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Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 45 of 118

The Pen Tool


Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 45 of 118

The Pen Tool


Lesson Info

The Pen Tool

Typically as photographers you're gonna find yourself using more of the magic wand tools to make selections. But the pen tool can be a very valid way to make a selection because it constrains you to exactly the edges that you want it to select by using anchor points and manipulating these anchor points. And this tool, of all the tools, I guarantee you're gonna cuss the most when you use this tool. We gotta talk about it because it is a very good tool for making selections. And it's very easy once you understand hot keys that go along with it. If you don't know the hot keys with the pen tool, you will never be able to grasp the pen tool. I'm sorry, you can play with it all day long, it's not gonna work for you, okay? So the pen tool is found right here. And If you look at this image, we have a very hard edged object around the background. The problem with this image, is if we look at the white of the background, and we look at the Polaroid camera here, this area is very similar to this ...

area. So if I tried to use the magic want tool to select the area around it, it's gonna want to select this area, even if I change the tolerance, bring the tolerance down. The same thing is true with something like the quick selection tool. If I use the quick selection tool, it's gonna say yeah I can grab all this stuff, but this stuff looks so much like it, I'm gonna grab that too. And we don't want that to happen. So using something like the pen tool is a better option. You might think well, let's use the polygonal lasso tool. Well the polygonal lasso tool would be a bunch of straight lines so, you try to do a bunch of straight lines around an edge, it doesn't look right. So that's where the pen tool comes in. When we get these rounded edges, you can even use it on people. You can use it on people to go around them, and you can use something select and mask to push and pull that area which will go over here. So if I zoom in on this object, it's giving me, CC does a good job of giving me an idea of how to use the pen tool so, I'll just let it teach you and I'll just stop now. I'm just gonna go ahead and press close on this. The pen tool you always wanna pick a pretty good starting point that is not necessarily on a rounded area, so I typically start this on something that is a flat area, so I'll click right here, and the next point I make, it's going to allow me to manipulate these anchor points. So I don't want to go and cover over something that has a rounded edge so if we look at the top of this, it kinda has a rounded edge. So I'm gonna go right to the top of that rounded edge. So as I click and move that point, notice how I have some anchors, I got an anchor point with these two paddles that kind of pull outside of there, and I get this really weird kind of angle that is moving around, that curve, okay? That is what's gonna help me make this selection a little bit better. When I click a point, like this one right here, I'll click right here, and I move that paddle around, it can help me make a selection on a curve. Now, when I do that though, look what happens. I'll zoom in a little bit closer, I missed my edge a little bit and that's okay. At any point I can control click on any point that I've made, I can control click, I can push it up. And then, looking at these paddles, I can alt or option click on those paddles, and move those paddles individually. Handles, paddles, whatever you wanna call them. So as I move these paddles individually, look at how I can get a very precise selection for that area. So I'm gonna click on this area here, and again do this, and then I just go around. Work my way around, pull that paddle out that way, to make that selection, again this handle right here if we look really close at that handle, it's not quite making that selection, I can alter option click, to start making that selection a little bit better. Alt or option click on this paddle, and move that in. Then go over here, click on this area right here again it's gonna do something really funky, it' okay. Get to right there, press alt or option on this paddle, pull this up and over, and alt or option here. Alt or option right here, click to pull that in. If at any point you do something you're not happy with, just press command or control Z. Command or control Z will back you up from wherever you are. So go ahead and click here, that's a good one right here, I might make this point right here like that. Zoom in, alt or option, make that selection there, okay. I'll zoom out, again control and space bar are your best friend here. Control or space bar to zoom in or out, or command and space bar on a Mac. If you press and hold shift while you're using the pen tool, it's gonna make a straight line. Shift with almost any tool that you're using is gonna constrain something to a straight line. So I'm press and hold shift, click right there. If we went a little far out, again control click, and I can get right back on to that line. Make things a little bit easier, just press and hold shift around these lines. And maybe this one I might actually do a little bit of a curve. Again control click this point to move it over. You see, the pen tool is not as hard as it seems. It really is at first when you're trying to click and move these paddles around, but if you make small kind of baby steps, press and hold shift, make that a straight line, control click, small little baby steps and understand that these paddles here can be moved however you want them to be moved by pressing alt or option, if you don't this thing is gonna be a nightmare. And I will tell ya how many times I've cussed using this tool, it's a lot. Alt or option to click, and move around there. Cool, made that selection, go around here. And this is a good image to practice on, and it is available with this download, so please by all means as you see me doing this, go through the paces with it, this is a great photograph to work on the pen tool with. Go around to here, this is also one of those times as we're doing this that I wished I had a fast forward button, so I go right around here. Click on this, control click, and we can move this up a little bit, okay. Control space bar to move out a little bit. Go around this edge, I'm just gonna do this a little bit faster now. Again, I made a little error so control Z, step backwards. Click back here, and I'll use my history to go back if I make an error, press and hold shift and move here, control click, bring that down to here, and bring this paddle up again, because I need to make that selection perfectly right there. Come around here, demystifying the pen tool. Tell me you'll appreciate this. Control click on any of those points, you can even control click on one of these paddles. So if I control click on that paddle, look what's happening, it's controlling both of those paddles moving individually, just as if it would if I was making that point to begin with. But the alt or option click just moves one at a time. Then go right around here, and what we're doing here, we've talked about things like raster and vector based, we're actually making a raster based selection right now, because this is a path, and a path is a little bit different than a selection, but we can always turn any path into a selection, press and hold shift, control click, move this up here, then work my way around. Control click, lot easier on this side, huh? I'll just go around rather quickly. A regular click will just give you that line right to that point from point to point. Zoom in here a little bit, because it looks like I got a little, not so rounded area. And I'm control clicking to do that, control click. I'm just gonna go right up here, let's just go all the way to the top here. Control and space bar, zoom out a little bit. Hot keys are your best friend. I need to make a T-shirt, hot keys my new besties. Alright, cool go around there. People might take that out of context if they don't know what Photoshop is, though. Click up here, alt or option move that paddle in. We're almost there, almost there. Boom, go right around here, big loop right here. Alt or option click on this paddle, move it up, then connect back to the very beginning, and if we have that at the beginning and it's not looking right, just press alt or option to get that paddle in, alt or option on this one, and make that selection a little bit better. Control click, alt click, there we go, okay. So now, what we have is we have a path that has been drawn around this entire image. So if we wanted to separate this from the photograph, we can't use this path to do that. We have to turn this path into something called a selection as we've been doing before. So by default it's not a selection like we would look at with the lasso tool or polygonal lasso tool, it's a path. So if we right click on this path, we can say, make selection. So when I make a selection from this, it's gonna pop up and it's gonna ask me, do I even want to feather this, which might be a good idea for this image. If I feather this by maybe one pixel, it will help it from being hard edge because remember this is a vector based selection that we're basically creating here. It's a vector based path that we're turning into a selection, so by adding one pixel of a feather to that, and pressing okay, we now have a selection specifically for that area. If I were to press command or control J on this background layer, it's automatically going to open me up, and if we look at what it gave me, it gave me the outer selection. Of course that happens, we'll just go back, again that hot key we went back in our layers palette. The hot key to make sure that our layer gets inverted, is control shift and I, and now we've made a selection specifically for that Polaroid. Now if I press command or control J, I'm duplicating that selection from that background, and I've segregated it from its background. And now I have this Polaroid camera, if I press the V key, I can move it anywhere I want, or put any background that I want behind it. And if we were to try and do this with something like the quick selection tool, if we were to go around here like this, notice how it's trying to grab too much. If we look at the background here, and we select on the background, everything looks too much like the quick selection tool, but what we'd be doing is we'd be chasing our tail a lot. We would be making a selection around this Polaroid, we would be pressing alt or option to get rid of that area, and we'd be selecting too much of the area around it, clicking outside of here, clicking inside of, it's just a nightmare. You could do it, with just the quick selection tool alone, but it's not gonna be quite as powerful as doing it with the pen tool. Now the pen tool is something that you're going to need to practice with so, download this practice image and work with it because, it's not as easy as I made it look. Put a point down, drag the handle as you put that point down, alt or option click on those paddles to move them individually, control click on those paddles as a group rotating around, and control clicking on the point allows you to move it up and down when you press and hold control and you move that point. The pen tool, it's not something that is very easy to grasp, so definitely definitely practice with that.

Class Description

Adobe® Photoshop CC® is a valuable tool for photographers, but it can also be intimidating. In this all-inclusive 20 lesson course, you’ll go from opening the program for the first time to creating images that really stand out. Join Blake Rudis, Photoshop expert and founder of f64 Academy, as he shows you how to maximize your use of Photoshop. 

Topics covered will include:

  • Class Introduction & Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Setup Interface, Cropping and Layers
  • Layer Tools, Masks, Selections, Clean-Up Tools and Shapes & Text
  • Smart Objects, Transforming, Actions, Filters, and Editing Video
  • Custom Creative Effects, Natural Retouching, Portrait Workflow, Landscape Workflow, and Composite Workflow

Don’t let the many aspects of Photoshop prevent you from maximizing your use of this amazing app. Blake will help you develop the confidence to use your imagination and create the images that you will be proud to share with your clients.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018


  1. Bootcamp Introduction
  2. The Bridge Interface
  3. Setting up Bridge
  4. Overview of Bridge
  5. Practical Application of Bridge
  6. Introduction to Raw Editing
  7. Setting up ACR Preferences & Interface
  8. Global Tools Part 1
  9. Global Tools Part 2
  10. Local Tools
  11. Introduction to the Photoshop Interface
  12. Toolbars, Menus and Windows
  13. Setup and Interface
  14. Adobe Libraries
  15. Saving Files
  16. Introduction to Cropping
  17. Cropping for Composition in ACR
  18. Cropping for Composition in Photoshop
  19. Cropping for the Subject in Post
  20. Cropping for Print
  21. Perspective Cropping in Photoshop
  22. Introduction to Layers
  23. Vector & Raster Layers Basics
  24. Adjustment Layers in Photoshop
  25. Organizing and Managing Layers
  26. Introduction to Layer Tools and Blend Modes
  27. Screen and Multiply and Overlay
  28. Soft Light Blend Mode
  29. Color and Luminosity Blend Modes
  30. Color Burn and Color Dodge Blend Modes
  31. Introduction to Layer Styles
  32. Practical Application: Layer Tools
  33. Introduction to Masks and Brushes
  34. Brush Basics
  35. Custom Brushes
  36. Brush Mask: Vignettes
  37. Brush Mask: Curves Dodge & Burn
  38. Brush Mask: Hue & Saturation
  39. Mask Groups
  40. Clipping Masks
  41. Masking in Adobe Camera Raw
  42. Practical Applications: Masks
  43. Introduction to Selections
  44. Basic Selection Tools
  45. The Pen Tool
  46. Masks from Selections
  47. Selecting Subjects and Masking
  48. Color Range Mask
  49. Luminosity Masks Basics
  50. Introduction to Cleanup Tools
  51. Adobe Camera Raw
  52. Healing and Spot Healing Brush
  53. The Clone Stamp Tool
  54. The Patch Tool
  55. Content Aware Move Tool
  56. Content Aware Fill
  57. Custom Cleanup Selections
  58. Introduction to Shapes and Text
  59. Text Basics
  60. Shape Basics
  61. Adding Text to Pictures
  62. Custom Water Marks
  63. Introduction to Smart Objects
  64. Smart Object Basics
  65. Smart Objects and Filters
  66. Smart Objects and Image Transformation
  67. Smart Objects and Album Layouts
  68. Smart Objects and Composites
  69. Introduction to Image Transforming
  70. ACR and Lens Correction
  71. Photoshop and Lens Correction
  72. The Warp Tool
  73. Perspective Transformations
  74. Introduction to Actions in Photoshop
  75. Introduction to the Actions Panel Interface
  76. Making Your First Action
  77. Modifying Actions After You Record Them
  78. Adding Stops to Actions
  79. Conditional Actions
  80. Actions that Communicate
  81. Introduction to Filters
  82. ACR as a Filter
  83. Helpful Artistic Filters
  84. Helpful Practical Filters
  85. Sharpening with Filters
  86. Rendering Trees
  87. The Oil Paint and Add Noise Filters
  88. Introduction to Editing Video
  89. Timeline for Video
  90. Cropping Video
  91. Adjustment Layers and Video
  92. Building Lookup Tables
  93. Layers, Masking Video & Working with Type
  94. ACR to Edit Video
  95. Animated Gifs
  96. Introduction to Creative Effects
  97. Black, White, and Monochrome
  98. Matte and Cinematic Effects
  99. Gradient Maps and Solid Color Grades
  100. Gradients
  101. Glow and Haze
  102. Introduction to Natural Retouching
  103. Brightening Teeth
  104. Clean Up with the Clone Stamp Tool
  105. Cleaning and Brightening Eyes
  106. Advanced Clean Up Techniques
  107. Introduction to Portrait Workflow & Bridge Organization
  108. ACR for Portraits Pre-Edits
  109. Portrait Workflow Techniques
  110. Introduction to Landscape Workflow & Bridge Organization
  111. Landscape Workflow Techniques
  112. Introduction to Compositing & Bridge
  113. Composite Workflow Techniques
  114. Landscape Composite Projects
  115. Bonus: Rothko and Workspace
  116. Bonus: Adding Textures to Photos
  117. Bonus: The Mask (Extras)
  118. Bonus: The Color Range Mask in ACR


a Creativelive Student

Amazing course, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a beginner's course for photographers. The problem isn't Blake's explanations; they're top. The problem is the vast scope of this course and the order in which the topics are presented. Take layers for example. When I was first learning Photoshop (back when we learned from books), I found I learned little or nothing from, for example, books that covered layers before they covered how to improve/process photographs. These books taught me how to organize, move, and link layers before they showed me what a layer was actually for. Those books tended to teach me everything there is to know about layers (types of layers, how to organize them, how to move them, how to move them two at a time, how to move them two at a time even if there are other layers between the two you're interested in, useful troubleshooting tips, etc. ) all before I even know (from a photographer's point of view) what it is the things actually do. The examples of organizing, linking, and moving mean everything for graphic designers from Day One, but for photographers not so much. Blake does the same thing as those books. Topics he covers extremely early demand a lot of theoretical imagination for a photographer who doesn't already know quite a bit about what he is talking about. Learning about abstract things first and concrete things later only makes PS that much harder to understand. If you AREN'T a beginner, however, this course is amazing. I thought it would be like an Army Bootcamp, taking you from zero and building you into a fit, competent Photoshop grunt. Now I think it's more like Army Bootcamp for high school varsity jocks. It isn't going to take you from the beginning, but the amount you'll get out of it is nonetheless more than your brain can imagine. I've been using PS for years to improve my photographs, and even to create the odd artistic composite or two. The amount I've learned in the first week is amazing, and every day I learn something -- more like many things -- which I immediately implement to improve my productivity and/or widen the horizons of what I can achieve. If you ARE a photographer who's a Photoshop beginner, I'd take very seriously the advice Blake gives in the introduction: Watch one lesson, and practice the skills and principles you learn in that one lesson for two weeks. THEN watch the next lesson. You can't do that of course without buying the course, so it's up to you to decide whether you'd like to learn Photoshop and master Photoshop all from the same course. Learning it first and mastering it later will cost more money, but I think you'll understand everything better and have a much more enjoyable ride in the process. As for me? I'm going to have to find the money to buy this course. There is simply way too much content in each lesson for me to try to take on all at once, but on the other hand I don't want to miss anything at all that he has to share.

Robert Andrews

Blake Rudis is the absolute best in teaching photoshop. His knowledge and how he presents the instruction is clear and concise - there is NO ONE BETTER. Yes, his classes require some basic skills, and maybe I'd organize the order of (or group) the classes in a different order, but, let me be clear - if anyone is to be successful or famous in the Photoshop world, it should be Blake Rudis. I strongly recommend his teaching. I started photography and post processing in 2018, and because of this class, I'm know what Im doing. The energy you get when you create something beautiful is profound, it makes you bounce out of bed (at 4AM) like a 5 year old, to go create. It's a great ride! Thanks Blake, & Thanks Creative live.

Esther Gambrell

WOW!!! I've been purchasing CL classes for several years now and have watched HOURS of "How-To Photoshop" classes, but this is the first one I've actually purchased because of the AWESOME BONUS content!!! SERIOUSLY??!!?!? A PLUG-IN??? But not only that, Blake is SO easy to understand, and he breaks down concepts in different ways to connect with different people's learning styles. I REALLY appreciated this approach because I am a LEFT-BRAINED creative that has an engineering background, so I really connected to what Blake was saying. THANK YOU FOR THAT! There are TONS of Photoshop courses out there, but I found this one to be the most helpful in they way Blake teaches concepts so that you know WHY you're doing what your doing. I feel like he taught me how to fish with Photoshop to feed me for a lifetime instead of just giving me a fish to feed me for one day. This is the BEST overall PS course out there!!! Thank you!!!!