In this lesson we will look at the basics of working with shapes and shape layers in Photoshop. We will begin our lesson with learning the five basic tools that allow us to draw geometric shapes — Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, and Line.
Then, in the next lesson, we will look at how to draw shapes of a more complex shape using the Arbitrary Shape tool. Most people think that Photoshop is used only for image processing, and if you asked them to recommend a good graphics editor, in most cases the answer would be “Adobe Illustrator”.
Indeed, the capabilities of the Adobe Illustrator editor in the field of vector graphics are much broader than Photoshop, but, nevertheless, Photoshop in this area can do more than one would expect from a raster image editor. Various tools in the Shapes group and Photoshop shape layers make it easy to add simple vector images to pictures and drawings.
There are six tools in Photoshop that allow you to draw shapes: Rectangle (Rectangle Tool), Rounded Rectangle Tool (Rounded Rectangle Tool), Ellipse Tool (Polygon Tool), Line »(Line Tool) and« Custom Shape »(Custom Shape Tool). They are located in one place on the toolbar.
By default, the Rectangle tool is visible on the panel, but if we click on the tool icon and hold the mouse button down for a few seconds, a pop-up menu will appear with a list of the rest of the Shapes group of tools, from which we can choose
If you first selected one tool of the Shapes group, and then you wanted to switch to another, then there is no need to re-access the toolbar (although you can do this if you wish). Photoshop allows us to select the desired tool in the settings panel at the top of the screen, where all six tools are presented. For example, on the toolbar, I will select the Rectangle tool:
After selecting the “Rectangle” tool on the settings panel, six icons appear, representing the various tools of the “Shapes” group. The tools are placed from left to right in the same order in which they are displayed on the toolbar, so we again see the Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Line and Arbitrary tools. To select the desired tool, simply click on one of the icons:
Selecting the “Layer-Layer” option
Before we start drawing shapes, we need to tell Photoshop what type of shape we want to draw, and in this case I don’t mean by shape type “rectangle” or “circle”. In fact, Photoshop allows us to draw shapes of three different types – vector shapes, outlines, and pixel shapes.
In another lesson we will take a closer look at how these three types of shapes differ and in which case which type to use, but in most cases, you will draw vector shapes. That they draw in a program such as Illustrator. Unlike pixel forms, vector shapes do not depend on resolution and are completely scalable. This means that we can resize them as we like, and at the same time the image quality will not be lost. The edges of the vector shapes remain sharp and pointed both on the screen and on further printing.
To draw vector shapes, select the Shape Layers option on the settings panel. This is the first of three icons located closer to the left edge (the middle icon is the Paths parameter and the right one by the Fill Pixels Pixel Fill option):
Choosing a color for the shape
After selecting the “Layer-shape” parameter, we need to choose a color for our shape. We will do this by clicking on the color swatch icon to the right of the word “Color” in the settings panel:
This action will lead to the opening of a color palette where we can choose the desired color. In my case, I will choose red. Once you select a color, click OK to close the color palette:
If you are not sure that you have chosen the right color for your shape, do not worry about it. Next, we will look at how it is easy to go back to the previous steps using the shape layers and change the color of the shape at any time after we drew it.
As you may have guessed from the name, the Rectangle Tool allows us to draw four-sided rectangular shapes. Simply click in the document window to define the starting point of the shape, and then hold the mouse button down and drag the mouse diagonally to finish drawing the shape. As you move the cursor, you will see the subtle outlines of the future shape:
When you are satisfied with the result, release the mouse button and the program will immediately fill the shape with the color you selected in the settings panel:
Drawing a shape from the center
If you need to draw a rectangle (or another shape) from the center, not from the corner, position the cursor in the document window to determine the center of the future rectangle and, while holding the mouse button, start to draw the cursor and draw the shape as usual. At the same time, press the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key and keep it pressed as you move the cursor. Pressing this key tells the program to draw the shape from the center. This technique works with all tools of the “Figure” group, and not only with the “Rectangle” tool:
We can also draw squares with the Rectangle tool. To draw a square, position the cursor in the document window and start drawing it, drawing a rectangular shape. Once you’ve started doing this, hold down the Shift key and keep it pressed as you move the cursor. Pressing the Shift key converts the shape to a square, regardless of which direction you are moving the cursor. You can also add the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) keystroke to draw a square from the center (this way you press and hold down the Shift + Alt (Win) / Shift + Option (Mac) key combination):
Again, Photoshop will display only the thin outline of the square as you move the cursor, and when you release the mouse button, the program will fill the square with color:
Parameters of the Shapes group
If you look at the settings panel, then to the right of the six icons of the Shapes group of tools you will see a small, pointing down arrow. Clicking this arrow will open the list of additional parameters for the tool you selected in the Shapes group. For example, if you select the Rectangle tool, pressing the arrow will open a menu with options for the Rectangle tool. Except for working with the Polygon and Line tools, which we will look at later, you will not often use this menu, because we have already learned how to select basic parameters using keyboard shortcuts and individual keys.
For example, the option “Free” (Unconstrained) is selected by default, and it is responsible for the normal operating mode of the Rectangle tool, allowing us to draw rectangular shapes of any size and any aspect ratio. The Square option allows us to draw squares, but we can do this by simply pressing and holding the Shift key as the cursor moves. The From Center parameter (From Center) is responsible for drawing the shape from the center, but again, we can do this by pressing and holding the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key:
Before we move on to the other tools in the Shapes group, let’s look at the layers panel. As you remember, at the beginning of the lesson we learned that in order to draw vector shapes in Photoshop, you need to select the “Layer-shape” option in the settings panel. And now, after I drew the shape, we can see that a shape layer (Shape type layer) appeared on the layers panel, which the program called “Shape 1” (Shape 1). Each new vector shape that we draw will be placed on a separate layer that looks different than a regular pixel layer. On the left side of the layer there is a color swatch icon that displays the current fill color of our shape, and to the right of the color icon is a thumbnail of the vector mask:
As I mentioned earlier, you should not worry about choosing the right color for the shape, because we can easily change the fill color of the shape after it is created. To do this, double-click on the color layer pattern sample icon:
Photoshop will reopen the color palette, where we can choose a different color for our shape. I will choose blue this time:
Then I click the OK button to close the color palette, and the color of my square will change from red to blue:
To the right of the color swatch icon on the shape layer is a vector mask thumbnail. The white area on the thumbnail displays our shape. Vector masks are similar to regular layer masks in that they partially cover the layer, leaving separate areas visible. In other words, when we draw a vector shape, the program actually fills the entire layer with the selected color, but the mask displays the color only inside the shape area, while the color on the rest of the layer area is hidden. When working with the tools of the “Figures” group, knowing how the vector mask works is, of course, not at all necessary, but it is always nice to understand how the tools work. The gray area around the shape on the thumbnail of the vector mask represents the area on the layer where the color is not visible, while the white area on the thumbnail represents the area of the color layer:
To make it easier for us to see how Photoshop displays a vector shape, we can temporarily disable vector masks by pressing and holding the Shift key while clicking on the vector mask thumbnail:
After turning off the vector mask, the layer becomes open, and we can see that it is completely filled with the blue color that I chose to fill the shape. If we take a closer look, we will see a thin outline of the location of the shape on the layer:
To turn the vector mask back on, simply hold down the Shift key, and at the same time, click the mask thumbnail on the layers panel again. After turning on the mask, the color will remain only inside the area of the shape, while in the rest of the layer the color will disappear from the view. The white areas around the shape in the document window belong to the background layer below:
Now that we’ve become familiar with the shape layers, let’s look at other shapes that can be drawn in Photoshop using the Shapes group of tools.
Rounded Rectangle tool
The Rounded Rectangle Tool is very similar to the Rectangle tool, except that it allows us to draw rounded rectangles. We adjust the degree of rounding of corners using the Radius parameter on the settings panel. The greater the radius value we enter, the rounder the angles become. In my case, I will enter a Radius value of 50 pixels:
To draw a rounded rectangle, after you have entered a radius value, click in the document window to define the starting point of the shape and then hold the mouse button down and drag the mouse to finish drawing the shape. As with the Rectangle shape, as the cursor moves, the program will display a thin outline of the shape:
When you release the mouse button, Photoshop will finish drawing the shape and fill it with color:
Below is another rectangle with a set radius of 150 pixels. This value is so large (for this shape, in any case) that the left and right sides of the rectangle have the shape of a curve:
But a rectangle with a small radius value of 10 pixels, which only slightly rounds the corners of the shape:
Unfortunately, there is no preview of the degree of rounding. See how round the corners are, we can only after we draw a rectangle. Also, we cannot change the radius value in the process of drawing a shape, as is available in Illustrator. Another Photoshop program does not allow us to go back and at least slightly correct the rounding of the corners, after we have drawn the shape.
All of the above means that drawing rectangles with rounded corners is essentially a trial and error method. If you do not like the rounding of the corners of the shape, after you have drawn it, press Ctrl + Z (Win) / Command + Z (Mac) to quickly cancel the action, then enter a new radius value in the settings panel and start drawing the rectangle again.
As with the Rectangle tool, you can draw rounded squares with the Rounded Rectangle tool. Just press and hold down the Shift key after you have started to draw the shape, and your rounded rectangle takes the shape of a rounded square. Press and hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key to draw a shape from the center.
If we click on the small arrow on the settings panel to open the advanced options menu for the Rectangle with Rounded Corner tool, we see that the Arbitrary, Square and From the Center parameters are the same as the Rectangle tool. And again, we already know how to select these parameters using keyboard shortcuts and individual keys:
The Ellipse Tool allows us to draw ellipses and circles. As with the Rectangle and Rounded Rectangle tools, click in the document window to define the starting point of the shape and then hold down the mouse button and drag the mouse to finish drawing the shape:
Release the mouse button to finish drawing the shape and fill it with color:
Press and hold down the Shift key after you have started working with the Ellipse tool to draw a perfectly smooth circle. Pressing Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) will allow you to draw a shape from the center:
Clicking the small arrow on the settings panel will open the Ellipse tool options, which are similar to the Rectangle tool and the Rectangle tool with rounded edges. The only difference is that you can draw circles instead of squares using the Ellipse tool parameter:
The Polygon Tool is more interesting for us in terms of the possibilities of drawing shapes. If using the Rectangle tool we can only draw quadrilateral rectangles, then the Polygon tool allows us to draw polygons with as many sides as we want. Next we look at how you can draw even stars with this tool.
Specify the number of sides you need for the polygon in the Sides parameter box on the settings panel. The default value for the Sides parameter is 5, but you can enter any number from 3 to 100:
Once you have specified the number of sides, position the cursor in the document window and start dragging it to draw a polygonal shape. Photoshop always draws polygonal shapes from the center, so you do not need to hold down the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key. Pressing and holding the Shift key after you start to draw a polygon will allow you to limit the number of corners for your shape and place it on the screen exactly as required:
By specifying a number of sides equal to 3, we can easily draw a triangle:
And here is a polygon with the number of sides equal to 12:
Drawing stars with the Polygon tool
To draw a star using the Polygon tool, click on the small arrow in the settings panel to open the Polygon tool parameter list and select the Star option:
After selecting the “Star” parameter, click with the mouse in the document window and drag the cursor to draw a star. The “Sides” parameter on the settings panel determines the number of star vertices. So, if the default value of the parameter is five, we will have a five-pointed star:
Changing the value of the parameter “Parties” to 8, we will get an eight-pointed star:
We can draw a shape that looks like an exploding star, increasing the sharpness of the star’s rays using the Indent Sides By parameter. By default, the value of this parameter is 50%, I will increase the value to 90%:
And here is what my star turned out with the value of the “Depth of rays” parameter equal to 90%. I also increased the number of vertices of the star to 16:
By default, the tops of the stars have sharp corners, but we can round them by selecting the Smooth Corners option:
Below is a five-pointed star with the option “Smooth outer corners” selected:
We can also round the corners at the base of the star’s rays by selecting the Smooth Inner Angles option (Smooth Indents):
And again, our star looks completely different:
Finally, we look at the Line Tool, which is the latest tool in the Geometric Shapes group. It allows us to draw straight lines and arrows. Set the required line thickness in pixels by entering the value in the “Weight” parameter in the settings panel. In my case, I will enter a value of 16 pixels:
Then click in the document window and drag the cursor to draw a line. After you start drawing a line, press and hold the Shift key to limit the direction of the cursor movement. This will allow you to easily draw horizontal or vertical lines:
To set arrows at the ends of the line, click the small arrow icon in the settings panel to select the Arrowheads options. Photoshop allows us to add arrows at the beginning of the line, at the end or at the same time at both ends. If you want an arrow in the direction in which you draw the line, which is more logical, select the End option. Make sure that you select this option before you start drawing a line, because the program will not allow us to go back and set an arrow after the line has been drawn:
Below is a line similar to the previous line drawn by me, but with an arrow at the end:
If the default arrow size does not suit you, you can change it using the Width and Length parameters. We can also add an arrow to the bend using the “Concavity” parameter. By default, the value of this parameter is 0%. I will increase it to 50%:
As a result, the shape of the arrow will change. Again, make sure that you select the Curvature value before you start drawing a line, otherwise you will have to delete the shape and draw it again:
Hiding the outline around the shape
If you look closely at the figure you draw (no matter what tool of the Shapes group you used), you will most likely see a thin outline around it, which can sometimes cause irritation. The contour around the shape appears whenever a vector shape mask is selected, and it is highlighted by default always after we draw a new shape.
If you look at the shape layer on the layers panel, you will see that the thumbnail of the vector mask has a white highlighted border around it, which tells us that the mask is actually selected. You can hide the outline around the shape by removing the selection from the vector mask. To do this, simply click on the thumbnail of the vector mask. The highlighted border around the thumbnail will disappear, and the outline around the figure in the document will also disappear:
And here we are done! We covered the basics of working with shape layers and five tools of the Shapes group in Photoshop! In the next lesson, we will learn how to create shapes of a more complex shape using the Custom Shape Tool.