Converting A Selection Into A Path

Paths and selections both define the edges of an area, it’s only natural that you would want to convert a selection to a path to enable full control of its quality and Size. In this tutorial I’ll be walking you through the whole converting process.

In Blog, Getting To Know Photoshop

Converting A Selection Into A Path

Selections are created in raster format, the quality of the selection is based on the quality and size of an image. This can be a big problem when you’re working with small images with a low resolution such as, Web graphics etc… When you convert a selection into a path, you can precisely reshape it, and this gives you more control over the final results.

Open up an image in photoshop then using the “Polygonal Marquee Tool” (L).

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Make a selection around your desired element.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Open The Paths Window

Once the selection has been made, open the “Paths Window”.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Making The Work Path

Inside the paths window either click the the top right icon in the corner to extend the menu, inside the menu click “Make Work Path” OR, Click the little icon at the bottom shown in the image below.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Once the option has been selected you will get a “Tolerance” window. Low tolerance values create a path with many anchor points, and the path conforms precisely to the selection marquee, but low tolerances can cause printing errors (too much information). Higher tolerance values create a path with fewer anchor points, and the path will be smoother.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Because my image has a lot of nice straight edges, I’m going to enter 0.5. You may need to experiment a bit to get the right result for you.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Defining Your Shape

Close the paths window then select the “Pen Tool” (P), with the “Pen Tool” (P) selected right click and select “Define Custom Shape”.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Defining your path as a custom shape will enable you to use it later and when ever you need it. The custom defined shape now is also a vector object so when re-using you will be able to resize the path as big as you want with lose of quality.

Other options you can use are the “Create Vector Mask”. The vector mask allows easy manipulation or can be used when moving the vector over to illustrator.

Converting Photoshop Text To Vector

The same principles can be applied to photoshop text. Lets give it a try. Create a new (Ctrl + N) document and simply add some text to the canvas.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

Once the text has been added go to “Layer > Type > Create Work Path”.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

As before select the pen tool, right click and use the options available. Or you can export it straight into illustrator. Simply go to “File > Export > Paths To Illustrator”.

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

How To Convert Selections Into Paths

How To Convert Selections Into Paths


Thanks for taking part in this tutorial, if you learned something new feel free to discuss it on our Facebook Fan Page.

  1. May 26, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    Thanks for the lesson, Richard, interesting as always.

  2. May 30, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    For path selection photoshop pen tool can be also be used as with this a path can be selected perfectly.

  3. May 31, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    Wonderful tutorial on both.

  4. Dinesh Kumar Shaw
    December 2, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Thanks for the post.Its worth reading this article.

  5. December 12, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    great tut…

  6. Orange
    May 7, 2012 at 5:31 AM

    I’m PS beginner in China,and I really love designing though my major is communication engineering!I wanna say thank u so much for giving these awesome tutorials!Those help me a lot~~And love your detailed explanation!

  7. January 29, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    So simple :) Thanks

  8. December 1, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    Thanks for nice post. I was looking for such kind of thing. In your post i got my solution.

  9. Shashank Gwari
    December 2, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Hi Kevin, thanks for your overwhelming response. Please let us know in case of any further assistance.

  10. December 22, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    This is a great tutorial of graphic design, it’s notable how surreal and whimsical they are. All very original as well.

  11. January 12, 2015 at 8:30 PM

    It’s a beautiful tutorial. The images are much the better. Looks like living photos. This post is very good. Thank you for presenting a very good content.

  12. February 6, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    I have deep passion on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I like to do Clipping path across Multiple Objects and this article will definitely help me and I want to learn more. Please send me related article link if you have. Thanks in advance.

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