I am attempting to create a custom logo in Photoshop (mainly because I'm not familiar with Illustrator). I've used the pen tool to create a vector path for the logo, but when I try to convert the path into a selection to fill the logo, I have a problem.

The logo most closely resembles a letter, and as such has some 'holes' in it. See below:

enter image description here

When I convert the path to a selection, it just selects the outside of the shape, ignoring any holes completely:

enter image description here

I've tried making the selection, then selecting the 'hole parts' of the path (via the delete anchor point tool) and adding/subtracting from the selection, but it either removes the selection entirely or just makes a new one.

How can create a selection from a path with interior holes?

Note: I am aware that Illustrator is far better suited to this. However, I do not know Illustrator, and this is a one-time project and I know that Photoshop can do it.

EDIT: I have resolved this problem. It appears that when I made the shape, all of the paths were set to 'subtract from the current path.' (Don't know why it let me make any paths in that case, but whatever.) Ctrl+clicking on the path and setting the outside one to 'add' rather than 'subtract' had no effect, even though it kept the setting. However, creating a new path and making sure that the outside path was set to 'add' and the inner ones were set to 'subtract' did work. So it seems that if you set your path one way, it is irrevocably that way regardless of whether or not you change it later.

  • I'm aware Illustrator is better, but I'd prefer to work with something familiar for this project. I've added pictures. Jun 22, 2016 at 19:31
  • 3
    Don't create a selection from your path to fill, that defeats the whole point of having a path at all. Create a shape or a solid fill layer with a vector mask.
    – Cai
    Jun 22, 2016 at 19:32
  • @Cai I do not have experience with fill layers or vector masks. Could you please explain how to create them, perhaps in an answer? Jun 22, 2016 at 20:56
  • 1
    it seems that what you need to learn to solve your question would be useful also in Illustrator...
    – Luciano
    Jun 23, 2016 at 11:25

3 Answers 3


To answer your main question, I'm assuming the problem with your path is that you havn't drawn with the correct shape modes. If you have multiple subpaths you need to select the correct shape mode for each subpath from the options bar (i.e. select Subtract Front Shape to create your "holes").

Shape modes

Your selection should then work as expected. Creating a selection from your path defeats the whole point of using paths in the first place though.

What you should do is create create a shape layer rather than a path. With the Pen tool or any of the shape tools you can select Shape from the options bar to create shape layers when drawing new shapes.

Draw shapes

That doesn't help much for existing paths though.

If you have an existing path and want a shape layer, simply create a new solid fill layer (Layer → New Fill Layer → Solid Color...) then with your fill layer active in the layers panel and your path selected, hit the Add Mask button at the bottom of the layers panel.

Solid color layer

You should then have a shape layer, which you can continue to edit and adjust your paths as much as you like. You can fix any problems with overlapping subpaths etc after this stage so that you can actually see the effects of the fill.

Shape layer

Another option if you have an existing path is to select the path, right click and select Define Custom Shape...

Define custom shape

Your path will then be available to draw as a custom shape when using the Custom Shape Tool, which may be useful if you are going to be using it a lot.

Custom shape

  • Unfortunately I still have the same problem. I made the outside path 'new shape area' and the rest 'subtract from shape area,' but I still have the same result. I believe I've gotten a shape layer with a vector mask containing the path properly, which is great... but I can't do anything if I want to actually make a visible logo (like fill the pixels). Jun 23, 2016 at 15:15
  • And about the selections, I understand that making a selection defeats the entire purpose of the path. However, I need to create an actual visible shape, not just a path of the shape. If the selection is wrong, I know I can go back in and edit the path. Jun 23, 2016 at 15:16
  • So strangely enough, I made another basic shape with the pen tool and put two holes in it, and it selects perfectly. I can see no difference between the two paths except that the one I want to work is not doing so. Jun 23, 2016 at 15:24
  • I was finally able to get things to work by re-creating the path while paying attention to whether it was adding or subtracting. Still not sure why it wouldn't work when I just set the paths to add instead of subtract... Jun 23, 2016 at 16:25

You are going to want a vector version of any logo, as it can be scaled to any size without sacrificing resolution. So just open up Illustrator and figure out how to use it - it's easier than Photoshop IMO.

For a semi-complex shape like the one in your initial post you are going to want to get to know the Pathfinder tool in Illustrator. There are several tutorial videos on this.

Alternatively, you could create the shape using paths/selections/masks etc. in Photoshop. I think you might even be able to create basic vector shapes in photoshop now, but you are saving yourself a lot of time in the future by creating a real vector version (in Illustrator) now.

  • Unfortunately this doesn't really answer my question, as it is distinctly about doing this in Photoshop, not Illustrator. I'm sure Illustrator is easier, but I want to know how to do this in Photoshop. Jun 22, 2016 at 22:54

I had the same problem as it was working fine in CS6 but changed in CC. In CS6, it would automatically "add" the holes to your selection and you would have marching ants around all your selections.

Now, (in CC2018), you need to press the 'esc' key so that all your drawn selections become the thin solid path line. Then you can press the make selection button or right click on your path to make a selection of ALL drawn paths with marching ants.

For example, draw a path around the outside of an "O". Then draw a path around the inside of the "O". The outer path becomes a thin line and the inside is now active with the square control points. When done, PRESS THE 'ESC' key to make the inner active path inactive. You should now have thin solid line around the inside and outside of the "O". Now you can make a selction by pressing the make selection button or right clicking on the "O" for more options (feathering, etc.)

Also make sure you are in "Exclude overlapping shapes" in the path operations button.

In summary, you need to make sure there are no 'active' paths (with square control points) as these will be the only ones chosen when making a selection. Only the solid thin blue path lines in your path layer, then click make selection button. Hope this helps.

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