How to Create a Coupon in Photoshop


Whether you plan to create a coupon for use on the Web or in print, Adobe Photoshop may not be your first choice as a page layout application, especially if you haven't experimented with the shape tools in the program's recent versions. Now that Photoshop can build dashed and dotted borders without complex workarounds to make up for its former lack of these features, you can create all the elements of a clippable coupon document within Photoshop itself, including crisp vector-based frames, live and editable text, and graphic elements introduced from other files.

  • Open the "File" menu, choose "New," and create a new Adobe Photoshop document sized to the desired width and height of your coupon. For printed output, set the resolution to 300 pixels per inch in CMYK color. For onscreen use, use 72 ppi and RGB color.

  • Activate the Rectangle tool, which is docked with the Ellipse, Polygon, Line and other shape tools in the Tools panel. In the Options bar, set the unlabeled Tool Mode drop-down menu to "Shape."

  • Click on the Options bar's "Fill" swatch to select a background color for the coupon from the selection panel that opens. Click on the "Stroke" swatch to choose a line color. Type a stroke width in the data entry field next to the Stroke swatch.

  • Open the unlabeled Stroke Options drop-down menu in the Options bar and select a dashed or dotted line style. Click on the "More Options" button at the bottom of the Stroke Options dialog box. In the Stroke dialog box that opens, set the "Align" drop-down menu to "Inside." This places the full thickness of the stroke inside the path and, therefore, inside the confines of your document. To edit the dash style, enter dimensions for the dashed segments and the gaps that fall between them, using the data entry fields at the bottom of the Stroke dialog box.

  • Press "T" to switch to the Type tool. To use the Character panel to set the attributes for your text, open the "Window" menu and choose "Character" to reveal the panel. Set the color for the type in the Character panel or Options bar, or click on the foreground swatch at the bottom of the Tools panel.

  • Select a typeface, style, size and leading for the text in the Character panel. Click within the document area to start a type layer and type the text for the coupon. Click on the check mark in the Options bar to complete the text on an individual type layer. To create pieces of type in varying sizes, styles and colors, click on the document each time you want to create individual type layers for each element.

  • Open the "File" menu and choose "Place" to add a graphic from another document and automatically bring it into the coupon composition as a resizable Smart Object. To add artwork from another open image file, press "V" to switch to the Move tool and drag and drop from the image file's document area to the coupon file. To turn this artwork into a Smart Object, open the "Layer" menu, click on the "Smart Objects" submenu and choose "Convert to Smart Object."

Tips & Warnings

  • When you place or drag and drop content from other image files into a Photoshop composition, the program may display an alert if you attempt to bring an RGB graphic into a CMYK file or otherwise mismatch color spaces. To review or change Photoshop's Color Settings, which govern this behavior, open the "Edit" menu and choose "Color Settings."
  • If you bring a 300-ppi graphic into a 72-ppi document, Adobe Photoshop reinterprets the pixel dimensions of the graphic in terms of the target file, making it look much larger than it does in its original document. If you bring a 72-ppi graphic into a 300-ppi file, the graphic looks much smaller than it does in its original document.
  • Save the coupon as a layered PSD file -- Photoshop's native document format -- to preserve all the layers in your work. If you save the coupon file in another format, you lose access to the individual elements and live type in the original document and can't edit them when you reopen the file. Save additional versions of the coupon in the distribution formats you want to use, including PDF, TIFF, JPEG and PNG.
  • Information in this article applies to Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Photoshop CS6. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

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  • Photo Credit Stockcreative/iStock/Getty Images
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  • Adobe Photoshop CC Classroom in a Book; Adobe Creative Team
  • Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book; Adobe Creative Team
  • The Photoshop CS3/CS4 WOW! Book; Linnea Dayton and Cristen Gillespie

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