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Turn Illustrator vectors into Photoshop custom shapes

Added on Wednesday 22nd of July 2009 05:29 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4; Adobe Illustrator CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Photoshop comes with bundles of preset custom shapes, but it never fails—when you’re looking for a specific shape, you can’t locate it. In that case, what you need to do is create your own. We’ll show you how easy it is to take vectors from Illustrator and turn them into fantastic Photoshop custom shapes.


To create your own Photoshop custom shapes, we’ll:

     Set Illustrator’s preferences so you can copy an Illustrator path that will paste into Photoshop properly.

     Define the pasted path as a custom shape in Photoshop.

     Save the custom shape as a preset so you can reload it repeatedly if necessary.


Photoshop custom shapes don’t get the recognition they deserve. Sure, they don’t carry the clout that adjustment layers or curves and levels do. But if you ponder what you’ve created in Photoshop, you’ve probably used custom shapes in at least a few of your designs. Adobe bundled Photoshop with quite a few of these custom shape presets, but you can enhance your work further—and make it more personal—if you make your own designs for this purpose.


From Illustrator to Photoshop

To get started, you’ll create an Illustrator path and then convert it to a Photoshop custom shape.


To convert an Illustrator path to a Photoshop custom shape:

1.       Launch Illustrator and either open the vector file that contains the artwork you want to bring into Photoshop or create a new vector shape. Tip: Keep your art simple. If your shape is too complex, Photoshop might have trouble rendering it as a shape.

2.       Choose Illustrator (Edit in Windows) > Preferences > File Handling & Clipboard to display the Preferences dialog box.

3.       Select the AICB (No Transparency Support) check box in the Clipboard pane. Also, make sure you select the Preserve Paths option button.

4.       Click OK.

5.       Choose the Selection tool and select the artwork.

6.       Choose Edit > Copy or press [command]C ([Ctrl]C in Windows) to copy the shape.

7.       Launch Photoshop and either open an existing file or create a new one. Tip: You don't need a specific resolution or color mode, as the new file is purely for demonstration and you don’t need to save it in order for you to save your custom shape as a preset.

8.       Choose Edit > Paste or press [command]V ([Ctrl]V in Windows) to display the Paste dialog box, as shown in Figure A.

9.       Select the Shape Layer option button in the Paste As pane. Then, click OK.



A couple of things happen once you do so.

        Your artwork appears on the canvas.

        Photoshop has added a shape layer to the Layers palette, as shown in Figure B.



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