The Mighty Adobe Pen Tool

11
Oct'11
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011

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The Pen tool is one of the few tools that span across the whole adobe universe from Photoshop to Premier. In general terms, the Pen tool creates segments or paths with starting and ending points. Technically speaking, the Pen tool works with Vector Graphics which are mathematical statements and points used to create shape and other characteristics. Using the Pen tool you can create straight lines, curves and even customized shapes. This tool is extremely useful for creating and adjusting shapes in Illustrator but it also becomes useful for creating custom selections in either Photoshop or Premier.

The Pen tool can be found on the Tools Palette (Photoshop Essentials). It literally looks like the tip of a pen. In Photoshop, there are three pen tools from which to choose: the Standard Pen tool, the Freeform Pen tool and the Magnetic Pen tool. All three utilize the tip of the pen icon, but the Freeform and Magnetic Pen tools have an added symbol such as a tiny magnet to the upper right side of the pen tip.

Final Image

Step
01
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011

To Create Straight Lines (Adobe Illustrator CS4)

  • First select Create New Document.
  • Select the Pen tool in your tool palette or press the letter P on your keyboard.
Step
02
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011
At the top of your screen you will find the options bar. When you look at the options bar, you will see three icons representing Pen tool modes. One icon is grayed out because it is not usable when working with the Pen tool. It is the Fill Pixels icon, and is located on the right side. The Shape layers icon is located on the left side, and is used to draw shapes. It is the default icon automatically selected by the program. The final icon in the middle is the Paths icon. You click on the Paths icon in order to select it, and then click once anywhere in your document to begin your path. The small, square point that appears will be your anchor point. Click anywhere else on your document to create your second anchor point.
Step
03
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011
A straight line will appear between your two anchor points creating a path segment.
Step
04
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011
Each additional click will create a new segment.
Step
05
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011
In order to close your path, click on the starting point again. If you are correctly on the point, a small circle will appear at the bottom right corner of the Pen icon. You can adjust the position and size of your new shape with the selection tool as well as the placement of the lines with the Direct Selection tool (located to the right of the Selection tool in your tool palette).
Step
06
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011

To Create Curves (Adobe Illustrator CS4)

The creation of a curve can be achieved by adding an anchor point to the spot where a curve changes direction, and then dragging the direction lines to form the curve.

Select the Pen tool by clicking on it.

Decide where you want your curve to begin, and place the Pen tool in that spot by holding down the mouse button. The first anchor point will appear and your Pen tool will turn into an arrowhead.

Drag to set the slope of your curve path and release the mouse button. The most essential snippet of information you need to know about using the pen tool is that the determining factor in getting the shape you want is placing the anchor points in the correct position. When you create a curve you want to place the actor points where the curve changes direction.

Step
07
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011
If you hold down the Shift key, you will constrain the tool to multiples of 45 degrees. To end the curve segment, merely position the Pen tool where you want the end to be and release the mouse button. Creating a C-shaped curve can be achieved by dragging in the direction opposite the prior direction line, and releasing the mouse button by removing your finger. An S-shaped curve can be achieved by dragging in the same direction as the prior direction line and removing your finger from the mouse button. To sharply change direction of a curve in Photoshop, release the mouse button and Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) the direction point in the direction of the curve. Then release the Alt or Option key and the mouse button. To complete the path, reposition where you want the path to end and drag in the opposite direction.
Step
08
Ken Hattori
Member since:
Oct 2011
Smooth curves are created by placing anchor points at the beginning and end of each curve (not the curve tip). Create as many curves as you desire, and complete your path by positioning the Pen tool over the initial anchor point.

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