The Pen Tool

The pen tool is an extremely valuable feature in Photoshop – however often overlooked by most people due to a simple lack of understanding how all of it’s components really work. I will attempt to breakdown the various options and features of this tool and hopefully help to provide a better understanding for what it does.

To start, Click and hold the mouse button down on the Pen Tool on the Tool bar. You will now see another bar pop out with more Tools, these all belong to the Pen neighborhood. I’ll go over what each one does.

We’ll start off with the basic pen tool.  The Pen Tool is used to make paths. A path is any line or shape you draw using the pen, magnetic pen, or free form pen tool. Unlike the bitmap shapes drawn by the pencil or other painting tools, paths are vector objects that contain no pixels. Once you have saved a path, you can store it in the Paths palette, convert it to a selection border, fill it with color or stoke the path outline with any color.

Next we have the Magnetic Pen tool , which lets you draw a path that snaps to the edges of defined areas in your image.

Moving forward we have the Freeform pen tool , which lets you draw paths as if you were drawing with a pencil on paper.

Following that we have the add/delete anchor tools. The Add-anchor-point tool, , lets you create an anchor point along any path. The Delete-anchor-point tool, , lets you delete an anchor path along any path.

Next we have the Direct-selection tool , which allows you to modify the shape of the path. Use this to select a point along the path. You may move the whole path by selecting it and clicking on a part of it and dragging.
Tip: When using the Pen tool, you can switch to the Direct-selection tool anytime by pressing the Ctrl key. (Mac: Command)

Finally we have the Convert-direction-point tool , which lets you convert a smooth curve to a sharp curve or to a straight segment, and vice versa.

About Michael Boguslavskiy

Michael Boguslavskiy is a full-stack developer & online presence consultant based out of New York City. He's been offering freelance marketing & development services for over a decade. He currently manages Rapid Purple - and online webmaster resources center; and Media Explode - a full service marketing agency.

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