How to use photoshop pen tool – beginner tutorial

The pen tool is one of the first tools in Photoshop that anyone starting out gets to learn about. It is a simple and easy to use tool that takes a short period of time to get used to.

To get started, we must select the pen tool. To do this, we can either press shift+P or select it from the tools window. There are 4 types of pen tools that you can choose from.

1. The Curvature Pen Tool

This tool lets you draw curved and straight lines and also allows you to create custom paths.

To start, first select the curvature pen tool. First click on a point with the curvature pen tool to select the first anchor point. Release the mouse button and click on a second position to create a second anchor point. Having done so will create a straight line. Clicking on a third point will create a third anchor point but this time if the mouse is dragged without releasing the click, then the lines will curve accordingly. Release the click and repeat the process to acquire the shapes you want.

2. The standard Pen Tool

The standard pen tool, similar to the curvature pen tool, also allows you to draw curved and straight paths.

After having selected the tool, click on the point you want the path to start and then click on a second point. A straight line will have appeared between the points. To create curves, click on an anchor point with the pen tool. While having clicked on the pen tool, two lines connected to the anchor will appear and by dragging those lines around, you can create a curvature in the line. Doing this on both the anchor points of the line segment, you can create a variety of curved shapes.

3. The Freeform Pen Tool

This tool allows you to draw on photoshop as if you were using a pen to draw on paper. Simply select the point you want to start and drag to continue. To get a simpler path with less anchor points, click the inverted arrow in the options bar(beside shape button) and assign a value towards 10 in a range between 0.5 and 10.

Click and drag from an unfinished path to continue drawing the path and release the click to finish. Drag the mouse whilst clicking to the first anchor point to create a closed path.

4. The Magnetic Pen Tool

This tool is somewhat of an extension of the freeform pen tool which allows you to create a path which automatically takes the shape of a predefined area in the image you are editing.

Select the magnetic pen tool from the options bar enter a value in between 1 and 256 to set the distance of the edge from the cursor which is detected.

Chose a contrast value in between 1 and 100  to establish how much contrast between pixels is needed for the section to be considered an edge. A larger value is preferred for images with low contrast.

After these, click on the image to start. The first click sets the first fastening point.  Keep drawing a freehand path by dragging the cursor along the edges you want and you will see that the path snaps onto the most prominent edge after the last fastening point.

To add a fastening point manually, click once on the image and press Delete to remove the very last fastening point.

Whilst the magnetic pen tool is selected, press Alt and drag to switch to freehand pen tool momentarily, alt and click to draw straight lines and press [ or ] key to decrease or increase the Magnetic pen width by one pixel.

To finish an open path, press enter, double click to close the path with a magnetic part or press all and double clock to close the path with a straight part.