Combine Vector Layers in Photoshop

Combine Vector Layers in Photoshop

Posted by Rainey

For this post I am going to switch gears a little bit and offer a simple Photoshop tutorial for a task that is less than evident.  Some tasks in Photoshop are not hard to do, but you do have to know how to do them.  This one falls into that category.

Setting it up

Below is a quick image that I put together for this illustration. This image is 3 vector boxes that overlap to create what could be stairs.


The rendered version does look like one image but it is not.  In many cases this would be acceptable output and we could just move on. But, sometimes it is truly helpful to have all of these as one vector image.  For instance, we may want to overlay a texture across the image or apply an effect of some sort. Below is an example of how our image with a simple effect applied.


Now it is much easier to see the problem. Luck for us, the solution is pretty simple, though not intuitive.


Combining Vector Layers

As I mentioned before, the image above is 3 different vector shapes positioned to look like stairs. The original layers panel looks like this:



To get the vector images together on one layer we can:

  1. click the gray vector mask for one layer
  2. press “command + c ” on Mac or “control + c” on Windows to copy it
  3. click the gray vector mask for the next layer
  4. press “command + v” on Mac or “control + v” on Windows to paste it in
  5. delete or hide the other unneeded layers

The layers panel should now look something like this:



One More Step

We now have all of our vectors together on on layer, but they are still 3 different paths.  Our effect now works as if they are one, but it could be handy and cleaner to have these be one vector path. To do this:


  1. click the gray vector mask for our new layer (the different vector paths should now all show like the image above)
  2. choose the path selection tool
  3. now look to the top of your screen for the combine button and press it


Boom, done! Now we have a single vector path for our image that we can edit, modify or whatever. Does this help? Do you have a better way? Does this remind you of something cool? Please share in the comments.


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