Tutorial: Master the Photoshop Pen Tool in under 8 minutes
Ahh, the Pen Tool! When it comes to making complex selections and cutting objects out of an image, there is no better tool for the job. And while the Lasso Tool or Magic Wand Tool might make selections faster and easier (and are still quite useful depending on the situation), the Pen Tool reigns supreme when it comes to accuracy and precision.
So, what’s the drawback? Well, it’s pretty tricky to get the hang of it. Even with all of the helpful videos and guides out there (including a handful of our own), we still get questions all the time on how to master this extremely versatile tool within Photoshop. In our most recent tutorial on the Pen tool, we focused on the absolute need-to-know fundamentals so that you can follow along and start practicing immediately.
Not only does the Pen Tool provide unparalleled accuracy and control, but it’s extremely flexible as well. Photoshop will store any Paths you create under the Paths tab. If you ever need to adjust a selection as you work, you can simply select the Path you wish to edit, make the changes that you need, and then convert that Path into a new selection.
Before editing a Path, be sure to check Auto Add/Delete in the Pen Tool options bar. This will tell Photoshop to automatically swap to the Add Anchor Point Tool (when you’re hovering over a line segment) or the Delete Anchor Point Tool (when you’re hovering over an Anchor Point). This setting makes the process of making changes to a Path much easier.
Avoid using the Delete or Backspace keys to remove Anchor Points! These shortcuts will delete the selected point as well as the line segments that connect to it!
Another key to mastering the Pen Tool is making sure that your precision selections look realistic within the context of an image. I know that we use the Pen Tool for its clean lines and curves, but rarely in the real world will you find a completely hard edge. To maintain realism in your selections, be sure to add a bit of feathering to account for the naturally occurring softness in photographs. It’s a subtle change that will help avoid that “Photoshopped” look.
And if you ever feel lost, just remember your “home base” keyboard shortcuts:
- Use CTRL or CMD to toggle the Direct Selection Tool which will allow to move a Point or a Curve at any time.
- Use ALT or OPTN to convert a Point into a Curve or vice versa.
For an even smoother workflow, toggle the Hand Tool by using the Spacebar. The Hand Tool allows you to navigate around your image by clicking and dragging, eliminating any need for you to have to zoom out, scroll, and zoom back in to continue a Path.
And most the most important tip of all: practice, practice, practice! The Pen Tool completely changed how I work within Photoshop and if you put in the time, I’m confident that you’ll see a considerable improvement in your own work as well.
About the Author: For over seven years, Aaron Nace has been teaching photography and photo manipulation on PHLEARN.com to millions of users across the world at every skill level. You can subscribe for his professional videos or view the free tutorials as well.
|walkersons fields by George Veltchev|
from -Waiting for Autumn- (in Full Colours Only)
|A smile is worth a thousand words by alberto_b|
from Fill the frame
Nikon's Sendai factory in the Tōhoku region North of Japan has been churning out cameras and lenses since 1971. We had the opportunity recently to visit Sendai during events to mark the launch of Nikon's new Z mount.
There's no mistaking the Nikon Coolpix P1000 – with a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom, it really is in a class of its own. It's a conspicuous-looking superzoom with one main job: getting you really close to far away subjects. We've put together a gallery showing the kind of results you can expect from it.
A new report from The Verge claims Instagram is currently testing a feature that allows users to re-share posts to their own account feeds.
GoPro has announced its HERO7 camera lineup. The updated action cameras feature new HyperSmooth and TimeWarp modes, as well as improved video and photo specs.
The latest Samsung midrange smartphone offers a super-wide-angle lens in its triple-camera setup.
The Sony 24mm F1.4 is the latest lens to join the company's premium G Master lineup. We've been shooting with one for a couple of days - here's what you need to know.
Apple released iOS 12 a few days ago and some iPhone X users are less than happy with how the new operating system has made their phones look.
Camera bag manufacturer Lowepro has introduced mark II backpacks for its ProTactic AW range with models that are said to feature an improved handling experience as well as a collection of accessories that can be attached to the outside.
Canon has announced its latest superzoom camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS. Compared to the SX60 that came before it, the SX70 has the same lens but offers a higher resolution EVF, 4K video capture and support for Canon's new CR3 Raw format.
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.
Sony has taken the wraps off of its new 24mm F1.4 GM full-frame lens, which the company claims is the lightest in its class. Despite its fast aperture, the 24mm F1.4 is remarkably light, weighing just 445 grams (15.7 ounces). The lens will set you back $1400 when it ships next month.
In this episode of DPReview TV we take a look at Sony's brand new 24mm F1.4 GM lens, a desirable focal length for many photographers. How does it perform? Chris and Jordan give us their first impressions.
We've had a little time to shoot with Sony's new wide/fast prime, both close to home and on the water in San Francisco. Check out our initial sample images.
Fujifilm released a firmware upgrade for its X-T3 mirrorless camera that addresses issues with distortion compensation and the mechanical lock on SD cards.
The app's algorithms have been trained using using 200 million cropping data points from real photographers.
Thanks to a software update, the Loupedeck+ editing console can now be used for video editing.
British photographic engineer MTF Services is claiming the world’s first third-party lens adapters for the new Nikon Z system with a collection of four units designed to allow cinema lenses to be mounted on the mirrorless full frame bodies.
Think Tank Photo has updated its line of heavy-duty rain covers and introduced a new, compact version for emergency situations.
The X-T3 is our first opportunity to analyze what's likely to be Fujifilm's next generation image sensor. Take a look at how it performs next to the competition in our studio test scene.
Canon's new normal is seriously sharp wide open. After shooting with it for a few days, we've prepared a gallery of real-world sample images.
Nikon will cease offering Brazil-based customer service and technical support, though the company stresses that it will still offer technical assistance and warranty repairs for valid warranties.
Two years ago, CatLABS of JP announced a plan to save Packfilm from the dead. Now, it's announced it's giving up its efforts to better focus its resources elsewhere.
The GoPro Fusion is designed to make it easy to capture 360-degree video and stills. We took it out recently on a typically hot Seattle summer day to see what it can do.
We've got our hands on a full-production Nikon Z7 camera and have updated our gallery with additional samples.
A new Kickstarter campaign seeks funding for Chroma Chrono, a programmable RGB camera flash that emits multiple colors during long exposures.
Think Tank Photo has launched a new lineup of six dual-access, water-resistant protective lens cases it calls Lens Case Duo.
Canon and Nikon finally entered the full-frame mirrorless market this summer with the brand-new RF and Z mounts. Now that we've had some time with the cameras, we wanted to revisit our earlier predictions and take stock.
The devices' camera specs look pretty much identical to last year's iPhone X but under the hood a number of important improvements have been made.
Blackmagic Design has announced the public beta of its new Blackmagic RAW video codec. The company says the new format combines the benefits of shooting Raw video with the ease of use and smaller file sizes usually associated with non-Raw video files.
Serif, the company behind the Affinity suite, has announced the latest update for its mobile Photoshop competitor Affinity Photo for iPad.