Use and Function of Pen Tool in Photoshop
Here we go folks. The pen tool. And I love the pen tool. If anybody's on Cafe Press, years ago we put this up on Cafe Press and made them into T-shirts because I love the pen tool. And you may be wondering, okay, I use the pen tool and I've never seen this come up next to the pen tool. It's because you haven't used it enough. But the funny thing is, I actually had somebody come up to me and they're like, yeah, I'm not quite getting it. They're looking at the shirt. It's like, okay, either you get it, or you don't get it. It's the pen tool. You love it or you don't. There's nothing to get about it. How many people love the pen tool? Yay! How many people hate the pen tool? Yay!
I don't use it enough to be familiar with it enough.
The pen tool has a love hate relationship, but, you know, some people drive the pen tool like they've never driven anything before. And I have to tell you that driving the pen tool is like driving a car, but people seem to have this disconnect between the ca...
r. You turn right and it's supposed to right, you turn left, it goes left. You're probably saying, what does this have to do with the pen tool? Let me show you! Here we go. I'm actually sitting back in my chair here getting ready for the race, because people used to just watch me do the pen tool all the time. And here we go, you can watch me use the pen tool. What is the pen tool used for? The pen tool is used to frustrate and annoy people all around the world. But it does have some useful features as well. One of the things that we use the pen tool predominantly for is basically going in and putting in a selection around objects. The pen tool creates a path, and with that path, we then turn that path into a selection. So it's basically means to an end. When we go in and we turn on our path around our object here, we can actually see, let me go in and I'm gonna turn off my view here so I don't want to go in and I don't wanna see my pixel grade one this. There we go. We can see here that I have a path around my object. This is very common when we would buy stock photos that were on a solid white background. I wouldn't want to spend the time to knock out the white background, because I didn't know my cool trick to knock out the white of the background, but also too, it's a very easy way to put a selection around an image. And so I used my pen tool, I turn that into a selection, and I now have something that stays with the file. So there's my path around my object. I put my path around my object and I can turn that into a selection by going in, and I have my selection. Could I do this with the lasso tool? Sure. Take a little bit more time, especially with a more intricate object. It actually works faster, in my belief, with the pen tool, because I can use it a whole lot faster. And it's also more forgiving than going in and using the selection tools. Got lots of great selection tools but this is one of these ones that we use the pen tool, but if you don't like the pen tool, this is where you're gonna learn it. What the pen tool is used for is exactly that. I wanna go in and I wanna put a path around an object. But before we actually do that, we have to show you how the pen tool works. I'm gonna start up a blank document here and I've made the cursor very big, because what happens when you go to a foreign country and people don't understand you? You talk loud. You don't understand the pen tool so we're gonna make it big so you can hear it. Okay? Lots of simple words. So I increase the pen tool size because using the pen tool, we're gonna see a lot of different modes that come into play with the pen tool when we're dealing with the line segments and the points and the type of points that we're gonna have, and the Bezier handles and the crashes that you'll cause by driving the pen tool. Very basic pen tool etiquette right here. Pen tool, we can click and hold on the pen tool. We've got the pen tool, the freeform pen tool, add anchor point, delete anchor point, and convert anchor point. By the way, the pen tool has no correlation with the pencil tool. Don't even bother. So here's our five tools that we can get access to very quickly. And then, when we draw a path with our pen tool here, we can go into our selection tool, our path or our direct selection tool, to go in and edit these points, or these line segments on the path. What I'm gonna do is start off, I'm gonna have my paths panel here readily available, and I'm gonna show you how we're gonna begin to drive the pen tool. Once we master the pen tool, then I'm gonna show off and I'm gonna show you how we can do this around the object. But for now, fasten your seatbelt because we're gonna start off really slow. Everybody got their seatbelt fastened? Turn signal on? Oh, we forgot to put gas in the car. Just kidding. So the pen tool. I'm not gonna be switching back and forth between all of these different tools in the pen tool via my toolbar here. We're gonna do this all with shortcuts. We're gonna start off and we're gonna introduce these shortcuts as we need. Pen tool, I'm gonna start off basic stuff. I'm gonna click and when I start off here, you'll see the initial click that I have. I've got the asterisk next to my pen tool. That means I'm gonna start my path. I'm going to click and as I begin to click, that little asterisk goes away, because I've already started my path, and as I begin to click, every point that I click, I am creating a point that is gonna be connected with a line segment. You know this as dot to dot, right? One, two, three, four, five, yes. So every place that I click, I'm gonna get a straight line in between. When I'm done, I want to complete my path. And when I get to my original point, I hover over that point, I get a circle, it shows me that I'm gonna close my path. Done. My path is gonna show up in my paths panel right here. I'm gonna make that really big so we can see it. Because everything is gonna be nice and loud. There is my path. From this point I could take my path and turn it into a selection. But I don't have anything to select right now. I just wanna get the pen tool down. Now I've drawn my path here and that's all good. If I wanna edit my path right here, I can. With my pen tool, I can go in and I can add anchor points to any existing line segment. I can delete any existing anchor points, and I can also convert anchor points into what? What can I convert them into? Money? Gold, fabulous things? Or annoying little Bezier pull handles. Mmm hmm, you pick and choose. I wanna go in and I'd like to add some points to my lines here so I can then further edit those points. I don't need to introduce any other pen tool here. I could go in and just say add or delete anchor points here. Don't even need to. By default, every time I hover over an existing path here, if I hover over a path or a line segment here, I get the plus, and it's gonna tell me, if I click here, I am gonna get a point. If I hover over an existing point, I get a minus and I'm really bad at math, so I think it's going to take it away. It sure does. I can click on those points, and this allows me to add points or take away points. Every time I add a point, that allows me then to go in and move that point and change the shape of my path. I'm gonna go in and I'm going to basically edit my path using my path selection tool. I have my path selection tool, and there's two different ones here. The path selection tool, which, if I use that, will select my entire path as a unit. It selects the path and I can move it around. And I could, if I wanted to transform this, do command+t, I could rotate my path. There it is. My direct selection tool allows me to go in and directly select each and every individual point or line segment separately. And when I go to my direct selection and I click on those points, everything still moves. Huge source of frustration. People are like, yeah, it does it too. Right, because you're not using it correctly. Now that I've drawn my shape, or my path, I'm gonna click off that here. It resides in my path's panel right here, and I see this, and I have two different methods of looking at this. If in my path's panel it's highlighted in blue, my path is visible. But it is not active because I don't see all the points in the path. If I click off my path's panel right here, it's still there. Now it's no longer visible. So if I want to use my path, I will need to make it visible by clicking on it in the path's panel, and I will need to make it active by clicking on my path selection tool. And I select that path, there we go. Two different things. It's not visible, it's not active. It is visible, but it is not active. If I wanted to use my pen tool and do anything with it, you'll see that I hover over this and it's not showing me any add or subtract. It's showing me the asterisk saying that, it's gonna start a new path. Because even though it's visible, it is not active. So I'm gonna take my direct selection tool and I'm going to click on the path and it's now going to become active. You'll see when I use my direct selection tool, all of the points are empty. That means that even though the path is selected, none of my individual points are actually selected. So, I take my direct selection tool and I can click on a line segment and move just that. If I want to move a point, I will click on the point, the point will become black. It is now selected. All the other ones are white or hollow. Those are not selected. I can't move what isn't selected. The direct selection tool allows me to directly select a single point or multiple points or a line segment and edit just those that I have selected. If it's black, it's selected. If it's white or hollow, it is not selected and I can't affect those with my direct selection tool. I can move this point wherever I want to. If I wanna select multiple points, I can click and drag with my direct selection tool over those multiple points, and I can change those points. What happens is when people go in and they use their direct selection tool and they find that they move everything all together. This is what happens. I'm gonna click off my path completely. I go to my work path and I click on this. And then I go to my path selection tool and I select my path. Every single point is selected. They're all black. I now go to my direct selection tool to directly edit any one of the points there, and they're all still black. They're all still selected. I assume that I'm doing something wrong because now I have the direct selection tool and it's not allowing me to directly select. Get in the habit of taking your direct selection tool, deselecting, clicking off so it's no longer active. It's visible, it's not active. Now I'm gonna click back on here and now I have all of my open points. None of them are filled with black, none of them are selected, so I can select those that I want and I can move just those. If I use my path selection tool, it selects the entire path. It doesn't know when I switch back to my direct selection tool, which ones not to select. So just get in the habit of clicking off it, clicking back on it with the direct selection tool. And now I can go in and I can actually edit my path. Huge source of frustration. That's why I make it very clear. So we can have a path that is visible, a path that is active, and then we can have an entire path that is selected. Very slight different terminology there, but very important when you're learning this so it saves you years worth of frustration and hassle. Because you'll need those years to be frustrated and hassled with the pen tool from that point on. (audience laughs) I always like to use shortcuts, so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna show you this one great shortcut. And I'm constantly gonna be using the pen tool and switching over to the direct selection tool to be able to edit those points and those paths as I move along. I switch to my direct selection tool, and then I'm gonna jump to my pen tool here. I would like to activate my path. It's visible but it's not active. I'm gonna hold down my command key, and the command key is gonna switch over to the direct selection tool, if that was the last path tool that I used, which is why I said I clicked on my direct selection tool first, then my pen tool. If I last used my path selection tool to select, and then I go to my pen tool here, it's not gonna do it, I think they fixed it, which is awesome. Usually what happens is the last tool that you use is the last one that you get. And hopefully they fixed that because it's always been an annoying thing. I've set my habits up years ago. Pen tool, I can go in and my path is active. I can see those points, and now my pen tool is gonna do exactly what I want. Add points on my line segments, take points away there. Can't do it if the path is not active. Nothing happens. Gotta have the path active. Hold down the command key, command click, has my direct selection tool. Now I can take points away or add points with my pen tool. I can then hold down my command key and I then am able to move my path around just by going back and forth between my pen tool. So I don't have to stop what I'm doing. I'm gonna use the command key to go ahead and shuffle back and forth between there. Pretty simple. When we've drawn a path, it comes in as a work path. If I click off that path, and my path is no longer active in the path's panel here, and I decide that I would like to draw another path here, that one goes away. So I start to draw, and all of a sudden that one goes away. Where'd it go? I thought, if I draw this, I never deleted that, what's happening here? This is crazy! Well here's what's happening. You are going crazy. (audience laughs) Plain and simple, you're just going crazy. But that doesn't mean Photoshop doesn't work the way it works. Here's how it works. When I draw a path here, and my path is actually highlighted and selected here, it doesn't matter if I actually have the path active. It's selected right here, but it's not active. If I have this selected and I draw multiple paths here, I can get multiple paths on that one particular path. The second it's no longer active or selected here and I start to re-draw, it's gone. This is just a work path. And it assumes that when you click off them, you're done, and everything else that you draw is gonna start all over. This causes a lot of heartache for people that spend hours undoing this. They click off, they come back, and they forget to click back on it and start all over again. It's gone, like gone in the way of gone, gone. Frustrating as all get out. Every path that you want to go ahead and continue working with here, either, don't ever walk away from this and click off it, or go ahead and save this path. It's not like you go under file, save, and save the path here. What's weird with this is, we're going to save the path by double clicking on it. Which we would in most other cases, think that by double clicking on that name, we actually name it. Well that's what we're doing. Once I go ahead and name the path, it now has a name to it and therefore it is saved. Weird, right? My path, once I name it and it's no longer work path, as long as I name it, it's saved. I click off it, and if I begin to draw another path here, it keeps that path there. That's how you keep your paths. If you like it, name it. If you don't like it, don't name it, and lose it all. And so every time I wanna save a path, I double click on it like I would a layer here, and I just go in and I name it, which is saving the path. And paths are worth saving. That's all there is. I'm gonna go in and I'm going to name these paths, and they're saved. Great. Now, if I click off them, they don't go away. I can click off them and I can draw another path. Or if I click on them, I just simply add another path to that particular saved path right there. Don't ever click off them without naming them unless you really wanna lose it. Question here?
That second path you just drew, is it saved to that first panel or do you have to go back and rename it?
So here's the crazy part. You see when I drew it, it automatically did it here? There is no future saving that needs to be done. Because I've named it, it's saved and it's saved forever until I delete it. I can add anything I want to with it, and it has been saved. Sounds like a religious experience, doesn't it? Once you've been saved, you've been saved forever. As long as you're a path. So we have another question here.
I do, from beats 435, how long do you have to keep the command key held down when you switch from pen to direct selection tool?
As long as you want the direct selection tool, hold that command key down. If you wanna keep going, keep your foot on that accelerator. Once you let off, everything stops.
Is there a shortcut for switching between the direct selection tool and the regular selection tool?
Why yes there is. And you'll see with any of these right here, it's the letter A. If you press A and keep pressing A, nothing happens. When you find out that it's the exact same shortcut here under there, what you do is you hold down your shift key. Because A is your selection tool and direct selection tool, hold down shift and shift+A is gonna bring you. There you go. Now we know how to actually save and name our paths. Once we name the path, as long as we have that one selected, whatever paths that we put on there are all gonna be part of it. No need to save it again. It's already been saved. Hallelujah. Well now my paths look pretty awful. But hey, you know, I'm just learning how to use the pen tool here. The last five, 10 minutes, absolutely huge for when you're trying to use and save all the stuff that you're doing. It's a huge source of frustration for a lot of people. I'm actually gonna delete these paths on purpose. And now what I wanna do is I wanna begin showing you how this pen tool actually works with both straight lines and curved lines. When I take the pen tool, click, click, click, click, right there. Every time I click, I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna get a straight line. If I go in and I click and pull, I get my little Bezier handles, and I get the curved lines, and that's where I'm going to get all of my curves, and I can create a beautiful rounded square. That's what confounds people. This whole curve thing and how do you actually get the handles, and which way do they go, and I can't drive this thing, and this is awful, and I always get some horrible shape out of it. Drivers ed folks, this is drivers ed for the pen tool. Once you get passed this, we'll even create a little pen tool drivers license for you. (audience laughs)