You may be surprised to learn that you can create a lot of really cool designs with Photoshop right out of the box. Without having a single picture to edit, and working with even the simplest of designs, you can build something that looks great! In this article, I'll show you how to use some of the foundations of Photoshop to get impressive results.
Working with Shapes
To access Photoshop's Shape tools, press the letter U on your keyboard. In addition to using the Shape tools to create rectangles, ovals, and polygons, you can create interesting shapes by using the Custom Shape tool and combinations of basic shapes. Under the menu is an odd-looking, vaguely star-shaped icon to the right of the normal shapes. Clicking that icon opens a drop-down list where you can select from a bunch of custom shapes. If you don't see many shapes in the list, click open the flyout menu and select All from the list, as shown in Figure 1. When Photoshop asks whether you want to replace or append to the shapes in the list, click Append.
Draw a shape on the screen, and you'll notice that Photoshop creates a clipping mask for the shape. At any point, you can double-click the color thumbnail for the clipping mask color and change it. However, the real power is in combining shapes. Under the menu bar is a series of options) showing how various shapes interact with the Layers panel. You're probably using the first option, which means that any shapes you draw will be placed on a new layer. I recommend changing that setting to use the second option, which lets you add shapes to the existing vector mask (see Figure 2).
Once you have the shape all set, you can press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to transform the shape on the page. The shape won't pixelate because it's a vector mask, so scaling up is also available (see Figure 3).