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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
I've saved my progress as One small problem.psd, found inside the 27_pen_tool folder. And that one problem is down here at the top of the sweater. What ought to be a cusp point is currently set as a smooth point. I need to go ahead and convert it. I'm going to do so using the Convert Point tool. All right, so I can see my path outline, because face outline is selected here inside the Paths panel, I no longer need to see that tracing template however. So I'm going to switch over to the Layers panel and turn off the layer called points & handles. Incidentally, I could go ahead and work on that layer if I want to, even though it's turned off, because when I'm working inside the Paths panel, I'm working in a totally separate part of the program, so it doesn't matter what layer is active at any given moment in time.
All right, if I press the A key to get my White Arrow tool and click on this path someplace, I can see that there is my smooth point that ought to be a cusp point. Now, if this were an endpoint, I could convert it by Alt+dragging or Option+dragging on the point with the Pen tool. However, it's not. It's an interior point. So what do we do when we're working with interior points that need to be converted from one kind of point to another? That's true for all the points in this path outline, because it's a closed path. There are no endpoints left. Well, we take advantage of this tool right here. Go to the Pen tool fly-out Menu and choose this guy, Convert Point tool, which is perhaps the least ingenious of the tool icons.
It looks like a fragment of an arrow cursor. Notice it matches the front end of the arrow cursor, but then the back of the arrow has fallen away. So it's just a little carrot. Anyway, that's what its cursor looks like too. When you hover over a point, it looks like a little carrot. So it's a pretty dinky cursor on screen. All right, so there's a few different ways to use this tool. One is you can go ahead and drag from an existing point, such as that cusp point right there, to convert it into a smooth point. It's not always clear what direction the control handles are going to come out in.
In my case, by default, I went ahead and flipped the curvature of the segments, so I can just move it back in the other direction. So if you want to covert any kind of corner point, whether it's a corner between straight segments or a cusp between curved segments, to a smooth point, then you just go ahead and drag from the point, like so, and that'll also determine the length of the control handles, which we'll start off by default. Now, if you want to keep it as a smooth point and then you want to move those control handles to different locations, then be sure to press and hold the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac, which will get you that White Arrow tool, so that you can preserve the smooth point nature of that anchor point.
However, in our case, we don't want that. We want to take this smooth point and the one next door, because now we've got two of them in a row that are a problem. We want to turn them into cusps. Well, the top control handle is where it ought to be, so I'll leave it alone, but I'm going to drag this control handle. So if you drag a control handle using the Convert Point tool, it moves independently of the other control handle, no matter what, and it doesn't matter how many times you drag that control handle. It's going to go ahead and remain independent of the other one. So once again, to convert a smooth point to a cusp point inside of Photoshop, when it's an interior point, go ahead and get that Convert Point tool and drag the control handle around.
All right, what if you want to delete the control handles entirely, you want to convert this cusp or a smooth point into an absolute corner point with no control handles? Then you click on the point, like so. That deletes the control handles and now we have a corner. Problem is that doesn't suit our purposes at all, because that means we've got this one arcing segment here with just one control handle, which is not enough to sufficiently control the segment. We also have that same problem here. It's not as noticeable, because here the sweater is sort of lifting up, but his jaw definitely doesn't go in this direction.
It should go up and a little bit to the right. So I'm going to drag from this point once again, like so. I'll go ahead and drag that guy up, so I get the top control handle where it needs to be. Then I'll drag the bottom control handle to convert that smooth point that I just created into a cusp. Now, you may think, well, it's great that this tool exists, but I have to keep switching back and forth between it. So now I've got three tools that I need to use to edit path outlines. I have got the Pen tool, so I can add and delete points. I've got the White Arrow tool, so I can change the location of anchor points and control handles.
And then I've got this Convert Point tool that allows me to switch back and forth between smooth point, cusp points, and corner points. Well, that's a lot of switching around between tools. Well, in fact, all you do is you press the P key, so that you've got the Pen tool. As long as you have the Pen tool active, then you can get to the other two. So you've got the Pen tool for adding and deleting points now when you're editing an existing path outline. You can press and hold the Ctrl key on a PC or the Cmd key on the Mac in order to get that White Arrow tool and then drag your points if you need to and drag your control handles as well. Then if you want to go ahead and convert an existing point, such as this smooth point right there, I'll go ahead and select it by Ctrl+clicking on it or Cmd+clicking on the Mac, then you press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and while the Alt or Option key is down, you get the Convert Point tool.
So I can either drag a control handle independently of another to create a cusp point. I can drag out from the point to create a smooth point, like so. The whole time I have the Alt or Option key down, I can click in order to convert that smooth point or even a cusp point to an absolute corner. And then, again, I'd go ahead and drag in order to get myself a smooth point, like so, got the Alt key down still, by the way, or I could drag this control handle to move it independently. Then when I'm done using the Convert Point tool, I'd simply release the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and I'll return to the Pen tool.
All right, that's good, actually, I think we're pretty much done with this guy, except that, notice the way that his face sort of bends inward right there. That's not going to look right at all. That's cutting in of course to make sure that we don't select any of the background, but it should be a straight shot right there. The angle of his cheek, in other words, should not suddenly change from its appearance above the sweater, to its appearance against the new background. So I'm going to go ahead and Ctrl+ click on the segment, Cmd+click on the Mac, and I'm going to drag this edge out a little bit.
I'm going to move the point in. Then I'm going to drag this guy up. So we're just barely cutting in and staying out of that white background. All right, that looks pretty good to me. Now we're ready to convert this path to a vector mask. So I'll go over to the Layers panel. I'll click on the man layer. Notice the path outline is still active, we can still see it. So I'll drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon. I will go ahead and Ctrl+click on it or Cmd+click on that icon on the Mac. And we add that vector-based mask. And we are done with this specific guy.
I'll go ahead and Zoom out to center him in the image window. I'm going to click on that vector mask to hide it, so that we can see the edge of his face when compared with this new background. And that is our final composition. Thanks to the most precise Selection tool available to us here inside Photoshop, the Pen tool.
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