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How to Fill a shape with a photo in Photoshop, 3 ways.

3 ways to place a photo into a shape in Photoshop Cc or earlier

This Photoshop tutorial is created in Photoshop CC, but it works in any version of Photoshop. Learn how to fill a shape with a photo.

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1. Using advanced Blending: Blend if.. in Photoshop

If you are working against a clean shape with a solid background, this method is the fastest.  Here is a shape I drew, black against white.

shape in photoshop

Step 2.

Place the photo above the shape on a new layer.  (How to combine images in Photoshop)

photo to put in shape in photoshop

Step 3.

With your image layer selected (1)…

Click of the fx (2) in the Layer panel and choose Blending Options from the drop down up menu.

Drag the triangle on the bottom bar (4) to the left.

The edges will look jaggy. Hold Alt/Option and drag the right side of the triangle to the right. The edges will now be smooth

Click ok

blend if photoshop

Method #2: Paste Into. Photoshop Layer Mask technique

Works well for a flattened shape with background showing.

Step 1.

With the photo on the layer above the shape, Press Cmd/Ctrl+A to select all

Press Cmd/Ctrl+C to copy the photo to the clipboard.

copy layer

Step 2.

Hide the image layer and select the shape on the background

Choose Select>Color Range

Grab the Shadows option to just select the black

Step 3

Click ok and the shape is now selected

Choose Edit>Paste Special>Paste into

You will now see the image in the shape.

The shape is actually on a layer mask. If you drag on the image you can move it around within the shape.

fit photo into shape in photoshop

Method #3. Clipping Groups in Photoshop

This next method is the one that I use the most often. However, you need to have the shape cut out with transparent around it. This is how any of the custom shapes work in Photoshop. You can also cut it out yourself, see the video above for instructions on doing this.

Step 1.

Make sure you have the shape with transparency.

Place the photo on the layer above the shape. (Here it is hidden, so you can see the shape)

the shape to place photo

Step 2.

Make the image visible, you won’t see the shape on the canvas at the moment.

Place you curser between the photo and the shape layer in the layers panel.

Hold down/Alt/Option and the cursor will turn into a square arrow.

Click to apply

smart object layer in photoshop

You can now drag on the top layer to resize or reposition it within the shape.

This is called a clipping group and it’s something you should try to use often.

shape filled with photo in photoshop

Here i have added a textured background and a little inner shadow to add a little depth to our effect. It makes it look like a cut matte.

In the video tutorial at the top I walk through this step by step.

fill shape with photo in photoshop


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, is so, share it with your friends. (There are buttons to share on social media, or just cut and paste the address on top of the page).



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8 responses to “How to Fill a shape with a photo in Photoshop, 3 ways.”

  1. Colin
    When I watch your tutorials on your Cafe website I do not see the like button (as I would if I went to YouTube). Am I missing something or is that just the way it is?
    PS – good quick tutorial. I often forget about the different ways one can use the layer styles and that was a good example with the clipping mask shape clip.

  2. Hi Colin,

    I started using Photoshop at version 4, in the late 1990’s and I am still learning.

    Thank you

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