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Photoshop in Focus

A shape layer in and of itself is rather boring—a layer filled with color and a vector mask—but styles can be applied, the mask can be edited, and once rasterized, even filters can be applied to a shape layer. Here's how:

Open a new document in Photoshop, 500×500 pixels, set the resolution to 72, and fill with white, RGB color mode.

Select the Custom Shape tool from the Toolbox.

Pick a custom shape from the Custom Shape picker in the Options Bar.

In the Options Bar, click on the first of the buttons to the left in the Options Bar. The tool is now set to create a shape layer.

Drag the Custom Shape tool in the image, starting in the upper-left corner and ending in the lower right. This fills the image with the new custom shape. (The foreground color is insignificant because a layer style will be applied.)

In the Options Bar, select the style Color Target (Button) from the Style pop-up palette. It will be applied to the shape layer.

Use the Layer, Rasterize, Layer menu command to convert the shape layer to a regular layer of pixels. The layer style is unaffected.

Select the Smudge tool from the Toolbox and choose a hard-edged brush of about 40 pixels diameter. In the Options Bar, set it to Mode: Normal, Strength: 100%.

Click in the visible pixels on the layer and drag. Repeat, smudging a couple of different areas.

Change the Strength to 50% and drag again.

In the Layers palette, use the Merge Down menu command to create a single layer of pixels in this image.

Apply the filter Pixelate, Crystallize with a cell size of 15.



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