Learn how to create paths using the shape tools in Photoshop. Then, learn the shortcuts to quickly create copies, align, and distribute the paths. Using Photoshop, see how to convert paths into Vector masks to quickly hide and show portions of an image. Then discover how to add a Layer mask to the same layer to create both hard edge vector masks and soft-edged layer masks.
- There are several ways to display a photograph within a shape in Photoshop and now that we know how to work with vector shapes, we can add them as masks in order to control which portion of a layer is hidden or revealed. To create this effect, I'm going to select one of the shape tools, we'll start with a custom shape tool and then from the shape picker, I'm going to scroll down and select this triangle shape. Now if you don't see all of these shapes, you might need to load all of them by clicking on the gear icon and choosing all.
Once I've got the shapes selected, I'll tap Enter or Return to dismiss the shape picker but before I drag out my shape, I want to change my option from shape to path because I just want a path, I don't want a shape layer. Then, I'll click and drag out a triangle and I'm going to want five of these total, three across the bottom and then we'll make two more duplicates and we will flip them vertically so I'll have two in the middle here. So in order to start duplicating them, I'll switch to the path selection tool, hold down the option key and drag a duplicate of the path.
I'll do it again with the option key held down, drag out another duplicate. Now I want to select two of these, so I'll hold down the Shift key and click on the second path so these two triangles are selected. I need to make a duplicate, so I'll hold down the option key or Alt key on Windows and just drag the duplicate. These are the two I want to flip, so I'll choose edit and then transform path, but you'll notice I can't flip them. However, if I choose free transform and I right click within the transformation boundary, then I can flip these vertically.
So now I'll reposition them so they fall somewhere close to being in the middle of the other triangles and tap Enter or Return. Then in order to distribute them, I need them all selected so I'll just click and drag over all of the paths. That will select them and from the options bar, I'll choose the align options and I'll choose to distribute them on their horizontal centers as well as align to top. Then, I can click in the image area and just reposition them.
Then in order to add them as a mask, I can either choose layer, vector mask, current path, or I can use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+click on Mac or Ctrl+click on Windows on the mask icon to add them as a vector mask. But I can also add a regular layer mask to this layer. So at the bottom of the layers panel, I'll add another mask by clicking on the mask icon and it's this mask that I'm going to fill with a pattern to make it look as if it's snowing.
So with the mask selected, I'll choose edit and then fill and I'm going to choose pattern as my contents. Then under custom pattern, I'll use the disclosure triangle to access the gear icon and I'll choose the erodible textures to load. I'll append them and then I'll use the gear icon again in order to view by small list. Now I can scroll down and I'm looking for the pattern called rough.
I'll select that and click okay and Photoshop fills my layer mask with that texture. But if we option click to view the mask, we can see that there's a lot of dark areas and I actually want to push some of those darker areas and make them lighter so that it doesn't hide that area in my image. So I'll toggle back on the visibility of the layer and with the layer mask still selected I'll choose image, adjustments and then levels.
I'll move the white point over to the left, which is pushing more and more of the gray values that were in the mask to white. And of course, white shows the information on that layer. So now, we get this kind of snow like effect. I'll click okay and then to soften the edges, I'll show the properties panel and with a mask targeted. I'll add just a little bit of a feather to that layer mask. Now before I deselect all of these paths, if you ever find the path color to be distracting or if you ever want to change the width of a path, you can select your preferences and then guide, grids and slices and under the paths options we can change the color from the default blue to something else, maybe light gray and we can also change the width of the path.
So as you can see, there are many was to use vector shapes in Photoshop in order to mask images.
- Working with Smart Objects
- Creative transformations and warping
- Essential filters for designers
- Emulating traditional drawing techniques
- Working with shape and fill layers
- Pen tool basics
- Applying layer effects and styles
- Type essentials
- Creative brush techniques
- Working with libraries and artboards
- Exporting files and sharing images