advanced photoshop

5 top tips for the Pen tool

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Tips & Tutorials, by Rebecca Greig

Discover 5 top tips for using the Pen tool, one of the most important tools in the Photoshop toolbox


5 top tips for the Pen tool

Save your shapes You can create quite complex shapes with the Pen tool, so it’s worth saving them for future projects. When you are finished, Ctrl/right-click and choose Save Custom Shape, which lets you save your design and access it later from the Custom Shape tool.

Use the Options Bar When the Pen tool is set to Shapes mode, you can apply a Fill and Stroke effect directly from the top Options bar. After this you can simply edit it whenever you need to. This feature is only available from Photoshop version CS6 onwards.

Move anchor points When you are drawing a path, you can hold down the Spacebar to move the anchor point that is currently active without breaking your flow.

Not all Pen tools are made equal There are differences between the Pen tool in Photoshop and the Pen tool in Illustrator, so if you are used to Ai and come into Photoshop, you may need to practise basic outlines to get to grips with the differences.

From Path to shape If you create a design with the Pen tool in Paths mode and you want to switch it to a Shape, then you can hit the Shape button in the top Options bar. Note that this will automatically take on the attributes of your last settings, so you may need to edit in the Properties palette.