Repetition Through Custom Shapes

Let’s plow forward: you have a watermark/signature/shape/what-have-you, but you want to use it multiple times. Maybe you’re using it to evade image-theft and need to use it on multiple images, or maybe you don’t feel like copy-pasting. In either case, your best bet is making your what-have-you into a path, then defining it as a custom shape.

Paths are great; they give you precision by avoiding pixel limitations, so you can warp and modify, drag and resize them without a loss in the definition of your shape.

So, for example, if you wanted to create a custom shape of a light bulb, you could do the following:

1) Open up a picture of a light bulb in Photoshop, preferably one with a solid, contrasting background for easier selection

2) Outline the light bulb with your selection tool of choice

3) Right click your selection and choose “Make Work Path”

This turns your selection solid, into a path. You can select or modify your paths using the Paths pane at the bottom right (for example, you could fill the path space with the foreground color, stroke the path — which runs the current paintbrush, in both size and color, over the path lines — or turn your path back into a selection. You could also alter it by right clicking and selecting “Free Transform” to resize or warp it, as explained before.

If you’re satisfied with your path at this point, you can select “Define Custom Shape…” under the Edit menu. This lets you call it up using the custom shape tool, even after you close the current picture. Keep in mind that, if you’d rather recall it as a path instead of a shape (which you’ll want to do), make sure that the Custom Tool output is set on Paths (the small middle box at the top, the one with a pen on it).

Alternatively, if you want to start from scratch, you’ll want to use the Pen Tool to make the path of your shape. It’s a fairly complicated and finicky tool, but its precision and possibilities are great. Here are the basics:

-Click on a point to add an anchor there

-Two clicks make a straight line

-If you click and hold when making an anchor, then drag, lines will curve in the direction of the drag as they near that anchor (assuming the line connects to the anchor)

-A dragged (smooth) anchor connected to a regular (corner point) anchor, the resulting line between them will still be a curve.

-The lines should eventually connect together to close the path

So, if you wanted to make a shape of two intersection triangles, you could draw them by hand with the Pen Tool for the most precision. The Pen Tool really allows you to create some creative shapes by hand.

-Jon Kimmel

~ by blackburnkimmel on February 8, 2010.

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