As a small diversion, but still a related topic to the last article “Pen Tool and Paths”, did you know about the “Star” function that is hidden away in the Polygon Tool? The Polygon Tool is found amongst the Shape Tools (shortcut key is U), see Figure 1.
It is used to draw a polygon shape with a user selectable number of sides. Specify the number of sides required in the Options Bar before drawing out your shape.
As with all of the Shape tools pay special attention to the second drop-down menu in the Options Bar, where you can choose Shape, Path or Pixel. In most cases you will want to choose Shape or Path because these both create a vector based path that is easily editable (see previous article) and is resolution independent so will scale without causing degradation. Choosing Shape will give you easier access to Fill and Stroke capabilities and will also create a Shape Layer if one is not active.
If you click the little Options “gear” icon in the Options Bar while using the Polygon Tool, you will see there is a Star check box hidden away in there. If you check this box, instead of drawing a multi-sided polygon, the tool will draw a star with the number of points that is specified in the Sides field in the Options Bar.
You can customise the size of the centre of the star, and the length of the points, using the Indent Sides By field. This is a percentage value and the higher the number the longer the points of the star are (and obviously the smaller the centre is).
You can also check the Smooth Corners and Smooth Indents check boxes to modify the appearance of the star if you don’t like the default “pointy” stars.
Figure 3 shows some of the almost infinite star shapes you can draw.
One of the advantages of the resultant star being a vector path is that it is infinitely editable. For example use the Direct Selection tool to drag each individual point of the star to a slightly different length or position.
Obviously you can combine multiple stars (as you can for any shape) into a useful element for your art. The example shown in Figure 4 is a simple sun star I created. It uses 4 24-point stars, two yellow and two white. One of the yellow stars and one of the white stars has been made a little larger and blurred.
So, next time you need some stars for a piece of art you are creating, don’t go looking for clip art, create some of your own!
This article was first published in the March 2019 issue of Artists Down Under magazine.