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Pen Tool, Part 2

  • I suggest that you repeat this lesson a couple of times, and PRACTICE! The Pen Tool takes some getting used to, so do not give up, Just follow the lesson - you will be rewarded. Once you get it, you will find this selection tool to be extremely useful in a lot of situations.
  • Example: Selecting a person out of a complex background - you can accurately select the clothes and skin areas with the Pen Tool, and then use refine edge on the hair and you will get a perfect selection.
  • If you tried any other selection tools here, it would take forever and the results would not be perfect.
  • Example 2: Selecting smooth objects against backgrounds where the edge of the object is hard to discern (such as vehicles against sky). The Pen Tool is the only tool that can easy and accurately do this - period!
  • SUGGESTION: Use the Oval Marquee tool and make an oval. Fill it with color. Then practice making a selection around the oval with the Pen Tool. If you can do it in 4 or five points accurately, you are doing very well!
  • I have included a few shapes in the Downloads for this lesson that you can use to practice with the Pen Tool.

Pen Tool, Part 2

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 0:08
  • The Pen Tool Recap 0:27
  • The Pen Tool - Part 2: Working With Points On A Path 2:11
    • Adjusting a Point For a Sharp Corner
    • Activate and Non-Active Points
    • Activating a Point(s) & Moving a Point
    • Deleting Single and Multiple Points
    • Demonstration 1: Automobile
    • Adding a Point
    • More On Deleting Single and Multiple Points
    • How Far Apart to Place Points to Make a Path
    • Saving a Path
    • Filling or Stroking a Path
  • Lesson Summary 25:48

Transcription: Pen Tool, Part 2

Hi everybody, Mike Brown here with you again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

This is the Pen tool part two working with points on a path.0008

If you haven't read and done my assignment on Pen tool part one, go back and see that one because this one isn't going to do any good unless you have already gone through Pen tool number one.0013

For those of you that have, this is a continuation, and I'm going to go back and do a little recap--right off the bat we're going open up a blank one here...we're going to create an oval very quickly, we're going to fill it with whatever color comes up.0026

That was a very low res' one, let's start all over again...Command+N, that's the problem, this is a tiny little we got a high res' one.0045

Oval, fill the oval with a color, and let's get that Pen tool cooking.0057

If you remember the Pen tool, click and drag your points perfectly tangent with the control arms to the shape, not this way, not this way, but perfectly tangent so that the path which comes out parallel to the control arm comes out of the point in exactly the same direction as the shape.0064

This is the key, your next point; click and drag tangent, and just pull it out--not like this, notice that the path is up, not this--it's down, you always want that path to follow the shape--just pull the arms, and look at the path, fits the shape between the two points.0088

Same thing, next point; click and drag tangent and not in, not out, just pull it until the shape and the path are parallel.0108

OK, that way the key and I hope you did that exercise at the end that I gave you an assignment to do just this, you'll discover that.0123

Alright, let's get started on this lesson--I'm going to show you how to adjust points for a sharp corner, active point--what they are--non-active, what they are, moving points--the leading single and multiple, adding points, saving pas, filling and how far apart to place points to make a path.0130

This is the one, this is the key, and this takes a little practice, because as you get to tighter areas the points need to be closer together, as you get to very shallow areas the points can be further apart, and it's really hard to put an accurate assessment as to where you put them--you'll learn this as you go.0150

But let's just get started with points on a sharp corner.0171

We got a couple of sharp corners here, so we'll drop a path down, click and drag tangent--not in, not out, always tangent--click and drag tangent, there's your second one--notice how the path follows--click and drag tangent to the shape at the point.0177

And right there I missed just a little bit but we'll talk about that as we go.0200

We're going to come around to the sharp corner--click and drag tangent at the corner, that's fairly close, but look what happens now.0205

At the path follows the control arm, we come over here, we can't make the path follow the shape.0214

Option on a Mac, Alt on a PC, when you cross the point, see that little angle?0222

The same as this convert point tool so you don't need that...Option or Alt, click and drag...I didn't release off until I got the new control arm--now look at the path--it's gone through a sharp corner and follows the shape again.0228

We get down here, same thing, can't get around the corner.0247

Option or Alt...there's the convert point tool, click and drag, regenerate a new control arm that follows the shape and look at that, how perfectly we are following the shape, very simple, let me shortcut my way over to here, click and drag, click and drag tangent.0252

We get to another sharp corner, click and drag tangent, and now you know we can't do that, Option or Alt, click and drag to regenerate the new control arm tangent to the curve there, and as we go around now we have created hard corners.0276

Very simple, OK.0295

That takes care of adjusting for a sharp corner.0298

We're going to do active and non-active points, and activating a point at the same time here.0301

Let me just take a new one again...actually I could do this I think with the existing one we had, there we go.0308

Image's a good sized one, alright.0317

Let's create a path, and as we're going I want you to notice something; the point that I just laid down has a black square as the point--the other ones are white, that's an active point--black square, inactive point--white square.0321

Click and drag a new point, the one previous is now inactive, this is active--one point at a time, the one you're working on is the one that's black.0339

When we close off the shape, the points disappear, it's now a path.0350

To get your points back...Command on a Mac, Control on a PC--these tools down here, you could use but you don't need them, all you need is the Pen tool and the Command or Control on a PC key.0355

Command on a Mac, Control on a PC, you've got the wide arrow, click and drag around the path and release, there's all your points back but look...every one of them is black--they're all active.0372

If I wanted to move the whole path, what you're going to do is only be moving active points.0386

Command on a Mac, Control on a PC, all points are active--doesn't matter which one I click on; click and drag, it activated that point but it left the other ones and I can move the whole path.0393

If I only want to work, let's say I want to move this point or work on it; Command or Control on a PC, got the wide arrow--click and drag across that one point, every other point became inactive, this one, again keep that Command or Control down, click.0406

You've got the arms, you can now, with the Command down, click and drag, as long as you got that wide arrow, you click and drag and you can move the point, you can also adjust the angle, you can adjust the--oops, I lost them all, we'll go back here, select the one individual, click, and now I can control that one control arm, the direction and move the point.0425

All while I'm holding the Command or the Control key.0452

The arms--notice they'll always be parallel unless you did a hard corner...there we go, so it's the Command or Control key, and the active points are the black ones, OK?0456

So there you went activating a point, active and non-active--black, white, activating a point--Command or Control, clicked on a point or points, drag across them, moving a point...let's just do it one more time.0469

There's that path again, one active point--to move it, it's the only active one--Command or Control--click and drag, or adjust the--oops, I lost them all, click and drag, got them all back but they're all active.0487

I just want this one--click and drag that point only, click on it, now I can move it and I can also click and drag and move each of the control arms, OK?0500

Very, very simple.0511

There's activating it, and moving it.0514

Deleting a single or multiple points, and adding points--we'll do this all together, very simple.0516

Let's say I wanted to delete a point.0525

The point must be an active if all the points are active, if I hit the delete, everything was deleted--it only deletes active points.0528

For example, if I was to click and drag across just those two, notice that's active, that's active and the other ones are not, and I hit delete, these two points will be deleted...OK?0542

If you want to delete just one point, Command or Control, click and drag (oops I lost them all, got back) just activate the one point, that's active--if I click delete, it deleted it--now it also deleted that segment, it didn't make it tag through--it took everything connected with it, so now what we need to do is activate a point.0558

And to activate the end point--notice when I roll the cursor you get the white square with the line through it's an active point.0583

We can now go over to the other point with the zero, we'll close it off, click and drag...and make my little jelly bean, OK?0592

Very simple--deleting a single or multiple points, it all comes down to the Command or Control key and dragging across to make as many points as you want active.0605

Let's take an example real quickly on a car.0617

Let's just take part of this automobile...OK, let's just select this seat, and I click and drag tangent, click and drag tangent, click, click and drag.0625

Now, let's just say for the heck of it I've put a whole bunch of points in here accidentally, and what do I do, oh my gosh?0639

Command or Control, get the wide arrow, click and drag around all of the points you want to remove, notice every single one of those points is black, so when I hit delete they all go away but now everything else is black, so I have to reactivate my single end point to continue.0647

Roll over it, see the white square, and we're back in business--click and drag.0666

Now, I made a mistake, I clicked and didn't drag and this is straight.0673

I can delete this point because it's the only active one; delete, click to highlight and activate the end one--now I can go back and click and drag, Option or Alt, click and re-position my arm and away we go, OK?0677

That's how you delete single and multiple points.0692

Adding a point...let's see, we're going to use this pas sample again, alright.0695

I'm going to go click and drag, and I'm going to go way over here and click and drag...and this isn't working very well is it, look what happens.0703

If I get the curve right down at this end, it's wrong at this end, so what do I need to do?0714

I need to add a point--I need to really start over again, activate that point...oops, start all over again.0721

Click and drag, click and drag and I'm going to make it right where I'm, well so much for that idea, that was perfect!0730

Let me try another corner here, sorry about that.0742

Alright, here we go, this will work--we'll click and drag over here and we'll go way, way, way too far.0745

Click and drag over here, and I cannot, if this fits I'll die...there we go, it's not going to work.0752

I've got it tangent right here, but it's out here and it's in here and it's tangent there, how do I do that?0762

We're talking about adding points, very simple.0769

Now keys; cursor, I'd like to add a point right about here, look, I just hit the roll over the path, it's a plus sign--I click, and now I want to move it, how do I move it?0775

Command or Control on a PC, click and drag it, and I can also adjust the control arms, see I got this section fixed.0787

Now let's add a point over here, click, Command or Control, click and drag it down, and that's not too bad--let's pull that arm out just a little bit, and look, by adding two points and moving them, I fixed the problem we had.0796

Now we need to activate this point again.0814

Now, it's inactive--I don't want to take it away--Command or Control click and drag and it becomes the only active point, click on it and we're back in business but my control arm is way too long, so what I want to do is regenerate a control arm--remember that's like a convert point.0818

Option or Alt, click and drag, and now I'm going to make it just parallel and the same length as the other arm, and now I can continue--click and drag and away we go.0838

OK, pretty simple--you notice what it's doing here, on the fly by adding a point or subtracting a point plus when you hit the path (we haven't taken away a point yet) by adding a point, holding down your Command or Control key, click and drag, to make sure it's active you can move the point, you can adjust the control arms, see how easy that is?0852

And if you need to regenerate one; Option or Alt, click and regenerate, simple.0874

Adding a point we went, deleting a point...deleting single and multiple points, let's go back to the pas sample.0881

I'm going to just go ahead over to here, and I'm going to just screw around here and make some mistakes...alright.0894

Now, I've obviously screwed this thing up big time, I'd like to delete some of these points and help myself.0909

I want to delete a point, no keys, just roll over the point...see the minus sign, it's gone.0916

Now, I want to delete another one, minus sign is gone, another one, minus sign, it's gone.0925

Now I'll delete this one...minus sign, it's gone--we got this one, Command or Control, get the wide arrow, click, move that point, and fix...we're going to delete that, somehow the control arms got messy, we'll take that out too.0931

Now we'll add a point right here, Command or Control, and just move it over, and take this point and move it over, and we fixed it, right on the spot, very, very simple, OK?0951

Adding and deleting points.0965

Now, how far apart to place the points to make a path?0969

This is the tricky one...let's go back to that same pas sample--let's do another one, I think I have another...there we go, here's another one.0973

Let me just make it a little bit lighter...there we go.0986

Alright, how far apart should you have your points?0991

Example, in this section right here, it's pretty uniform and it's a smooth, wide curve, so we'll click and drag a good distance.0995

The rule of thumb when you're kind of in an open space is roughly three times the length of the control arm, so we figure maybe here sounds about right.1005

Click and drag, let's see what's not bad...but I think it's a little long because I seem to be a little off here, but let's see what happens at the next point.1017

See now, this control arm--one, two, three, be way around here, that's just too far, let's shorten the arm--well let's just try, let's try.1030

Right about here, let's see what happens--I click and I drag...and it's semi-OK, but look here--the pas out, pas out, it's overlapping here so that's an easy fix, plus, new point, Command or Control, move point back, adjust slightly, problem solved.1039

Now we're into the curve.1060

First of all we've got...let's activate this point on it, see we've got a long control arm, that's not really good for going around the curve, so we need to equalize if anything the control arms, makes sense right?1062

Command or Control, take the control arm and just shorten it...we're still OK, and now let's go one, two, three times the control arm, right about over here, click and drag...and look, it comes in pretty good.1078

Might be a little of, so we'll go Command, extend that control arm just slightly and pull that one down, so you can do this and adjust as you're going, you don't have to reset points very often.1098

Let's go three times; one, two, three, that's a little weird but let's see what happens; Command or Control, pulling tangent and we got a problem, so we need to put a point in here, move it out just a little bit, put another point in here, move it in just a little bit, and take this one and adjust it just slightly...just like that.1110

Added a couple of points and solved the problem, and here, now we're going to go back and activate this point, very long control arm--let's make it equalize the arms.1140

We'll come around one, two, three lengths, click and drag tangent, look at that, pretty good feel.1155

Three times this one; one, two, right about at the end, click and drag, there we go.1161

Change the corner; Option or Alt, click and regenerate (let's move that point a little bit, Command, up and out, OK) one, two, three times the length, there you go!1167

This one; one, two--you can't go more than two so we'll click, and it worked.1182

Option or Alt, click and regenerate the control arm...we'll go one, two, three times which is just about here...and that works just fine, one, two, three times--you see, roughly three times does it, and if it doesn't, you can fix it.1187

Now we got a long one here--one, two, three--that's way down here, I don't even know if this is going to work, let's click and drag until we get it to fit here, and it's a little out here, add a point...Command or Control, move the point in, we're just fine.1209

And reactivate this one; Command or Control, drag across it, click it, we can deal with that--one, two, three, let's go way down and drag...and it falls in a little bit off.1226

Add a point, click...whoops, I'm going to subtract that point because I made a it out of there, add it back in, Command or Control, move it in place.1245

You're getting the point now--reactivate this point, it's white--Command or Control, click on it, the arm is way too long--Option, Alt, click,, two, and let's go all the way to the end...pull, OK, you get the point.1258

How far apart to place points to make a path?1278

Roughly three times the length of a control arm, you may have to make a couple of modifications--you notice we do that by adding a point, activating a point, modifying the point, OK?1283

Now let's talk about saving a path real quickly...let's go back to that shape and let's just finish it--we got almost to the end.1296

Option, click a new one, one, two, three, there it is...I think three here--we'll just go right here to this hard corner, looks good--Option or Alt, click, drag down here and close it off.1305

Now, if when you hit the close or start point you get some funny things happening with your curve, hold down the Option or Alt when you do it, then click and drag (whoops) Option or Alt, click and drag, and it freezes the original point and it helps you a little bit.1322

And there we have our pas, and now what do we do with it?1345

Let's go to the pas panel...we can save this path.1348

Right now it's a work path, if we go to the dropdown, go save path, path one we'll just call it--there it is, so now we're just going to hit outside it, path is gone--when you save your image, the path will be saved for future use, and you can always regenerate it and make selections from it if you wish.1353

You can also fill in stroke pas, I don't know if I talked about that quickly, let's do that to close this lesson off.1374

Let's take the...where was our, oh, OK, filler stroke right here, very simple, we have a work path.1383

If we want to fill it, go to the Edit, Fill Path, you can fill it with color, if you wish you can fill with a pattern.1390

Let's pick a pattern out of our patterns...let's go with rock patterns...append...there's a cool one right there, fill that...we'll click OK, 100%, no feather, and now we've filled that shape with a rock pattern.1401

And you could do anything you want with it, this is graphically.1420

OK, that's filling, you could also fill with color; Edit, Fill, color...I didn't activate the path...oh, I filled--there was a mistake.1423

Edit, Fill over here is filling the document.1437

Go to the pas panel, fill path, sorry about that, that was my fault, OK, OK, fills the path.1441

Now we can stroke the path, which means you're putting a border around it--what that's going to do--you can use any of the tools--I prefer to leave the brush tool, and my brush tool right now is set at 9 pixels, it's red, it's 9 pixels and 100% hardness.1451

Let's make a different brush for fun, let's pick a...looks like a maple leaf, I want to see what this does myself--74 pixels, let's knock it down a little bit...OK.1468

I'm just going to fill it red, and we're going to now go back to stroke the path with the brush tool, and there you go--wow, how cool is that?1482

I had brush control set that it was all scattered and stuff like we talked about, so there's a way to put a really cool edge around a standard...let's take that brush and go back to just your normal little brush.1492

Normal stroke is just an edging right down the middle of it, OK, but now you know you can also stroke with a pattern too...1505

The brush could be set at a pattern--I want to do that one more time with that...where's the roses?1518

Hang with me for just a moment, there's a rose, and we'll make this a kind of a pink color...instead and let's see what we've got now.1526

Stroke path with a brush, and it just didn't have it scattering on it but that is the idea and then you go away and you have edging on it.1538

So, there you have in Pen tool part two, all of the ways to deal with the points on a path, from adjusting them to activating them to removing them, fixing the problems as you go along, and this is how to use the Pen tool in Photoshop CS6.1548