How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator (Part 3)

How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator (Part 3)

In the previous two posts: part 1 and part 2 we have covered how to break things down and how to create template for geometric collages in Adobe Illustrator. In this post I want to give you instructions how to export vector templates for use in Photoshop while preserving vector outlines what makes things much easier. In the next tutorial I will give you an idea on how to automate things in Photoshop using actions so you can make process less painful and time consuming in case you decide to finalize collage in Adobe Photoshop.

Illustrator - Photoshop integration

One of the biggest advantages with Adobe products is their integration. There is a very nice integration between products and always more than few ways to import or place files from one app to another. Most popular ways are Place command as mentioned, but also and copy/paste which works very, very well. In recent times there is and Libraries panel, which sharing and importing files makes really, really easy. You can save template from Illustrator to the Libraries panel and to place it by dragging into Photoshop document, but it will be placed as a Smart Object.
photoshop import geometric collage

That's ok and most of the time that's what we want. Let's say that we want vector objects (shapes) on separate layers in Photoshop. Is that possible? Yes, it is and there are a couple of ways, unfortunately time consuming. In this post I will explain you quick and easy way to export geometric collage template as PSD file and to maintain vector shapes on separate layers in Photoshop.

Export to PSD and preserve vectors

I already have posted: Save as PSD from Illustrator and preserve shapes vector outlines where you can find all necessary information for what we going to do here, but let's pass that process on more time with particular example: geometric collage.

The steps required to create and export vector outlines from Illustrator 

I will skip repeating steps which are described in the previous two posts. In this case I will use the same technique as in the second part.

The important part
After creating a base shape and let's say rotating square, you should remove the stroke. Fill shape so you can see it, but remove any stroke. This can be done and later, but let's keep it simple and do what that at the beginning. In official help you can find information:
A compound shape painted with a stroke using a join other than round, or with a weight in points that is not an integer, is rasterized when exported to the PSD file format.
Let's remove the stroke because we do not need it and there is a way to quick and easy add stroke in Photoshop from the Options bar. You can add stroke to any number of selected shapes so do not worry about stroke.

Create Compound Shape
So with shape selected, go and draw another shape anywhere in the document, we will delete it anyway. Select both shapes and in Window > Pathfinder panel, click on Unite while holding down Alt/Opt key on your keyboard.
create compound shape in Illustrator

Delete second shape
Now that we have compound shape we need to delete second one which is sufficient in this case. Double click on second shape with the Selection Tool (V) and then select and delete it using Backspace or Delete. Go back to normal mode and you are done (double click on the canvas).
delete second shape in illustrator

Colorize shapes for easier recognition
Now we will repeat a process which is described in the second part. What I want to suggest you is to colorize shapes in the first row, then to duplicate them several times. This will help you to easily distinquish shapes once exported to Photoshop.
colorize shapes in the first row illustrator

shapes duplicated in Illustrator

Create a collage
You can merge individual shapes after exporting file as PSD or you can do that in Illustrator or to do a half job in one application, half in another. It's all up to you. Select individual pieces and click on Unite in Pathfinder panel while holding Alt/Opt key on your keyboard.
combine shapes in Illustrator

Create Clipping Mask
Define an area which you want to use and create: Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Ctrl/Cmd + 7). You can also reduce the number of compound shapes included in the final export by simply deleting them, but keep in mind that they can be also useful once imported in Photoshop. That extra compound shapes will give you extra flexibility if you need it.
create clipping mask illustrator

Export as PSD file
Go to File > Export. Select Save as type: PSD and click Export button.
create clipping mask illustrator

In the Photoshop Export Options dialog, ensure that you have Write Layers option checked and click OK button.
photoshop export options

Open file in Photoshop
Run Photoshop and simply open export file using File > Open command.

In the Layers panel you will see all shapes on separate layers as you expect, editable shapes which you can manipulate or automate one part of the entire process. By the way, you can use right click option: Cmd/right click on the layer group > Ungroup Layers.
layers panel in photoshop

Use Image > Trim > Transparent Pixels option to remove any extra transparent space.

Advantage and disadvantage if you follow along
If you follow along, then you have exported more shapes of what you need. Currently, those shapes are not visible on your screen. You can zoom out and to select all layers to see how many extra shapes you have.

The advantage is that you can move things around and to experiment.

The disadvantage is that you have many extra, unused shapes. If you decide that you do not need extra shapes, then simply activate Path Selection Tool (A), drag the marquee to select shapes and delete them using Backspace or Delete (Edit > Clear).
delete extra shapes in photoshop

Merge shapes in Photoshop
You can create final collage template in Photoshop if you haven't done that in Illustrator. You have individual base pieces on separate layers. Select individual shapes using the Path Selection Tool (Select > All Layers in the Options bar), Cmd/right click and choose: Unite Shapes.

unite shapes in photoshop

After merging shapes you can use Options bar > Path operations > Merge Shape Components if you want to remove path outlines inside merged shape.
merge shape components in photoshop

To be continued...

As mentioned above I will explain you in the next tutorial how to automate image/file placement in Photoshop using simple but powerful actions.

Related tutorials:
How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator (Part 2)

Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe Photoshop CC 2014
Adobe Illustrator CC 2014

Illustrator Help / Combining objects 


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