Start by choosing the Shape Tool in the toolbar (shortcut key is U):
With the tool selected, go up to your Options Bar. First, address these three little options:
- 1a is the one you'll usually use. It creates a Solid Color layer with a vector mask.
- 1b simply creates a path, which you could then convert to a vector mask on an image layer.
- 1c just plonks a shape right on your image, which is pretty dangerous - don't use this one.
Looking further along the Options Bar:
- In most cases, you'll only have one option available to you at number 2. The other little options become available when you're playing with multiple paths (which I'll discuss in another post).
- Number 3 is where you can choose your shape's colour. Don't worry if you don't get this perfect right here, because it's very easy to change later.
- Choose the Polygon Shape (4).
- Decide how many points you'd like your star to have, and enter it in the "Sides" field (5).
- Then click on the little menu beside the blobby shape (6) to get the Polygon Options:
- Choose "Star" (7)
- Choose the indent (8). This controls the difference between the inner and outer radius of the points of your star - a high number makes really long sharp points; and a lower number makes small gentle points.
- Note: If you know the exact dimensions you want your star to be, enter it in the Radius field.
You'll see that the star appears on its own layer. If, after you've drawn it, you'd like to resize it, simply press Ctrl T to transform, just like any other layer. And if you'd like to change the colour, double-click on the layer icon (mine is red, as you can see) and choose another colour.
If you decide that you'd like a star with a different number of points ("sides"), or a different indent, there's no easy way to change the one you've already got. So delete the layer, change the options, and draw another one - that's the simplest way.
Of course, you can also add layer effects (drop shadows etc) to your star, just like any other layer.
It's worth visiting the Polygon Options again for a moment. If you choose "Smooth Corners", "Smooth Indents", or both, you get some nice variety in your shapes: