Drawing paths with the pen tool

When drawing with the regular pen tool, you build a path by creating individual points. Photoshop automatically connects the points with segments, which are simply straight or curved lines.

Adobe prefers the term anchor points rather than points because the points anchor the path into place. But most folks just call 'em points. I mean, all points associated with paths are anchor points, so it's not like there's some potential for confusion.

All paths in Photoshop are Bezier (pronounced bay-zee-ay) paths, meaning they rely on the same mathematical curve definitions that make up the core of the PostScript printer language. The Bezier curve model allows for zero, one, or two levers to be associated with each point in a path. These levers, labeled in Figure 8-26, are called Bezier control handles or simply handles. You can move each handle in relation to a point, enabling you to bend and tug at a curved segment like it's a piece of soft wire.

Figure 8-26: Drag with the pen tool to create a smooth point flanked by two Bezier control handles.

The following list summarizes how you can use the pen tool to build paths in Photoshop:

♦ Adding segments: To build a path, create one point after another until the path is the desired length and shape. Photoshop automatically draws a segment between each new point and its predecessor. (The next section gets specific about how you use the tool to create points.)

♦ Closing the path: If you plan to convert the path to a selection outline, you need to complete the outline by clicking again on the first point in the path. Every point will then have one segment entering it and another segment exiting it. Such a path is called a closed path because it forms one continuous outline.

♦ Leaving the path open: If you plan to apply the Stroke Path command (explained later), you may not want to close a path. To leave the path open, so it has a specific beginning and ending, deactivate the path by saving it (choose the Save Paths command from the Paths palette menu).

♦ Extending an open path: To reactivate an open path, click or drag one of its endpoints. Photoshop draws a segment between the endpoint and the next point you create.

* Joining two open subpaths: To join one open subpath with another, click or drag an endpoint in the first subpath and then click or drag an endpoint in the second.

* Specifying path overlap: You can set the path tools to one of four settings, which control how Photoshop treats overlapping areas in a path when you convert the path to a selection.

To make your will known, click one of the buttons near the left end of the Options bar. The buttons, which are labeled in Figure 8-27, become available only after you make your first click or drag with a pen tool. And the button you click remains in effect until you choose another button.

Subtract Restrict

Invert

Note

Subtract Restrict

Invert

Figure 8-27: Click one of these buttons on the Options bar to control how Photoshop treats overlapping areas when you convert a path to a selection.

These buttons also appear when you draw paths with the shape tools. With either set of tools, your choices are as follows:

• Add: Select this button if you want all areas, overlapping or not, to be selected.

• Subtract: Select this button to draw a subpath that eats a hole in an existing path. Any areas that you enclose with the subpath are not selected. Note that if you select a path and the Make Selection command is dimmed in the Paths palette, it's probably because you drew the path with the subtract option in force.

• Restrict path area: The opposite of Invert, this option selects only overlapping areas.

• Invert: Any overlapping regions are not included in the selection.

You can change the overlap setting for a subpath after you draw it if necessary. Click inside the path with the black arrow tool and then click the overlap button for the setting you want to use.

Ij-1 ♦ Deactivating paths: At any time, you can click the check mark button at the right end of the Options bar or press Enter to dismiss— deactivate — the path. When you do, Photoshop hides the path from view. To retrieve the path, click its name in the Paths palette. Be careful with this one, though: If you dismiss an unsaved path and then start drawing a new path, you can lose the dismissed one. For more details, see "Converting and saving paths," later in this chapter.

Ij-1 ♦ Hiding paths: If you merely want to hide paths from view, press Ctrl+H, which hides selections, guides, and other screen elements as well. Or choose Viewt> Show ■!> Target Paths to toggle the path display on and off. To select which items you want to hide with Ctrl+H, choose View ^ Show ^ Show Options.

Tip To get a better sense of how the pen tool works, turn on the Rubber Band check box on the Options bar. (Press Enter to display the bar and the check box.) This tells * Photoshop to draw an animated segment between the last point drawn and the cur sor. Unless you're an old pro and the connecting segment gets in your face, there's no reason not to select Rubber Band. (Besides, what with the '70s being so hot with the teenies, the Rubber Band check box makes the pen tool seem, well, kind of funky. Consider it another chance to bond with today's youth.)

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Adobe Photoshop can be a complex tool only because you can do so much with it, however for in this video series, we're going to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, in this video you'll see an overview of the few tools and Adobe Photoshop features we will use. When you see this video, you'll see how you can do so much with so few features, but you'll learn how to use them in depth in the future videos.

Get My Free Video


Post a comment