Basic Controls of the Pen Tool

Photoshop’s pen tool you have three options: Create a new work path, Create a new shape layer, and Fill Pixels.

We will use the Create a new work path option as this the most commonly used. You can find these options in the top left hand corner of the Photoshop window. See the image below.

Just like selection tools, the pen tool has several different options for the resulting path. The most commonly used is “add to path area”. See image below.

Take your pen tool and click on a blank canvas similar to what I have done below. Each time you click you create an anchor point.

Hold down Shft, move the mouse and click again. Holding down shift while making an anchor point creates it in a straight line with the last anchor point.

We can add and delete anchor points on the path we have created. Right click on the pen tool on the toolbar to reveal further tools. Use the Add and Delete Anchor Point Tool to do just that!

I used the Delete Anchor Point Tool to remove the forth anchor point.

Now, let’s look at the Convert Point Tool for curvature modification and moving anchor points.

With the convert point tool click and drag on the second anchor point. Without letting go, move the mouse around and see how it affects the curve. The line that is created is called the Tangent Line. The tangent line controls the curvature of the curve.

Holding down Ctrl click on the anchor point and move the mouse, see how this allows you to move the anchor point.

Click on one end of the tangent line and drag.

This breaks the tangent line in half and creates sharp path changes.

Move the entire path by selecting the Path Component Selection Tool from the toolbar and drag the path to a new location.

Delete your path by right clicking on the path and select Delete Path.

Finally I will briefly touch on another style of creating a path. With your pen tool create two anchor points however on the second click don’t let go, drag the click to create the tangent line. The tangent line will affect the next anchor point that you create. Try it out. I don’t use this technique because I find it slower but many do…use the technique that feels right for you.

So that’s the basics of Photoshop pen tool.