Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Difference between Raster and Vector Layers.

One of the issues many new users have when trying to learn how to use the layer functions of PSP, is when should they use Raster layers, and when should they use Vector layers?

Actually, the answer is pretty easy and is found in the PSP help file.

Raster layers are for pixel level manipulation. That means this is probably the sort of layer you want to edit your photo with. And if you are trying to interpret a Photoshop tutorial so you can apply the information to PSP, this is probably the sort of layers system that particular tutorial is referring to.

Note that you can only draw pixel level changes on raster layers. If you attempt to draw a pixel level change on a Vector layer, PSP will create a new raster layer for that change. If you don't know that fact, it can be quite disorienting!

Vector layers are, for lack of a better term, object level manipulation. That does not mean you use it to edit that tree in the background of you photo. Instead, that is what you would use to add lines, shapes, patterns, and text to a photo.

Any object that has a unique set of properties (size, opacity, density, etc) is a vector object. Those unique properties remain constant regardless of what you do

Again, note that you can only draw vector level changes on vector layers. If you attempt to make a vector level change to a raster layer, PSP will create a new vector layer for that change.

A lot of competing editors sort of hide the whole vector layer issue from the user, by just calling it "add text" or something like that in order to avoid confusing the user from having to decide which sort of layer to select. Why doesn't PSP X6?  

Well it does, there is an Add Text and drawing icons in the editor.  But it goes the extra mile and allows you to create vector layers whenever you feel like it, assuming you should have that freedom when you need it.  Unfortunately, they have done it in a rather unintuitive way, by forcing you to decide right up front to know what it is you are doing.

To me, it sometimes seems Corel goes out of its way to confuse the user with "correct" terminology. It's kind of like Corel is the 'Rain Man' of imaging software, "This is a Vector layer, most definitely a Vector layer . . ."

On the whole, PSP is STILL a remarkably powerful, inexpensive, and easy to use 
 photo editor.  I have found that usually a simple internet search on a subject will pull up a reasonably accurate description of the term that I'm looking for. But you will, on occasion, find that a little easy to do research can make your use of it much more convenient.