Software: Ulead PhotoImpact 12
Author: MaryLou White
Home Page: Wishing Well Tutorials

Title: The Shape of Things
Skill Level: Beginner

Description: You can make your own collection of shapes and store them in your Easy Palette for future projects. It's extremely easy and you are only limited by your imagination.

PhotoImpact 12 has several preset work modes. For this tutorial, we will be using the Full Edit mode so all of the tools in PhotoImpact will be available to you.

As you work, use your mouse to drag this along with you to mark your place.


In this tutorial, you will make a shape, add the shape to your Easy Palette, and then use that shape to create an object. Once you have made the first shape with detailed instuctions, you should be able to make the remaining shapes by following the same steps but using a different shape.


  1. Open a new image 300x300, white background. We are going to make a square shape with a round center. The center will be "hollow" so you can put an image under it if you want.

  2. Click on the Path tool\Path Drawing Tool on the left tool bar. This will cause the options on the menu bar to change to the appropriate options available for this tool. Set the color to grey and the mode to 2D object.

  3. Select the Square shape. Draw a square about 150x150 in the center of your new image. Sizes do not have to be "exact", these are just suggestions. Click anywhere outside of the square to de-select (or press the Enter key).

    Note: You can determine the size object you are drawing by looking at the lower left corner of the screen where you will see the width and height of the object change as you drag the object with your mouse.

  4. Click on the Shape again and select the Circle. Change your color to white. Draw a circle about 125x125 and drag it to the center of your square. To draw the circle directly on top of the square, hold down the ALT key, otherwise, start drawing the circle outside of the box.

  5. Right-click\Select All Objects. Right-click\Align\Center Both.

  6. Right-click\Merge All.

  7. Click on the Standard Selection Tool\Magic Wand. This will cause the options on the menu bar to change. Set the attributes on the menu bar as shown below.

  8. Click the Magic Wand on the grey part of your image. On the menu, select Edit\Trace\Selection Marquee. When the Trace menu opens, accept the default options and click OK. Your image will have a red bounding box around it.

  9. Notice that the menu bar has changed to the tools related to the Path tool. This is because the result of tracing your object is the creation of a path object. The mode on the menu will be Horizontal Deform. Change the Mode to 2D. Change the color to green (most of the shapes in the EP are green).

  10. You now have a new path object with a "hole" in the center. You can use it just as you would any other path object in PhotoImpact.


Now that you have a nice new custom shape, you need to add it to the Easy Palette where you can use it many times over. We're going to add a new group to the EasyPalette to hold our custom shapes.
  1. Make sure your background color is set to white .
  2. Open your Easy Palette. Click on the Libraries tab at the top, then click once on the "My Library" category to select that category.

  3. Right-Click on My Library and select New Group from the popup window. A small window will open so you can type in the name of your custom group. Type My Shapes (or a name of your choice) and click OK. This will create a new group in your Library.

  4. Using the Pick tool, drag your new shape into your Custom shapes window. When the Add To Easy Palette window opens, type in a descriptive name for your new shape. Make sure the correct Library and Tab Group are showing in the dropdown windows and click Ok. Your own shape library now has a new shape for you to use.


  1. Open a new image, 400x400, white background.

  2. Click on the Path Tool\Path Drawing Tool. Select Shape\Custom. This will open the Custom Shape window. Click the Drop-down menu on the bottom of the window and find My Library (or whatever yours is called) and select My Shapes (or whaever yours is called). You should see your shape in the display box. Click on your new shape to select, click Okay.

  3. Using the 400x400 image you opened in the first step, start in the upper left corner and drag your mouse to the lower right corner to draw your shape.

  4. Now you can change your image to 3D, apply effects from the Material Gallery, fill patterns, etc. Add an image under your shape and you have a nice picture frame. Here are some examples:

    Note: We could have dragged our shape from the Easy Palette to the canvas and gotten the same end results. The difference is, when using the Custom Shape option. you draw your shape the size you want it by dragging the mouse. When you pull it from the Easy Palette, you have to resize it using the Transform tool.

    Now that you know the basics of making and saving a shape, we will do some exercises to make some more complicated ones.

Exercise 1

  1. Open a new image, 300x300, white background.
  2. Draw a grey 2D circle.
  3. Right-click\Duplicate the circle. Change the color to white.
  4. Move the white circle over the grey one until the grey circle looks like a moon.
  5. Right-Click\Merge All.
  6. Use Magic Wand to select grey part of moon, Edit\Trace Selection Marquee.
  7. Change from Horizontal Deform to 2D.
  8. Change color to green, drag to Easy Palette to your Custom Shapes.
  9. Use your new shape to create an object.

Exercise 2

  1. Open a new image, 300x300, white background.
  2. Draw a grey 2D rounded Rectangle. This will open the Path Tool box. If your Path Tool box window doesn't open automatically, you can open it manually by clicking this icon on the upper right menu bar:
  3. Scroll down until you find the Rounded Rectangle section and adjust the roundness to 35 (or to suit your taste).
  4. Draw a white oval to fit inside the rectangle.
  5. Hold down the CTRL key and use the PICK tool to select both pieces and Center.
  6. Right-Click\Merge All.
  7. Use Magic Wand to select the grey part of the moon, Edit\Trace Selection Marquee.
  8. Change from Horizontal Deform to 2D Object.
  9. Change color to green, add to Easy Palette to your Custom Shapes.
  10. Use your new shape to create an object. See the example for an idea.

Exercise 3

  1. Open a new image, 300x300, white background.
  2. Draw a grey 2D square.
  3. Draw a white circle that's a bit larger than the square.
  4. Move the circle over the square until you get a shape similar to the example.
  5. Right-Click\Merge All.
  6. Use Magic Wand to select grey part of shape, Edit\Trace Selection Marquee.
  7. Change from Horizontal Deform to 2D Object.
  8. Change color to green, add to Easy Palette to your Custom Shapes.
  9. Create a new object using your shape. Note: To get the thin outline as shown in the example, duplicate the path object, change mode to 3D pipe and adjust the border width down to about 3.

    This shape makes a nice corner for a frame. Duplicate and flip to make the rest of the pieces.

There are endless shapes you can make using this method. Here are a few more examples to help give you ideas:

Experiment with making your own shapes. You'll be surprised at what you can make with just a little bit of imagination.

You're invited to join the PIRC Fourm! This is an active PhotoImpact Forum where you'll find a wonderful group of warm, friendly, talented, and knowledgeable people who are ready and willing to share their expertise with you. There are creative activities for all levels of PhotoImpact users. This forum is 100% free and everyone is welcome.

Copyright© MaryLou White.
This document may not be translated, duplicated, redistributed or otherwise appropriated without permission.