How to Turn a Selection into a Path in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

While working in Photoshop CS6, you can create paths from existing selections. You probably won’t use this option nearly as often as you use the option to turn a path into a selection, but the option is available.

Creating a path from a selection can come in handy if you need to save a path as a clipping path (where areas of the image outside the path are hidden, but not deleted).

To create a path from a selection, follow these steps:

  1. Select the desired element in your image.

  2. With the selection marquee active, select Make Work Path from the Paths panel pop-up menu.

    You can also create a path from a selection by holding down Alt (Option on the Mac) and clicking the Make Work Path from Selection icon in the Paths panel. If you just click the icon without holding down Alt (Option on the Mac), you also make a path, but you bypass the dialog box.

  3. In the dialog box that appears, enter a Tolerance value.

    The Tolerance value controls how sensitive Photoshop is to the nooks and crannies in the selection when it creates the path:

    • The lower the value, the more sensitive it is, and the more closely the selection follows your path.

    • Too low a value, such as 0.5, may create too many anchor points.

    • Too high a value, such as 10 (the max), rounds out your path too much. Start with the default setting of 2.0. You can always tweak the path later.

  4. If the path is still showing, simply click in the gray area below the path names in the Paths panel.

    This action deselects the path.

  5. Select the work path in the Paths panel and select Save Path from the Paths panel pop-up menu. Name the path and click OK.