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Jul 05

Can a Path turned into a Shape Layer in Photoshop?

2007 at 08.23 am posted by Veerle Pieters

I always try to find time to answer e-mails I get from people with questions about Illustrator, Photoshop, CSS, design, ExpressionEngine etc., but it is rather frustrating to get an error message back that the e-mail couldn’t be delivered because the address doesn’t exist. So please double check and make sure you’ve entered a valid e-mail address. Sometimes I can’t give a true answer or an answer that will really help you, but I always try…

Trapped

Yesterday I answered an e-mail from a reader, Chris, who was trying out the flexible buttons tutorial. He was trapped in a situation by accident and was wondering if there was a way out without having to redo the path he had just drawn:

I was following along with one of your old tutorials, the one regarding making glassy buttons in Photoshop. At the last step (the one where you create a new shape to add some extra gloss), I accidentally made the path on my original button layer, because the 'Add to shape area' was selected instead of the 'Create new shape layer' option. I just selected the path points and cut the new shape out of the original button shape so that I didn't have to redo the path. I couldn't figure out how to paste the path as a new shape layer though. I have it saved to the path palette for now. There doesn't even seem to be a way to create a new shape layer without dropping a few points with the pen tool. But then even when I do that, then paste my path onto that layer, the path doesn't have the fill - it's just another empty shape on the shape layer... Is there a way to paste a path as a new shape? I'm using CS2 by the way.

Is there a way out?

Chris was using CS2, so my first reaction was 'OK this can be done in CS3'. My guess was to make sure the 'Add to shape area' option is deselected. If the 'Create new shape layer' is selected instead, then this would do the trick when you paste the path, but I was wrong unfortunately. I reproduced the situation Chris was in and tried to paste it as a Shape Layer, but it was turned into a Path every time. Then I tried to turn that Path into a separate Shape Layer, but I couldn't find a way either.

Can a Path turned into a Shape Layer in Photoshop?

I tried many ways, but they all didn't work : I tried

  • dragging the Path from the Path palette into the Layers palette
  • pasting it into a new document, so I could then drag it back into the original document
  • converting the Path back into a Shape Layer by selecting the Shape Layer icon in the toolbar
  • checking the Path palette menu to see if there was a 'Convert to Shape Layer' option

Conclusion

I don't think I was blind or stupid, because if there is a way to do this then Photoshop needs a serious UI fix on this :) If anybody knows a way, don't hesitate to comment this here. Thank you ;)

UPDATE:

Kudos to Jan who showed a way to achieve this. It's simple and easy and I had this "ah" reaction when I read it :)

  • Select the path with the path selection tool
  • Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color. (Or use the Create new fill or adjustment layer button in the layers palette)
  • You have turned a path into a new shape layer

Want to learn more?

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permalink this comment Peter Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 09.45 am

Sorry I’m really in a hurry and don’t have time right now to read through the entire post, but as I understand it what you want to do is convert a path to a shape layer. So bear with me if I got that wrong.

At least in CS3 (I don’t know about CS2), this does the trick:

- Create an empty shape layer (which is essentially just a solid color layer with a vector mask) by clicking on the “add new adjustment layer” icon in the layers panel and then selecting “solid color”.
- Select your path in the path panel
- Go to Layer > Vector Mask > Current Path. If the menu item is grayed out, make sure you selected the path correctly in the previous step and that your solid color layer is indeed selected in the layers panel.

That should do the trick. You can now use the path selection tool (or the direct selection tool) to select the path and copy and paste it to other shape layers.

I hope this helps, but again, sorry if I misunderstood the problem.

Regards
Peter


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permalink this comment carmelyne Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 09.52 am

Go to the Path Palette in CS2/3. Select the layer you have the path in. Then go to EDIT > Define Custom Shape. Now you can go to your Custom shapes and you will find that new shape in it. It’s now available to you as a shape instead of just a path. Was that it?


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permalink this comment Jan Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 10.08 am

1. Select the path with the path selection tool.

2. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color. (Or use the Create new fill or adjustment layer button in the layers palette)

3. You have turned a path into a new shape layer


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permalink this comment Thomas Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 11.01 am

Nice one, Jan. Thx.

I got a path-related question too:
You know how a curvepoint always has 2 handles.. well, in Illustrator you can drag a handle back into its point to remove it. Mousepointer turns white so you’re sure it’s on top of the point.
But for some reason, this does not work in Photoshop, how can i remove one handle in photoshop?

Grts,
T


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permalink this comment Joel Laumans Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 02.42 pm

After years of development and updates there are several ways of doing the exact same thing in Photoshop, and it is interesting to see how everyone seems to use Photoshop differently.\

And ironically after years of development it is disappointing that there are so many things we can’t do, or can’t figure out how to do.


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permalink this comment Veerle Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 03.55 pm

Thank you all :) It’s interesting to see what people give as solution. Special thank you to Jan! :) I’ve added this in the article as an “update”.

Never thought the answer would come that quickly and would be that simple and easy. I’ve just never used the the New Fill Layer option. I was going through the menus but it never occurred to me. With Photoshop I always have the feeling I only scratch the surface of its possibilities and power.


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permalink this comment David W Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 05.16 pm

Nice trick with the new fill layer. I’ll have to try that. This happens to me all the time, though, and here’s what I do. It quick and easy, but it’s more steps so consider it a backup from Jan’s technique:

1 - create new shape layer, of any shape (it’s only temporary)
2 - with the path selection tool, select the unfortunate path and Ctrl-X ‘cut’
3 - with the path selection tool, select the new temporary shape path in its shape layer
4 - paste the unfortunate path into the shape layer
5 - delete the temporary shape path


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permalink this comment Chris Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 07.00 pm

Wow that was quick! Thanks Veerle for posting and Jan for the answer :) I’ll try it when I’m back at my desk.


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permalink this comment Antoine Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 11.16 pm

Great article, thanks a lot !!
Always wondered how I could do this !!


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permalink this comment passing by Thu Jul 5, 2007 at 11.30 pm

possible related question (as someone else asked a pen question here as well).

the pen tools are “supposed” to work identically in both AI & PS CS2.

however, one pen tool feature i LOVE in AI is missing in PS when i try to draw with the pen tool and it makes me want to pull my hair out. 

That’s the ability to use the spacebar to reposition a pt WHILE YOU DRAW!!!

Can someone confirm for me that functionality is absent in PS CS2 and not just mine? 

maybe i’m doing something wrong but that one feature alone would make my vector path drawing all the more simpler in PS

thanks


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permalink this comment Victor Fri Jul 6, 2007 at 01.24 am

hehe seems like i am gonna email veerle when i am stuck. (joke)
The solution of Jan is pretty nice. But since i upgraded to CS3 i don’t have to hassle with this anymore.


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permalink this comment Henri Fri Jul 6, 2007 at 03.31 pm

Maybe it is an option to let people type in there email address twice. Than a simple php script can check the two email addresses for inconsistencies. This reduces the number of wrong typed email addresses to almost zero.


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permalink this comment Hiranthi Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 11.36 pm

Been lurking for some time and finally found a question I can answer! :-)

@Thomas: use alt-click on the anchor-point (where you want one handle removed) and it’ll work just like in Illustrator :-)
Just remember to hold the alt-key while clicking that anchor-point ;-)


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permalink this comment Veerle Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 08.44 am

Thomas said:

You know how a curvepoint always has 2 handles.. well, in Illustrator you can drag a handle back into its point to remove it. Mousepointer turns white so you’re sure it’s on top of the point. But for some reason, this does not work in Photoshop, how can i remove one handle in photoshop?

Apologies I missed you’re question here. It’s exactly how Hiranthi said. You don’t have to drag a handle back, that seems like a wrong method to me (one I never heard of before btw). You just remove the point using the alt/option key while clicking in that point (using the Pen tool).


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permalink this comment rob Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 12.43 am

the technique to use ALT + Click does NOT remove the ONE handle.  It removes BOTH handles!  At least it does on a closed path that you want to go back and edit!

I see the same behavior thomas sees in BOTH AI and PS CS2!

I’ve been trying to figure this one out too for a long time and as far as i can tell, the only way is to drag the handle pt back into the anchor pt as thomas says (and then that only works in AI)

are you sure you’re understanding his question or what am i doing wrong?

Can you be more specific about how you do this?

Also, anybody have an answer for ‘passing by’s question above?

thanks


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permalink this comment rob Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 01.30 am

regarding my last post..

as far as i can tell, the ALT + click technique ONLY works (e.g. deletes the one handle)

1) WHILE YOUR INITIALLY CREATING TEH PATH
2) AND ONLY ON THE LAST POINT THAT YOU CREATED
3) AND ONLY ON THE OUTGOING HANDLE.

As far as i can tell there is no way other then the AI drag the control pt back into the anchor pt to get rid of on handle on ALREADY DRAWN PATHS, which mean it can’t be done in PS to my knowledge..

thanks to anyone that cna answer this


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permalink this comment ceviri Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 12.18 am

Go to the Path Palette in CS2/3. Select the layer you have the path in. Then go to EDIT > Define Custom Shape. Now you can go to your Custom shapes and you will find that new shape in it.


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permalink this comment gr8pixel Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 03.39 am

can you guys tell me how to convert a stroke into a shape in illustrator?
thanks!


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permalink this comment Veerle Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01.34 pm

Creating a custom shape is indeed also an interesting way I didn’t think of. I was of course looking for a way to have to redo ‘nothing’ if you know what I mean.

rob said:

The technique to use ALT + Click does NOT remove the ONE handle.  It removes BOTH handles!  At least it does on a closed path that you want to go back and edit

Oh I see what you mean now. Hm, I’m afraid I wouldn’t know any way to do that. I usually delete the point/segment entirely using the white arrow and I simply re-draw the segment of the path using the alt key so one part is curved and the other part is straight. As far as I know (but I could be wrong of course) there is no way to delete only 1 handle or convert it into curved on 1 side and straight on the other :-\

gr8pixel said:

can you guys tell me how to convert a stroke into a shape in illustrator?

As far as I know there are 2 ways: select the path/stroke, go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke, or go to Object > Expand and check both Fill and Stroke in the window.


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permalink this comment gr8pixel Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 04.37 am

wow!!!that easy??? thank you so much… =)


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permalink this comment jegger Wed Aug 1, 2007 at 06.22 pm

Along the same lines as gr8pixel’s question - what about if the stroke has an arrowhead? How can you convert that to a shape? I tried both the methods you said, and it left off the arrowhead on the resulting shape.

Thanks!


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permalink this comment Veerle Thu Aug 2, 2007 at 11.07 am

jegger said:

what about if the stroke has an arrowhead?

There is a difference in applying arrowheads when using the Filters (Filters > Stylize > Add Arrowheads) or the Effects (Effects > Stylize > Add Arrowheads) in Illustrator. When you applied it via the Filters menu, the method mentioned above will work fine. However, if you have applied the arrowheads via the Effects menu, you’ll need to use the Expand Appearance option in the Object menu first and then use Object > Expand or Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Applying the arrowheads as an effect is better since it gives you more flexibility. You still have the option to change your arrowhead via the Appearance palette. If you decide to change the shape or the size of the arrowhead, you can easily do that by double clicking the effects icon. With a filter you can’t and that’s the same for any filter btw. You simply have to redo it. As far as I know, an effect is editable at all time, a filter isn’t.


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permalink this comment jegger Fri Aug 3, 2007 at 02.05 pm

Outstanding! Thanks for explaining/clarifying that. Your blog is excellent - thanks for such a great web contribution!



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