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Elements comes with a collection of graphic shapes that you can use to embellish a project like a scrapbook page, a card, an invitation or a collage. These shapes are vector graphics, which means that unlike photographs they can be reshaped or distorted without losing image quality. To access the shapes that comes with Elements, I'll go to Shape tool slot, which is right here in the toolbox. And from the flyout menu, I can choose from any of these geometric shape tools: the Rectangle, the Rounded Rectangle, which is good for making buttons for a website, the Ellipse tool for making ovals and circles, the Polygon tool for making triangles and other polygons, the Line tool and finally the Custom Shape tool, which is the most flexible of the Shape tools, and the one that I'm going to show you here.
I'll select the Custom Shape tool, and then I am going to come up the Options bar for this tool, and click the arrow to the right of the Shape field. This opens the Shape Picker, where you can see some of the shapes that come with Elements. But this is just a small subset of all the available shapes. To see more, I'm going to click this double pointed arrow here, and from the menu that pops-up, I am going to choose All Elements Shapes. I still can't see them in this picker, so I am going to make the picker longer by going to it's bottom right corner and dragging down.
As you can see there are many shapes available. I am going to go to the scrollbar on the right side of this picker and drag down to see even more shapes. Down at the bottom of the menu are some Talk Bubble Shapes. I am going to select one of those, and then I'm going to close this Shape Picker, by going up to the little X on the top right of the picker and clicking. And you can see, the shape that I have selected here in the Shape field. Before I apply this shape, I want to select a color for it from this menu, so I'll click the arrow to the right of the Color Field in the Options bar, and that brings up these Swatches.
I can make the Swatches panel bigger by going to the bottom right corner and dragging, and I could just click on a swatch here or I can click More Colors, and that opens the Color Picker from which I can choose a color. I am going to go to the gold area and choose a gold color from there, and click OK. Now, also before drawing out this shape, I'm going to select a Style for the shape. The default is No Style, represented by this icon. I am going to click the arrow to the right of the Style Field, and at first, what I see are some different Bevel Styles.
If I click the double pointed arrow on the right side of the Style Picker, I see that there are other categories of styles. I am going to choose the Drop Shadow Style. That changes the thumbnails available here. I'm going to select the Low Drop Shadow, and then I'm going to close this Style Picker by clicking in a blank area of the Options bar. Now, I am finally ready to draw out this shape. So I'll come into the image. I am going to hold down the Shift key on my keyboard to constrain proportions, so the shape doesn't distort, and I'm going to drag out a Talk Bubble like this.
Notice in the layers panel there's now a new layer. This is a special kind of layer called a Shape layer. And it comes with this thumbnail representing the vector outline that creates this shape. I am going to rename this Shape layer by double-clicking it's name, and I'll call this Talk Bubble Shape, and then I'll press Return. And you can see that there is a Drop Shadow Style on the shape, because there's an fx icon on the Shape layer. The jaggedy edge that you see here is really just the vector outline around the shape.
If you don't want to see that, you can always click off of the Shape layer onto another layer, like this Background layer, and now you can see that the shape is indeed really smooth around the edge. Because this is a vector shape, I can resize it, reshape it, rotate it, all without disturbing its quality. To do that I'll select the Shape layer again, and then I'm going to go over to the toolbar, click on the Custom Shape tool, and from the flyout menu I'm going to choose the Shape Selection tool. With this tool I'll click inside the shape, and that creates this bounding box with anchor points.
If I want to change the size of this shape, I'll move my mouse over one of the anchor points on a corner, I'll hold the Shift key to constrain proportions, and I can make the shape bigger or smaller. If I want to rotate the shape, I'll move my mouse outside one of the anchor points till the cursor changes to a curved double-pointed arrow, and then I'll drag to rotate the shape. And if I do want to distort or change the shape, I can move my cursor over any of the anchor points and drag. So I'm making the shape a little bit narrower this time.
When I'm all done with these changes. I'll go down to this green checkmark and click to commit my changes to the shape. And now, I'm going to click off of the Shape layer onto the Background layer to see how the shape looks without the vector outline. Another thing that I like to use a Custom Shape for is to mask a photograph to give it a more interesting outline. This is similar to applying a full layer mask, which I showed you how to do in the layers chapter. And it's a really specialized technique, the one that I think you are going to like. The first thing I am going to do is go to the layers panel, and notice that the photograph is on a special layer called a Background layer.
I am going to change this into a regular type layer by double-clicking the word Background on this layer. I'll name the Regular layer 'cowboy', and I'll click OK. Now that that's a regular layer, I can create a new layer beneath it. To do that, with the cowboy layer selected, I'll hold down the Command key on my keyboard, and I'll click the Create New layer icon down here at the bottom left of the layers panel, and that makes a new layer beneath the selected cowboy layer. I'll double-click this layer name, and I am going to call this one 'color', and then I'll press the Return key.
I am going to fill the new color layer with color, so I have it selected in the layers panel. I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and choose Fill layer. Here in the Use menu, I'll choose 50% Gray, and I'll click OK. That will fill the color layer with 50% Gray. But I don't see that in the document window, because the Cowboy layer is completely obscuring the Color layer right now. The next thing I am going to do is to add a Custom Shape between the Color layer and the Cowboy layer. So with the color layer selected, I'm going to go back to the toolbar and select the Custom Shape tool.
I'll go up to the Options bar, and click the arrow to the right of the Shape field. I am going to scroll up in this list of shapes, until I see these mask shapes. I'll select one of those, and then I'll close the Shape Picker by clicking the X at the top right. Next, I'll choose a color for this mask by going to the arrow to the right of the Color field, clicking there, and I'm going to select a Black Chip, from these color swatches. And then I'll click in a blank area of the Options bar to close that menu.
Next, I am going to go to the Style Picker, click the arrow there, and what I want to do is set this to, No style, so I'll click the double pointed arrow, and I'm going to choose Remove Style, and then I'll click in a blank area of the Options bar to close that picker. Now I am ready to add a new shape layer, containing this mask shape. So I'll come into the image to the top left corner, and I'll draw out a mask moving down to the bottom right corner, and then I'll release my mouse. That creates a new Shape layer here, in the layers panel.
I am going to double-click its default name and call it Mask, and then press Return. Now comes the last and a really important step. And that is to clip this Mask layer to the Cowboy layer, so that the mask acts like a clipping mask or a layer mask, defining the area where the cowboy image will appear. So to clip the cowboy and the mask layers together, I am going to hold the Option key, as I move my mouse over the border between the cowboy and mask layers. And when the cursor changes to this double-circle icon, I'll click, and that clips the two layers together.
Now I am going to click off of the mask layer. I'll click on the color layer instead, so you can see the final result. The mask is limiting where the cowboy is showing up, and if I make the color layer temporarily invisible by clicking it's eye icon, you can see the transparent pixels around the edge of that mask. So try using shapes to embellish a photograph, or to create a mask as I have shown you here, or to make some interesting graphics in your projects like scrapbook pages, invitations or cards.
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