Introduction

The 5th chapter of the Adobe Photoshop Essentials series will deal with the Pen Tool. When you are just starting out this might be the single most intimidating tool available in Photoshop, but after you master it, it will become your best friend.

Pen Tool

What makes the Pen Tool unique compared to the other tools in Adobe Photoshop is, most tools work with Raster Graphics compare to the Pen Tool which works with Vector Graphics. Vector Graphics are unique because they use mathematical statements combined with points in order to define the shape and characteristics of the object. This means they can be scaled to any size without the lose of quality. The shortcut for the pen tool is P, it will select the Pen tool or the Freeform Pen tool, depending on which one was used earlier.

Create a New Document now with size 470 px by 470 px, show the Grid on the document (View > Show > Grid) then enable the Snap (View > Snap)

Pen Tool Types

Pen Tool:  Simply click on the canvas where you want to add anchor points, the line between anchors will be straight, click and drag on the canvas to create curved paths. In the image below, for the first for anchor points i just clicked on them, for the other three points i clicked and dragged to the right in order to create the curves.

Freeform Pen Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Just click and drag the pen around just like with the brush tool. Remember if you have the Snap enabled, your line will snap on the grid, so when you are using the Freeform Pen Tool, you will most likely want to disable the Snap.

Add Anchor Point Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Click anywhere on a path segment to add an anchor point. In the image below i added 4 more anchor points to the existing path.

Delete Anchor Point Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Click on an anchor point in order to remove it. On the image below, you can see i deleted 3 of the newly created anchor points.

Convert Point Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Click on an anchor point and drag in order to create a curve, if you click on an anchor point with handles you will remove the curve. In the image below, for the first anchor point i simply dragged to the right, and for the last anchor point i dragged to the left.

Cursors

You might have already noticed while doing the exercise above, that the cursor of the pen tool changed regarding the action your were performing.

Keyboard Modifiers

  • Hold Ctrl and click on the canvas, it will open the options menu.
  • Hold Shift to constrain the angle of movement to 45°, 90°, 135° or 180° while creating or editing anchor points and handles.
  • Select anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool and then hit Delete. Anchor and adjoining path segments are deleted leaving two paths.
  • Pen tool + Alt changes to Convert anchor point tool.
  • Pen tool + Alt while editing curve, will split the curve.
  • Pen tool + Ctrl whilst creating path, changes to Direct Selection Tool.

Options

  1. Presets for the current tool in use, in this case the Pen Tool.
  2. Shape Layers: if this option is selected the final path will compose a shape. It will be visible within the paths palette and within the layers palette as a vector mask.
  3. Paths: when this option is enabled, paths created will compose a path, visible within the paths palette.
  4. Fill Pixels: the third option is only available if one of the shapes is selected also. When this option is selected, the created paths will become filled area.
  5. Pen Tool.
  6. Freeform Pen Tool.
  7. Shapes.
  8. Depending on what tool you have selected at the moment, if you have the Pen Tool selected, from the drop down menu just after the shapes, you can select the Rubber Band options. When this option is enabled, you will have a visual reference of the path you are about to created before you create a new anchor point. If you have the Freeform Pen Tool selected, you will get more options regarding the Freeform Pen tool such as Magnetic Pen. When this option is selected, the path automatically snaps to the closest pixel, you can further define the contrast of the pixel on which the path should snap, and the width from where the pen tool could snap to.
  9. Auto Add/Delete: Available only when the Pen tool is selected, it will allow you to add and remove anchor points with the regular Pen Tool.
  10. Pathfinder Tools: The options just after the auto add / delete, will give you the option to add, subtract, intersect and exclude paths you have created.
  11. Layer Style: Available only when the Shape Layer is selected, this option will apply layer styles to shapes on a new layer or to shapes on the current layer.

This tutorials brings us to the end of the Photoshop Essentials series.

Photoshop Essentials: Pen Tool

The 5th chapter of the Adobe Photoshop Essentials series will deal with the Pen Tool. When you are just starting out this might be the single most intimidating tool available in Photoshop, but after you master it, it will become your best friend.

Pen Tool

What makes the Pen Tool unique compared to the other tools in Adobe Photoshop is, most tools work with Raster Graphics compare to the Pen Tool which works with Vector Graphics. Vector Graphics are unique because they use mathematical statements combined with points in order to define the shape and characteristics of the object. This means they can be scaled to any size without the lose of quality. The shortcut for the pen tool is P, it will select the Pen tool or the Freeform Pen tool, depending on which one was used earlier.

Create a New Document now with size 470 px by 470 px, show the Grid on the document (View > Show > Grid) then enable the Snap (View > Snap)

Pen Tool Types

Pen Tool:  Simply click on the canvas where you want to add anchor points, the line between anchors will be straight, click and drag on the canvas to create curved paths. In the image below, for the first for anchor points i just clicked on them, for the other three points i clicked and dragged to the right in order to create the curves.

Freeform Pen Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Just click and drag the pen around just like with the brush tool. Remember if you have the Snap enabled, your line will snap on the grid, so when you are using the Freeform Pen Tool, you will most likely want to disable the Snap.

Add Anchor Point Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Click anywhere on a path segment to add an anchor point. In the image below i added 4 more anchor points to the existing path.

Delete Anchor Point Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Click on an anchor point in order to remove it. On the image below, you can see i deleted 3 of the newly created anchor points.

Convert Point Tool: Found under the Pen Tool in the Toolbar. Click on an anchor point and drag in order to create a curve, if you click on an anchor point with handles you will remove the curve. In the image below, for the first anchor point i simply dragged to the right, and for the last anchor point i dragged to the left.

Cursors

You might have already noticed while doing the exercise above, that the cursor of the pen tool changed regarding the action your were performing.

Keyboard Modifiers

  • Hold Ctrl and click on the canvas, it will open the options menu.
  • Hold Shift to constrain the angle of movement to 45°, 90°, 135° or 180° while creating or editing anchor points and handles.
  • Select anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool and then hit Delete. Anchor and adjoining path segments are deleted leaving two paths.
  • Pen tool + Alt changes to Convert anchor point tool.
  • Pen tool + Alt while editing curve, will split the curve.
  • Pen tool + Ctrl whilst creating path, changes to Direct Selection Tool.

Options

  1. Presets for the current tool in use, in this case the Pen Tool.
  2. Shape Layers: if this option is selected the final path will compose a shape. It will be visible within the paths palette and within the layers palette as a vector mask.
  3. Paths: when this option is enabled, paths created will compose a path, visible within the paths palette.
  4. Fill Pixels: the third option is only available if one of the shapes is selected also. When this option is selected, the created paths will become filled area.
  5. Pen Tool.
  6. Freeform Pen Tool.
  7. Shapes.
  8. Depending on what tool you have selected at the moment, if you have the Pen Tool selected, from the drop down menu just after the shapes, you can select the Rubber Band options. When this option is enabled, you will have a visual reference of the path you are about to created before you create a new anchor point. If you have the Freeform Pen Tool selected, you will get more options regarding the Freeform Pen tool such as Magnetic Pen. When this option is selected, the path automatically snaps to the closest pixel, you can further define the contrast of the pixel on which the path should snap, and the width from where the pen tool could snap to.
  9. Auto Add/Delete: Available only when the Pen tool is selected, it will allow you to add and remove anchor points with the regular Pen Tool.
  10. Pathfinder Tools: The options just after the auto add / delete, will give you the option to add, subtract, intersect and exclude paths you have created.
  11. Layer Style: Available only when the Shape Layer is selected, this option will apply layer styles to shapes on a new layer or to shapes on the current layer.

This tutorials brings us to the end of the Photoshop Essentials series.

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