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In this movie, I'll show you how to draw a custom path outline made up of smooth points, using the Pen tool. And just to keep the learning curve as shallow as possible, we will go ahead and retrace this droplet. So I will right-click on the vector mask thumbnail here inside the Layers panel, and I'll choose Delete Vector Mask in order to get rid of it. And then I'll switch to the Pen tool, which you can get by pressing the P key. I'll go ahead and start my path outline up here toward the top. Now, you'll undoubtedly recall that you create corner points by clicking with the Pen tool, and in each case, the corner point has no control handles associated with it whatsoever, and as a result, we end up getting straight segments. All right, I don't want that path outline, so I will press the Control key, or the Command key on the Mac, to get my white arrow tool.
Then I will click anywhere on the path to partially select it, and I will press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on a Mac, two times in a row; first to get rid of the selected segment, in my case. That goes ahead and selects the remainder of the path, and then you press Backspace or Delete again in order to get rid of that path outline. All right. So clicking creates a corner point; dragging creates a smooth point. So you click and drag, like so, and the point at which you click, that is, where you begin your drag; that's the location of the smooth point right there.
And as you drag outward, a control handle emerges in both directions. So I've got a control handle under my cursor, and I have a symmetrical control handle in exactly the opposite direction. Then you go ahead and release in order to create that smooth point. Now, notice, in my case, that I set my anchor point at more or less the 1 o'clock position on this droplet, and continuing with the clock metaphor, I dragged in the clockwise direction. Now, that's not important. You can set your points where you think they need to be, and you can drag in any direction you like.
But once you've begun a path outline, as we have here -- and you can see that it's active, because the pen cursor doesn't have an asterisk next to it -- you need to stick with that direction. So if you start the path in a clockwise direction, then you need to stay clockwise. If you start your path in a counterclockwise direction, you need to keep drawing it in a counterclockwise direction. So that means I am going to set a point here at about 3 o'clock, and I am going to drag clockwise, because if I were to drag in the wrong direction -- counterclockwise, in this case -- I would reverse the curvature of the path, and we'd get this inaccurate bend.
So by virtue of the fact that I am continuing clockwise, I am continuing to draw the path just as it needs to be drawn. One control handle, the control handle that doesn't affect anything so far, is under my cursor. The opposite control handle is affecting the first curve segment that's being laid down. And so, by virtue of the fact that I have two control handles now, Photoshop is drawing a curved segment between my two anchor points. Now I will click down here at about 6 o'clock and drag again in a clockwise direction.
If I were to go in a counterclockwise direction, as if I were to try to control the segment that's being drawn, then I would end up curving the segment the wrong way. So you are actually controlling the segmented hand indirectly. If you don't get it right, you can always go back and make adjustments, and you can do that as easily as pressing and holding the Control key, or the Command key on a Mac, to temporarily get the white arrow tool. Then you can click on an anchor point to select it. You can drag a control handle to a different location as desired. You could drag directly on a segment if you wanted to. Make any modifications you like, and then when you are ready to draw again, go ahead and release the Control key, or the Command key on the Mac, and you will return to your Pen tool, and with any luck, the path will remain active, as it has in my case. All right, now I'm going to create a point here at 9:30, or so.
I will drag, again, in a clockwise direction. I'm indirectly controlling the curvature of the segmented hand, and once I get that segment looking the way it should, I will release. Then finally, I want to go ahead and close the path, and I will do that just by clicking. So you hover your cursor over the first smooth point, and you click, and that will go ahead and maintain the control handle that you already had associated with that anchor point, and curve the segment accordingly. Now, it's not going to look right, necessarily. You are going to have to go back and modify it, but you will close the path with a nicely curving segment. All right.
Now we want to adjust this path outline, obviously, so I will press the A key to switch back to the white arrow tool, which is the last arrow I used. If you're getting the black arrow tool instead, then press Shift+A, and now I will click on the path outline to select it. Specifically, I have clicked on this upper left segment, and that allows me to see the two control handles associated with that segment, without selecting either the neighboring anchor points; notice that. So now I will go ahead and drag this control handle up and over, like that. I think this anchor point wants to be a little higher, so I will click on it, and nudge it by pressing the arrow keys.
Then I will go ahead and drag this guy a little up, and I'll drag this guy a little bit farther down. So you end up doing a fair amount of backing and forthing when you're working with control handles inside Photoshop. Let's say I'm thinking this looks pretty good. Well obviously, the first thing I want to do is switch to the Paths panel, and save off that work path so I don't lose it. So I will double-click on Work Path. I'll call this one pen tool path, and then click OK. Now I want to convert it to a vector mask. I am going to switch back to Layers panel, just to make sure I have the right layer selected.
I do, and now I will show you yet another way to turn a path into a vector mask. You switch to the Pen tool, which again, you can get by pressing the P key, and then you go up to the options bar. We've got some new options available to us in CS6. There is one called Shape, which allows you to convert the path to a shape layer. We don't want that. There is one called Mask that allows you to convert it to a vector mask, as we are seeing right here. All right. Now let's confirm our work here. I will click on the vector mask to make it active; that deactivates the path in the Paths panel, by the way. And then I'll go ahead and click on it again in order to hide the vector mask.
And I can see down here at the bottom that I've got a little bit of kind of an edge, and I am not sure if that's coming from the background or not. And the only way to tell for sure is to Shift+Click on the vector mask thumbnail to turn it off for a moment, and I can see that, yeah, that area was indeed part of the droplet. If you want to be able to see the path at the same time as the drop, just go ahead and click on that vector mask thumbnail. And it looks like we've got a pretty darn accurate mask actually. If anything, I have cut into the droplet a little bit, because once again, it's generally better to select too little of an image element than too much.
So I will go ahead and zoom out a click. And let's say that this area right there; I want to capture more of the droplet. I'll press the A key to switch back to the white arrow tool, and I will click on the path outline to select it, and then I'll go ahead and drag the control handle out and over a little bit, so I get more of that droplet. So notice that I'm editing the vector mask, even though it's not active at the current moment. All right. I'm going to drag that anchor point up a little bit, and then I will go ahead and drag this control handle down, because I am trying to make sure that we also go ahead and select the top of the drop accurately, which means I need to move that anchor point up farther even still.
And this might actually work out. I am going to nudge the anchor point over and up a little bit, and then I'm going to take the wind out of this control handle, so that it's not yanking the segment so high. Then I might go ahead and take this guy over. So every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so you may not be able to trace the droplet exactly, in which case, again, make sure you're cheating into the droplet as supposed to out. And then if you want to see the results of that vector mask, go ahead and click on it first to hide it, and then Shift+Click on the vector mask thumbnail there in the Layers panel in order to apply it to the droplet once again. All right, so that's how you go about drawing smooth points using the Pen tool.
In the next movie, we'll create the soft shadow, again, using a vector mask.
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