Create and Use Custom Shapes in Photoshop CS5 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

If you want to add some personal flair to your Photoshop Creative Suite 5 image, make a custom shape and integrate it with an existing image.

A photograph edited on PhotoShop.

1With an image or blank document open, select the Pen tool, and then click the Shape Layers button on the Options bar.

Perhaps you like the wave shape that’s been cropping up in design pieces all over the place. Let’s create that wavy shape.

2Click and drag with the Pen tool to create a wavy shape.

Don’t worry about the size of the shape. The shape is vector, so you can scale it up or down to whatever size you need without worrying about making jagged edges. Just make sure to close the shape (return to the original point with the end point).

When you create the shape, it fills in with your foreground color. If you wish, you can change the fill color to a transparent fill.

3With the shape still selected, choose Edit→Define Custom Shape, name the shape, and click OK.

After you save your custom shape, you can re-create it at any time.

Custom shape drop-down list in PhotoShop.

4Click and hold the Rectangle tool to access the other hidden vector tools; select the last tool, the Custom Shape tool.

When the Custom Shape tool is selected, a Shape drop-down list appears on the Options bar at the top of the screen.

You have lots of custom shapes to choose from, including the one you’ve just created. If you just saved a shape, yours is in the last square; you have to scroll down to select it.

5Click to select your custom shape; click and drag in the image area to create your shape.

You can make the shape any size you want.

6To resize the shape, choose Edit→Free Transform Path, press Ctrl+T (Windows) or Command+T (Mac), grab a bounding box handle, and drag.

Shift+drag a corner handle to keep the shape proportional as you resize it.

Photo edited to appear with a partially transparent film.

7Experiment with blending modes and opacity changes on shape layers like this one with partially transparent film.

Because a shape is created on its own layer, you can experiment with different levels of transparency and blending modes in the Layers panel.

You can copy and paste shapes directly from Illustrator CS5 into Photoshop CS5. Simply select a shape in Adobe Illustrator, choose Edit→Copy, switch to the Photoshop application, and, with a document open, choose Edit→Paste. A dialog box appears, offering you the opportunity to place your path as a shape layer (vector shape), a path, or pixels.