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Retouching Product Photography

Lesson 2 of 5

How to Use the Pen Tool

Aaron Nace

Retouching Product Photography

Aaron Nace

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Lesson Info

2. How to Use the Pen Tool

Lesson Info

How to Use the Pen Tool

So in this case, I'm really lucky because the layers that we have are there in the same place, the well it's, the relatively well lit and my job basically is to make sure that I can mask this area in so we're going to be using the pen to a little bit as it show hands people who use the pencil on voter shop all right, about half of the people who use it, how many people actually like it one one and a half, all right, so we got like a ten percent hit ten percent people who actually like using a pencil pencil was it's one of those sorts, it takes a little bit of time to look kind of like, get used to it and learn howto get the most out him, but I'll give you a couple of quick tips here because the pen jewel is such a good tool when you're especially when you re touching product photos so pencil what its basics it's a very much like a click and drag tool, so if I want to make a shape, I'm going to click here and drag in this direction, which is going to give me these two anchor points and ...

basically these define where my where of the curve of my next point is going to go, so if I click here and drag in this direction this curve is defined by this anchor point and this anchor point. If I click again and drag out this part of the curve is being defined by this anchor point and that anger point, so you can see if I just click and drag a few times. I could make something like a spiral or, you know, trace the edge of my chair now it's a great tool, because you can change any of this at any point in time. If I hold down the control or the cranky and click on any of these key points, I can move any of my points at any point in time. I could do this a year from now does not matter these air not going to be locked in. Still, you can also click on the curve itself and move that around, and you can also click on the anchor points and move them around is well, so if you do create a pen path and it's pretty close it's not perfect, you could always go back and you can change that pen path. All right, now. The pen pouts restored right over here. Where you have your layers, your path in your channel so this is what's called a work path by default and if you want to say that you can just double click on it and give it a name and you're good to go so we're gonna go ahead and delete that and we're going to create a new path all right, there we go and let's just sit new path right here and we're just going to basically make a straight a sorry a curved line right along the bottom of our chair so I want to start here and we're gonna click right down here and pull out in that direction and again, my goal is to make this line as smooth as possible while still following the bottom of the chair, so if you're trying to create a large sweeping curve like this, you want to use as few points as possible basically you want to click is a few times as possible so you can see I can create basically a line along light pretty much my entire chair just with a couple different cliques there we go kind of bringing this out and I'm holding the control or the command key to kind of move these around so you can see I've covered you know a third of my chair already and I've only clicked three times, which is really, really cool so you get a lot of people using the pencil for the first time who want to do something like this and what you wind up getting is a selection that's going to be really jagged, but the goal with the pencil is to get very smooth elections, so to get those smooth selections you want actually uses little of these points as possible, so you can see I'm going to try, we're going to click right there, and then we should be able to get the entire bottom and the back side of the chair with just four klicks. So we have one point here, too. Three four sorry, it's five there we go. So we can see that's a very nice, even curve and have making that selection with just about any other tool would be close to impossible because it is such a nice, even curved. I'm gonna continue going around the top of the chair and we can take any questions if we have any wildlife while I continue to go around because this is relatively mindless, just clicking and drawing in here, folks, we did yesterday we had mike kelly, who is teaching architectural photography, and he was using the pen tool, so for people that hate it, a great site busier, the e z I e r not method dot a c is this kind of like game that's a pen tool trainer it's really amazing go ahead and go in the chat room and get the link to that if you hate the pen tool and want to learn how to use it was a great great link yeah it's a good said I've never I've never done that before probably you know one thing what do they have like high scores and stuff when you compete from other people could I compete with mike kelly? You should call him out it's unlike I played nice but when it comes to the pencil we'll get there are a lot of people who aren't terribly fund of it I forget somebody in the chat room was like isn't it called the pain tool paintsil nelson was saying that yeah and it's funny because for you know when I was learning photoshopped it was it was definitely one of those tools where is like every time I had to use it it was like all right there goes thirty minutes of my life um which if you can use a more simple tool that takes less time that's wonderful but when you have a selection like this that you you need to be perfect and you need these very smooth soft edges there really is no better tool so it's it's one of those tools that every professional uses it and every professional has gone through the the pain of learning how to use it. But they continue to use it because it is. It is the right tool for the job. A lot of the time. Well, what you just said it's kind of one of the issues that again we see in so many different really high end photographers is there are ways to do this that will get it close. Really clicked quickly. Or you, khun do it this way and get perfect but it's going to take a little while? Yeah, it's going to take a while? I'm going see if I can get this entire surface here. I think I can do this with one of the other nice thing about this too is let me just create a new layer so I can show you guys there are actually some variances in the surface of the product that you can see here you can see how it kind of comes up and then dips down a little bit. There it it is a little bit. I mean, if you were to zoom in, it would look a little bit like this. Can everyone see how it's not a perfect line? So the great thing about using my pen path is that I can actually I can make that line better, aiken. Place the curve slightly inside of the chair in action I can actually make the line better, which is going to make my product look better too so I'm gonna try to click right here. Here we go if you ever missed, by the way this happens all the time where you start doing something else and you start to go again and you're you're not connected with your original pen path here just go zoom into your last point, hover over it there we go however over your point and then you'll see. All right, you'll see a little there we go it's not doing it it's just naturally connecting already. Well, if you do ever lose your point, it's basically going to create a little like square there and you can go back to your last point and you could just continue making it on the same in this case, it'll probably happen again. So um there we go let's remake that all right, zooming in. I'm gonna hold alter option now and bring this point up, which is going to actually allow me to make a sharp point so the pencil wants to make really even curves that's kind of the whole idea of like if I click around, you can see there are no sharp points, but if I want one at any time I can hold the altar or the option key and click here, and I can make that into a sharp point. All right, there we go. We're going, click here, drag up in this direction, we're going to zoom in, and now I can hold the controller cranky, and I can adjust both parts of this line so I can come in here from the bottom, never go and from the top, and I can create my own line that's going to smooth out what we've got going on in the chair. All right, there we go. That looks great. So we're gonna bring this around, bolt or option to bring that point back up. All right, here we go. Here's a good example of what I lost when I lost my original point. You can see if I start trying toe continue my path there, it's starting in a new place. So if I go right back over my last point, you'll see a little square with two sides taking out if I click that it will now continue along the same path, which is exactly what I want. Is that exactly what I want? All right, let's, bring that up, and if you really really don't like using a pen tool, they're actually quite a bit of services. Online, there are there are whole companies that will just penned tool things out for you, so if you do, you know, if you photograph a ton of products, things like that and you need to just have things pent out there, usually overseas, and they're usually pretty inexpensive as well, so I think you play like a dollar or two per image to have things cut out in there. From what I've heard, I haven't used any of the services, but ross, who who photographed this chair, the company he works for sends thousands of images overseas. They get him back with the clipping masks all already in good to go. So from what I hear, they actually do a very good job, which is which is good to hear. So if it's really seems horrible to you a couple bucks, you can send him overseas and have someone else take care of it so you can see I'm this area to this curve would look really nice if it continued around smooth, but instead it kind of comes out there and back in. So I'm actually just gonna cut that little area off which maybe a big no no there, especially if you were trying to sell this product or something, but in this case it's going to really help smooth out that line, all right, there we are and I just want to scroll all the way around it just to make sure that we have our selection exactly how we want all right, perfect okay, so now that we have our selection of our chair basically I can do whatever I want with it and it's going to make a lot of sense in just a little bit why I spent so much time to select this chair out because we're gonna be able to do some great things with the background of this photo so path one, we're just going to double click here and we're going to call this chair um we're go pretty original there and I'm going to make this into a selection so to make this into a selection I'm gonna right click and go down to make a selection now you can choose to feather the edge of your selection in this case I'm gonna try to keep it pretty sharp so we're gonna go toe point five pixels that's going to be the feathering basically making it a little bit softer at the edges so we're gonna get ok and now we have a selection around our chair and it's a perfect selection if I created a new layer and I decided to fill it with red there we go you can delete that, you know we make this invisible now let's just created black layer underneath it there we could see even zooming into one hundred percent let's just bring up our navigator so we can see all right all right so zooming into one hundred percent you can see the line quality on this chair is absolutely perfect so if you were you trying to use like a brush tool to cut something out or you know a lasso tool the lesson tool your hands going to shake a little bit and you're you're not going to be able to create these perfectly smooth edges that have these transition with these transitions with each other so using the pencil really is by far the best tool to get these selections because you can see there they're absolutely perfect. All right, do we have any questions up until now? Um sean was wondering what is the difference between making a selection with the pen tool versus the magic one tool why can't use something like that that's just a little bit quicker? Ok, good question. Good question. Well, there are a few areas around this photo that I really needed to make sure we're just right so magic wants well let's go ahead and click on the magic ones will for areas like this it would probably work pretty well areas you know that are very well defined between the background in the foreground but I do have areas here with the reflector so is I try to add to this election it's going to wind up getting a little bit more complicated and have a higher chance of not not really working out especially when I'm you know it's selecting down here underneath the chair in this case it's getting pretty close let's go ahead and zoom out there we go let's take a look at our actual selection so with the magic wants in this case we were get able to get a little bit closer than I thought if you had something in the background that was similar color, it would be the magic wants you wouldn't be able to separate those out the magic wands will basically search first searches for similar colors so even clicking there we're going to go to a refined edge dialogue and I'm going to choose my selection to be there on white so you can see the edge of my selection now we resumed in at one hundred percent we can see with the edge of this election looks like now it does it has that kind of like jagged quality to it because that's how the magic one tool works it chooses points that are similar to wherever you click you can see my background is actually selected a little bit as well you can actually see the color there on it and and see if we can find another it looks like we've got a little bit of ah you know kind of an area sticking out there we weren't able to refine the edge of that curve to smooth that a little bit with the magic one school is well and we are selecting a little bit of this area down there as well so the magic wanted would probably get you most of the way there and if that's the only tool you knew it would it would work but as far as like the choice of professionals what we're actually using t do this you know at a professional level for print the pencil is really the way to go go um yeah any other questions were good for now all right go go so now that we have this layer let's go ahead and select out our path we're gonna again just make sure we turn this into a selection someone right click again we're going to go toe make selection point five pixels there we go so now we can basically use this to define a layer mask for this layer so this layer we only want to be visible for this part of the chair I'm going click on my layer mass button and there we have our layer mask so the area where we photographed the chair I say we but I had no part in this thing by the way this was photographed with reflectors down on the bottom so we wind up masking those out they disappear completely there we go, and we can see now we see the detail there in the chair and the highlights come through ok. Now, with the same selection active let's, just go ahead and make sure we do selected I'm gonna click on make selection here. There we are, we can create a layer underneath of these, all right? We can create a layer sorry, we don't even need that selection. I'm stepping ahead, we're going to create a layer underneath everything that's just a black layer, a black solid phil layer alright, and placing the chair over top of this now is going to allow us to see all this area on the top where we had a reflector in this area on the bottom that had a reflector as well. We're going to be able to completely get rid of those areas because I'm able to use a layer mask now to define where we actually want those layers to be visible, so this layer on the bottom we're gonna hold all torre option to copy the layer mask again. I'm making sure that we have a perfectly back black background because after this I can create my own background if I'd like, I can add elements to my background to make it more interesting, which we're going to do. Ok so now we have this layer mask and then here on this layer mask I'm just gonna paint in the base of the chair so again you could do this with the you can do this with the pencil to make a selection of the base but because it's on black I'm just gonna pay white with my regular brush cool just to paint this back in all right so again you can definitely make a selection out of the base of the chair and use that to define your layer mask it's going to take a little bit more time to do it that way so we're gonna we're gonna do this right here all right? And I'm gonna lower the capacity that's just a little bit to be a little more realistic okay, so what we have now is our chair perfectly on a black background so let's go ahead and start grouping some things together I'm going to shift click on those two layers we're going controller command g to group them together we're gonna double click here and we're gonna call this chair all right? We're gonna group this later with itself I'm gonna call this background ok and now we're going to start a little bit of work on her background just to make it a little more interesting and then we're gonna do some retouching so with our background I'm gonna create a new layer I'm gonna use my grady and tools someone had g for the grading tool and then we're just going to choose a color it doesn't really matter what color at this point because we can change it and with my grady into or I'm going to choose the radio ingredient that I'm going to go down to the four round two transparent option so let's it okay and I'm gonna click and drag out in that direction and because we cut out our chair so well I can place this wherever I'd like behind my chair to add a little bit of focus into my image all right in that pretty cool yeah the other thing I can do with this because it's totally done in photo shop is very easy you know I'm gonna right click here and I'm gonna make my entire background black there we go the other thing I can do here I can hit controller command you on this red there we go and I can adjust the huge saturation of just that area as well so I could make it more or less saturated and I can change my hue to something that matches our chair a little bit more or maybe we'd want something that's a little bit complimentary all right that blue is nice if I lower the saturation down a little bit maybe I made it a little bit larger when you guys like the blue you like to what the red all right, let's go with the red then is your class all right? All right, I think that saturation looks pretty good all right, you know what I'm gonna create to dupe look into this so we can try one that a little bit larger one a little bit smaller and then you guys can tell me which one you like there all right? Larger and I think of a lower the capacity keep it a little more subtle. All right, so that's going to be our large let's double click and call that large? The great thing now with product photography is a lot of what I'm going to be doing from here on out is styling I get to do the really interesting things like this you don't really get to do this so much with portrait's like creating interesting shadows and light radiant things like that behind objects but when you're working with product photography, you do do you get to create these you know what? I'm gonna try stretching that out. You do get to create these like really interesting shapes in front or behind your objects that I'll help you define your objects a little bit better, all right let's duplicate that and I want to bring this down here there we go all right, yeah and some interest down there as well okay, so I'm gonna let you guys vote. So what do we like, the large away like this, which kind of hits both areas or do we like this that's a little bit smaller, number two large. All right, what about if we did a mixture between the two, there we go. We're going to lower the passing here, both allowing them to mix together. Yeah, all right, I like this voting process. He has come back, chicago with me, my studio. I don't have to think anymore. This is great. This is my my panel here. They help me with every one of my decisions.

Class Description

As a product photographer your main goal is to make products look as good as possible. In Retouching Product Photography, Aaron Nace will teach you essential retouching techniques so your products look their absolute best.

Even under the best conditions product photos will contain flaws that need to be fixed in post-production. In this class, you will learn how to combine multiple exposures, clean up backgrounds, use the pen tool and color correct. Aaron will show you the best way to eliminate distractions and enhance detail in all your product photos.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2014.2.2

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Aaron Nace - Retouching Product Photography - Reference Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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a Creativelive Student

Great as always. Thank you Aaron


I am a big fan of Aaron Nace work, the class is definitely beneficial, but I was expecting a sample similar to the burger displayed.