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Drawing with Shapes in Photoshop Elements 4

By: Barbara Brundage

Page 3 of 3

February 26th 2009

...Continued from Page 2

The Cookie Cutter

The Cookie Cutter

At first glance, you may think the Cookie Cutter is a pretty silly tool. Actually, it’s a very handy tool that you may use all the time, once you understand it. The Cookie Cutter creates the same shapes as the Custom Shape tool, but you use it on a photo to crop it to the shape you chose. Want a heart-shaped portrait of your sweetie? The Cookie Cutter is your tool.

If you’re not into that sort of thing, don’t go away, because hidden away in the shapes library are some of the most sophisticated artistic crop shapes you can find. You can use them to get the kinds of effects that people pay commercial artists big bucks to create—like creating abstract crops that give a jagged or worn edge to your photo (an effect that’s great for contemporary effects).

You can also combine the result with a stroked edge as explained in the box “ Drawing Outlines and Borders,” and maybe even a Layer style (page 325). Even without any additional frills, your photo’s shape will appear more interesting, as shown in Figure 11-25.

Figure 11-25:

A quick drag with the Cookie Cutter is all it took to create the bottom graphic from the top photo. If you want to create custom album or scrapbook pages, you can rotate or skew your crops before you commit them. See page 266 for how to rotate and skew your images.
You use the Cookie Cutter just the way you use the Custom Shape tool, but you use it on a photo.

  1. Activate the Cookie Cutter tool.

    Click the Cookie Cutter in the Toolbox (the icon looks like a heart), or press Q.

  2. Select the shape you want your photo to be.

    Choose a shape from the Shapes palette by clicking the downward arrow next to the shape display in the Options bar. You have access to all the Custom Shapes, but pay special attention to the Crop Shapes category. Click the More button on the Shape Picker to see all the shape categories it contains, or choose All Elements Shapes.

  3. Adjust your settings, if necessary.

    You have the same Shape Options described earlier for the Custom Shapes (page 304), so you can set a fixed size or constrain proportions if you want. Click the Shape Options button to see your choices.

    You can choose to feather the edge of your shape, too. Just enter the amount in pixels. (See page 110 for more about feathering.) The other option, Crop, crops the edges of your photo so they’re just large enough to contain the shape.

  4. Drag in your photo.

    A mask appears over your photo and you see only the area that will still be there once you crop, surrounded by transparency.

  5. Adjust your crop if necessary.

    You can reposition the shape mask or drag the corners to resize it. Although the cropped areas disappear, they’ll reappear as you reposition the mask if you move it so that they’re included again.

    Once you’ve created the shape, you’ll see the Transform options (page 268) in the Options bar (which means that you can skew or distort it if you want) until you commit your shape, as explained in the next step. You can drag the mask around to reposition it if you’d like, or Shift+drag a corner to resize it without altering the proportions. It may take a little maneuvering to get exactly the parts of your photo that you want inside the crop.

  6. When you’ve gotten everything lined up the way you want, click the Commit button in the Options bar or just press Enter.

    If you don’t like the results, click the Cancel button on the Options bar, or press Escape (Esc). Once you’ve made your crop, you can use Ctrl+Z if you want to undo it to try something else.

Tip: The Cookie Cutter replaces the areas it removes with transparency. If the transparency checkerboard makes it too hard for you to get a clear look at what you’ve done, temporarily create a new white Fill layer (page 155) beneath the cropped layer. You can delete it once you’re sure you’re happy with your crop.


Copyright © 2006 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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