checkout this image:

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How can I achieve a round rectangle like that with a transparent cropped image at the center? I can't find a good way for


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2 Answers 2


Illustrator method

  1. Draw a Rounded Rectangle using the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Give it a fill and no stroke.
  2. Draw a Circle using the Ellipse Tool. Give it a stroke and no fill. Make the stroke as thick as you want the space to be. ~10points. Select the circle with the Selection Tool (Black Arrow) and choose Object > Expand and just click OK. This will convert the stroke to a filled shape.
  3. Draw the + Symbol. You can manually create it or simply find a + in a font you like.

    3a.If you use a font, after setting the +, select it with the Selection Tool (black arrow) and choose Type > Create Outlines. This will convert the type to a shape.

  4. Select All 3 shapes.

  5. Use the Align Panel (or Control bar) to center align all 3 vertically and horizontally.

  6. Select everything.

  7. Using the Color Panel, Swatch panel, or Appearance Panel, apply a white fill and no stroke.

  8. Choose Object > Compound Path > Make.

  9. Use the Transparency Panel or Appearance Panel to reduce opacity if desired.

  10. Lastly, place it over a photo.

Or alt #10... copy and paste it into photoshop as a "Shape Layer" and you've got it in either app.

enter image description here

  • Great @Scott !! Awesome. But I've a question: what is the step that makes the effect of "transparent shape"? The 8th? Feb 29, 2012 at 19:38
  • 1
    Yes.. #8 the compound path. IT tells Illustrator to "cut out" the shapes on top.
    – Scott
    Feb 29, 2012 at 20:00
  • Thanks very much Scott. You're giving me a great help! Can I ask you a more general question about AI? If I have more then only a layer in AI (like in this case) and I want to apply different photoshop effect to every layer, how can I do it? I need to copy/paste every layer to photoshop separately? Feb 29, 2012 at 23:53
  • 1
    You should post a new question.... I've got an answer standing by :) Questions like that would help a great many users, but they'll never find them if they are buried in the comments.
    – Scott
    Mar 1, 2012 at 0:50

In Photoshop, first make the rounded rectangle:

  • Make a new layer.

  • Select the Rounded Rectangle shape tool, and click the "Path" icon on the control bar (it depicts the Pen and some anchor points).

  • Drag out the square.

  • Ctl/Cmd-Enter to convert to a selection, then fill.

[An alternative workflow is to drag out a square selection marquee and apply Select > Modify > Smooth, then enter the corner radius you need.]

  • Next, make the donut on another layer, using a custom shape (Ctl-Enter to convert to a selection) or make a circular path and the "Subract Path" (2nd icon from the left in that group) function to remove the inner part of the circle. (To ensure the paths are concentric, select both paths with the Path tool (the black one) and click the vertical and horizontal alignment buttons in the control bar. Use the Ctl-Enter to make a selection and fill with a different color so you can see it; the actual color doesn't matter.

  • Now create the '+' symbol on its own layer and fill that (again, any color will do).

You now have three layers: the basic rounded square and the two "cut out" shapes.

  • Target the rectangle layer to execute the next two steps.

  • Ctl-click the donut layer icon in the Layers panel to create a new selection and press Delete.

  • Do the same with the + layer and press delete.

Your rectangle now has the other two shapes cut out of it. You can adjust blend modes and opacity from there to get the effect you want.

I'll let Scott, who's our resident Illustrator guru, give you the steps in AI.

  • Thank you Alan for the reply. But I'm blocked at the point "Ctl-click the donut layer icon in the Layers panel to create a new selection and press Delete.". When I press Delete it returns me an error: Could not complete your request because the content of the layer is not directly editable. Feb 29, 2012 at 12:18
  • Make sure that you have the rectangle layer targeted in the layers panel. You Ctl-click on the "donut" layer icon to make a selection, but the layer you're deleting from is the rectangle. Feb 29, 2012 at 19:03
  • Okay but when I make the donut with elliptical selection and Select > Modify > Border I obtain an ugly result. Check the answer update. Feb 29, 2012 at 19:20
  • You have a feather applied to the selection, for some reason. You don't need that. Photoshop won't apply a feather to the Border operand unless there's one there already. Feb 29, 2012 at 22:38
  • Weird, the feather's value is set to 0px. Feb 29, 2012 at 23:49

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