Skip to main content

Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Lesson 31 of 58

Use Shape Tool with Brushes


Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Lesson 31 of 58

Use Shape Tool with Brushes


Lesson Info

Use Shape Tool with Brushes

One thing that can be extra cool is to combine the brushes with shape tools, so we're gonna add that. Now that we've talked a little bit about brushes we'll add shape tools and then we'll use brushes to bring them to life. The shape tool is this little blob down here. It looks like a little amoeba or something. That is the shape tool and there are different shape possibilities. You may not see the amoeba. You may see something just like a rectangle, but I believe the keyboard shortcut is U. See if it'll pop up. Yeah, the keyboard shortcut's U. So if you are having trouble finding it on your tool panel, just press the letter U and then it'll pop up. You can do things, like there's stars, there's a polygon. You can determine the number of sides here. There's an ellipse, a rectangle, and a rounded rectangle. You can adjust the radius of the corners. That's really useful for making web buttons and things like that. But my most favorite is this guy right here. This is the custom shape tool.

So that means that there is a collection of all kinds of shapes that we can access. So whatever shape you're seeing right here, if you click this little arrow, it will pop up and show you all of these other shapes that are available to you. And in traditional Adobe fashion, this is only a small sample. These are just the default shapes. You'll notice they're really fun things too. Like there's hearts, there's talk bubbles. Can you imagine all the things you can do with that? Some animal shapes, some food shapes. Let's click, instead of just default, let's click this arrow and you'll notice there's categories. There's a whole category of talk bubbles. So look at all the talk bubbles that you get. But I usually end up just coming way up here and choosing All Elements Shapes. 'Cause I actually find, I don't know, sometimes I see a shape and then I get inspired by the shape. So I like to just browse all of them. So If we come up and do that, we see we've got a lot of animal shapes up here. And these fun cartoon shapes, these are the ones that the other Photoshops does not have, any of these cartoon shapes. Or these frames. Or, check this out, this is a fun, I don't know what you'd call that, almost a like a big paint splatter. There's star splatters. There's these silly little dress-up shapes. We'll take a look at those hopefully in a little bit. Anyway, you get the idea. There's a lot of just neat things here. I thought we could take a minute and just, I'll show you how these work and then we're gonna paint them in using brushes. So let's make a little scene here. I was feeling like an outdoor adventure. Maybe we'll make some mountain shapes. I'm gonna grab this mountain shape by just, if you click once, you've selected it and if you just double-click instead, then you select it and you close that window. So how shapes are different than anything else we've see so far is that they are actually vector information. So when we're painting with a brush, we're painting pixels and it's a much more organic process like what you'd be used to if you were at home just painting on paper. But now, we've got the shape tool. It's actually a vector graphic and it comes with a fill color. So we need to specify a fill. In this case I'm gonna just leave it orange because I'm gonna paint over it anyway. Maybe we'll leave it, we'll make it gray so it's more neutral, I guess. I've just chosen this gray color here. That's gonna be the color that fills this mountain. To use this, all I do is put my cursor in the image and I just click and drag. If I hold the shift key, it will be constrained to its original proportions. If I don't hold shift, I can distort it and do things like that, but it ends up looking kind of weird. So I'm gonna hold shift and we'll just make this little scene. When I let go, you'll notice two things happen. One, it appears here filled with gray. So that's nice. That's what we were expecting. And up here in the layers panel, we get this new layer and it's called shape one. And it has this funny little icon here. This icon is what let's us know that this is a shape tool and it's vector information, not just pixels. You'll also notice that over here in the document, it has this little funny outline around it. That is also letting us know that this is vector. That outline is just because it's selected right now. If I click on the background layer, the outline goes away and you can see that we're just left with the mountain. So it look likes pixels, but it's really a shape layer. Let's actually duplicate that quickly. I'm thinking how I wanna do this. Yeah, we'll do one more. Let's draw one more. We won't duplicate it. We'll just draw another one. We'll make it bigger. Like that and when I let go, we get a new layer and another mountain. That looks pretty good. I think I'm gonna actually move the big one. I'm gonna grab my move tool and move the big one over here. And the small one, so I'll select the small layer and we'll put that over here. I'm liking it and let's rename this. By double-clicking on the text, I can call this Mountain Small and this one Mountain Big. Okay. Now let's add a hillside sort of here. We're gonna make a little valley. From that shape tool, I guess, I'm gonna move away from the custom one for a minute and I'll just grab this elliptical one. And we'll make this a different color, just so we have some separation. And for this, I'm just gonna click and drag a huge ellipse. That's just gonna be kinda this hillside stretching. It's so wide that I'm just really getting this curve. And when I let go, it is still, oh I didn't change it down here. It's still gray so look at that. Now we'll make it green. There we go. And I'm gonna put the mountains, so they're, I can decide, I guess, if I want the grass in the back or in front. We'll go with that. Okay, we'll go back to this custom shape. And let's add a, over here, let's add a cloud in the sky. We'll do this one. I'm gonna double-click that. And I'll pick my color down here. Something like this. Oops, I have to get that unselected. There we go. So we wanna make sure that we've got this set over here so we're making a new shape and not just editing one that we already have made. Goodness. All right. We're gonna just draw this cloud first. Then we'll change its color by double-clicking over here and choosing the color that we want. There we go. So we have this little scene that we're starting to build. And this is all just shapes, so as you can see, they're all on separate layers in the layers panel. If I wanna move them around, I just have to make sure I'm grabbing the right layer and then I can move it as needed.

Class Description

We all have hundreds of images on our smartphones and cameras that we never do anything with. Adobe Photoshop Elements is the perfect tool for beginners to use for organizing and editing those images. Khara Plicanic will show you the practical ways to use this software by using step-by-step projects you can follow along with at home. You’ll get hands-on practice at making selections and working with layers, doing simple retouching, and adding text to your images.

You’ll also learn: 

• Basic adjustments to color and adding contrast to photos 
• Understanding resolution and image resizing and how to use the crop tool 
• Simple retouching and image compositing

No Photoshop Elements class would be complete without shedding light on file saving and organizing your images for a complete workflow! By the time you’re finished with this class, you’ll be creating beautiful images to share with your family and friends.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Understand How Elements Works
  3. Importing Images
  4. Workspace Basics: Organizer
  5. Workspace Basics: Editor
  6. Tonal Adjustments in Quick Fix
  7. Color Adjustments in Quick Fix
  8. Apply Black & White Filters
  9. Sharpen an Image
  10. Fix Red Eye & Pet Eye
  11. Straighten an Image in Quick Fix
  12. Explanation of Photoshop Elements
  13. Basic Cropping in Quick Fix
  14. Guided Edit Overview
  15. Guided Edit: Tilt Shift
  16. Ways to Save Files
  17. Layers & Simple Selections
  18. Combine Images with Layers
  19. How to Use Layer Styles
  20. Make Selections with Layers
  21. Make Selection with Lasso
  22. Compositing with Multiple Images
  23. Refine Edge Selection on Image
  24. Use Refine Edge on Images
  25. Create Gradient in Image
  26. Gradient Map Differences
  27. Options for Saving
  28. Brushes Overview
  29. Creatively Use Brushes
  30. How to Change Brush Settings
  31. Use Shape Tool with Brushes
  32. Work with Multiple Shape Layers
  33. Finish Image with Custom Shape Tool
  34. How to Load Brushes into Elements
  35. Add Layer Style to Image
  36. Clip Image to Shape & Use as Template
  37. Retouching Overview
  38. How to Use Content-Aware Fill
  39. How to Use Content-Aware Move Tool
  40. Spot Healing Brush on Blemishes
  41. Remove Frown Lines with Retouching
  42. How to Remove Tattoos
  43. Remove a Gap in Teeth
  44. How to Whiten Teeth
  45. Adjust Facial Features
  46. Working with Type Overview
  47. Match Type for Image
  48. How to Manipulate Type Layers
  49. Create Postcard with Type
  50. Add Type on a Path
  51. Organizing Images in Elements
  52. Add Keywords to Images
  53. Smart Tags Overview
  54. Using Albums in Elements
  55. Places Workspace Overview
  56. Use Event Tags on Images
  57. Timeline for Image Organization
  58. Recommended Workflow


a Creativelive Student

Just watching this class live. It's my first class with Khara; she is a wonderful teacher, moving at a steady speed but always being careful to let us know what she's doing in the moment. I would classify myself as intermediate in terms of PSE but I've learned lots of little things that will make further use even easier and more fun. I really appreciated her descriptions of the difference between PS and PSE and her encouragement in using Photoshop Elements and all that it can do.


I have only been able to watch portions of this class but every single part that I have watched has been technically clear and inspiring to me. Based on this experience and the thorough, 58 item list of lessons, I will surely be buying this class soon! Thank you Khara and Creativelive for making a class on this topic and making it be super!!

Ven S

Great course. You can tell she knows the programme inside out.