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The Pen Tool

You've all heard of it. some of you try to keep your distance... Thats not good. here, in this simple tutorial, you'll learn easily how to use the pen tool.

These are all of the seven pen tools. The most important one is the actual pen tool. The first tool in the pen's drop down menu. This tool is used to create the anchor points for your path. Anchor points are the points that your lines/curves will be guided by. The curve of you line depends on the direction lines of your anchor points. But more on that later.

Any active anchor point will be solid (or a filled in square), while non-active anchor points will be hollowed out (or an outline of a square). A closed path is a solid shape and an open path is a line/curve.

The Freeform Pen tool. The second tool in the pen's drop down list. This is used to draw freely (freehand) were it's much like the lasso tool. I dont like to use this one mainly because i dont have a steady hand. So the outcome is worse.

Add Anchor Point Tool. The third tool in the pens drop down menu. This tool is used to, of course, add anchor points to existing paths. If you hover over a path, your mouse pointer will automatically turn into this tool if you have the "auto add/delete" option checked.

Delete Anchor Point Tool. 4th tool in this group of tools. This tool is to delete anchor points on paths. This will also automatically show when hovering over an anchor poiont if the auto add/delete option is checked.

The Convert Point Tool. The last of the pen tools, thi is used to modify the curves on paths by editing the direction lines. To remove the curves of a line, just click on an anchor point with this tool.

Next, are the Path Selection Tool and the Direct Seleciton Tool.

Path Selection Tool. This tool is used to move full paths. Just click on the path to select it, and drag to move the path.

Direct Selection Tool. Used to move line segments, anchor points, or entire paths like the Path selection tool. To move the anchor points or line segments, you must click on whatever it may be, and start dragging.


So now you know all the pen tools and have a vague view on what the tools can do. But now is were we use those tools. So Open a new image. Any size, just long enough to practice. I would use a image around 300 x 200 pixels. Use a white background. Then, select the pen tool. and create three anchor points. Try to seperate them evenly. To make them strait, hold down shift and try to keep you pointer as strait as you can

Once you got the three anchor points down & strait, hold down the "ctrl" key. Your pen tool changes to the "direct selection tool". Click and move the middle anchor point just a little bit up, very little. Then, still holding the ctrl key, press shift too and then move it up some more. So you get a sharp pointy shape.

Were going to make this shap a curve, what the pen tool should be used for. If you havent already, let go of all the keys you've been holding down. Hold down the "alt" key. Click the middle anchor point and move a very little to the right. Hold down shift and move it some more. You notice it's not the anchor point youre moving, but lines are coming out of it. Those are the guide lines. That's what controlls the curve.

Now that the guide lines are out, you can change then seperatly by holding down the alt key and movignn around the small dot at the end of the guide line. Experiment for a while to get the hang of it.

Now you can make a curve, and you can now make real vector graphics. But keep working cause it might be hard to memorize which buttons to hold down to do what. But after a while, you dont even gotta give it thought, it becomes easy as walking.

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