Photoshop - Pen tool Pt.3: Paths

Thursday, December 28, 2006 by SKoriginals | Discussion: Tutorials

I would again suggest that before you read this tutorial that you read the other parts of the Pen tool.

Part 1: How to use the Pen tool: Link
Part 2: Pen tool Pt2: The Selection Tool: Link

Ok so now that the pen tool has been explained I guess a further explanation of the paths is in order.

In the other pen tutorials I used #1 which creates a filled shape with paths. #2 creates a shape unfilled or just a path. The shapes of #3 are just like using the custom shape tool but with paths and depending on if #1 or #2 is selected they will be either filled or unfilled. For the rest of this tutorial I will be using #2 the unfilled paths.

Well, now I'm going to create a simple path.

With #2 selected you'll notice a few differences when creating path. One, this does NOT create a new layer. Second, it’s not filled. Now to show you something I didn't in the other tutorials and why I'm writing this one. The Paths Tab.

Now this tab will allow an array of this to be done. The path will also come up when #1 (the filled shape) path type is selected. So, whatever was your last path drawn (using #2 the unfilled shape path) will be your working path. Here is what it looks like with a filled shape path also drawn.

Now if you want to draw another unfilled path you will need to delete the current working path, if you do not it will continue drawing from your last anchor point.

If you right click on the path you'll get a pop up which will look like this.

The options are just as they say. You can delete it (or drag it to the trashcan on the bottom). Use it for making a selection just as if you were using the selection options. Or fill and stroke the path. These last two are the main reasons I decided to write this tutorial. If you use these two options you will need to pay close attention to what layer you are one. Remember when we used the pen tool to create just a path (unfilled) we did not automatically create a new layer. When using these options you will fill or stroke on whatever layer you are currently on. I'm going to create a new layer so I'm now filling and stroking on my background layer. Then go back to my paths tab.

If you select fill another pop up appears with all the same options as if you selected fill under Edit>Fill in the main menu. But, this one has the further option of allowing a feathered fill which is not under Edit>Fill.

This is what I have to say I use this whole set of options for more than any other. If you choose stroke this pop up appears.

These are the options under pull down menu. As you can see you can used pretty close to any tool to stroke your path. One of the main things to keep in mind when stroking a path is that (along with paying attention to what layer you may be on) whichever tool you use it will stroke the path at whatever the last settings were for that tool. And that is to say ALL settings that were in place for that tool. I highly suggest checking all the settings before stroking your path and making whatever changes you need too.

Now you might be asking why all this. The answer is very simple... control. Using this option you can create very controlled precision brush strokes.

As with the others I say play around with it and find out in what ways this can be useful for you and I hope this tutorial has been as helpful as the others.
Reply #1 Thursday, December 28, 2006 12:06 PM
I like these articles

I have PSP8 at home - will have to figure the equivalent
I have PS at work - but no access to WC (or lots of other filtered places) to get to these (might have to copy to a doc and mail them to myself )
Reply #2 Wednesday, January 3, 2007 1:25 AM
Thanks for these tutorials, SK. I had no idea the pen tool could be so useful. This is going to make my artwork alot easier create.
Reply #3 Wednesday, January 3, 2007 10:35 AM
Your welcome sViz

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