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The Basic Steps

In the following exercise, you will create the pattern freehand and "quick-and-dirty." It will be done in three parts: You will create the basic row, complete the pattern, and apply the pattern. These processes are discussed in the following sections.

Part 1: Creating the Basic Row

First, you'll create a single pattern row. Follow these steps:

  1. Open a square image at about 6x6 inches or 480x480 pixels.

  2. Begin just outside the image at the top and about 1/4 of the way (1-1/2 inches) into the image from the left. Set the first anchor.

  3. Make a 1/2- to 3/4-inch vertical line straight down into the image, and plant the next anchor.

  4. Start to draw the first tab to the right by placing an anchor about ¼-inch to the right of the anchor set in step 3. When you click the anchor, keep the mouse down and drag at a 45° angle up and to the right. This process creates a direction line, which can be used to shape the curvature of the tab.

  5. Plant another anchor by clicking about 1/4-inch to the right and 1/8-inch down. Again, hold the mouse down when clicking and drag out the direction line to further shape the path.

  6. NOTE

    There is no need for the tabs to be perfect!

  7. Finish the tab by placing one or two more anchors (see Figure 1).
  8. Figure 1

    The placement and number of anchors you use when creating the tab are not as important as making it just look like a tab. There's no need to get very fancy.

  9. Set the next anchor 1 to 1-1/4 inches down from the last anchor to create a vertical line.

  10. Draw a tab to the left mirroring the directions in Steps 4, 5 and 6.

  11. Draw a vertical line down about 1-1/4 inches, and set an anchor.

  12. Make another tab to the right, following the instructions in steps 4, 5 and 6.

  13. Draw a vertical line down about 1-1/4 inches, and set an anchor

  14. Make another tab to the left, mirroring the directions in steps 4, 5 and 6.

  15. Draw a final path segment off the bottom of the document and set the final anchor off the canvas (see Figure 2).

  16. Figure 2

    This is what your first row should look like. It doesn't have to be perfect—especially not the first time.

Part 2: Completing the Pattern

The basic stroke that was created in the first part will be the basis for the rest of the pattern. All you have to do is duplicate and reposition it, as follows:

  1. Select the Path Component Selection tool (black arrow); duplicate the path by pressing (Shift–Option) [Shift+Alt] and then click-drag on the line. Move it to about 3/4 of the way across the image.

  2. Duplicate the original path one more time, place it in the center, and then flip the line (flipping either horizontally or vertically works, but rotating does not). See Figure 3 for the result.

  3. Figure 3

    Your pattern should look like this after step 2. The rightmost line should be centered 4-1/2 inches from the left, and the center line should be at about 3 inches from the left (actually on dead center).

  4. Select the three paths you created using the path Component Selection tool.

  5. Duplicate by click-dragging while holding down the (Shift–Option)[Shift+Alt] keys. You can also copy and paste.

  6. Rotate 90° (clockwise or counterclockwise—your choice), and position it to create puzzle rows. See Figure 4.

  7. Figure 4

    The puzzle pattern is really complete at this point. It can be applied to images in a number of ways, from simple stroking to more complex effects.

Part 3: Applying the Pattern

To apply the pattern, even simple stroking right over the image can serve your purpose. More advanced applications might involve creating a shadow and highlight mask. This application creates a simple mask, as follows:

  1. Create a new channel.

  2. Stroke the path in the channel with a small, soft, white brush (3px, 0% hard, 1% spacing).

  3. Load the mask as a selection, and apply it to your image. See Figure 5.

  4. Figure 5

    This is a simple mask that you can load to apply to your images. The simplest application is loading the selection, creating a new layer, and filling the loaded selection with black.

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