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I have a layer in Photoshop CS3. How do I "cut" star shaped pieces from it (leaving a transparent hole in the shape of a star)?

Do I need to use a clipping mask, and if so how?

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If understood your last question, with vector safe you only might mean keeping the "vectorial" operations inside Photoshop, as all output you have from Photoshop, is raster, not vectorial, unless you export as AI file, but that would be only paths, not fills. At least in the CS versions I know (a bit old ones). Anyway, photos aren't vectorial, so not much of a point in exporting so. If is to keep the paths related features, ie, if you resize the image, the start gets resized, and the edges of the star, will be sharp, and do a nice crop out. (although an enlarged photo adds blur by itself), or, you could rotate the star with vector arrow tool, resize that arrow shape, modify as wished, that the mask would be applied automatically. To do this:

  1. You have your photo layer.
  2. Make a star with polygon tool, you can set the settings for it in top bar options.
  3. Previously, be sure the top bar options are set as "shape layer"(first of the 3 icons). That is, ie with color white selected, when you drag the polygon tool, a star with white color fill is created, not transparent vector only.
  4. This creates a new shape layer. You can reposition or modify however the star by, with black or white arrow vector tool (ie, hitting A key) clicking on the arrow in the canvas, or in the shape in the layers list (it shows a white quad, and at its right, a star shape)
  5. Click and drag in layers list, the star shape and drop over your photo layer.
  6. A star shape appears to the right of the photo layer thumbnail, in the photo layer, at layers list. Delete now the shape layer that got created above the photo layer.
  7. You should have now a layer showing only the photo pixels forming the star, the ones inside it. You can select with vector arrow the start, or click in teh shape of layers list, and hit ctrl + t to rotate the start, distort it, etc. Or use the white vector arrow tool to fine tune modifying the star vertices . The pixels shown wil update automatically, nothing to worry.

This is the most vectorial you can go, as far as I know.If you had like 20 photo layers bellow. You could just make a group of the 20, then just drag and drop the star shape thumb (all this operating in layers list) over the group: All the layers will be masked with the star! With teh advantage that if you modify the star, all bellow will be masked according to that change :) If it's 20 or 150. You could now alt + click over each layer eye icon to visualize only that and export as png or whatever, or just use File menu, Scripts, Export layer to files.

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That totally worked! Thank you! The only thing I couldn't figure out was create a shape layer. But I made the star in Illustrator, and when I pasted it into Photoshop, it popped up an option so I could select the radio button for "shape tool." After that, it was exactly how you stated! –  user117752 Feb 10 '12 at 13:24
    
I'm glad it worked :) I might explained that step too briefly. You don't need to make the star in illustrator. Just.. in Photoshop, you have an "ink pen" tool in the vertical icon tool bar, at the left. Well, then (you could do it with instead or any other Photoshop "vector" tool) the icon just at the right of that icon, can be several things depending on what you selected last time. If you click and hole whilst pressed, it'll show a vertical menu of tools. Choose the "polygon tool" there. Now, with that selected, it will appear in a top icon toolbar there, several options... –  S.gfx Feb 15 '12 at 8:25
    
...That icons tool bar is just the top menu "file, edite, image..." .You just need to click on the first of 3 icons. Indeed if you mouse over the first icon, and wait several seconds, you will see it shows a hot tip saying : "shape layers" :) . With that clicked, you will see that the polygon (in its options you can set it be a star as you want to, not a polygon) that you will draw, that is, the star, is a vector shape, with the fill of the foreground color that you had in that moment, and that with this new star created, it's also being created in layers window a new "shape layer". :) –  S.gfx Feb 15 '12 at 8:28
    
icons locations might vary slightly with your Photoshop version, but the method is the same , just find the icons locations if they are different :) –  S.gfx Feb 15 '12 at 8:30
    
to force the "polygon tool" to be actually a star, in th etop icon bar, you have the polygon icon, be sure that's the one pressed. Also, its options you set them by click and hold a tiny black triangle pointing down just at the right of a puzzle piece shape "custom shape tool". It will pop some options: choose "star" and leave blank "smooth corners" and "smooth indents". there also you type the % of how pointy-long do you want those star peaks. Out o fthat pop up, at the right in that tool bar, you have the number of sides for the polygon, in your case, number of star peaks. :) –  S.gfx Feb 15 '12 at 8:39
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Select layer to bite out of (A). Layer >> Layer Mark >> Reveal All.

Move your star layer over A.

Select the path selection tool. Right click the star layer >> Make selection... >> New selection

Select A in the layers panel.

Hit delete (or backspace), and the bite will be taken.

The question remains, how do I make this vector safe?

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