Vanishing Point in Photoshop CS2

    Alex Walker

    Continuing the ‘Adobe Creative Suite 2’ theme from my last post, I thought I’d walk you through one of Photoshop’s newest and grooviest features.

    Vanishing Point is a new ‘mini-app’ within Photoshop that allows you impose a 3D framework on top of any 2D image. With this grid in place, all your interactions (cut, paste, draw, paint, clone, select, etc) behave as if they were in a 3D environment. Here’s a quick demo.

    1) Activating Vanishing Point from the ‘Filter’ menu (or Alt+Ctrl+V) will launch your image into a Vanishing Point workspace with it’s own set of controls and tools.

    By default, the ‘Make Plane Tool’ is selected and waiting to go. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to find and mark out a ‘reference rectangle’ on your base image, that you could resonably expect to have right-angled corners. This might be a window, a building, a wall or a door, but obviously the larger the more margin for error (my example isn’t quite square).

    2) Once your rectangle is in place, you’re free to scale it to your image by dragging it’s edges. However, holding down [CRTL] while dragging the same edge will create a new plane running perpendicular to the current one. It’s relatively easy to get the hang of, and after a few minutes you should be effortlessly stepping around corners and up and over buildings.

    3) With the framework finished, you’re reading to start working in faux 3D. For instance, pasting any item from the clipboard will immediately distort it to the perspective of the plane you cursor is in contact with. Likewise, your painted lines distort and taper as they slant away from you — even the squared selection tool conforms to the plane it’s on. Nice.

    The only feature I missed was the ability paint from plane to plane without having to stop and restart your stroke. Perhaps something for the next version.

    In the end, although it’s hard to say how truly useful a feature is until you find yourself using it, I’m expecting to get some value out of this feature in the future.