Custom Shapes in Photoshop

Below is one of the results you’ll get by following this tutorial. I also show other examples at the end:

Here I have a photograph of a horse and rider jumping that I’ll drop into Photoshop. It’s a nice shot, but I want to get a little creative with it, so I’ll add a custom shape to make it interesting:

I’ll make sure to change the name of the background layer by double clicking on the word “Background” in the Layers palette. I’ll do this because I want to unlock the layer:

I’ll rename “Layer 0” to “Original Background”. Then I’ll click OK:

Here is the Layers palette at this point:

Now I want to add a new layer below the original background layer and fill it with white. To do this I’ll click on the “New Layer” icon at the bottom of the Layers palette, while at the same time I’ll hold down the CTRL key on my keyboard:

This is what the Layers palette looks like at this point:

To fill “Layer 1” with white, first I’ll click on the double arrows on the color picker in the tools palette and make sure that white is the foreground color:

Now I’ll hit ALT+Backspace on my keyboard to fill “Layer 1” with white.

This is what the Layers palette looks like at this point:

In this step I’ll make sure to click on the “Original Background” layer to make it active. When a layer is highlighted in blue, then you know it’s active:

Now I want to add a “Vector Mask” to the “Original Layer Background” I’ll go to Layer / Vector Mask / Hide All.

Note: When you finish this step, the white fill will cover the photo. That is what’s supposed to happen.

Now it’s time to pick a shape. I’ll go to the custom shape tool in the tools palette. At the top of the screen I’ll make sure that the “Add to Path” button is selected:

Here I’ll click on the drop down menu to see all the custom shapes. I found a great web site that offers free custom shapes. It’s This is where I got the custom shape that I’m using for this tutorial.

Now that I have a shape selected, I’ll just drag it across the white box. I usually start from the upper left hand corner and drag down to the bottom right hand corner. I’m a lefty, so if you feel more comfortable going from right to left then do whatever is easiest for you.

If I need to move the custom shape to the left, right, up or down for a fine adjustment, I’ll click on the path selection tool in the Tools palette. Then I’ll click on the shape and drag the shape to the position I want:

This is the shape I chose for my photo, and this is what it looks like so far:

And this is what my Layer palette looks like at this point too:

The next thing I want to do is give the shape a drop shadow. So, I’ll click on the “Layer Style” icon at the bottom of the Layers palette:

Here the Layer Style menu comes up, and I’ll click on the Drop Shadow option:

Here are the settings I chose for the “Drop Shadow”. Blend Mode is set to “Multiply”. Angle is set to 129, Distance: 39, Spread: 17 and Size: 3:

I also decided to do a “Bevel and Emboss”, so I’ll click on the words “Bevel and Emboss” to bring up its own dialog box. Here are the settings I used in the Structure portion. Style: Inner Bevel, Technique: Smooth, Depth: 100%, Direction: Up, Size: 5 and Soften: 0. In the Shading portion I used Angles: 40, Altitude: 30, Highlight Mode: Screen, Opacity: 75%, Shadow Mode: Multiply and Opacity for the shadow mode: 75%. When I’m finished I’ll click OK:

Here is what the Layers palette looks like in the end:

And here is the finished image:

Here’s one last step you can do, if you want to add a color to the background. Make sure “Layer 1″ is selected:

Click on the paint bucket in the Tools palette:

Then go to the Swatches palette:

When I click on a color, the color that was chosen will appear in the color picker in the tools bar:

I’ll just hover the paint bucket over any part of the white background and click:

Here are some other shape examples:

Again, thank you for all the free custom shapes and so much more.

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