Sign In | Subscribe
Start learning today, and be successful in your academic & professional career. Start Today!
Loading video...
This is a quick preview of the lesson. For full access, please Log In or Sign up.
For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop CS6
  • Discussion

  • Study Guides

  • Download Lecture Slides

  • Table of Contents

  • Transcription

  • Related Services

Bookmark and Share
Lecture Comments (2)

1 answer

Last reply by: Charles Paustian
Sat Oct 4, 2014 6:01 AM

Post by Charles Paustian on October 4, 2014

I want to go to certain places in the lesson. I want to study areas I am not clear on.  I can't figure out how without running thru the whole video?

Pen Tool, Part 1

  • The Pen Tool is the most powerful selection tool in Photoshop! With the Pen tool you can select the most complex objects with absolute precision!
  • The Pen Tool makes Vector Paths - mathematical representations of a shape.
  • The Pen Tool can select precise complex shapes or make perfectly smooth shapes.
  • You can save your paths, and you can make them into selections.
  • The Pen Tool is the tool that is used in Illustrator to make artistic designs.
  • ATTENTION! go to your Options Bar for the Pen Tool and click the gear shaped icon to the left of the Auto Add/Delete checkbox. Check RUBBER BAND! This allows you to see the path follow your cursor. Unchecked it is very difficult to see where you are going!

Pen Tool, Part 1

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:06
  • The Pen Tool 2:11
    • Free Form Pen Tool
    • Convert Point Tool
    • Pen Tool: Shape & Path
    • Making Selection With The Pen Tool
  • Demonstration 1: Car 18:22
    • Using The Pen Tool to Make Selection Around a Car
  • Pen Tool Summary 22:46
  • Practice Assignment 23:26

Transcription: Pen Tool, Part 1

Hi everyone, Mike Brown here again.0000

Welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0002

In the past several lessons, we have been learning how to make selections flawlessly so that you make your corrections and they blend and don't show any evidence of work.0007

We've gone over the Marquee, the Lasso tools, Quick Selection, Magic Wand, we've looked at the Quick Mask feature which allows you to paint corrections to existing selections or paint new selections from scratch.0021

We've also looked at the refine edge dialog box, we've discussed feather that allows you to play with your edges, all told you have almost all of the tools necessary to use in your arsenal to select almost anything efficiently and flawlessly with one exception.0040

That is the Pen tool.0060

The Pen tool is without question the most powerful selection tool in Photoshop--it can select anything.0063

Now, the Pen tool specifically is best for super precise, smooth curved, sharp cornered, very complicated objects that need perfect long either smooth or hard edges.0071

You can do some of this with the other tools but the Pen tool predominantly does that.0091

In this lesson, we're going to show you what it does, how the actual tool works, and this is the key--most people don't understand how to use the tool, because if you don't understand what it does, then you get confused.0095

So I'm going to de-mystify that part of it, just show you the basics of using it in this lesson and then give you some examples of where you'd use it and show you how well it works.0111

In the next lesson, I'll show you how to refine it, setting it down, modify it, and just hone things in, so let's get started.0122

First off, the Pen tool down here in the Toolbox--you see it highlighted, the shortcut (let's just pick another tool) the letter P as in Paul or P as in pen, and there you have the Pen tool.0132

The fly out menu has four sub-tools, let's very quickly go over those, and let me find a blank document.0144

The first one in the fly out is the free form Pen tool.0153

Now, if you remember the Lasso tool, very simply makes free form selections.0158

The free form Pen tool makes free form pas, and that's the difference between the Pen tool and the other tools--the Pen tool does not directly create selections, it creates pas which are vector which is mathematical representations of a shape edge.0166

You can take this path and convert it into a selection by using the pas panel which is under the Window menu; go to the dropdown menu and you can make a selection from the existing path, and then of course if you hit it with Quick Mask you can see that we have a selection.0192

Let me show you the difference between a path and a selection.0213

We're going to make just a quick path right here, then I'm going to go back to the Lasso tool and make a quick selection...0218

Go to Quick Mask and zoom it up...remember the jagged edges from a zero pixel feather, there's the edge of the Lasso selection.0231

Look at the edge of the path, it's absolutely perfectly smooth with no thickness, no jaggies, look how far up we are on the pixels and yet that edge is still perfectly smooth.0244

That's because it is a vector path.0259

Once we convert it to a it's the same as the Lasso tool, OK?0263

We're creating pas, and converting them to selections.0274

Alright, now as you saw the free form tool basically does the same thing as the Lasso tool, you don't need to use the free form tool, waste of time in my opinion, efficiency here, why make a path and go over and have to convert it to a selection--just do it directly.0278

OK, the second and third sub-tools; add anchor point and delete anchor point, you can do that directly with the Pen tool without having to go over here to the menu, a time saver, so we've eliminated the free form, add and delete.0295

The convert point tool--let me show you what it does and we don't need to use that one either because you can do that also with the Pen tool but let me show you what it does.0311

Take the Pen tool, and I'm going to make...wrong tool, I want the Pen tool...I'm going to make a shape that has a whole series of curved segments to it...0319

And I'm doing this carefully because I want you to see the curved edges...this by the way is how the Pen tool works--you click and drag to set points, and pull these arms to create the path.0340

Alright, we have a path, if I highlight the convert point tool--you notice I set a bunch of points and it disappeared, you can always get them back notice when I come into the document I have a white arrow, click and drag around your path and the points return.0354

Now they're back there.0376

The convert point tool--notice it's shaped like a hard angle, that's because what it does, it converts curved point segments to hard corners, for example this one right up here.0377

As we roll over the point, notice it turned into that convert point icon and when I click, it becomes a hard corner.0392

If I click and drag again, I can re-convert the point back to a curved corner--let's do the same thing right here; click to a hard corner, click and pull the arms back out to convert so it converts from curve to hard and back.0403

That's what it does, but this can be done also with the Pen tool--all you need is the Pen tool and a key command.0423

Alright, so now you understand that.0430

When we're in the Pen tool let's look at our Options bar...the Pen tool can create pas or shapes, let me show you what a shape is; basically it is a path that is filled with a color or texture, so I'm going to fill it with red.0433

As I create my shape, it automatically becomes filled with the color as we move along making the new shape...and then you end up with a path--you still have your path that is filled with a color, that's what the shape tool does.0451

But we're dealing with pas that can be converted to selections because this is a selection tool.0475

Alright, now, I'm going to show you one trick that's going to save your life.0483

All of the other options you don't need to deal with at all with the exception of under the gear and I've already checked it but I'm going to uncheck it.0490

Remember...forget the remember, I'll show you.0497

When I click and drag a point and move my cursor, I don't see any path or anything no matter where I go until I click the next point and begin to drag.0500

It makes it a bit difficult because we're trying to fit these pas around a shape to end up with a selection so I really can't see what I'm doing here, it makes it a little bit difficult.0512

So if you go right now and drop the gear down, notice the rubber band option--check it, leave it forever, this is a life saver--now watch.0526

Click and drag, notice that the path follows my cursor, so I can see what I'm doing which means if I was on a shape such as this now, and I click and drag a point to make my path, I can see where I'm going, I can see the path, and then when I can see exactly where I want to go, which makes it so much easier to set the points and not have to try to fix mistakes because I couldn't see the path.0536

That's the value of the rubber band option.0573

Check it, leave it.0576

OK, now we're going to talk about precisely what the...Pen tool does and how it works.0578

Let's get this, and let me find that...I'll just make another one, to heck with it, it's easier.0595

And take that one away and put it right over here, and drop it down a notch--alright.0605

What I've got here, is a page out of a textbook (I wrote the textbook so it's legitimate) and this shows you the secrets to the Pen tool, right here.0611

To utilize the Pen tool, you can use it first off in the most basic form, just like the polygonal Lasso tool.0626

Polygonal Lasso tool, remember, drops straight edged segments and when you close it off you've got a selection.0636

The Pen tool itself, if you don't click and drag, just and straight segments you can do exactly the same thing as the polygonal, then go to your pas panel, drop down, make selection and you're in the same place.0643

But the primary function is to make complex curves, hard corners to fit complex shapes and make a path and turn that into a selection--how do you do it?0661

You click and drag, and as you drag away from the point you notice that you get two control arms--one goes in one direction, one goes the other, and you can adjust the length, you can also adjust the angle, and that's all you need to make this work.0672

Now, if you look over on the page, long arms indicate to the computer--the computer is trying to figure this out as you draw out the arms.0693

The longer the arm, the shallower the curve--that's what the computer understands that you're trying to do--long arms means you're setting something to make a shallow curve.0708

Little short arms means that you're going to be working on a tight curve, so this one here is indicating, and you can see that the path comes out--it wants to go in a shallow curve.0719

If I did it in a short, see how much easier it works?0732

Coming out for tighter corners--it's automatically turning tightly.0738

That's telling the computer the curvature of the path.0743

The angle of the arm is telling it the direction of the path.0748

Notice if you follow from my cursor back into the point, you see that the path (let me bring it up a little) the path is coming out absolutely parallel to the control arm at the point.0756

It only bends away as I pull or change the path, but right in at the point, the source, it's absolutely parallel to the control arm, that's the direction of the path, the length of the arm indicates the curvature.0773

Alright, so we'll take that one step further--point number one.0789

The computer's only working with two points at a time, not the entire path.0794

It's establishing a path between two points, so here we've set a point.0798

This direction and that arm length indicate the curvature direction and the general curvature--when we go to another point, click and pull...the computer in this point did the same thing.0804

It determined that by the length of this arm--you notice it's a tighter curve out of that one than it is the first one, but where it comes around, it goes into that point that we set the second one parallel and the direction, so that established this length and that length gave the two curvatures that led to that shape.0823

And I could adjust that by pulling this arm further out and moving it, and you notice how the segment of path changes, so we control the path shape with the arm and the direction--length of arm and direction--that's all there is to it.0847

We go to the next point; notice on the trailing arm which I'm going to reset a little differently, the arms are always parallel unless we change them another way.0864

Notice the path comes out of that point parallel to the trailing controlling arm, and it only changes when I click and drag from a new point to determine the shape of the path between those two points.0875

When I release, and go to click a third point, once again we're now working between these two--it's always the length of the arm outgoing in that direction, the length of the arm incoming in that direction.0892

And what that shows you, is that to make this work properly, these points would be on a shape.0906

You must set your control arm parallel to the shape at that point because that's where the path is going and I'll demonstrate that to you right now.0913

I'm going to make this entire image lighter so that I can demonstrate this.0927

So I want to make a path that follows this shape, so I'm going to click and drag--now remember, the path is going to come out parallel to the point--you never want to be anything but tangent.0936

Notice if I'm inside like this, see where the path came out?0950

It didn't follow the shape, it followed the control arm, so if I set down this point and I pull tangent, you notice that the shape is trying to follow...the path is following the shape back to here, but since this arm is wrong it cannot match it up.0956

It's because of the initial mistake, so let's start that again; click and drag...tangent to the point, not ever touching inside the curve or out of the curve, exactly tangent and notice now that the path is following the shape.0975

And now when I go over, click and pull on the second point, tangent not in, see it's above the curve, not out, it's below the curve just tangent, and just pull...keeping them tangent watch the path...look.0993 pulls perfectly to follow the shape because this arm is tangent at that point, that arm is tangent at that point.1010

This is the key to making the Pen tool work--if you don't do this, you'll have trouble.1020

Click and drag tangent at the point--notice it's kind of a reverse curve, yes that touched in but not at the point.1028

Notice we're fine here, so now when I go down here, I click and drag tangent at that point, look at the path, following the shape.1035

Go right down to here, click and drag tangent at that point and just pull--you're not in, not out--tangent, and look at the path, see how it follows perfectly?1045

Let's come on around, click and drag tangent at the point that I'm pulling from and just pull the arms, not like that, not like that, dead tangent at the point and look at the path.1056

See how I haven't had to change anything, I'm staying a little outside the shape by the way just so I can show you the path better--let's try way up here.1070

Click and drag tangent at that point, and it's following--now we made a slight error back here, I can see that, and in the next lesson I'll show you here's how you correct it, just like that, very simple.1081

Alright, you understand, tangent at every point--let me demonstrate that to you by using this particular photo right here.1096

Here's the original car--we had to cut this thing out and this is to show you why you use the Pen tool in the first place.1109

Look closely at the rough line, see that little plant back there that's peeking over the car?1117

There's the actual rough line, but you can't see it over here, so if you tried to use something like the Quick Selection doesn't know what to do because it can't actually see the precise edge--you'd have a miserable time trying to paint that in, so we'll take the Pen tool and show you how easy it is.1122

We know where that rough line is, we'll start right over and drag tangent, not in, not out, tangent, because I can see (I'm off just a little, there it is) and now I'll start working my--and I can see where the rough line is.1144

We know we want the rough line right there just pulling tangent, move over here, pull tangent--not like this, not like that, just tangent and pull it out until the path follows your shape.1163

I missed slightly, you can correct the point just like that.1178

Move over here, same thing--just up a little bit into the white, coming out around, there we and drag tangent, not like this, not like that, see the difference?1183

As long as we're perfectly tangent at the point, it fits.1195

Do the same thing down here, now remember that convert point tool?1201

I can do it with my Pen tool--watch.1205

See the little icon?1209

I click, and I can now make a hard corner, and I can continue to follow the shape around--tangent, notice not in, not out, just tangent and pull the arms until it fits.1211

Coming down a little further once again, tangent, pull the arm until the path fits--not up, not down, absolutely tangent.1225

This is the key--you notice I haven't had to fix anything at all; tangent, and pull...tangent, and pull--now we're going the other way...tangent, and pull.1235

Notice the curve, it's come under and over, and now tangent and pull, and remember the tight corner I was talking about--I've gone with very shallow, I'm getting shorter and shorter--very short right here, here's a hard point.1246

Click tangent, just a little bit--the path is following--it's hard to see...come down and I'm going to go straight down here--click tangent every time I'm at another hard corner, I'm going to convert that point and just click and drag tangent--you know these are really hard to see edges, and you'd have a heck of a time doing this with any other selection tool.1261

Click and drag tangent at every single point along the way...there was a little re-curve in there, I just bypassed it--see, not like that, not like that, tangent, and I'll stop right here, let me go back and close off to the beginning--click, click, click, and let's get that turned into a selection.1286

I'll make it one pixel of feather, there we have it, let's do Quick Mask and go back and look at what we did.1313 perfectly smooth this edge is and notice that it's slightly up above that edge where you couldn't see the actual rough line--you see that right in there?1323

But we know where it is--look how it's following that--look at that, unbelievable.1340

This Pen tool is phenomenal for precision selections--there we go around the corner, notice, and all I did was click and drag tangent at every single point on the vehicle--look at that.1344

Just that was that little spot that I told you I made a mistake on, there it is, OK, so let's sum this all up.1361

What we've learned in this lesson, the primary thing, the Pen tool, to make a selection around a shape, the length of the handles determine the curvature, the angle of the handles determine the direction and the path and here's little sample.1371

Handles are always tangent to the curved shape at that point.1386

Long handles, shallow curve, handles tangent to the curved shape, handles tangent to the curved shape, that sums up the key to making the Pen tool work for you.1392

Now I'm going to give you, quickly, a little assignment--let me find the red Mercedes--I think this will work just fine here.1406

This image is included, I want you to (or find one yourself) find an image that has an oval shape in it--you could just do this, we'll just create a blank document.1417

Let's take an oval and create an oval shape...and I'm going to fill it with the foreground color which is--actually let's just fill it with a color and make it a pale color so that you can see what's happening...kind of a pale red...there it is.1431

Now, what I want you to do is create something like this--now take the Pen tool and practice--click and drag, tangent, remember not in, not out, tangent, and watch.1454

If you're very and drag tangent, look watch the path, watch the path...pulls right perfectly along the curve shape, go to your next point, click and drag.1468

I want you to practice making pas with the Pen tool...before you go to the next lesson.1484

Notice tangent again, not in, not out, don't cross that shape, just pull the arms until it matches--let's just go ahead and close that part of it off once again to show you how perfectly it works--look at that, right around that shape.1498

So I want you guys to do the same thing; create that, practice working with a smooth shape, and then come back for the next lesson and I'll show you how to adjust points and determine exactly where you want to put them.1518

I'll see you back for Pen tool part two.1530