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    A brief tutorial about Shape layers in Photoshop.
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Many Photoshop veterans seem to overlook the powerful shape layers. I use them extensively because of their flexibility and ease of use.
The three main reasons being that they're:
*Scale independent.*They are quick, precise and easy to adjust.* Much sharper than bitmap layers which is preferred when making tiny details for icons and such.
Below is a quick example of some of it's secrets.
 
A. This is what we want to create. Lets focus on the rings.
B. Start by making an ellipse with the Custom Shapes tool from the tool box. (Just below the main menus you'll find the different basic shapes to pick from. More shapes are available if you press the star to the right.)Copy and paste a new ellipse by selecting the one you just made with the black arrow(Path Direction tool'), just above the Shapes tool in the Tool box. Make this ellipse a bit smaller simply by scaling it.
C. Now Click the 'Subtract from shape area' button just below the main menus. (The button marked with a circle at the bottom of the image above. This creates the hole you want. You now have your first ring.
D. Creating the next ring is achieved by just copying the two shapes you just made, but when you paste it in and scale it up you'll see that the first ring is hidden. This happens because the inner circle shape of your second ring is taking out the first ring you made because it's inside of the second one. This is fixed by selecting the first rings shapes; cutting it out and pasting it in again. Photoshop places shapes in the order they were created in its shape layers. It's a bit like Illustrator, but you can't view the items in a list.
E. The 'Combine' button, that you see just below the red arrow in the image above, can clean things up a bit by baking intersecting shapes into one, as you can see in 'F where there are no intersecting lines anymore'.

When working with shape layers you'll be using the white(Direct Selection tool) and black arrow(Path Direction tool) which can be picked by pressing 'A' and as keyboard short cut toggle. The black arrow manipulates the whole shape and the white one is used for specific points and handles.
Off course you don't have to use Custom Shapes to create shapes. There's a 'Pen tool' in the tool box that lets you draw any bezier curve you want. (Keyboard shortcut for that is 'P'.)The 'Convert Point tool' that you'll find in the same mini panel as the Pen tool allows you to adjust the tangents of curves. Those tangent handles can also be manipulated using the white arrow.
When you want to add new shapes to an existing shape layer just hit the + key on your keyboard when this layers shape is active in the layers panel. This action activates the button that is just to the left of the one marked with a ring in the upper image. If you don't do this then PS creates a new layer. 
You can easily cut out shapes from layers and paste 'em into other shape layers.

As you can see in these examples any layer effect is apliable to a shape layer.
Enjoy!Now you can go and have a look at some examples in my portfolio. :)