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How to Use the Pen Tool in Photoshop

Posted on 12 January 2014 by Ben Lindsey

Using the pen tool in Photoshop can be a real advantage when it comes to getting a step above the rest. You’d actually be surprised how easy it is to learn!

how to use the pen tool in photoshop

I don’t think I’d be far off base if I assumed most people are a little bit weary of the pen tool in Photoshop but it’s really not as hard to learn as it may seem. In this tutorial, I’ll break down the way it works along with how we can employ it in order to get phenomenal control over our selections. This will come in handy when you’re stuck with a photograph that won’t allow you to simply erase the background with one fell swoop. So, let’s practice!

How to Use the Pen Tool in Photoshop

Watch how to use the pen tool in Photoshop on Youtube by clicking here.

How to Use the Pen Tool in Photoshop Quick Reference Guide

1. Make sure your pen tool settings are to paths, pen tool and to exclude overlapping path areas.
2. Holding shift will constrain movements in increments of 45 degrees.
3. Hold Cmd while the pen tool is selected to switch to your direct select arrow to be able to manipulate nodes.

Hot Keys Used in This Tutorial

I rarely talk about these hot keys but these are a few that I use extensively that will save you a grip of time.

1. Cmd+space bar, then click and drag to zoom in.
2. Space bar+click and drag to move the image around (hand tool).

It’s beneficial to point out that I always have my left thumb on the command key with my other fingers in the home position (index on F, middle on D, ring on S, pinky on A). This is a fairly ergonomic resting position for your hand and allows you to fly through most of the important hot keys used in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Download the File and Follow Along

simple-shapes-smallClick the image above or here to download the file used in the video and follow along.

Spread The Love

I hope you guys are liking the tutorials! I have to be honest here though, I could use some more views. Please share these videos with those you may know or in your favorite online community message boards/forums to help a brotha out! Also, don’t be afraid to comment down below, ask questions or share your own tips for what’s discussed here. Your comments may help others looking for answers as well and I gotta tell you, that’s a great feeling!


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Ben Lindsey

About Ben Lindsey

Ben Lindsey has been in the t shirt business designing and separating t shirts since 2001 having served as senior designer/separator at the States' #1 licensor of rock and roll apparel as well as one of the States' top 10 high-volume screen printers as listed by Impressions Magazine. Currently running Rising Sun Graphics, he continues to provide custom t shirt designs and color separations for print shops and apparel lines around the globe.

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  1. Isolating Parts of an Image in PhotoshopRising Sun Graphics Says:

    […] you haven’t ran through the beginner’s guide to using the pen tool in Photoshop, check this link. If you have, then it’s time to get our hands […]

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