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Learn how to use the pen tool in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Tags:adobe,adobe photoshop cs3,channels,images,masking,pen tool,photoshop,total training
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Alright, now that we have seen the worst Selection Tool used inside of Photoshop CS3, let's take a look at probably the best Selection Tool here inside of Photoshop, the one that gives you the most control, and the one that's really great for making any type of selection, and that is the Pen Tool.
A lot of people are terrified at the Pen Tool, they think that it's really hard to use and complex, but once you get the heck of it, it's really not that bad. Now the Pin Tool is actually housed down here in the Vector Tool area, down here in the bottom of the Tool bar, it's not housed at with the Selection Tools, and I am really not sure why? Because it's actually one of the greatest Selection Tools inside of Photoshop, so I think it should be included up here in the top as opposed to the Slice Tool up here, but we just won't get into that right now, we will just go ahead and talk about exactly how this Tool works, and how useful it really can be?
Now a lot of people are afraid of the Pen Tool, because of the fact that it uses Anchor points, and you have to Modify the Anchor points and things like that. So I am just going to really take this Tool, and simplify it down so that it's really not that hard to understand. I am going to go ahead, and I am going to deselect that area that we had just selected there, and what we are going to do, is we are just going to draw selection around the bottom curved shape of this Guitar. So what I am going to do, first, I am going to make sure, I have the Pen Tool selected. I am going to first come up here, and I am going to make sure that I have the Path Option selected in the Options bar, because I don't want to draw a Vector shape with this, I want to make sure that its a Path Layer, because we are going to take this Path that we are drawing, and we are going to then convert it into a selection.
So the Pen Tool in itself does not create an active selection, you have to convert your Path that you make into a selection, which is very simple to do. So what we are going to do, is we are just going to click once to start the selection, so I will click right here on the edge of the Guitar, and then we are going to click to the next point where we want to go, and this is the next point I want to go, because I don't want to include the entire curvature of this Guitar, because it will be simply to hard to manipulate that Anchor point to fit the edge of that curve. So what we are going to do, we are just going to click right here, and you will notice that it automatically creates a straight line, but if you maintain your click, that means you just don't let go once you make that second click. We are just going to drag out, and if you drag this Anchor point out to the right, you are going to make the curve go to the left. And just the opposite if you wanted the curve to get over to the right, you would make the Anchor point go to the left, like so. So it's just creating curves that fit that specific area, and you will always want to draw at your Anchor point in the same direction that you want your curve to go. So I want it to follow the downward Path here, so I am just going to click and drag down, like so, and I am also going to drag a little bit to the right, because that curve goes to the left. So once I do that I am just going to match up that edge, so that it matches all the way around there, and I am just going to let go.
So now I have that whole area of that curve completely selected there with the Pen Tool. Now this is not an act of selection of course, this is what's known as a Work Path or a Temporary Path, which you could see is right here inside the Paths Panel. The Work Path is right there, so that you can utilize that, and view it anytime. Now I am going to go back to the Layers Panel here, and now to continue this curve, you could just go ahead and click again, but you will notice that it automatically generates a curved line, and we don't want to do that because what if we wanted to switch directions. Well, if we wanted to switch directions, then that curve would totally be following the wrong Path, and we don't want that to do that. So I am going to go ahead, and I am going to Undo that by using Command or Ctrl+Z, and so we get back to that same first area of the path that we just drew, and what we are going to do, is we are going to hold down our Option or Alt key on the keyboard, and we are going to click right there in the center of that Path once we see that little upward arrow appear right next to the Pen Tool. We are going to click right there, and once we do that, that line that we drew out of that Anchor point should go away. Now it just means that you have reset the center point of that path, and now you are ready to make an independent curve all on its own.
So we will just go ahead now, and we will just click right here to continue the curve, we will draw it out just a little bit to match that edge like so, and we will let go, we will Option or Alt click right there in the center once a little arrow point comes up, click that, and we are ready to continue on around. So I will just click right here, and I will drag out just like so, and we will Option or Alt click in the center again. I am going to hold down the space bar to pan over a little bit, we will click, drag out like so.
Now some of these areas you are going to find that you might not be able to encompass all of the area, or that you actually encroach a little bit too much on the background like you have here. So what we are going to do there, we are just going to Command or Ctrl+Z, and we are going to shorten the distance that we make that path travel, so that it has a better opportunity to go around that selected area. So we are just going to make that next point a little bit closer to that previous one, Option or Alt click in the center right there to continue on, and we will make another point right around here. Click and drag, just to make sure that it lines up all the way around. Now you see there it's kind of hard for me to kind me to encompass all that area again, so I will go ahead and Command or Ctrl+Z, I will make a shorter selection here, just drag it out to fit. Option or Alt click in the center, and we will keep drawing out paths all the way around this Guitar if we wanted to, and I am not going to for the sake of time, go all the way around this Guitar, but you can see how this would be extremely useful if you wanted to create a very accurate selection all the way around the curved edges of this Guitar.
Now this is a very interesting portion right here, where we are getting to this extra curve right here. So I am going to go ahead and I am going to Command or Ctrl+Z to bring back this area here with that Anchor point drawn out like we had before. Remember I said it would create a very interesting Path, or actually the wrong kind of Path if we switch directions? So what we are going to do, we are just going to go ahead. Let's click up here, and you will notice see how that path bows outside of that selected area, that's not what I wanted to do. So this is why we Option or Alt click those points, so that we can reset that center point. So I am just going to Command or Ctrl+Z, to get back to that point right there. I will Option or Alt click right there in the center, and I will just click back here, it gives me a straight Path, I have the ability then to manipulate it to fit the curvature of that portion of the Guitar. Option or Alt click again, and now I am ready to continue my selection all the way around this curved edge of the Guitar.
So the Pen Tool is really useful and very flexible, and gives you a great amount of control on any parts of the selection that you might be working on. And the same holds true if you needed to work on a straight edge as well, you could simply hold down the Shift key and the Pen Tool would create a nice completely straight Path for you. So the Pen Tool is really one of the most sphered, yet one of the most useful selection Tools that has ever been created here for Photoshop.