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Creating a custom shape from an Illustrator symbol

From: Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers

Video: Creating a custom shape from an Illustrator symbol

Let's see how we can adapt an Illustrator symbol and turn that into a Photoshop custom shape. So here I am in Illustrator and Illustrator has some very useful symbols libraries. So I've come to my Symbols panel and then I'm going to come to the icon at the bottom-left of the Symbols panel where we have all of these symbols libraries. First of all I'm going to come to Florid Vector Pack and we get these nice little decorative pieces of vector art.

Creating a custom shape from an Illustrator symbol

Let's see how we can adapt an Illustrator symbol and turn that into a Photoshop custom shape. So here I am in Illustrator and Illustrator has some very useful symbols libraries. So I've come to my Symbols panel and then I'm going to come to the icon at the bottom-left of the Symbols panel where we have all of these symbols libraries. First of all I'm going to come to Florid Vector Pack and we get these nice little decorative pieces of vector art.

I'm going to add one of those to my symbols and I'm then going to place an instance of that on my artboard. Now this is a very simple piece of artwork. It's not layered. There are no colors. This is going to work really well turning this into a Photoshop custom shape. All we need to do is break the link to the symbol and then we just have anchor points and path segments. I can now copy that, switch to Photoshop, paste it and paste it as a shape layer, and then we have our shape layer now in Photoshop and then I can come to Define Custom Shape. Give it a name.

Thereafter, I'll be able to access that from my Shape menu. Let's have a look at something that's going to present a few more challenges. I'm going to come now to the Nature symbol set and I'm going to choose the ant and add an instance of that. I'll move the ant over there, and I'm also going to size the ant up. So I press E to go to my Free Transform and I'm going to click-and-drag. Then when we look at the ant, we see that actually there's a lot more going on here.

We have several different colors making up this artwork. So if I were to break the link to the symbol and then try to do I did before, Command+C to copy, switch over to Photoshop and Command+V to paste, as a shape layer, it's not going to work. We need to adapt this artwork in Illustrator first of all. So let's see what we need to do. I'm going to come to my Layers panel and on the Layers panel we can see the artwork for the ant.

If I expand that-- I'm just going to pull this out so we can see it a bit more clearly. So here we have the ant and we expand it and we see that it's made up of a group. Now, within this group there is another group and within that group, what do you know, there is another group. Let's expand that and then we get several paths in that group and another group there. So it's actually quite a complex piece of artwork. Surrounding the whole thing is a bounding box. All we're really interested in is this path down at the bottom. This is the ant shape.

So I can come and click on the bull's eye of that sub-layer to select just that, and then if I choose my Direct Selection tool and holding down the Alt key, drag away from that to isolate that particular path and then copy that over to Photoshop and paste it as a shape layer, that would work. But, let's say that we also wanted to retain some of the detail. Now, a shape layer can't be derived from anything that has multiple colors. It all needs to be one color.

It all needs to be on the same vector mask, effectively it all needs to be clasped using a compound path or excluding overlapping shape areas. So what I'm going to do is adapt this piece of artwork here on the right and I'm first of all going to select that outside bounding box because we don't need that. So let's delete that and then I'm going to select this area of yellow detail. We're going to get rid of that. I'm going to come to my Select menu and choose Same > Fill Color.

It's going to select all of those yellow dots. And I'm going to delete those. Next, I'm going to select everything that we have left and come to my Pathfinder panel where I'm going to choose this option, the Exclude overlap, which is going to have those formerly blue shapes knock a hole through the black shape. Remember the color that we're creating this in is going to be irrelevant when we turn it into a shape layer. So now I can select this piece of artwork, copy it, switch over to Photoshop, paste it as a shape layer, there it is.

I can now select it. Edit menu > Define Custom Shape. Anytime I want an ant right now, just the place to go to get one. So there we see how we can adapt some of the great symbols that are already there in Illustrator if you have Illustrator and turn them into custom Photoshop shapes.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers
Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers

42 video lessons · 14017 viewers

Nigel French
Author

 
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  1. 1m 31s
    1. Welcome
      59s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 30m 57s
    1. Three ways to use the shape tools
      6m 49s
    2. Converting shapes to paths and vice versa
      1m 24s
    3. Moving, deleting, copying, and rasterizing shape layers
      5m 28s
    4. Drawing rectangles, rounded rectangles, and ellipses
      2m 59s
    5. Drawing lines
      2m 40s
    6. Drawing polygons and stars
      1m 48s
    7. Drawing pen paths by adding, deleting, and converting anchor points
      5m 51s
    8. Drawing pen paths with hybrid anchor points
      2m 58s
    9. Inverting paths
      1m 0s
  3. 28m 19s
    1. Adding, subtracting, intersecting, excluding, and combining shapes
      3m 50s
    2. Aligning and distributing shapes
      2m 19s
    3. Coloring shape layers
      2m 1s
    4. Creating a poster by combining simple shapes, part 1
      11m 32s
    5. Creating a poster by combining simple shapes, part 2
      8m 37s
  4. 52m 55s
    1. Creating a logo with shape layers
      10m 47s
    2. Applying blend modes to shape layers
      3m 36s
    3. Applying layer effects and styles to shape layers
      2m 53s
    4. Adding strokes to shape layers
      5m 14s
    5. Applying Smart Filters to shape layers
      4m 0s
    6. Combining shape layers with layer effects, blending modes, and Smart Objects
      5m 31s
    7. Creating shape layers from type
      3m 32s
    8. Creating web buttons using shape layers
      2m 33s
    9. Using shape layers to mask multiple layers
      3m 6s
    10. Adding shape layers to a photo illustration
      7m 38s
    11. Using shape layers to apply custom gradients to type
      4m 5s
  5. 28m 52s
    1. Finding and loading custom shapes
      3m 13s
    2. Creating your own custom shape
      5m 2s
    3. Creating a custom shape from an Illustrator symbol
      5m 1s
    4. Creating a custom shape from an Illustrator Live Trace object
      9m 40s
    5. Creating seamless patterns from shape layers
      4m 18s
    6. Saving and loading shapes with the Preset Manager
      1m 38s
  6. 30m 10s
    1. What is a vector mask?
      6m 39s
    2. Converting to a selection, vector mask, or layer mask
      5m 17s
    3. Linking and unlinking vector masks
      4m 47s
    4. Using shape layers to create a photo grid
      1m 42s
    5. Feathering a vector mask edge
      2m 54s
    6. Adjusting vector mask density
      3m 16s
    7. Combining vector masks with layer masks
      3m 34s
    8. Working with paths and clipping paths
      2m 1s
  7. 19s
    1. Goodbye
      19s

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