By Karl Rosencrants, Bigstock Contributor.

This post was updated on June 26, 2015 by Cristin Burton. 

Here’s a helpful technique for when you want to fit an image into a shape, such as a frame. In this tutorial we will paste this image of a butterfly into the frame of this Polaroid-style instant photo frame.

Start by making a selection on the photo frame image. Here, the cleanest way to create a selection is to use the Pen Tool. Activate the Pen Tool, then click and release in each corner of the black box, until you complete a tilted square shape. Use the Direct Selection Tool if necessary to adjust the points so the Pen shape fits perfectly inside the frame.


Once the path is complete, navigate to the Paths Palette. Holding Cmd (Ctrl on a PC), click on the thumbnail of the Work Path. This will load the path as a selection.

(Note: You could also use the Quick Selection Tool or the Polygonal Lasso Tool to create this selection, but I find that the Pen Tool allows you to easily adjust the path, and resulting shape, before you actually convert it to a selection.)

Next, open the image that is to be inserted into the shape, in this case, the butterfly. Press Cmd+A (Ctrl+A on a PC) to select the entire image, then Cmd+C (Ctrl+C on a PC) to copy it to memory. Navigate back to the Polaroid image. The selection should still be active. From the Edit pull down menu, select Paste Special > Paste Into.

The result is the pasted image on its own layer, with a Layer Mask in the shape of the square selection. Now you’ll want to unlink the image from the layer mask by clicking the little chain link icon in the layer, then you can select the image by itself by click on its thumbnail.  Use the transform command (command-T or Ctrl-T on a PC) to size and rotate the pasted image inside the layer mask until you reach your desired look. 

To establish a little more realism to the image, apply an Inner Shadow Layer Style to the pasted layer. In this particular image, a very small shadow will give enough depth to be convincing. You can do this by double clicking on the layer and in the dialogue box, navigate to the inner shadow option. 

The Stars, circles or other abstract shapes can be used as the initial selection and the Paste Into command will work in exactly the same way. Experiment and have fun!



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