Rounded Corner Tutorial

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Last weekend I was messing around in the back yard, trying to determine how best to photograph subjects in harsh light where the sun was directly overhead (another topic for another day). I had my Lensbaby Composer on my Canon EOS 7D and was just messing around. When I got back to my computer and started going through the shots in Photoshop, I decided to learn about rounded corners – quite a few of the personal photography blogs that I read utilize this technique on the photographs they post, so I took the opportunity to teach myself. And now I’m taking the opportunity to share what I learned. I use Photoshop CS5, but this technique also works in earlier versions of Photoshop.

Here is the original photo, straight out of the camera (as always, click on any photo to see a larger size):

With the photo open in Photoshop, I took the opportunity to make some saturation and sharpening adjustments. Then, I created a new layer (


a duplicate layer or background copy) by going to the Layers menu and choosing New, and then Layer (the keyboard shortcut is Ctrl-Shift-N).

Next I chose the “Rounded Rectangle Tool” from the tool palette:

At the Radius setting in the top toolbar, I set the value to “200″. The higher the radius number, the more rounded the corners will be.

Then I clicked and dragged the rounded rectangle over my photo, like so:

Note that the rounded rectangle is filled with my active foreground color (in this case, black). We will change this by going to the Layers palette and setting the opacity to “0″.

And here you see the result – the lines of the rounded rectangle are a bit faint in this image, so click to see a larger version:

I found that when I did a number of photos in succession, Photoshop “remembered” my settings. When I closed the program and re-opened it, however, the default setting reverted back to 100% opacity.

Next we need make the rounded rectangle selection “active”. On the Layers palette, click on “Paths”. Then right click over the layer and choose Make Selection.

At the Make Selection menu, ensure that Feathering is set to “0″ and Anti-Alias is checked.

Click on “OK”, and you will see the rounded corner rectangle turn into an active selection box. With the selection active, click on the Edit menu, and select Copy Merged.

Next, open a new blank canvas by going to the File menu, and select New. Because your copied image is now in the clipboard, Photoshop automatically sizes the new canvas to accommodate the clipboard image. So, don’t change any of the presets, just click on “OK”.

With the new canvas open, click on Edit, Paste. This pastes the rounded-corner image into its own file.

Flatten the image, save, and you’re done!

Photo credits (all): Tiffany Joyce.

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  • Wonderboy

    For anyone who wants rounded corners on photos which will only be shown in a web browser, and who isn’t afraid of playing with a little HTML/CSS code, here’s an excellent resource to make this much faster using only code. This is especially helpful if you have a large number of photos to apply this to or if you want perfect consistency across your web page/site.nn says that javascript is required, but I deactivated javascript in IE and Firefox and the code still executed perfectly.