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Team Think Labs | Photoshop CS6 – Handling vector like a boss
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Photoshop CS6 – Handling vector like a boss


Lets talk about feelings, and how those feelings are thrown into turmoil because Photoshop sucks so hard at handling vector.   It’s all right; you can tell me anything, I’m a doctor.*




















*As of the publication of this article, Katie has had her medical license revoked after testing positive to doctor steroids.

We get it.  Use Illustrator for vector.  But any designer I’m sure, has had moments where flipping between two different programs just to get a dashed border or a sharp stroke is the straw that breaks the camels back and sends them on a nocturnal murderous rampage through a local chicken farm.  We’ve all been there, right?












Thankfully, CS6 has some new and improved features for handling vector in Photoshop.   While not comparable to the full tool set you get when working in Illustrator, for small tweaks like adding a god-forsaken dashed line around a box, it’s a perfect compromise and has already made this designers life a lot easier.   Here’s a quick, neat look into the new vector interface in Photoshop.

Strokes of Genius.  Vector Genius. 

Normally we’ve had to use layer styles to add a stroke to an object.  Now, however, when we pull up the direct selection or shape tool, we get a menu on our toolbar.  Some of those features look suspiciously like simplified versions of their Illustrator cousins.




Instead of adding a “stroke” via the layer style panel, you can actually add a stroke to your shape through this menu.  Not only does this avoid the weird “round edge” phenomenon we sometimes get with thick strokes around objects via Layer styles, but you get a clean, sharp vector line around shapes instead of a fuzzy pixellated mess.  Not too shabby.

My favorite feature of this addition is this baby:


No more switching back and forth through a smart object.  You can now create dashed or dotted strokes around anything in Photoshop with a few clicks of the mouse! You’re even able to adjust spaces between dashes and dash size on the “More Options” menu, the same as you would in Illustrator.

You can use this quick tool around any object, even text, and the border is fully editable because it’s all still in a vector path.

Another great feature of this menu is your ability to set gradients, patterns, or change the color of vector shapes without using the layer styles panel.  Again, these functions are simple versions borrowed from our Illustrator Overlords, but you can add gradients or patterns to strokes around objects, and even add dashed outlines to text.

There’s a simplified pathfinder tool, as well, that allows you to add to or subtract from vector shapes easily, and adjusts the paths accordingly to your new shape.

The days of toggling programs are (nearly) over.  Stay thirsty, my friends.