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Drawing pen paths by adding, deleting, and converting anchor points

From: Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers

Video: Drawing pen paths by adding, deleting, and converting anchor points

Now while this isn't a title about using the Pen tool, we can't really talk about shape layers without also including the Pen tool, because it's a fundamental selection, although it's technically normal selection tool, but it is used to make pen paths, which can then become selections, but it's also a fundamental shape drawing tool. People tend to either love or hate the pen tool and if they love it, it properly didn't start out as love, but has become that way through practice, and probably a lot of practice, because it's a bit counterintuitive.

Drawing pen paths by adding, deleting, and converting anchor points

Now while this isn't a title about using the Pen tool, we can't really talk about shape layers without also including the Pen tool, because it's a fundamental selection, although it's technically normal selection tool, but it is used to make pen paths, which can then become selections, but it's also a fundamental shape drawing tool. People tend to either love or hate the pen tool and if they love it, it properly didn't start out as love, but has become that way through practice, and probably a lot of practice, because it's a bit counterintuitive.

But once you get the grasp of the Pen tool, it really can become your most flexible selection and shape drawing tool and one that will serve you well in all sorts of situations, and because there's also a Pen tool in Illustrator and in InDesign, any tools that you acquire here in Photoshop you can also apply there. So starting out with my Pen tool, I have a white background and I have a grid, I've a 600 pixel squares document and a gridline at every 100 pixels, and I've changed the color of this grid so that when we draw our pen path it doesn't merge into the grid.

So though I snapped to the grid, I'm at 100% view size and I have Snap To > Grid turned on. So I'm just going to run you through a simple exercise which would introduce you to the basic pen tool behaviors. We're going to start out by drawing a square and I hastened at that if you really want to draw a square, don't do it this way. This is just as an exercise. So with my Pen tool I have an X next to it. That indicates that I am about to start a path.

And I'm going to click on that grid intersection and then hold down my Shift key, move over four grid squares, click again, down four, click again, over four, click, and then back to where I started. And when I get back to where I started, I have a circle next to my Pen tool, indicating them I'm about to close the path. Okay, so there have a closed path. So now what I'd like to do is convert this square into a four pointed star and to do that I'm going to need to add some anchor points.

So I need to come to the Add Anchor Point tool. Or rather I don't. All I need is to have Auto Add/Delete turned on and then when the path is active, and to activate the path I can just hold down my Command key or Ctrl key, which toggles my Direct Selection tool, click on the path, let go, and now when I move my Pen tool over a path segment, I get the plus, so the add anchor point behavior. So I'm going to click there and you can see that it's also added Bezier control handles to that point, and there, and there, and there.

So now what I'm going to do is I'm going to select these anchor points that I've just added and bring them in towards the center. To do this I need my Direct Selection tool, so I'll come and select the first of them and bring it in towards the center and then I'll repeat that, moving the equivalent distance in towards the center for all four of my anchor points. Now notice that because we have this Bezier control handles on each of those points that I've added, what I'm doing is I'm creating a curved point.

What if I wanted to convert that curve point to a corner point, so that I actually have a four pointed star, rather than this interesting shape that I currently have? Press the P key to go back to my Pen tool and I'm now going to hover over this anchor points. I could come and choose the Convert Point tool, but I don't need to do that. Instead, I'm just going to hold down my Alt key, which will access my Convert Anchor Point tool, click on those anchor points one by one, and I now have a four pointed star.

Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to do that sort of conversion in reverse. I'm going to go from a corner point to a curved point. I'm going to do that with these outside points. So when you go from a corner to a curve, just clicking is not enough; you need to click and drag. So I'm going to hold down my Alt key and click and drag and I'm dragging in a clockwise direction. And I'll do that for all four, like so. So we now have a propeller, a four leaf clover, whatever you want to call it.

Let's now reverse that whole process. So I'm going to Alt+Click on these to go from curves to corners and then I'm going to move my anchor point over these points that I've added. I get the minus next to my Pen tool, indicating that I'm now about to subtract the points, and we're back to our square. So there we see the basic Pen tool behaviors, adding anchor points, converting anchor points and subtracting anchor points. You can do it all from within the Pen tool, so long as you have Auto Add/Delete turned on and you just move over a path segment.

If there is already an anchor point there, you'll get the minus; if there isn't, you'll get the plus; and if you hold down the Alt key, you'll get the Convert Anchor Point tool. So we can use the Pen tool in conjunction with the shapes that we draw to further modify those shapes, and it becomes a very, very powerful combination.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers
Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers

42 video lessons · 14232 viewers

Nigel French
Author

 
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  1. 1m 31s
    1. Welcome
      59s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 30m 57s
    1. Three ways to use the shape tools
      6m 49s
    2. Converting shapes to paths and vice versa
      1m 24s
    3. Moving, deleting, copying, and rasterizing shape layers
      5m 28s
    4. Drawing rectangles, rounded rectangles, and ellipses
      2m 59s
    5. Drawing lines
      2m 40s
    6. Drawing polygons and stars
      1m 48s
    7. Drawing pen paths by adding, deleting, and converting anchor points
      5m 51s
    8. Drawing pen paths with hybrid anchor points
      2m 58s
    9. Inverting paths
      1m 0s
  3. 28m 19s
    1. Adding, subtracting, intersecting, excluding, and combining shapes
      3m 50s
    2. Aligning and distributing shapes
      2m 19s
    3. Coloring shape layers
      2m 1s
    4. Creating a poster by combining simple shapes, part 1
      11m 32s
    5. Creating a poster by combining simple shapes, part 2
      8m 37s
  4. 52m 55s
    1. Creating a logo with shape layers
      10m 47s
    2. Applying blend modes to shape layers
      3m 36s
    3. Applying layer effects and styles to shape layers
      2m 53s
    4. Adding strokes to shape layers
      5m 14s
    5. Applying Smart Filters to shape layers
      4m 0s
    6. Combining shape layers with layer effects, blending modes, and Smart Objects
      5m 31s
    7. Creating shape layers from type
      3m 32s
    8. Creating web buttons using shape layers
      2m 33s
    9. Using shape layers to mask multiple layers
      3m 6s
    10. Adding shape layers to a photo illustration
      7m 38s
    11. Using shape layers to apply custom gradients to type
      4m 5s
  5. 28m 52s
    1. Finding and loading custom shapes
      3m 13s
    2. Creating your own custom shape
      5m 2s
    3. Creating a custom shape from an Illustrator symbol
      5m 1s
    4. Creating a custom shape from an Illustrator Live Trace object
      9m 40s
    5. Creating seamless patterns from shape layers
      4m 18s
    6. Saving and loading shapes with the Preset Manager
      1m 38s
  6. 30m 10s
    1. What is a vector mask?
      6m 39s
    2. Converting to a selection, vector mask, or layer mask
      5m 17s
    3. Linking and unlinking vector masks
      4m 47s
    4. Using shape layers to create a photo grid
      1m 42s
    5. Feathering a vector mask edge
      2m 54s
    6. Adjusting vector mask density
      3m 16s
    7. Combining vector masks with layer masks
      3m 34s
    8. Working with paths and clipping paths
      2m 1s
  7. 19s
    1. Goodbye
      19s

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