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Creating Path-Based Objects in Photoshop

Combining paths to create shape layers By Dave Nagel
For beginners, working with paths in Adobe Photoshop is not always the most intuitive process. But if you use paths often, creating custom objects can save time and frustration. Here's a simple procedure for using this feature in Adobe Photoshop 7.

Now, I'm not just posting this tutorial out of the blue. Later this week, I'll be presenting you with another tutorial that involves using custom path-based objects. And instead of confusing the subject by incorporating two tutorials in one article, I've decided to separate them out. The tutorial later this week will involve casting light in Photoshop, making an image appear to has light shining in through a glass window or door. So for this particular preliminary tutorial, we'll use as our example a path-based object in the shape of a window frame.

For this example, we're going to create a simple window frame--just six rectangles--and we're going to start by using the rectangular Marquee tool. While you can also easily do this using the rectangular Path tool, I'd like to show you how to convert a selection into a path so that you might get a little more out of this.

1. Begin by using your rectangular Marquee tool to select an area that will become the basic shape of one individual window pane.

2. Open up your Path palette, and choose the flyaway menu located on the top right of the palette. From the menu, select "Make Work Path." This will convert your selection into a rectangular path.

3. In your Tool palette, switch over to the Path Selection tool, which is the tool that looks just like a regular cursor. When you've chosen it, use the tool to click on the rectangular path in your canvas window.

4. From the Edit menu, choose Copy, or type Command-C. Then Choose Paste from the Edit menu, or type Command-V. You want to paste five times, giving you a total of six individual rectangular paths. However, when you paste them, they will appear on top of one another, looking as if you still had only one path. Not to worry. Simply use your Path Selection tool to move the paths one by one into position, as seen below. You can hold down the shift key while you're moving the paths in order to constrain the paths along the horizontal or vertical axes.

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