About shapes

In Photoshop Elements, shapes are vector graphics, which means they are made up of lines and curves defined by their geometric characteristics instead of pixels. Vector graphics are resolution-independent—that is, they can be scaled to any size and printed at any resolution without losing detail or clarity. You can move, resize, or change them without losing the quality of the graphic. Because computer monitors display images on a pixel grid, vector data is displayed on-screen as pixels.

Shapes are created in shape layers. A shape layer can contain a single shape or multiple shapes, depending on the shape area option you select. You can choose to have more than one shape in a layer.

You can change the color of a shape by editing its fill layer and applying layer styles to it. Shape tools provide an easy way to create buttons, navigation bars, and other items used on web pages.

Vector objects created with the shape tools
Vector objects created with the shape tools in Photoshop Elements

Draw a rectangle, square, or rounded rectangle

  1. Select the Rectangle tool or Rounded Rectangle tool. You can select also select the Rectangle and Rounded Rectangle tools from the Tool Options bar.

    Note:

    Press Alt/Option and click a shape tool to cycle through all the available tools.

  2. (Optional) In the Tool Options bar, you can set the following options:

    Unconstrained

    Lets you set the width and height of a rectangle by dragging.

    Square

    Constrains a rectangle to a square.

    Fixed Size

    Draws a rectangle at the exact size you specified in the Width and Height text boxes.

    Proportional

    Draws a rectangle in proportion to the specified Width and Height values.

    Radius

    Specifies the radius of the rounded corner. Smaller values result in sharper corners.

    From Center

    Draws a rectangle from the center of where you begin drawing (usually a rectangle is drawn from the upper-left corner).

    Snap

    Snaps edges of a rectangle to the pixel boundaries.

    Simplify

    Converts the shape drawn into a raster graphic. Once converted to raster form, shrinking or expanding the shape may result in jagged edges and pixelated appearance.

  3. Drag within your image to draw the shape.

Draw a circle or ellipse

  1. In the Edit workspace, select the Ellipse tool .

    Note:

    Press Alt/Option and click a shape tool to cycle through all the available tools.

  2. (Optional) In the Tool Options bar, you can set the following options:

    Unconstrained

    Lets you set the width and height of an ellipse by dragging.

    Circle

    Draws a perfect circle instead of an ellipse.

    Fixed Size

    Draws an ellipse at the exact size you specified in the Width and Height text boxes.

    Proportional

    Draws a proportional ellipse based on the numbers you type in the Width and Height text boxes.

    From Center

    Draws an ellipse from the center of where you begin drawing (usually an ellipse is drawn from the upper-left corner).

    Simplify

    Converts the shape drawn into a raster graphic. Once converted to raster form, shrinking or expanding the shape may result in jagged edges and pixelated appearance.

  3. Drag in your image to draw the ellipse.

Draw a multisided shape

  1. Select the Polygon tool  or the Star tool .

    Note:

    Press Alt/Option and click a shape tool to cycle through all the available tools.

  2. (Optional) In the Tool Options bar, you can set the following options:

    Smooth Corners

    Renders a polygon with smooth corners.

    Indent Sides By

    Specifies the depth of the star’s indentations. This option is available for the Star tool only.

    Smooth Indents

    Renders a star-shaped polygon with smooth indents. This option is available for the Star tool only.

    Simplify

    Converts the shape drawn into a raster graphic. Once converted to raster form, shrinking or expanding the shape may result in jagged edges and pixelated appearance.

  3. In the Sides box, specify the number of sides for the polygon.
  4. Drag within your image to draw the polygon.

Draw a line or arrow

  1. Select the Line tool .
  2. (Optional) In the Tool Options bar, you can set the following options:

    Arrow head

    Renders a line with arrowheads. To specify the end that the arrows are rendered on, choose from Select At the Start, At the End, or At Both Ends.

    Arrowhead options
    Choose options for an Arrow head.

    Arrowheads Width and Length

    Specify the proportions of the arrowhead as a percentage of the line width (10% to 1000% for Width, and 10% to 5000% for Length).

    Concavity

    Defines the amount of curvature on the widest part of the arrowhead, where the arrowhead meets the line. Enter a value for the concavity of the arrowhead (from ‑50% to +50%).

    Simplify

    Converts the shape drawn into a raster graphic. Once converted to raster form, shrinking or expanding the shape may result in jagged edges and pixelated appearance.

  3. In the Width box, specify the width of the line in pixels.
  4. Drag within your image to draw the line.

Draw a custom shape

The Custom Shape tool provides many different shape options for you to draw. When you select the custom shape tool, you can access these shapes in the options bar.

  1. Select the Custom Shape tool .
  2. In the options bar, select a shape from the Custom Shape picker pop-up. Click the arrow at the top right of the panel to list the shapes you can choose from and how to display them.
  3. (Optional) In the Tool Options bar, you can set the following options:

    Unconstrained

    Lets you set the width and height of a rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse, or custom shape by dragging.

    Defined Proportions

    Draws a custom shape based on the proportions with which it was created.

    Defined Size

    Draws a custom shape based on the size at which it was created.

    Fixed Size

    Draws a custom shape as a fixed shape based on the values you enter in the Width and Height text boxes.

    From Center

    Draws a custom shape from the center.

    Simplify

    Converts the shape drawn into a raster graphic. Once converted to raster form, shrinking or expanding the shape may result in jagged edges and pixelated appearance.

  4. Drag within your image to draw the shape.
Custom Shape tool
The Custom Shape tool has ready-made frames that you can drag around a photo.

Create multiple shapes in the same layer

  1. Select a shape layer in the Layers panel (Expert mode) or create a new shape layer.
  2. If you want to create a different type of shape, select a different shape tool.
  3. Select a shape area option to determine how shapes should overlap, and then drag within the image to draw new shapes:

    Add 

    Adds an additional shape to the existing shape. The combined shape will cover the entire area of the shapes you drew using the Add option.

    Subtract 

    Removes the area where shapes overlap. The rest of the shapes’ areas are preserved.

    Intersect 

    Shows only the area where shapes intersect. The other areas will be removed.

    Exclude 

    Removes the overlapping areas in the new and existing shapes.

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