How to Add a Border to a Shape in Photoshop

Updated April 17, 2017

There is more than one way to create a border around a shape in Adobe Photoshop. One way is to use the Stroke command, which allows you to edit the stroke, or the line around the shape. The "Stroke layer" effect is another way to create a border by providing a resolution-independent method, which retains crisp borders when resized. You can use this option when you want to stroke the entire layer. You can also create two shapes of different sizes, making the larger shape appear as the "border" behind a smaller shape.

Create a shape layer. Go to the "Tools Panel" and select the rectangle icon button called the "Rectangle Tool." Click and hold the button to select the shape you want: Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Line or Custom Shape. Click and drag the cursor onto the document to create the shape. A new layer is automatically created in the "Layers" window.

Rasterise the shape. Go to the "Layer" tab and select "Rasterize." Select "Shape" to rasterise the shape. Rasterising, or converting a vector-based shape to a pixelated shape, will activate the painting tools and filters so that you can edit the borders easily.

Edit the stroke. Go to the "Edit" tab and select "Stroke." Change the stroke pixels to adjust the border width. Click on the colour button to change the colour of the stoke. Click "OK." Select a location of where the stroke should be---inside the shape, centre of the stroke or outside of the shape. Experiment with the mode and opacity of the border to decide how you want the stroke to look. Click "OK."

Repeat Step 1 from the section, "Using the Stroke Command."

Go to the "Layers" window and double-click on the shape layer. The shape layer leads to a dialogue box with many blending options. Select "Stroke."

Edit the stroke structure. Change the size of the stroke width. Experiment with the location of the stroke as well as the colour and texture. Click "OK."

Duplicate the shape layer. Click on the right arrow button from the "Layers" window. Select "Duplicate Layer." Save the new layer as "Shape 1 Copy" and click "OK." The duplicate layer is created above the original shape layer, making the duplicate layer the active layer.

Scale the duplicate shape. Go to the "Edit" tab, navigate to "Transform Path," and select "Scale." Decrease the size of the shape until you see the original shape layer behind the active layer. Double-click on the shape or select the check mark icon button.

Align the active shape layer with the original layer. Move the active shape using your mouse or the arrow keys to align it with the original shape layer. Flatten the image if both layers are positioned evenly.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Photoshop
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About the Author

Since 2000 Yvette Bigornia has been a writer specializing in internal communications, including newsletters, e-mail blasts and Intranet sites. She also holds certifications for copy-editing through MediaBistro, for public relations and copywriting through The Business Writing Center and for multimedia design through The Anthem Institute. Bigornia holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from Rutgers University.