Have you ever tried using the transform tool to shrink a circular object like a coin only to have it look ever-so-slightly distorted in the end? The object may still look circular, but upon closer inspection, lack a perfect circle shape. One or two sides may look flattened instead of curved. This frequently happens when bitmap images are shrunk down below 100 pixels. All of this may not seem like a huge deal. But to anyone who is a perfectionist at heart, the minor distortion can be a major thorn in the side. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this.
To begin, you should have your circular object sitting on its own layer. In this case, my coin is on a layer creatively named “Coin”. The first step is to select the custom shape tool (shortcut-U). After doing this, make sure that you have the Shape Layers option selected in the top left-hand corner (see image to the right). With these options selected, create a circle just smaller than the size of the distorted coin and position it where the coin is. You’ll notice that unlike the coin, the vector shape is a perfect circle. Resize the vector shape so that it’s just about a hairline smaller than the coin itself.
Next, drag the vector layer below your “Coin” layer.
Right click on the “Coin” layer and select Clipping Mask. This will turn the vector layer beneath it into a mask. Because vectors always keep their exact shape, this vector mask will reveal the coin in a perfect circular shape. When you’re done, you’re layers palette should look like the image below.
And there you have it, a simple and easy way to get around the inherent limitations of shrinking bitmaps 🙂 – Happy Photoshoppin.