Ron's Vector Graphics for PSP 7

Part 2 - Node Editing

Now that you've completed part one and have your 'toon cat It's time to give him a little personality through the magic of node editing. First off we'll get familiar with some of the basic node editing conventions in PSP. To enter node editing mode you first have to select a single object, you can't node edit multiple object. Once selected right clicking will activate a drop down which will include on its list node edit. Go to your 'toon cat and select the head, right click and choose node edit. You'll notice that the head is replaced by an outline which has four small boxes on it, the boxes are the nodes.


If you place the mouse cursor over one of the nodes and click you select it. You'll notice that an arrow affair will appear, these are the Bezier curve handles and they control the shape of the curve by lengthening or moving them. If you select the top node and pull both handles up and out you get something like the image on the right. Of course having only four nodes makes editing pretty limited so the thing to do is to add more nodes. You do this by holding down the ctrl key while passing the mouse cursor over the object outline. You'll notice that as the cursor crosses the outline it changes to . If you click your mouse now a new node will be placed at that position.

Okay let's get started. You might want to zoom in on your cat's head. If you're still in node editing mode you can do this by using the keyboard number pad + key, the - key will zoom out and the arrow keys will move the image, using the sliders or zoom tool will dump you out of node editing. Okay first let's add some nodes to make the ears. Using the ctrl+click method place some nodes as illustrated in step one below. Now click on the middle node of each group of three you created and pull them up and out to get the sort of ears you want. In step three add a number of nodes on either side of the head and pull out every other one to get the furry cheeks. Tip: experiment with the bezier controls to refine the image.

You can select multiple nodes by holding down the shift key while selecting. If you do this you'll be able to move the selected nodes in unison though the Bezier controls will be unavailable.

Okay, select the hind leg to the left and go into node editing mode. Create two new nodes as in Step 1. Select the lower new node, move it to the left, and then pull out one of the Bezier controls as in Step 2. Finally click on the other new node and grab the pointy Bezier control pulling it out and rotate it as in Step 3.

Rather than repeat all that for the other leg you can simply select and delete the other leg, select the left leg and copy (ctrl+c) and then paste as new selection (ctrl+g). Now, with the pasted leg still selected grab the right middle handle and drag it to the left until it goes right through itself and is the same size as the original. Finally place the new leg in position and arrange it (right click, arrange) and first send it to the bottom then move up until it's in the correct position.

For the tail select the body, to make it easier to see you can move the body away from the cat to edit it as below and then replace it when finished.

Create three new nodes as in Step 1 and pull the center one out, adjust the bezier to get the rounded effect. You can create bends in the tail by subsequently adding pairs of nodes on either side of the tail and pulling the original middle node out some more. Adjusting various node's beziers will help to smooth the tail out.

Select the mouth triangle and go into node editing. Create two new nodes as in Step 1, follow this by creating and moving nodes to get a shape like in Step 2.

You might notice that none of the nodes have bezier handles. Nodes are defined as either having a curve before or after or, as having a line before and after, or a combination of a curve one way and a line the other. These attributes can be changed by right clicking a selected node and selecting node type but that's a topic for whole other tutorial.

Well there you have some basic vector and node editing procedures in PSP7. Hope you had fun with it and learned something about vectors and Paint Shop Pro 7.


2000 Ron Lacey