The pen tool in Photoshop is the tool that allows you to create vector-based paths and shapes. And I often use the pen tool to create a path around a object, such as this apple, to eventually create a very sharp-edged selection. So you can see that I actually have a path, a vector-based path that I have created around my apple. And one of the nice features of working with paths is that you have the ability to really fine-tune where your path is, using the pen tool and its associated vector graphic tools - such as the direct selection tool and add point, and delete point and corner point tool. Notice when I zoom in to my path that this path does not adhere to any pixels, since this is a vector based graphic - it doesn't really relate to pixels. Until I do something such as activate the path as a selection. So I'm going to drag this path down to the selection icon. And now notice, since Photoshop is really based on raster image grids of pixels, it has converted my path into a selection that goes along the pixels as best as it can, when it translated my vector based shape into an active selection. Paths do not live on any particular layer; they just are part of your collection of data in your document, and you can use paths in various different ways. With one caveat to that, is that if you create a shape, you can put that path on its own layer. And I'll talk about that in a later lesson. Well, how does the pen tool work? I'm going to turn on my white background here, and go to my pen tool and talk about how this works. The pen tool essentially creates line segments for eventual creation of a path, if you wish, by adding anchor points. So you can think of it in its simplest terms as connecting the dots. So I'll just click once to add an anchor point, click again to add another anchor point. And notice right now I have and open path, but when I pass back over my first anchor point, the pen tool changes to have this small circle next to it, indicating that when I click on this anchor point, I will create a closed path. And of course with that path, I can always activate that path as a selection. Well, one of the powerful features of the pen tool is to create a combination of sharp-edged straight-line segments and curved line segments. And the way you do that of course is you click and drag out, holding your mouse button down, a direction handlebar. These little handlebars that are sticking out from my anchor point control the direction and the amount of curvature for one part of my line segment. So I'm going to click and drag, click and drag out a direction handlebar, and I'll click back on the original first anchor point. You can edit your path at any time using one of these many editing tools, and there are essentially two tools that help you select parts of your path or direction handlebars. We have the path selection tool, and this will select the entire path. I can click right on it and move it to a new position if I wish. Or if I want to edit individual anchor points and some facet of the anchor point such as its particular position, or the way one of the direction handlebars is working, I can click right on that anchor point, and click and I'm going to drag select over it, so this is the only anchor point selected. A selected anchor point is solid and the unselected ones are hollow looking. So with this solid anchor point selected, I can click and drag and reposition just this one anchor point. You can also go to the direction handlebars and move them around as well. And notice how they are manipulating and changing the curved nature of this line segment. So you can see, depending upon what direction I drag the handle bar around, it will move the curve. If we drag the handlebar out, it will increase the amount of curve, and if I drag it in it will decrease the amount of curve. And it's important to understand that this handlebar is going to affect about one half of this curved line segment. And this handlebar will effect the other half of it. So if we wanted to create a straight line here, I would drag my handlebars back into the anchor point. Honestly the pen tool is one of the more difficult tools to understand and get proficient using. However, it is also one of the most powerful tools available to you in Photoshop, and for that matter it's also available to you in many other image editing applications and design applications, such as Adobe Illustrator. Well I want to talk about some other features of the pen tool, and that is the add anchor point and delete anchor point pen tool. Like the name suggests, all I need to do is click anywhere on a line segment to add another anchor point. And if I wanted to delete an anchor point, I choose the delete anchor point tool and click right on any anchor point to delete it. Another powerful tool available to you is the convert point tool, and what this tool allows you to do is break off the tandem nature of the direction handlebars, that control the direction of a path segment. I'm going to hold down the command key on my Mac or control key on the PC, and my pen tool temporarily toggle to the last selection tool available, which was the direct selection tool. And when I click right on one of these anchor points that has a curve on either side, I can then go ahead and break off the tandem nature of the way these direction handlebars operate. To show you what I mean, I am going to hold down the command key to continue to use my direct selection tool, and click and drag on one of these directional handlebars, and notice how the other one moves in tandem. If I am using the convert anchor point tool, I can then break off that nature or the handlebar and have it move independent of the opposite handlebar. And I can also simply drag it in to the anchor point to make one side of my line segment a sharp edged corner, and the other side a nice curved path. And I could also drag out handlebars by going to a corner point with my convert point tool, and dragging out handlebars again. So that's your crash course on how to use the pen tool, and in the next lesson I want to show you how I'd use it in the real world to create a path around an object such as the apple.
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