One of the most difficult things to work out how to do in Photoshop if you work with paths is to know how to merge or combine two paths into one.

Say, for example, you have a working path and a second path and you want the two to appear as one path so you can save it or work with it as a single entity. It sounds easy but merging or combining paths is anything but.

The solution is this:

First, convert the working path to a regular path by double-clicking on its name and click Ok. In this example, I have Path1 and Path2.

Click to select Path2 in the Paths palette. Select the Path Selection Tool and click on the path so it is selected (you will see its nodes appear). Press Ctrl + C (Command + C on the Mac), to copy it to the clipboard.

Click on Path1 in the paths palette so that it is now selected and press Ctrl + V (Command + V on the Mac) to paste the copied path into this path. You now have a single path that contains both your paths and you’re almost done.

Check the Tool Options bar as it contains the tools you need to work with the two paths. You can add the shape, subtract the shape, take the intersection of the two shapes or exclude overlapping shape areas – click each and check the diagram in the path thumbnail to see the result to determine which one you want. Select the desired option and click the Combine button and the paths will be permanently joined.

Here is an example where one path is contained inside a second path. You can choose from a number of options for combining the paths depending on whether you want the doughnut, the hole or something different!

Helen Bradley