Photoshop features various custom shape tools. Later versions contain the shapes we'll discuss today (sorry 3.0 users). These can be laid over an existing image, sized and embedded into the image itself. This is useful for preserving copyright, pointing out particular parts of a photo (arrows) or various other "artistic" aftertreatments.
As always, it's critical to save the photo with a new name (Save As) before we work with an original image. Otherwise, the original is gone forever. Hopefully, the original is already on a read-only CD, so there's no way to write over the original information.
The copyright custom shape tool is probably the single most useful custom shape. This shape lets others know an image is owned and use requires payment. It completely eliminates the "I didn't know" excuse.
It's best when combined with a photographer's name and Web site. Then, there is absolutely no excuse for copyright infringement.
Although the shape can be moved until the image is flattened, it's best to add text first and then add the shape tool (for sizing and placement reasons). To move the shape at any point, select the Move tool (quad-arrows) from the toolbar. Drag the layer where desired.
To use the custom shape tool, open an image in Photoshop. Choose the custom shape tool (it looks like a splat on the toolbar). Click on the arrow next to the shape indicator at the top of the screen. Choose the © symbol (by the way, the html code for this symbol is "& copy" without a space between them).
Once the shape is chosen, click on the top bar of the image. Move the cursor to the desired location for the symbol. Click, hold and drag the mouse toward a lower, right hand corner until an appropriately size © appears. The © appears as the mouse is moved.
To change the color of the ©, click on the Color box at the top of the page. Select a desired color or create a custom color with the RGB controls.
Once the text and © symbol are in the desired location, choose Flatten Image from the Layer options. Save.
Rule of thirds
This part may seem random, but it'll make sense when I post about composition.
Photoshop features a rule of thirds custom shape tool. This can be laid over an image to assist with cropping to the rule of thirds or checking an existing composition against the rule of thirds.
To use this tool, open an image in Photoshop. Choose the custom shape tool (it looks like a splat on the toolbar). Click on the arrow next to the shape indicator at the top of the screen. Choose the rule of thirds grid (it's often the last shape offered).
Once the shape is chosen, click on the top bar of the image. Hit the Caps Lock button to change the cursor to precise. Move the precise dot to the upper left hand corner of the frame. Click, hold and drag the mouse toward a lower, right hand position. The grid will appear as the mouse is moved.
Adjust the grid to a desired composition. The goal is to have a primary subject item (an eye for example) on one of the four inside intersections or the horizon line inside one of the outer thirds. Change to the crop tool. Crop around the exterior of the new composition. Double click to set the crop.
Open Layers (under Window) if not already open. Select the custom shape tool layer. Click on the upper right hand arrow. Choose Delete Layer. The composition now conforms to the rule of thirds. Save.
Enough for now,