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The Pen tool

From: Photoshop CC Selections and Layer Masking Workshop

Video: The Pen tool

The Pen tool might not come to mind when you think about creating selections in Photoshop, but it actually can be used to create selections, albeit, slightly indirectly. Let's take a look at just what we can do with the Pen tool. I'll go ahead and choose the Pen tool from the Toolbox, and if you were to just click in various points within the image, then you might assume that the Pen tool is very similar to the Polygonal Lasso tool. What you can use to create selections of polygonal shapes, in other words, comprised primarily of straight lines. And that's certainly with the Pen tool, but there's a much greater capability as well and that is the ability to create Bezier curve.

The Pen tool

The Pen tool might not come to mind when you think about creating selections in Photoshop, but it actually can be used to create selections, albeit, slightly indirectly. Let's take a look at just what we can do with the Pen tool. I'll go ahead and choose the Pen tool from the Toolbox, and if you were to just click in various points within the image, then you might assume that the Pen tool is very similar to the Polygonal Lasso tool. What you can use to create selections of polygonal shapes, in other words, comprised primarily of straight lines. And that's certainly with the Pen tool, but there's a much greater capability as well and that is the ability to create Bezier curve.

If instead of clicking, you were to click and drag, you'll be able to take advantage of that feature. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+Z on Windows or Cmd+Option+Z on Macintosh a few times in order to back up and undo those steps. And then I'll click and hold, and then drag my mouse just a little bit. And now, instead of just adding an anchor point, I'm adding an anchor point with a pair of handles. Now, if I go and click somewhere else in the image, instead of connecting those two anchor points with a straight line, I'm getting a curved line. So once again, I'll click and drag.

And you can see that I'm able to adjust the shape of that curve. Specifically I can adjust the direction that that line follows as it begins its curve and I can also determine the distance away from the anchor point that the focal point of the curve will be. I can do that initially by just clicking and dragging. But of course, in most cases, you'll want to exercise a bit more control. And that's where you can hold the alt key on windows or the option key on macintosh, and adjust each handle individually. So for example, I can adjust the shape of this curve by adjusting each of the handles independent of each other and that gives me quite a bit of control over the overall shape. So I'll back up here once again in order to remove that path that I am creating with the Pen tool.

And, that path will be the basis of my selection shortly. With the Pen tool active, all I really need to do is make sure that the option is set to create a path, and then I'm ready to start creating the shape that will be the basis of my selection. In theory, I could probably create a path to define this raindrop shape in just two segments. One that goes from the top of the raindrop, around to the right, and down to the bottom, and then from the bottom back up the left side. But usually, I find that it takes so much effort to try to get such a curve perfect, that it's easier to divide things up into smaller segments.

And so I'll go ahead and click at the apex up at the top here. And then drag outward just a little bit in order to get those handles. And then I'll choose a simple segment here. And then click and drag once again. Now, initially I just want to have those handles available so that I can define the overall shape of my Bezier curve here. And then I'll simply hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh in order to fine-tune each of the handles. In this case, I just need to essentially tone down that curve a little bit. And so, I'll bring those handles inward, essentially pointing down the line that I want to define as my curve.

This one needs to come out just a little bit, and maybe push it a little further up. Somewhere along those lines, that gives you pretty good sense of how I can fine tune that shape. I'll then come down to the bottom, and I will click and drag once again to get my handles for that anchor point. And then holding the Alt key on Windows or Option key on Macintosh, I'll once again adjust those individual handles as needed in order to define the shape of that curve and right about there looks to be pretty good.

I can pull this one in just a little bit, right about there I think, and then I can continue in this fashion. So I'll go ahead and click to add one more anchor point over here and then adjust the handles as needed. So the left handle here will be going upward, and the right handle will be going downward. And then I'll adjust the overall position for both of the handles here in this case, in order to follow that shape of the raindrop. It can take a little bit of back and forth, moving each of those handles. And then go into the other handle and moving it and switching back and forth between each, until you get things lined up nicely.

I think right about there is working pretty well, just need to adjust this one just a little bit. And right about there I think will do it. And then with one last click on the anchor point that I initially created, I will close that path, but of course, I still need to modify this final segment that I created. And so I'll hold the Ctrl key on Windows or the Cmd key on Macintosh, and click on that path in order to activate it so I can get to those handles. I'll then hold the Alt key on Windows or the Options key on Macintosh one more time while I click and drag on each of those handles in order to adjust them so that that path follows along on that shape. Once I'm happy with the overall shape of my path, I can turn it into a selection simply by clicking the Selection button up on the Options bar. I'll go ahead and click that button and you'll see that I have a make selection dialog.

I generally prefer not to Feather selections initially so I'll leave that value set to 0. I do want to have the Anti-alias option turned on so that the jagged edges of my selection will be smoothed out, and in this case, I'm creating a new selection. So I'll go ahead and click the OK button, and now, I have a selection based on that path. So for situations where you need to create a selection based on straight lines or Bezier curves and the other selection tools aren't quite giving you what you need, you might take a look at the Path tool for creating selections.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CC Selections and Layer Masking Workshop
Photoshop CC Selections and Layer Masking Workshop

51 video lessons · 11308 viewers

Tim Grey
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 27s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
  2. 46m 26s
    1. Selections, alpha channels, and layer masks, oh my!
      5m 48s
    2. Anti-aliasing and selections
      6m 6s
    3. The case for not feathering selections
      6m 50s
    4. Adding, subtracting, and intersecting
      7m 31s
    5. Inverting a selection
      3m 4s
    6. Mixing and matching selection tools
      2m 32s
    7. Using Deselect and Reselect
      3m 47s
    8. Temporarily hiding a selection
      2m 7s
    9. Saving and loading selections
      6m 14s
    10. Using the cursor for selections
      2m 27s
  3. 51m 42s
    1. The Rectangular Marquee tool
      8m 24s
    2. The Elliptical Marquee tool
      6m 2s
    3. The Lasso tool
      4m 55s
    4. The Polygonal Lasso tool
      6m 27s
    5. The Magnetic Lasso tool
      10m 9s
    6. The Quick Selection tool
      5m 33s
    7. The Magic Wand tool
      10m 12s
  4. 38m 38s
    1. Selecting the border of an existing selection
      1m 50s
    2. The Color Range command
      7m 19s
    3. Focusing a Color Range selection
      2m 55s
    4. Selecting faces with Color Range
      2m 31s
    5. The Pen tool
      5m 40s
    6. Selecting by luminosity
      3m 39s
    7. Selecting from a channel
      6m 13s
    8. Transforming a selection
      4m 4s
    9. Quick Mask mode
      4m 27s
  5. 50m 46s
    1. Combining layers into a single document
      1m 49s
    2. Layering images manually
      1m 55s
    3. Assembling a panorama automatically
      3m 1s
    4. Advanced blending
      4m 0s
    5. Painting to hide and reveal
      3m 24s
    6. Creating a selection-based composite
      2m 43s
    7. Select, then paint
      3m 28s
    8. Advanced mask cleanup
      6m 18s
    9. Creating an edge-fade effect
      2m 23s
    10. Using a filter to add an artistic edge
      3m 6s
    11. Using a brush effect to add an artistic edge
      5m 30s
    12. Transforming a masked object
      1m 51s
    13. Unlinking image and mask
      2m 53s
    14. Matching composite images
      2m 17s
    15. Adding layer effects with masks
      2m 21s
    16. Reviewing layer masks
      3m 47s
  6. 28m 58s
    1. Painting in an adjustment
      3m 20s
    2. Shades of gray
      3m 14s
    3. Using the Gradient tool
      4m 4s
    4. Adjusting a selected area
      1m 42s
    5. Creating a vignette effect with masking
      2m 13s
    6. Using a layer group
      3m 34s
    7. Working with multiple masks
      4m 5s
    8. Refining an adjustment mask
      6m 46s

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