Thursday, July 18, 2024

How To Use The Pen Tool In Photoshop (Complete Guide)

This tutorial will show you anything and everything about the Adobe Photoshop Pen Tool. It is a complete guide to the tool.

The Pen Tool can be a hard and frustrating thing to learn. In this tutorial I will teach you about the pen tool and how to use it. Hopefully once you are done you will be able to use the Pen Tool.

Before I teach you how to use the Pen Tool I have to explain to you the boring stuff, but it will help you understand the pen tool.

Paths: Paths are the outline you create by using the pen tool. Paths are made up of anchor points and segments.
Anchors: Anchors are points used to connect segments used in your path.
Segments: Segments are what makes up your path, and they are held together by anchor points.

(Please note that the colored highlights is for you to see which part of the path is what.)


Anchors have two types:
1. Smooth Anchor Points: This is when two segments come together at an anchor point smoothly and form a curve. These can be used for circles and more.
2. Corner Anchor Points: this is the opposite of the smooth corner point. It has a big change in direction. These are used to form triangles, squares and more.


Segments, like anchors, have two types:
1. Curved Segments: These are made when you make Smooth Anchor points. Curved Segments are directed by Direction Lines and
Direction Points. I will tell you about Direction lines and points later.
2. Straight Segments: Straight segments are straight, as you might have guessed :).

Pen Tools

If you click and hold on the pen tool icon a menu will appear. Right now I am going to explain to you what each of those tools do. I will be explaining what each do from top to bottom.

The Pen Tool: This is the most commonly used tool. You use this to make paths of all kinds.

The Freeform Pen Tool: This is not a very common tool to use. This lets you create paths without knowing about anchors and segments. This isn’t a commonly used tool because you have to draw the lines freehand, and since we aren’t perfect it will come out wavy and not as nice as you had hoped.

Add Anchor Point Tool: This tool is used to add anchor points into a segment. This tool is very easy to use, you just hover your tool over a segment where you want the new anchor point to be and click to add it.

Delete Anchor Point Tool: This one pretty much speaks for itself. It deletes unwanted anchors. You just hover this tool over an anchor you want to delete.

Convert Point Tool: This tool converts Smooth Anchor points into Corner Anchor points. It also converts Corner Anchor points into Smooth Anchor points.

Okay here comes the fun part, now we can actually start using the pen tool. So open up a new document around 500×500 and grab you pen tool.
Now click anywhere on you document, this will create an anchor, now click again in a separate point of the document and it will create a segment.

If you click a few more times you will have an Open Path. Its called an open path because the two ends aren’t connected.

To close the path you need to move over the first anchor point you made. Then a little O will pop-up beside the the pen. If you click that anchor you are hovering over then it will close, making it a Closed Path.

Now we are done using that path so you can go ahead and delete it, by hitting delete twice.

Curves: Now that we have learned about straight lines, it’s time to learn about curves. Now curves will be a bit trickier, but it’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to accomplish.

To make a curve what you want to do is click your pen tool and drag it. The Side you drag it to will influence which way your curve goes. I am going to be dragging down.

You probably noticed that when you dragged down 2 lines with dots emerged from the anchor point you drew, and the farther you go the farther they go. Those are Direction Points and Direction Segments. The length of the Direction Segments help determine the curve of your segment.

Now that we have an anchor we dragged up on, lets drag down on another anchor point. So click your pen tool on a separate place in the document and drag up.

Hopefully you now have a curve like the one above. Just to recap though, to get the above curve you have to drag up and then drag down.
There are more types of curves than just one type though. Like this next curve I will show you. Start a new path. Now Click and drag down with the pen tool. In another spot on the document, click and drag down again with your Pen Tool. Hopefully you now see what happens if you drag in the same direction.

(It creates an “S” shape)

Continuing Paths:
Having a path that isn’t finished is annoying. Especially if you don’t know how to continue it. But there is a way to continue them. To continue a path all you need to do is move your pen tool over an anchor, then a little square with a line through it (which kind of looks like a seat belt logo) should will appear. So then once you see that square all you have to do is click that anchor, and once you click that anchor you can proceed to adding to your path.

Editing Your Path: When we need to select our paths to edit it there are a few different ways to select them. The below tools are used for editing paths.

To select a path quickly, you want the Path Selection Tool. To work the tool all you need to do is click on the path and it will be selected.

The Direct Selection Tool allows you to select individual segments or individual anchor points. The way to work this tool is you move the tool over the segment or anchor you want to edit and click.

Learning and knowing the Pen Tool is helpful. You can’t learn how to use it by just reading this tutorial. To fully understand and work with the pen tool takes practice. So please, put your new knowledge to use, and use the Pen Tool.

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