Trying to create a vector 'ring' in Photoshop CS6. (I know there are better tools for the job and ways of doing this, but I'd like to know if there's an answer for this problem in particular.

If I create a circle shape, then change it to subtract mode I can draw another selection to be deleted from my original circle. However, if I hold shift to make my new selection a perfect circle, it creates a new shape layer (which is a perfect circle). How can I stop it from doing this?

Bonus question: - I'm sure there's a way, but can't remember how. What is the best way to subtract one shape from another without rasterizing first?

  • See Marc's answer for your bonus question. This is something you can do in CS6 that wasn't possible in earlier versions. Jun 3, 2012 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


When creating the second circle start your click-drag and then hold down the shift; that should constrain the proportions without creating a second shape (if you start with the shift button held down Illustrator thinks you're trying to add to the shape you want to subtract).

To remove one shape from another; select both shapes, make sure the shape you want to subtract is in front of the other shape (command-shift-]) and use the subtract shape option in the Pathfinder area.enter image description here

  • The first part worked. However, isn't the second paragraph for Illustrator? That or I can't find a pathfinder panel in Photoshop? :)
    – Anonymous
    Jun 1, 2012 at 13:16
  • 1
    Whoops - sorry. Yes, that was me answering questions without having a cup of coffee first. Jun 1, 2012 at 15:51
  • Hehe, no worries. :)
    – Anonymous
    Jun 1, 2012 at 15:53

You'll want to ensure you're drawing a shape.


You'll also want to ensure you have the shape layer selected in the layers panel. If you hold down option before you click to draw, it'll subtract the shape from the shape.

If, somehow, you end up with two layers instead of one, select them both in the layers panel and press command-E or right click and choose Merge Shapes (this is a Photoshop CS6 only feature).

Merge Shapes

With the Path Selection Tool chosen, you can press - or + on the keyboard to change the boolean mode to subtract or combine.

Path Selection Tool


For your first part of the question, make sure that the shape layer is selected, and that you drag to create the shape before you hold shift - that way, you can create your perfect circle and have it subtract from the first path. What happens is that when you're on Subtract Front Shape, holding Shift will add instead.

For your bonus question, using a second shape layer select the path with the Path Selection Tool (not the Direct Selection Tool), then cut (CTRL-X or CMND-X). Then, select the first shape layer, make sure that it's on subtract, and paste (CTRL-V or CMND-V). It will subtract, and you will still have your paths. :) Oh, and if it happens to not be positioned correctly, you can use the Path Selection Tool to move that path to where it needs to go.


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