How to use the Pen Tool in Photoshop

Today I start a series of some basic tutorials about tips,techniques and tools to help people who want to learn Photoshop.The first lesson is How to use the Pen Tool.

I`ll try to provide you a lesson daily,so stick close to DeliciousThemes for more…

Pen Tool is maybe the best tool provided by Photoshop,and if you learn how to use it,there`s no impediments for you to become a great web designer.

I`ll show you how to use this tool in creating paths and making selections.

First step:Find a photo

First step is to open a photo in Photoshop.I found one with a small cup of coffee.

Step 2:Selecting the tool

To select the Pen Tool,press the P key from the keyboard.You`ll see in the tools section that the tool was selected.

Step 3:Choosing what to do next

Pen tool offers 2 options:One is Shape layers and second for Paths.

Shape Layers is for creating shapes filled with color and Paths is for creating paths.

Step 4:First point

We`ll make the selection of the cup and for this we`ll choose the Path option.

Ok.With the path option selected,click on the margin of the cup of coffee.You`ll see a point there.This point is named anchor point.

Step 5:The second anchor point

After you created an anchor point by clicking on the margin of the cup,click again on the same margin,near the first point but DO NOT RELEASE THE MOUSE.At this moment,we must reproduce the curve of the cup.Move the mouse around and see how it affects the curve.I repeat,DO NOT RELEASE THE MOUSE!After you obtained a curve similar with the cup curve,you may release the mouse.

If you fail(by releasing the mouse and didn`t have the wanted result),the command to get one step back is Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+Alt+Z for more steps back.

At this moment,if you try to create another point to continue the path,you`ll see that the line goes crazy.

The reason is that we do not cleared the trace of the curve.To do this,hold the Alt key and click where you put the last anchor point.

Step 6:Continue the path

Now click again on the margins of the cup and continue the path,applying what you`ve learned `till now.

So,the algorithm is simple:

  • First point:Create an anchor point by clicking on the margin of the cup..
  • Second point:Click again near this point but do NOT release the mouse.Move the mouse around and try to follow the curve.
  • Clear the trace of the curve by holding Alt key and clicking the last point.
  • Repeat the process from the second point.
  • As an advice,if the anchor points are closer one from another,the path will be more accurate.

    Step 7:Ending the path

    To end a path,you must reach the first anchor point.

    Step 8:Creating the selection

    To create a selection,after you`ve ended the path,right click in the interior of the path and click Make Selection.

    To copy the selection,press Ctrl+C and to paste it into another project,use Ctrl+v.


    Now you`re ready to start your journey to the edges of Photoshop.Hope you like the tutorial and learn something from it.

    See you next time for another lesson of Photoshop.Thanks for reading! 🙂

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    Madalin Tudose

    A web developer with a crush on SEO. Having my skin in the game of website development and digital marketing for more than 10 years already, you might consider me an expert. At least this is what people call me. Honestly, I HATE that term. I prefer to describe myself as a person who takes action and risks. I test every hypothesis, document every step of the process, and implement what works.

    Join the discussion

    1. jd on June 5, 2009 at 2:15 am

      thanks buddy!

      it helped me very much. before reading this tutorial i couldn’t make a single oval using pen tool. now i learned it. thanks again

    2. March on June 5, 2009 at 6:32 am

      exelence lecture. thanks. i wonder for next lessons.

    3. Rajesh G on June 5, 2009 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks a lot…
      I was in confusion about using pen too..this is really simple & easy to imply.


    4. rilttipsy on June 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

      Hi, Congratulations to the site owner for this marvelous work you’ve done. It has lots of useful and interesting data.

    5. priya on June 6, 2009 at 12:58 am

      Very useful….


    6. prakash malhotra on June 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm

      lots of thanks to teach us use of such a simple, easy and useful tool….. i m waiting fot further tutorials anxiously…..

    7. photo retouching on June 10, 2009 at 8:25 am

      Great tutorial. One of the most important tools in photoshop and a must to know how to use it properly!

    8. MAHENDRA SINGH on June 11, 2009 at 11:03 am


    9. eric on June 11, 2009 at 11:57 pm

      i’am sitting in the coach travelling and reading this tutorial made me feel that i ‘ve learning something . it’s clear, objective and precise. i like it well done. i have struggle very much to learn it but you help me to nail it. thanks

    10. Edward on June 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm

      very nice, thanks for creating this tutorial.

    11. hehe on June 28, 2009 at 12:12 am

      Thanks a lot, we like easy to learn tuts 🙂

    Comments are closed.