-based software used for?" Definitely an appropriate question, but her tone in the way she asked sounded more like, "Why bother?" The question she really meant to ask was; "Why bother learning this complicated software with its strange tools and techniques when you can simply scan images, turn them into pixels and manipulate them in Photoshop?" Of course this question has a multitude of answers, and in this Digital Eye article I'll take you on a mini-tour of Vectorland and attempt to narrow down the advantages of vector-based software, and in the process I will demonstrate a few smart techniques that you may find useful for creating and preparing images for print. Figure 2: Vector paths in them- selves do not print until they are stroked or filled with color. Figure 1: A vector object can be an open path which looks like a line, or a closed path which looks like a shape.

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