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    A brief tutorial about Shape layers in Photoshop.
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Following is a neat trick to make quick and nice outlines with a shaded shape to create Cartoon like illustrations.
1. First I created the base shape of the cactus. In this case I used the Pen tool to create a Bezier loop.
2. I then copied the cactus layer and picked a darker color for it. Locked the first cactus layer and made sure the darker layer is underneath the actual cactus.Now I'm free to tweak the darker shape with the Direct Selection tool as I like by pressing 'A' on the keyboard.
3. The shading is quickly done by creating a new layer that is set to 'Overlay' as blend mode. This layer should be on top of the cactus shape layer. Then I made the base cactus a clipping layer for the new shading layer by pressing 'alt' on the keyboard and clicking just between the two layers. This action makes the black symbol to the right in the image below visible, and an arrow appears afterwards, by the new layer, that points from the shading to the cactus layer.Now I just paint with a really soft brush with either black or white depending on if you're doing high lights or shadows, off course.

The sweet thing about this method is that since you use a soft brush and a clipping layer you are less sensitive to scaling issues if you need your image larger.


4. Couldn't resist adding extra details... :P
I hope you found this interesting.Now you can go and have a look at some examples in my portfolio. :)