How to Round Corners in Photoshop

It might seem strange, but shapes can actually evoke specific feelings in people, which is why conscious design is so important. For example, people tend to prefer round shapes over angular ones, because they're more inviting and friendly. Even adding rounded edges to a rectangle will make it seem more approachable, and in many cases, it looks better from a design standpoint. Learning how to round corners in Photoshop is fairly straightforward, and although there are many methods for achieving the same goal, we're going to teach you how to do it to an image using vector masks. 

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  1. First, you'll need to open a new Photoshop project. In the Layers panel, select the Background layer and fill it with black, so you get a better sense of what's happening to your shapes. Then, drag or load a photo into the project. 

  2. Your photo should now show up as its own layer in the Layers panel (look for "Layer 1"). Make sure it's selected, and then click the "Layer Mask" icon at the bottom of the panel (it looks like a rectangle with a white circle inside of it). Now, you should see a blank thumbnail to the right of the Layer 1 preview thumbnail. 

  3. If you click the same "Layer Mask" icon a second time, another preview thumbnail will appear in Layer 1. This is actually a vector mask thumbnail, which allows you to use shapes to hide certain sections of a layer. This is how to round corners in Photoshop, without altering the original image.

  4. Next, go to the main toolbar, and access the Rounded Rectangle tool by clicking and holding on the normal Rectangle tool. At the top of the screen, you'll see a set of options for the Rounded Rectangle tool; click on the "Shape layers" option (it looks like a rectangle).

  5. On the right side of the same Options bar, you'll find a Radius setting. The higher the Radius number, the more rounded the corners will be. We recommend starting with a setting of around 30 pixels, dragging out the shape to see how it looks, and then adjusting the Radius if necessary.    

  6. When you're ready to draw the rounded rectangle, go back to the Layers panel and click on the vector mask thumbnail. Now, you can draw out your shape, and everything inside of it will remain visible. To recenter the rectangle, hold down the space bar and then drag on the shape with your cursor. When you release the mouse button, the vector mask will magically round off the corners of your image.

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