Basically paths are a way to store bezier selections. Limiting
paths to that statement misses a lot of their functionality,
however. A better way to see it is as a way to manage vector
curves. If you are familiar with vector drawing programs such as
Adobe Illustrator and
Corel Draw, then paths will be
something very familiar.
Work with paths just like you work with bezier curves.
Bezier curves are, as a matter of fact, paths. You may just not be
aware of the power that is hidden within them. The big difference
is that you can edit your curve, you can paint with your curve, or
even save, import, and export the curve.
There are three command areas in the Paths dialog:
You will create a new path and activate the bezier tool.
The path is named Path#X.
If you want to rename it, double click on the
path in the path area. A name
dialog will appear.
Will duplicate the active path. To activate a path,
single click on it in the path area. The name is, by
Path to Selection
Will create a selection out of a path. Notice that the
path doesn't have to be closed. The created selection
will simply join the endpoints with a line that will
follow the curve's direction in each endpoint.
Selection to Path
Will create a path out of a selection. Beware of
complicated selections such as selections done by quick
mask or select by color. Such selections will create
very complex paths which are hard to control.
Will stroke the path with the brush of the active
device. The path doesn't have to be closed. The stroke
will come from one endpoint to the other.
To edit a path, the bezier tool must be active. If
it isn't, you will not be able to edit a path. In the top edit
area we count from left to right:
This command will add a control point to the path and
make a line from the last control point to the new
point. There are two ways to create a path. You can just
click to add a point. This will create a curve with
sharp corners. If instead you click and drag, you will
stretch and form the curve related to the added control
point. If you create the path this way, you will end up
with a curve with smooth "corners". You can,
naturally, combine the two ways to create curves.
You close your path by joining the first and last point
(this is done by adding the last point really close to
the first point). A square sign
will now appear inside the path. This command will turn
the path into a selection. Clicking outside the
previously closed curve will start a new bezier curve.
The square path to selection
command will now be
deactivated and you can add more points inside the
previously closed curve. You can have as many closed
curves as you want, but you can only have one that isn't
closed in the same path. This may look like a
limitation, but you can have as many paths as you like.
This will enable you to have as many unclosed curves as
you want, as long as they are in separate paths.
Will add a point to your curve. The new point must be
located on the curve. You can't add a point outside the
curve. You will notice that your cursor will have a
little + sign when you are over a
curve in the image. When the +
sign appears, it means that you are able to add a point
by clicking on the curve. The new point will be adjusted
to fit the curve and the curve's shape will not be
Will remove a point in your curve. The point must be
between the endpoints in a non-closed curve. If the
curve is closed it can be any point within the curve.
However you always have two points in the curve.
Will allow you to adjust the curve. When you click on an
anchor point, two little handles appear. If you pull the
handles, they will change size and direction and shape a
curve. By pressing Ctrl, you can move
an anchor point anyway you like. To be able to adjust
each handle separately, you have to press
The path area is where you choose the path that you want to work
with. If you right click on a path, a
popup menu will appear with commands for copy, paste etc. Please
see Chapter 7 for references of those
commands. The default name of a path is simple — it's just
Path followed by a number. It can be useful
to change a path's name. To change its name, simply double click
on the path and a name dialog will appear.