The Pen Tool


Composite Photography Basics


Lesson Info

The Pen Tool

When it comes to things like the pen tool, that is a whole class of its own. 'Cause that could take whatever. And as you've noticed, I haven't needed the pen tool today. So if you're doing things that are not that complicated in that respect, then it's fine. If you're doing high-end commercial work where you're trying to extract things precisely and have a really refined path that you can adjust, then the pen tool's amazing as well. Because you can decide how soft the edges are. You can adjust the shape of things. So I'm gonna show you a quick, little run through of the pen tool in like five minutes. Let's see how that works. Okay. Now, the pen tool is something that, I'll be honest, it's probably the hardest thing for me to do in Photoshop just because A, I don't do it as much. I don't need to. But B, it can be really tricky to align things. But there's certain key elements, remember, if you're trying to learn the pen tool. Now the pen tool's tricky because you first have to decide wh...

at points you want. You can't do like hair, right? It's just lines. That's all it is, it's lines. And because of that, I try to hand-select things. But the problem is if you try to hand paint something, it's hard to change the edge of something after the fact. With the pen tool, you're able to make a path around something, and if you wanna adjust the curvature, you adjust a point. It's very technical, and as you can see, I'm not a very technical person. I like everything by hand which is fine depending on what you're doing. So the pen tool is located here. It's called the pen tool. Very complicated stuff. And let's say for example, we wanna select or utilize the shape of her shoulder to be extracted. Because I'm definitely not extracting everything right now with the pen tool. Now to begin with, right off the bat, I like to put on something called a rubber band. The rubber band feature allows you to see the curve that's gonna happen before you click on your point. So let me show you what that means. If I uncheck the rubber band tool, and if I start clicking on this image with just the pen tool, what will happen is it will make points but as you can see, it connects the points after I click on it. It doesn't really give me a preview of what that line's gonna be like beforehand. So that's fine if you're just making points. It doesn't matter. But what matters is if you start making curves. Then it's kind of a problem. The way to make curves with a pen tool is actually pretty simple. You don't click on a point. All you do is you hold and drag. And what happens is you get a really nice curve, right? You get a really nice curve that you can connect. So the problem with that. I'm gonna hit Command + Z, it goes back. The problem with that is if I do a curve now, and I wanna put a point somewhere else, it's not gonna give me a preview of what that curve's gonna look like to complete it. So I'll show you what I mean. If I enable the rubber band tool right now, you see it gives me a preview before I actually put on anything. So I can see what's gonna happen. I can see that curve where it's gonna be placed. So now, when I complete something, I've clicked on a point, I know exactly what that curvature is going to be. It gives me accuracy. So the reason why I usually don't like the pen tool as much is it's a lot harder for me to get that exact curvature. But there's easy way around it. And what I typically like to do is when the pen tool's selected, I enable rubber band first. That makes it a lot easier 'cause you can see how much curvature you wanna put. I'll start by clicking on a point and adjusting it like this. And you can see the curvature generally match where it's going. So I'll do another one over here. And then do another one like this. And just like that, I'm able to go around the image and make a selection. So you see I've made a selection here. And well, the hard thing is some people like to make everything perfect the first go around. And the problem is it's impossible to do in the first go around. There's no way to make it exactly perfect. Well, the good thing about this process is you need to come in here, and you can adjust these points. And what happens is if you select, let's see here. It's this directional path tool. And you can select the point in which the curve is sitting. So you don't have to perfect the first time. You just have to be close enough. The other good option is that if a curve isn't perfect like this, you simply need to hold, let's see. I'm gonna go back to my pen tool. And hit Option and it'll be like a little V. When I click on it, I can readjust the curvature of what I want. And so what happens is I can get the perfect curve. And so that's kind of the basic principle of what the pen tool is. So you make your points. You drag, and then you adjust the points. And then if you need to, you simply readjust the curve by hitting the Option key and then dragging on top of the point again. And you can simply go in and remake one. So if you're like, "Oh, I messed up really badly!" Right? All I do is simply click on it again. And adjust it. And the best part is if you make a curve and you don't want a curve, you just click on it, the Option key, and it goes back to what it was. So it's really powerful. Now to use it, it's even simpler. You right-click. And then you lose it (laughs). You right-click and say Make Selection, right? And you can even feather it, so if you don't want like a really sharp edge, you simply feather it maybe like three pixels. Now you've made a selection. And then you can combine that with anything. Like oh, let's use it with a curve. And suddenly you can select certain areas, and now I can darken whatever it is. Awesome, right? And the best part is because it's a mask, now that we've talked about hand masking which you should know by heart by now, I can select a low flow and then just feather that edge. Right? So if I wanna feather something. You've combined two techniques. And you can do whatever you want. So you can feather backdrops, you can do whatever magical little unicorns, right? It's great. The other great part about the pen tool is that under Window and Paths which is where your pen tool work is hiding, there it is. So you can adjust it again later if you're like, "Aw, I don't like my selection. "Where'd that path go?" I can simply go there again. Right-click and Make a Selection. And then it makes another one. As many as you want. So it's like savable little masks, if you will. The most annoying thing for me was how do I get it off my screen, right? How do I get it off my screen? All you do is just select a new layer. And then it disappears temporarily til you go back there again. Cool? And then with those techniques, usually you shouldn't have a problem masking anything. Yeah? So that's pretty much all I'm gonna talk about. Hopefully after this you feel empowered to composite stuff that you don't really need to. TK, thank you so much. And one last thing. Where can folks follow you after the class? Just let us know. That's creepy. No, just kidding. (laughter) Solsticeretouch, pretty much. Let me put this on the screen really quickly. Pretty much everything I do is under this alias. Under solsticeretouch which is phenomenal if you wanna check out. A lot of retouch-y tidbits, I put stuff on Instagram, on Facebook, and just enjoy having a good time.

Class Description

Compositing is a part of the process that allows people to tell a story and accomplish their vision. It can be quite tricky, but with this tutorial, Pratik Naik shows you the basic tools and techniques needed to create advanced results. You’ll be able to extract people or objects from backdrops and place them into anything you can imagine.