Rounded-corner rectangles in Photoshop

by Marion Bates <mbates at>

Last modified: December 31 1969 16:00:00

Given: You have a picture.

Goal: You want the picture to have soft, rounded-corner edges for enhanced display against a light-colored background.

Solution and tutorial: There are several ways to do this, and most of them are a surprisinly large number of steps. This is the one I dreamed up, and I find it to be the simplest. YMMV.

  1. Open the picture in Photoshop. Make sure that Image->Mode is set to "RGB". Double-click the "Background" layer to convert it to Layer 0. Then make a new layer, Layer 1, and drag it to be under Layer 0.

  2. Go to Image->Canvas Size and change the canvas size to a little bigger (say, 110% or 120%). Click on Layer 1 (the underneath, empty layer) to edit it. Then get the round rectangle shape tool.

  3. Line up the crosshairs on the upper left corner of the image, and drag to the lower right corner -- in other words, trace the existing rectangle.

  4. You now have a shape layer containing the rounded rectangle. Control-click that layer and select Rasterize Layer.

  5. With that Shape 1 layer still selected, get the magic wand tool and set its Tolerance to 10, and check the box for Anti-aliased. Click outside the rectangle to select the space around it.

  6. Now, with the selection still running, select Layer 0.

  7. Hit the Delete key. You should see the sharp corners disappear.

  8. Deselect the selection, and select the Shape 1 layer again. Hit shift-F5 and fill it with 100% white.

  9. Select Layer 0 and go to Layer Style and select Inner Glow.

  10. Fiddle with the Opacity and Size settings til you get it looking good. Hint: Maximize the opacity for the smoothest transition at the edges.

  11. Finally, flatten the image, and save it in the file format of your choice.

  12. The finished product:

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