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"Computers are useless, they can only give you answers." Pablo Piccaso
Photoshop - Pen tool pt2: The Selection Tool
Published on December 28, 2006 By
I would suggest first reading How to Use the Pen Tool:
before reading this tutorial as this is part 2 and plays off of terms and other things explained there.
Ok so we covered how to use the pen tool. I kept making references to the fact that you don't have to be too specific because you can always go back. This is 100% true and you can do that with the selection tool.
So where is this thing?
-- The Arrow -- is pointing to the selection tool itself, if you right click the pop-up shows you a black and white arrow.
-- #1 -- is the path selection tool. This arrow allows you to select either the entire object or just a single path between two points. I don't tend to use this one much as the control with it is not very good.
-- #2 -- is the direct selection tool. Now this is the life saver that will make you love creating custom shapes.
So who do they work?
Here is a basic two pointed shape I created using the pen tool. When you first get your Selection tool you will notice what you see in the picture above is different until you click on the shape.
The Path Selection Tool
This tool (#1, the black arrow) allows you to select the entire path and move it around as a whole. When you select the shape it will look a bit different than above in that it will only show you the anchor points and paths. Nothing more nothing less. One reason why I don't really ever use it much.
The Direct Selection Tool
Now this tool (#2, the white arrow) I use all the time. It gives you a full range of control. This time when you select the shape it will show you something similar to the above image. You will need to click somewhere near an anchor point or path. Here are a few more images that will help me to explain what will be going on here when you have more than just two points.
Here I selected the path between two anchor points. Notice it is only showing me the two bars that define this part of the path. I can now modify the path in two ways. The top point here has the solid bars (where if I move this one the other moves with it. The bottom one moves independently from the bar on the other side of the anchor point. I can move this path now by clicking and holding on the path and moving the pointer. I don't really suggest changing your shape in this way. Rather, I can move one of the bars by clicking on the round end of it.
Here I have moved the bar to the anchor point on the bottom. Nothing else has changed and the shape is now different. This is because the bar to this anchor point moved independently from the bar on the other side of this anchor point. Now watch what happens when I move the bar to the top anchor point.
Now our shape is much different. This is because our bars going to this anchor point are connected and move together. So when I moved this one it moved the one on the other side as well. We can fix this if you would like by doing much of the same thing we did when drawing the shape. If you hold the alt key down as well when holding down the mouse button it changes the point to where the bars will move independently from one another. It will look something like this if you give it a try.
While moving the same bar this time I held down the Alt key (as before remembering to let go of the mouse button first). This has now permanently changed our point. If I did this same thing to a bar that is already moving independently from the one on the side then it will move both bars but it will not permanently change them. Next... clicking on an anchor point.
You'll see some things have changed now. I clicked on the anchor point at the top, it is solid showing me this is the one I selected where the others are hollow. Also showing are the bars to this point and the bars to the point leading the path to the point. I can now move all of these just as before. Something new is I can now move the anchor point itself as well. Go ahead and play around with it and you will see all the same things as explained before still apply. You will also see just how helpful this can be in changing your shape.
A return to some of the pen tool options.
If you read the first Pen tool tutorial you will remember that there were a lot of options available to you. Mainly add an anchor point, delete an anchor point and convert an anchor point. They are just as they say.
Adding an anchor point: This one will add an anchor point just as it says. To do so select the tool move over a section of the path and a plus sign will appear under the tool. If you click it a point will be added without changing the path and the bars for the point will be automatically generated to fit the path as it is. You can now modify this point with your selection tool.
Deleting an anchor point: This pen tool will also do just as it says and delete a point. To do this just position the tool over the point and a minus sign appears, click it and the point is deleted and the path will reposition itself automatically to whatever the bars to the points on either side tell it to go. Again you can still modify with the selection tool.
Converting a point: The conversion tool may take some getting used to but position this tool over an anchor point and as you click it will toggle between different options for different types of points (no bars, connected bars, and independent bars).
Well there ya go. Pretty much everything you need to know to create your own custom shapes. Next I will explain just what all you can do with the paths that can be created using the pen tool. Which will be part 3 of the pen tool. Till then I hope this tutorial has been helpful so far.
Pen tool Pt.3: Paths
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Copy/Cut/Paste is not available
on Dec 28, 2006
very using component of any graphics program that has it.
very useful tutorials you got going SKO
on Dec 28, 2006
Thanks Bichur, and just SK is fine
on Jan 03, 2007
Great tutorials! Makes understanding the pen tool so much easier.
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