Shapes are essentially composed of a clipping path filled with solid color. You can create a shape out of a layer filled with color, or you can create the path first and then fill it with color. For example, you could fill a layer with a gradient, create a path, and then choose Layer ^ Vector Mask ^ Current Path, or you could create a path, choose Layer ^ New Fill Layer, and then from the submenu choose Solid Color, Gradient, or Pattern.
If you have invested time learning to draw and modify paths, creating and modifying shapes should not present a problem for you. The following quick hacks should highlight some of the connections and refresh the old memory, and even add to it.
■ Drawing from the Center Outward. Press Alt (Windows), Opt (Mac OS) as you draw with any of the shape tools, barring the Line tool.
■ Drawing Proportional Shapes. Press Shift as you draw with any of the shape tools, barring the Line tool. You can also specify options for each shape tool by clicking the downward-pointing triangle next to the Custom Shape tool icon. The options allow you to draw a fixed size or proportional marquees repeatedly, and to draw arrowheads with the Line tool.
■ Repositioning while Drawing. Press the Spacebar and drag to new position.
■ Drawing Diagonal Lines. Press Shift to constrain the Line tool to 45° angles.
■ Base Shapes on Fonts. You can create some interesting shapes from fonts; for example, from Wingdings, Dingbats, and Symbol fonts. After the shapes are created, you can use all the editing tools, transforms, and Layer Styles to create something original. To do so, select the type layer and then choose Layer ^ Type ^ Convert to Shape, or right-click (Windows), Ctrl-click (Mac OS) the type layer and choose Convert to Shape from the contextual menu.
■ Creating Pixels with Shape Tools. Though this method is not as versatile as rasteriz-ing a shape layer, you can create a shape that contains pixels from the onset. To do so, select Fill Pixels from the options bar before you draw a shape. It's the third options button from the left.
■ Hiding Shape Outlines. If you find it difficult to see what you are doing to a shape layer, for example, when applying an effect, you can hide the shape outlines. To do so, click the shape tile in the Paths palette or press Ctrl+H (Windows), (Mac OS). For the shortcut to work, you must have Target Path selected in View ^ Show ^ Show Extras Options. Alternatively, press Ctrl+Shift+H (Windows), ^ + Shift+H (Mac OS).
■ Aligning and Distributing Shapes. You can align and distribute shapes in the same way that you can paths. The difference being, you must select the shape layers as opposed to a work path. After the layers are selected, select the Move tool and then select an option to align or distribute on the options bar.
NOTE You must select three or more layers to distribute.
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