Pen Tool Crash Course

The Pen Tool can be one of the best Tools in Photoshop, if you learn how to master it. Here I will give you a quick crash-course to the Pen Tool. It’s up to you to master it. Or not. Whatever you want with it, really.

So, let’s select the Pen Tool from the Toolbox. It’s the button that looks like an old-fashioned Pen. Tool.

intro_pen1

Your Pen Tool’s best friends are your modifier keys. What are your modifier keys? Look at your keyboard. See the [Alt], [Ctrl] and [Shift] keys? Those are your modifier keys. Each one can quickly switch how your Pen Tool works. Now, let’s start with an image. I got this one from PhotoSpin.com.

intro_pen2

My goal is going to be to select all of the red color panels on the car, to use for the next tutorial I write. I know, I’m lazy. I zoomed in really close to the image so I could easily define the edges. Now, one click with the Pen Tool shows a tiny square.

intro_pen3

Now I’m going to choose another point along the edge and click again. If I click once, I get a straight line from the first point to the one. But, if I click once, hold down, and drag, the line begins to curve and I get some more squares and lines.

intro_pen4

So I drag until I get a shape that follows my color edge. You might notice you can’t click on the adjustment bar ends. That is, until you hold the [Ctrl] key. When you hold the [Ctrl] key, your cursor will change to a solid white arrow, the Direct Selection Tool. Now you can click on the adjustment bar ends and adjust the curve of your selection. Now try holding the [Alt] key. You should get a two-sided arrow when you mouse over your adjustment ends, the Convert Point Tool. Click and drag to adjust only one aspect of your curve. This is how you make sharp edges with your Pen Path.

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Now to do something useful with your path. Open your Paths Palette [Window>Paths]. Click on the small arrow in the right-corner of your palette. From there you will get a list of things you can do with your path. It’s up to you to decide. Remember, this was just an intro. Play around. Have fun. Learn.

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Comments Spill 2 Comments »

  1. July 1, 2008 10:40 amJuly is Shortcut Month. « Tellemedia

    [...] move the image around.  I especially like using it when I’m tracing around an image with the pen tool — I can hold down spacebar, move the image, and continue creating a path around the [...]

  2. November 26, 2008 1:54 pmTWOANDFOUR Blog | July is Shortcut Month.

    [...] move the image around.  I especially like using it when I’m tracing around an image with the pen tool — I can hold down spacebar, move the image, and continue creating a path around the [...]

 
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