Sometimes you may find yourself wishing there was a custom shape that perfectly fit an immediate need…a shape that may be too odd or unique to already be available as a preset option in Photoshop. For these times, we will learn to create a custom shape tool, one we can save for future project designs too.
We will utilize this pastel Easter egg to create a custom shape tool. We’ll use the egg as a guide for tracing the shape. Whether or not you have an image for tracing is not a problem since the premise is the same. In either case, creating a custom shape tool requires the use of the pen tool.
Note: This tutorial requires previous knowledge of how Photoshop’s pen tool works.
Step 1: Open the image to be traced. Use the File menu and click Open or shortcut by pressing ctrl+o for Windows and cmd+o for Mac. If you prefer to freehand a design without trace, work on a white background in a new document.
Step 2: Once the image is open, select the pen tool in the left-side tools panel.
Ensure the Shape option is chosen in the top left menu bar. [Although we can also use the path option, this tutorial will use shape in the pick tool mode to avoid confusion with terms.]
Step 3: Now let’s start tracing the outer shape of our Easter egg with a pen tool. Again, basic knowledge the pen tool is a big help when creating custom shapes. As we trace around the egg, notice the shape is filled with a solid color (by default) and we’ll never see behind it. We can, however, adjust this.
In the layers panel, lower the opacity of the penned shape we are creating. Select the penned shape layer as active and apply changes to Opacity. Now we can see what’s behind it when tracing the object.
Finish tracing the outer border of the Easter egg.
Step 4: Now let’s trace the inner shapes of the Easter egg. This time, in the pen tool option bar, select Subtract front shape.
Notice how the penned layer changes after we subtract the inner designs of the Easter egg.
Step 5: Bring the opacity of the penned layer back to 100% and deactivate (turn off the eyeball for) the background layer.
Now that we’ve done the leg work, all that is needed is to define the newly created shape and make it available in our shape tool presets. Go to edit menu and select Define custom shape.
Name your customized shape and click OK. Now, to see if this custom shape is available in the presets, create a new document and click on the custom shape tool. In the top option bar, click on the shape preset and see if our customized shape is there.
That’s it! Practice using the pen tool to trace fun and funky images or freehand your own shapes. Before you know it, you’ll have all kinds of creative presets to use in the future.