Combine Shapes in Photoshop in a Single Shape

Posted on February 16, 2014 in Photoshop Category with Basic Difficulty

In this simple tutorial you will learn how to combine shapes in Photoshop into one single shape. This technique is great when you work with multiple shapes and you want to merge all shapes into one single shape.

Combine Shapes in a Single Layer and Merge Shape Components

The easiest way to combine shapes in Photoshop is to hold SHIFT when you draw your shapes. You will see a small plus sign combine-shapes-cursor-photoshop near cursor and that means the new shape will be added in the same layer.

Have in mind that holding SHIFT will also make shapes to have the same width and height. Check the sample image below.

Combine Shapes in the same Layer

To combine all shapes into a single piece and remove the inner vertex points, you'll need to use the Path Selection Tool (P) path-selection-tool-photoshop and all shapes must be in the same layer like in the image above. This tool won't work if you select multiple layers with shapes. Under the Help Menu you will see a small icon named Path Operations path-operations-photoshop. Click it and select Merge Shape Components. Check the image below.

Merge Shapes Components in Photoshop

Combine a Shape Layer with Another Shape Layer

If you have 2 shape layers and you want to unite them into one single layer you must select a shape layer, copy it using CTRL + C and click on the another shape layer and paste it there, using CTRL + V. Now you can delete the old shape and use the new combined shape. Check the image below to see an example.


Cut and Combine Shapes in a Single Shape

The process of cutting shapes using another shape is called Substraction. To substract a shape, it must be in the Front of the other shape. For example, if you draw a shape and again draw another shape above it, the second shape will stay in front of the first shape, obviously.

When drawing the second shape hold ALT key. You will notice a minus sign substract-cursor-photoshop under cursor, that means the shape you are drawing will be substracted. This process will add new shapes in the same layer (only if you hold Substract or Unify Key). Check the picture below to see the results.


If something is unclear you can watch the Full HD Video Tutorial in the beginning of the article.

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