Creating and Storing Symmetrical Shapes in Photoshop: An Introduction

While working with paths has been possible for a while in Photoshop, control over the result was not always so easy. Many times users would have to turn to other programs (such as Illustrator) to create what they needed and then bring it back into Photoshop. Shapes and shape management are new to Photoshop as of Photoshop 6 and come in tandem with improved path handling. The improvements allow the user to do a lot more in creating and implementing vector shapes. Once you have created the shape, you can store it in a Photoshop Shapes set and have it available whenever you need it.

When creating your own shapes for repeated use, creating symmetry will often be important. A symmetrical shape has perfect mirroring either horizontally, vertically or both horizontally and vertically, so that the shape is perfectly balanced. Working with perfectly symmetrical shapes is important when freehand approximation just won't cut it. It is also useful for quickly creating simple image elements such as hearts or arrows, and more complex elements, such as decorative tailpieces and logos.

Symmetrical shapes are useful for creating buttons for the web, making shaped selections, creating special effects, creating special characters, working with clipping paths, creating transparency, and more. Defining your own Photoshop Shapes and storing them in the Shapes menu can help you customize Photoshop to the way you work with the program. This tutorial will walk through creating a symmetrical shape, and show how to save it for later use.

Figure 1

Duplicating elements vertically or horizontally can produce perfectly symmetrical shapes. These can be used as is to create flat elements, or developed with other Photoshop effects to create more complex image elements.

  Copyright © Richard Lynch 2001