How to Transform Type into Vector Shapes and Paths in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

By default, regular type created with the Type tool in Photoshop CS6 is vector-based type, not bitmapped, rasterized type. But you can also convert regular type (each character) to individual vector shapes. You can edit the shapes like any shapes created with the shape tools, by manipulating anchor points, and straight and curved segments.

You can also convert regular type to work paths, where each character becomes a path, editable by using the selection arrows and Pen tools, like any other path. Type is usually converted into a path in order to create a vector mask based on the type. (An image is contained within the editable paths created by the letterforms.)

So, you can convert regular type to shapes in the form of a vector mask or work path. You convert type to vector shapes and paths in order to edit it with the Pen tools. Here are the ways to do that:

  • To convert type to an editable work path, choose Type→Create Work Path.

  • To convert type to shapes, choose Type→Convert to Shape.

Here are the chief things to know about type converted into a shape or path:

  • Like a type layer, you can resize it without producing jagged diagonal lines.

  • You can edit the shape of the characters, but you can’t edit the text itself.


  • You must rasterize the converted type before you can merge it with pixel-based layers or apply special effects with filters. You can apply layer styles to any kind of type.

  • If you’ve converted your type into a shape, it becomes a set of vector paths, and you can edit the shape of the characters by using the Pen and Selection tools.