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Intersecting Rings - viewed times


In this Photoshop tutorial we're going to create intersecting rings. Instead of using selections, we're going to use shapes. Shapes are vector based and more useful than selections for this particular goal, since we will be able to resize our rings without losing quality. This is not just a Photoshop tutorial about rings, it's also my intention to show you more about fill layers, vector masks and regular masks and how they can be used in a useful way.

1. Create a circular shape

Open a new document (the size doesn't matter too much).

Go to the tool bar and select the Ellipse Tool Ellipse Tool

Tool Bar

Before we go any further, have a look at your options bar first after you've selected this tool.

It's important that we have the Shape layers icon New Vector Maskselected in the tool bar (A). Notice that the Ellipse Tool icon Ellipse Toolis active (B).
It's also import is that the Create a new shape layer icon is selectedNew Shape Layer (C).
By double clicking on the area marked with D, we can change the color of the shape. The color doesn't matter so much for this tutorial, but let us select a regular blue this time.

Options Bar Left

Options Bar Right

We're now going to draw a circular shape and by holding down the shift key before we start drawing, we're constraining the proportions of this circle so that it will look like a perfectly round one. Start somewhere in the top left corner and create a circle that fills about a one third of your document window.

Now what has happened? Let me explain a few things.

First of all you'll notice that the circle has some weird edges. That's actually the path that created this shape.
There are ways to make it invisible, but it can be confusing for some people who do this tutorial, so I'll just leave it the way it is.

Layers Palette

Look at our Layers Palette.

A is what we call a Fill Layer. All it does is filling a layer with a color. The difference between filling a layer with a Fill Layer and the Paint Bucket Tool, is that with a Fill Layer we can simply change the color by double clicking on the icon in the layers palette.

B is a vector mask that is based on... yes, vectors, in this case a vector path that draws a circle. The double borders around the mask also reminds you that this mask is active. Keep that in mind in case you're experiencing weird problems; check whether your mask is active.

I'm not going into too much details about masks and how they work, because I've already discussed that in the Layer Masks Photoshop tutorial in great detail. All I can say right now is that a mask restricts which parts of a layer are visible and in this case it restricts the fill layer so that in the end all we see is a circular shape.

Things become more clear when you select the Path Selection Tool Path Selection Toolin your tool bar (shortcut is A).
Select the path with this tool to move it around. You'll notice that it's just moving the path around (check layers palette), not the shape, although it looks like we're actually dealing with a shape. So shapes in Photoshop are a bit odd; they're just the result of vector paths inside a mask of a Fill Layer. That's a mouth full, I know, but try to understand it.

2. Create a second path and adjust dimensions

In this step we're going to draw a second circle. Make sure that the Ellipse Tool Ellipse Toolis active and go to the options bar and select the Subtract from shape layer icon Substract (it's the middle one).

Draw a smaller circle on top of the one we already have and again hold down the shift key when you draw the shape:

Vector mask contains two shapes

The second path has subtracted a shape (because we selected Substract) from the first shape we had.

I'm now going to show you how to align both paths and to change dimensions.

Let's start with aligning both paths. Select the Path Selection Tool Path Selection Toolin your tool bar and select both paths by pulling a square around them by holding down the mouse button:

Selecting both paths

Go to the options bar and click on the following icons:

Allign Vertical center
=  Align vertical centers
Allign Center
=  Align horizontal centers

The centers of both shapes are aligned now.

The next step is to change the diameter of the ring. With the Path Selection Tool still active we select the Show Bounding Box option in the options bar:

Show Bounding Box

This will create a bounding box around our shape:

Bounding Box

While holding down the shift key click on one of the corner points and move them in- or outwards and release the shift key and mouse button when you're done and press the enter key.

Click with the Path Selection Tool somewhere outside our shapes to deselect all paths.
This time click on the inner path in the document window to select it and as a result the bounding box will appear again.
Click on one of the corner points and hold down the mouse key. Make sure that you don't move your mouse! Hold down the Alt key(Option key on the Mac) and the shift key and move that particular corner in- or outwards. Release the mouse button and all keys when you're done and press the enter key.

Selecting inner path

We needed to hold down the Alt key to make sure that the center of this path would stay in the same location.

Note: If we had selected Alt + Shift key before clicking on a corner point, then we had created a new path and that's not what we want, so make sure that you select the corner point first and hold down the mouse key, before your press the Alt and Shift key simultaneously!

3. Add layer styles and create a second ring

Return to the options bar and deselect the Show Bounding Box option because we don't need it anymore and it's only distracting (visually).

Let's add some styles to this ring. Click on the Add a Layer Style buttonAdd Layer Stylein the layers palette and add the following styles:

Drop Shadow:

Drop Shadow Layer Style

Bevel and Emboss:

Bevel and Embos Layer Style

Duplicate this layer by clicking on the fill layer icon in the layers palette and while holding the mouse button, drag and drop it on the Create a New Layer icon New Layer.

Duplicating layer

Double click on the Fill Layer icon in this new layer to change its color to a regular red:

Changing color of Fill Layer

The top layer should be active (check).
Make sure that the Path Selection Tool Path Selection toolis selected and then select the complete ring by drawing a rectangular selection around it with this tool (both paths will then be selected, since the ring is made of two paths). Next, click on this red ring and while holding down the mouse button move the ring to the right, until you have something like this:

Moving 2nd shape

4. Fix intersecting areas

Now we're going to do some magic. Make sure that the top layer is selected (the one with the red ring) and Ctrl + click (Command + click on the Mac) on the blue Fill Layer icon of the layer underneath in the layers palette.

While still on the layer with the red ring, you now have a selection that is based on the layer with the blue ring. We are now going to add a mask by clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon Add Maskin the layers palette:

Creating a mask
The result will look a bit odd, but we're going to fix that by inverting the mask; press Ctrl + i (Command + i on the Mac):

Inverted Mask
We now have to fix the bottom area where both rings intersect. The red ring has to go over the blue ring in that particular area. The mask should still be active (important) if you haven't clicked anything else .
First press D to change the foreground color to white: Fore- and background color

Now select the Tool Brush Brush Tool in the tool bar and select a regular brush with a size that's slightly bigger than the opening that you have to fill and then paint on the open area in your document window and as magic the red ring will reappear:

Paint Mask

We still have to deal with one more problem. Look at this area of our image:

Problem AreaBevel

At A there we can see a bevel that we don't want. It's not that clear what I mean when you look at that screenshot, so I've magnified it in the second image in which you'll notice that the darker edge of the red ring disappears the closer we get to D, where it's almost gone.

You'll also notice that there is something wrong with the shadows when you look at B and C.

There is a very simple way to solve all this. With the top layer still active, double click on the word Effects in the layers palette to open the layer styles:

Opening layer styles


Now double click on the area that reads Blending Options:

Blending options


Now select the option Layer Mask Hides Effects and click OK:

Layer Mask Hides Effect

Note: I'm using Photoshop CS and I'm aware that there are earlier Photoshop versions that don't have this option. There are other ways to do this and probably one of these days I will write about it.

So what is the result of this Layer Mask Hides Effects option?

Before and after animation

Like always; have fun!

For more help with Photoshop check out ourPhotoshop Trainingsection.

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