So far most of the tools you have been shown involved either selecting an area or using a variation of the Brush Tool. As you saw, once you started working with one, picking up the others was easier. The tools in this lesson will involve different approaches. The Pen Tool allows you to draw freeform vector shapes. Similar to using the Pencil Tool, except that instead of drawing pixels, the Pen tool draws vector shapes that can be modified. As you remember from tutorial 1-2, vector shapes provide sharper edges. Of course, there are variations for each tool. These tools are mostly used in design rather than photography, but can be used in both fields. The video at the bottom of the page explains the pen and path options.
Although the vector shapes make an infinite number of shapes, their color is still filled with pixels. You will need a true vector program like Illustrator for best results, but a path you create in Photoshop can be used in Illustrator. But the advantage here is that you can make a design using the Pen tools, then enlarge it afterwards and the edges will still be sharp.
This tutorial will show how to create and edit paths. Later on in the course, you will see how they can used in graphic design.
The Pen Tool differs from the Pencil Tool in that you do not draw using pixels. It differs from the Brush Tool in that you cannot adjust the hardness. These tools creates layers or paths that involve vectors but can later be rasterized. The Pen Tool is perfect for tracing shapes. The image below shows the flyout for the pen tool.
The first 2 icons are used for creating shapes, and the next 3 are used for editing the shapes. The editing tools are also dynamic - meaning that they will appear without you actually picking on them. This can both a blessing and a curse (especially when you're just learning). The Pen tool can be used for creating Paths as well as Shapes. Check the table for some differences between the two. Shapes are covered in Tutorials 1-13.
Creates a Work Path
Creates a Shape Layer
Can be Filled and Stroked
Is Filled when created, but can not be Stroked
After filling and changing the path, the Fill does not change
After filling and changing the shape, the Fill adapts to the new Shape.
Start a new drawing and make the Pen Tool active (P). If you click on different points in the image, you will create straight lines. If you Click and Drag, you create curved segments based on nodes. By using a combination of the two techniques, you can create an infinite number of shapes. Play around with the Pen Tool. Hold down the Shift key to draw straight lines at 45° angles.
Now try the Freeform PenTool. You'll see that as you Click and Drag across the screen, you're drawing a series of vector lines. When you draw a shape with the Freeform Tool, Photoshop transforms it to a series of segment and points. As you draw, you will see small squares - these are called Anchor Points. They are used to define the path of the shape and allow you to edit the path.
A good example of when to use the Pen Tool is if you have text in an image that is smaller than you need it. If you need to reproduce the text, you don't want to enlarge the text which is pixels, so your best bet is to retrace the text and then enlarge it.
If you have a shape on your screen now, you can use the next three icons to edit it's path and anchor points. The first two are very straightforward - they will either Add or Delete Anchor Points. I'll leave it to you to figure out which icon does which. These tools allow to further fine tune your path. I recommend using as few points as needed when drawing a path (it will be more manageable).
The next icon is the Convert Point tool. It is used to convert Smooth and Corner points. To use the tool, activate and move it over the path you have drawn. If you want to change a smooth point to a Corner Point, just Click on it. If you want to change a corner point to a Smooth Point, Click and Drag. When you have a smooth point selected, you'll see direction lines. At then end of direction lines there are points that you can Click and Drag to adjust the curved path attached to it.
Path & Direct Selection Tools
Just below the Pen Tool flyout are the Path SelectionTools. These allow you to move points. These are important to have because if you are tracing something, you might not pick exactly where you want it to be.
The Path Selection Tool does just what it's advertised to do. Use it to select the entire path and move it. Also, while the path is selected, you can also delete it using the Delete key.
The Direct Selection Tool will allow you to select 1 or more points along a path. If you pick on a single point, you can then move or edit the direction lines.
Taking Paths to the Next Level
Now that you have a path, we'll show you how you can use for more in-depth use. For example, the path you have drawn can be changed to take on the properties of the brush tool. To do this, first create a path.
Now go to the Brush tool to make your settings - try something like the setting below and make sure your foreground color is different than your background color.
Now go to the Path Window and right-click Work Path and then select Stroke Path.
From there you will see small dialog box open - select Brush.
Press OK and you will see that your path now has a Brush outline based on what your brush settings were. Take note of a couple of things. Once your add your stroke, you can still edit your path, but the stroke stays where it was created. Also, the stroke is on the same layer you created. If you want the stroke on a different layer, you will have to create a new layer.
Exercise #1 - Open this file and trace a path over the text.
Exercise #2 - Draw a circle and fill it. then try to create a path using the pen tool that follows the outline. Not as easy as it sounds.
This tutorial showed you how to create and edit paths. Remember that paths are vector based and will create sharp images. They can be re-sized without any loss in quality. If you need to trace a shape or text, the pen tool is the way to go. Keep in mind that it does take a lot of practice to get quick with the tool. So practice with a variety of projects to get good at creating paths.