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Photoshop: Vector or Vexel? by VAngelLJ Photoshop: Vector or Vexel? by VAngelLJ
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Here I am explaining the difference between the pen tool settings to see whether you are working with vector or raster in Photoshop.

This tutorial is a visual supplement to the 'Did You Know..?' box on my userpage, which is quoted in full below.

There are quite a few people who are confused by the various settings and there are those who think that anything created in Photoshop has to be vexel while Illustrator is the program people use for vector. The latter is true, people do use that a lot, but Photoshop is perfectly capable of creating vector images.

You will need
:bulletpink: Photoshop 7 +
:bulletpink: Enough pen tool knowledge to make a shape or [use the rectangle tool].

Did You Know..?
"In Photoshop, just because you have used the pen tool to create something, it does not necessarily mean it is a vector - and it also does not necessarily mean it is vexel just because it was done in Photoshop and not in Illustrator.

The pen tool has two options in this respect, which are called "Shape layers" and "Paths". If you are using the shape layers setting, you are indeed making vector shapes, if you're using the paths setting, you are making raster layers, which are made out of pixels and do not have the vector qualities of scalability.

If you are unsure whether you're making vector shapes or layers, here are three simple ways to tell the difference while you're working:

1. Look at the pen tool setting - is it set to shapes, or is it set to paths? Hover over the selected icon to find out.
2. Resize your picture to about 50-100 pixels across - make it really small. Then resize it again back to its originial size. If the quality has been damaged in any way, you are not using vector shapes.
3. Start a new path. Does it automatically create a new shape layer or are you still working on the layer you previously had selected? If it is the latter, you are not working with vector shape layers.

Lastly, if you merge any layers or add any Photoshop filters, your image will no longer be a vector. You can use layer effects such as 'gradient overlay' and 'stroke' which you find in the FX menu beneath your list of layers. Why? These will scale along with the vector shapes, but filters (noise, lens flare, texture) will not.

Here endeth the lesson!"
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Daily Deviation

Given 2010-11-18
Ever wanted to know what the difference is between a vexel and a vector? Well Photoshop: Vector or Vexel? by =VAngelLJ shows you just that in this handy tutorial! ( Suggested by jussta and Featured by shelldevil )
:iconcameronkobe:
CameronKobe Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my gosh, this is so useful. I have tried so many times to get clarity on this subject!
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm glad you found it helpful ^^
Reply
:iconguko9909:
guko9909 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012
Thanks for the info. :)
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:thumbsup:
Reply
:iconarashix:
Arashix Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :)
:+fav:
Reply
:iconfazert:
fazerT Featured By Owner May 15, 2012
perfect explanation - made a lot of sense and the examples worked for me no trouble. The part where I was going wrong previously is not understanding the significance of the little hollow button as opposed to the button with the pen nib in it. simple now you point it out :D

Many thanks!
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner May 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm glad it helped ^^
Reply
:iconherothehedgefox:
HeroTheHedgefox Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i have cs3 and the vector didnt work.
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You'll have to give me a bit more info than that if you want my help ;p In what way didn't it work? I don't have CS5 yet so you'll have to provide me with a screenshot, if possible.
Reply
:iconherothehedgefox:
HeroTheHedgefox Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
well, i have cs3, which looks like the program used in this tut.

anyway, i do all the steps to make a vector(vector mask, pen toll shape layer, etc.), and when i finish all of the stuff i need to do, its all pixelly.
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You don't need to use a vector mask to make a vector if you're using a shape layer. Can you follow the steps again to try to make a vector shape and then take a screenshot so I can see?
Reply
:iconherothehedgefox:
HeroTheHedgefox Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It all looks fine to me. Can you resize it and show me the results?
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:iconherothehedgefox:
HeroTheHedgefox Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i have cs5, and the vector didnt work
Reply
:iconhayleysky:
HayleySky Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
But how do you know in Illustrator?
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't know, I don't own that program.
Reply
:icontintinytdj:
Tintinytdj Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
..so THIS is how those mlp;fim wizards do their business!
Onto getting photoshop. Screw paint.net.
Reply
:iconzara-leventhal:
zara-leventhal Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Student General Artist
How do you save it as a vector? I have illustrator and I made an image in Photoshop of these shape layers, but I have no idea how to export to photoshop to save it as a "true vector". Do you know? And thanks for this tut :D
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you want to keep the vector format then you'll need to export it to Illustrator to save it as PDF or EPS. While Photoshop can save in these file formats, it saves them as "Photoshop versions" which actually rasterizes them, so not a lot of point. If you want to keep it vector simply to resize and use within Photoshop or for print, then saving it as the PSD will work fine. Does that answer your question? :)
Reply
:iconzara-leventhal:
zara-leventhal Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Student General Artist
Wow, thanks for the quick response! It answers my question, but I am having trouble opening it. I did the Export->Paths to Illustrator, and then when I opened it up in Illustrator all that came up was a blank canvas. Does this only work with the paths tool and not the shapes?
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Quite possibly, I don't actually have Illustrator so it's hard to answer your question. I think if you save your photoshop vector as a Photoshop EPS and then open the EPS in Illustrator, you should be able to save it 'properly' there. If that doesn't work, I'm not entirely sure, but I could probably find out for you from somewhere or another ^^;
Reply
:iconzara-leventhal:
zara-leventhal Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Student General Artist
I'll try that! Oh, haha, well you helped a lot! Thank you so much! :hug:
Reply
:iconnaochiko:
naochiko Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
WHA--- i never knew the difference!!! I'm usually a vector + traditional artist!

Whoaaa vexel seems soo.... whoaa

thanks for the tut, dude!! luckyyougotaddyouyou--
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A lot of people didn't know the difference, it's why I made the tutorial - to try and help people out ^^ Thanks for the comment.
Reply
:iconwhatthehell123456789:
whatthehell123456789 Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2011  Student Digital Artist
OMG, thank you so much lol, i thought i would have to get illustrator for vectors :P
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heh. You're welcome.
Reply
:iconsolitarygfx:
Solitarygfx Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011
I have a question
I do a thing but first opening a new layer, then adding a vector mask, then makin my shapes on the mask and then filling in with colour, when im making the shape on the mask I also noted that my pentool has selected the path icon (not the shape) and I did this test on it, and it came out fine just like a normal vexel, although I did not use the shape mode to do it...
what is this ?
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you're using a vector mask then what you're creating is vector as long as it remains infinitely scaleable as some things on a vector mask (such as a stroked path) is not scaleable. If it's a mix then it would be mixed media. If you remove the masks, it would be vexel (assuming it follows all the guidelines and definitions of these art forms). Does that answer your question?
Reply
:iconsolitarygfx:
Solitarygfx Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011
yeeeeeep
thx mate :)
i was kinda confused lol
Reply
:iconshaylevi13:
ShayLevi13 Featured By Owner May 31, 2011  Hobbyist Interface Designer
excellent tutorial
thank you very much
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks, I'm glad it was helpful.
Reply
:iconollite20:
ollite20 Featured By Owner May 29, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
An alright tut! However it is possible to make vector layers by using the paths settings in the pen tool. Personally I find it annoying having the shapes ticked on and creating a new layer out of everything I do. :D

Just don't fill it but instead create a vector mask out of it or create a fill layer with the path selected. ;)
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner May 29, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I know it's possible to do it that way, as mentioned in another comment. I simply thought it would confuse the matter since this tutorial is aimed at beginners.
Reply
:iconlogovogo:
LogoVogo Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks a lot for sharing, very interesting and most of all very helpful :D
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome, it's good to know it was helpful.
Reply
:iconlogovogo:
LogoVogo Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
:D it is indeed :D :hug:
Reply
:iconel-l-en:
el-L-eN Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
Thank you so much! This just answered all my questions about how to put the pen tool to optimal use :heart:
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem.
Reply
:iconinnerclick:
Innerclick Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
great work
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks.
Reply
:iconluriahk:
luriahk Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2011
Thank you for making this tutorial. I didn't know the differences until I read this.
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome, I'm very glad it has helped you ^^
Reply
:iconzoutou-kun:
Zoutou-kun Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010  Student Digital Artist
wow, thanks.

I thought vexelart was when you made an image by using a lot of vector layers. i guess i was wrong
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm glad the tutorial helped you ^^
Reply
:iconunscenemedia:
unscenemedia Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Oh nice, you got a DD on this, congrats!
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you ^^
Reply
:icondancinghorseart:
dancinghorseart Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010
thanks for the tutorial.

i understand the difference between vector and raster. i do not understand what is 'vexel'? is it vector, raster, or something else?
Reply
:iconvangellj:
VAngelLJ Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Vexel is raster-based but mimicking the techniques often associated with vector.
Reply
:icondancinghorseart:
dancinghorseart Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2010
:D. ok. now maybe i can do better categorizing my art. thank you.
Reply
:iconmnzproductions:
MNZproductions Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010
whats the benefit of using vexel??
Reply
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