Photoshop Beginner: Learn the Pen Tool with this Abstract Shape Graphic Design Tutorial | Benjamin Halsall | Skillshare

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Photoshop Beginner: Learn the Pen Tool with this Abstract Shape Graphic Design Tutorial

teacher avatar Benjamin Halsall, Final Cut Pro X & Adobe Courses

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (18m)
    • 1. Class Introduction

    • 2. Setup Your Project

    • 3. Introducing the Brush Tool for Gradient Creation

    • 4. Introducing the Pen Tool

    • 5. Duplicating Custom Shapes

    • 6. Modify and Customise Shapes using Direct Selection

    • 7. Mofify Shapes with the Direct Selection Tool

    • 8. Advanced Shape Modifications

    • 9. Change Colour with Adjustment Layers

    • 10. Add Noise & Prepare for Export

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About This Class

In this class you will create a series of abstract shapes and designs in Adobe Photoshop with the aim of looking at how you can combine a use of brushes, the pen tool, clipping masks and adjustment layers.

This class is designed as an easy to follow tutorial for beginners and in this class you will learn the following:

  • Setting Up a New Photoshop Project
  • Using the Brush tool to create gradient effects
  • Using the Pen Tool to create customised shapes
  • Clipping Masks
  • Duplicate Layers
  • Work with Layer Groups
  • Move and rotate individual layers and grouped selections
  • Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers
  • Adding Noise to break up gradients

I look forward to seeing the projects you create.

Get stuck in and have fun!

Meet Your Teacher

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Benjamin Halsall

Final Cut Pro X & Adobe Courses


For the designer in you I create fun short lessons in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator & Adobe InDesign. I include some creative and technical tips in all my lessons which are always easy to follow. Check out my popular Banksy Yourself Photoshop Class, how to create Polygonal Patterns in Adobe Illustrator or my Photoshop Drawing & Painting Fundamentals.

For Final Cut Pro X editors check out my course Learn Final Cut Pro X in 25 Minutes or learn how to put video inside type, create grunge style text or my basic and advanced split screen tutorials.

I look forward to seeing your projects and am always happy to answer your questions.

See full profile

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1. Class Introduction: So in this class we're gonna be having a look at brush tools on the Penn Tal in Adobe Photoshopped that the pento something's really useful. A lot of different situations. Whether you're working in that, maybe for a short adobe illustrator or adobe in design and this fun exercise aimed toe give you a chance to play around with mental as you create this abstract Siris of shapes that you can see here. So game really is toe learn through playing. We're gonna be looking in the brush tour, how we can place brushstrokes within our shapes and then also how we can manipulate those shapes. As we develop this kind of unique set of patterns and designs in every photo shop and I look forward toa signing up for for this class, let's go ahead and start working on your design in Adobe Photoshopped 2. Setup Your Project: So the first thing I'm gonna go ahead and do hear it set up a new document. So we're gonna go to file and you we're going to set up a slightly smaller project size. And this this project was when I was working on its four feet by three feet. So in a large canvas size really great for printing out if you wanna give someone a canvas for a gift But we're gonna work in a smaller file size, which is going to function on any PC or Mac that you're running photo shop on. So I'm gonna work in pixels for my fire size, and you can see the pixel size of this large document is quite large compared to the 1920 by 10. 80 that we're gonna be working with here so that in 1920 by 10 80 will leave the resolution of 300 pixels per inch on. We're gonna set the color profile to S RGB. So I want to go. That will set up a press. Okay. On the first thing you're gonna go ahead and do is save your project will go to file save as were dropped this project onto the best up and we'll call this mental Andi brushes. And so now let's go ahead and explore the tools we're gonna be working with. 3. Introducing the Brush Tool for Gradient Creation: So the first tool on our tour bath will work with is the brush tool. Okay, Now I want to create a series of different layers where we're working with the brushes to create a nice, radiant look and feel where we can highlight different parts an image. But then when we contain that within these custom shapes that we're gonna be making and we'll have a look of the different shape tools you can use and how you can manipulate them as your working on this particular project The first what I want to use is the brush tool that we're gonna be doing this in a very particular way. So select the brush tool and you can see my brush is set to a massive size because I was working on that bigger document a little bit earlier. So we concoct the top left here. Andi, bring that brush size down, or if you want to get into using the short cuts of the brush, or just look to the left of the return or enter key and you can see two square brackets, and that allows you to increase by tapping the right hand square bracket and decrease the size your brush by tapping the left hand square bracket. Okay, so let's just had in some color here. We've got a red and a yellow and set up in here, so we'll just go straight for those. But before we do that, we want to create a brand new layer so that when we're masking these layers, we can pull out different elements off them. So we have the background set up is why at the moment we're gonna leave that houses and I'm gonna make a brand new layer which allows me to keep that layer transparency. So that's just add in a couple of brushstrokes here, and I'm going to switch my car's here by clicking this little hooked our. So I'm gonna pop in some yellow there and you can see by using this very soft edged brush, which we set up by pulling the hardness right down to the left hand side here we can create . It's nice, kind of radiant feel between the brushes, and you'll see that once we constrain that within a shape, we get some nice combinations of colors Song The ground blew hot that in there, too, and just let these blend together. So let's just go to view on 100% so we can see what we're getting here. So got some nice kind of shots of color. I'm gonna pick a yellow from my swatches up here on the top, right? And if you don't see the same panels that I have here on the right, just go to window workspace, select essentials on, then go to work space and reset essentials. If you still don't see the same panel layout and it will bring up your color top, you'll swatches at the top and we can pull these layers and double click on the tabs to hire the tab. And we can pull these out so that we can see all those different elements. So it's gonna grab a slightly brighter yellow here, toe Russian on the bottom right there. So we've got a set of colors there now, so let's go ahead. Now. Look at how we can add a shape layer to create a customized shape and mask for this set of brushes that we've added 4. Introducing the Pen Tool: so I'm gonna come back to my move tool. For the moment on, just pull this to the center. So I'm holding down the space for with the move tool to remove my canvas around, and now we're gonna go ahead and select the pencil. And the first thing I did he just come up to the options toolbar at the top and make sure that we're creating a shape with the pencil and we want to have our fill turned on on our stroke turned off so the mental creates a few different types of shape, so we're going to run through a couple of those now. The first type of shape it can create is a doctor dot shakes. I can click once, click twice on clicking once with my house, and then we're getting that dr dot kind of shape. So I went back to the beginning of that shape as well. And you can see that when I go back to the beginning here I get that little circle that indicates that I'm gonna close that shape off until that point, it's actually an open shape. So we jump back to my move tool now and we're just gonna need to shuffle my layers. So that shape layer is below the original Grady in that I created so in my layers panel, I'm gonna click and hold on drag down. Okay, so I've pulled that lay behind. We can just still see the edge of that triangle there. And now I'm going to click on that layer one and right click and create a clipping mask. Because, you know, we've popped that Grady into color into that triangle, which gives its nice effect now to move thes two around together. They're still separate layers, so weaken moved around individually, but to move around together when it toe clicking, the layers hold down shift so that we can select them both. And then we can move these both around. So let's go ahead and create a new layer. So this time gonna create a shape layer first. And then I'm going to create a new layer above that layer to brush into. So he needs the pencil again. On this time, I'm gonna be clicking and holding as I moved pencil. Now you begin to work with this tool. You'll find it a little clunky at first. if it's your first time using the Pento. But one of the things that trying encourage people to do is to make small movements. So when you're clicking and holding and dragging out, it's handled, which control the angle at which we'll see our shape will eventually draw. Just try not to make big movements like this. Try and keep it nice and tight and close to that control point. So this is the control point in the middle of these two handles. And then I'm gonna come around and click and hold again and again. Nice small movements and you can see we're building up its kind of customized shape. And then when we come back to the beginning of the shape, click and hold again. Andi, we've created this customized shape by clicking and holding on each of those points. Let's have a new layer here. Will right click on this layer straight away and create clipping Must. That now means that when we go back to my brush tool, let's pick a couple different colors. Here's let's go for a nice magenta when we brush in there we're gonna get, and I'm not even brushing within that shape. I'm actually brushing outside the shape here to the top, right, So you can sit still affecting the content of that shape. So now I'm gonna grab a light yellow and just come down to the right hand side there, and we'll grab a white as well. So I have changed my culture white from my swatches on a drop capacity down here for this one and just reduce the size of my brush by pressing the left hand square bracket. And now we can add in a few little highlights to different parts of that image. Okay, we're gonna come back down to my lair one here. I can just out in a few little hints and highlights in that image with my other brush tools so I can keep working on those layers that I've already made. And I'm stepping backwards now I'm holding down Ultra option, the Commander Control key, Andi Zed, and that will step me back through the steps that I've done. OK, so we can just add in a few extra highlights there. So now you can see we've got these nice shapes and selected those both there by holding down the shift key, and we can move these shapes around with them. Both selected Weaken do Commander t to transform those shapes because the size of the hole canvas. That's why we get it's very big shape around the outside. Okay, so again, we can select, you know, last panel and rotate any one of these shapes as well. 5. Duplicating Custom Shapes: We can also duplicate the shapes, too. So if I hold down, shift and select all those shapes, I could now hold down my ultra option key on the keyboard and dragged the left. And we've made a duplicate copy off those shape players. So if you don't want to draw out all the different shapes and you could make duplicates and then go in and modify the position, work on the rotation on, then create on a just modify those shapes with your transformed tools and also with this tool. Okay, so we're looking here now, and the bottom Bartel Bar, the direct selection tool on this tour, allows to select those control points that we set up before and modify them. And that's what we're gonna look at in the next lesson. 6. Modify and Customise Shapes using Direct Selection: so I'm not planning. Create a few more versions off. These shapes have moved around in modifying the position of the grading within this, so we can actually modify the position of those colors. So we get a bit of variation between are different shapes, and now I want to do is go and have a look at those control points to adjust the shapes that we've already created. So if we select the direct selection tool here, we can click on one of our shapes wants That shape is selected with the direct selection tour we can click on find there's control points on moving around to modify and change those shapes. There's two things that I'm doing here. One is I'm moving the control point to change where that point sits. On the other is that I'm grabbing these handles to adjust the angle of those control points so we can really customizing control quite nicely the way these shapes flow within our designs. If I hit incident, it's gonna apply that change, and I can see the shapes I've got selected by looking down to my layers panel, and it's really is at this point where you start to see your layers are becoming very complicated here, so beginning to manage its different layers in groups is gonna become quite important. So I grab this layer now, Andi, I'm working on the Grady. Um, within this layer, I'm just gonna grab the move to Shortcut for that is V and we can move around and modify the way that greatness sitting. Okay, we can also, because we're working in layers and we can add a new layer in the background on go to at it . And, Phil, I'm gonna fill that with a 50% gray color will start to see how putting a color behind those images going to start to make it look a little bit different. Okay, so I also know what we can do is we can add a hue saturation adjustment layer above that gray layer. And then by turning on colorize, we can work with and play with the color off that background left, and it's easier than going to look for a color filling your background and then looking for another color. We can just move the hue slider here on start to get a nice, interesting effects within that background. So we're gonna go ahead and look at a couple more adjustments that we can do with the Borek selection tool and by adding points with a pencil. And then we're also going to look at how we can add some noise to these shapes as we begin to work on in the shop our designs. 7. Mofify Shapes with the Direct Selection Tool: Okay, So the first thing I do his move my layers into a group so that I can control this is I add more groups and layers to my project. So I'm gonna click on my bottom shake, lay here on scroll up the top, hold down, shift on, then come upto the top menu here in my layers panel and create a new group from those layers that I have selected. Okay, I will call this shape Fruit one. Okay, so I'm gonna duplicate this group. So I got a duplicate of a lot these shapes, so I just drag this down to my new layers, but, um, Andi, I'm gonna double click on rename this shape group to. And now with the metal selected, I'm just gonna nudged these on, transform them all with the rotation so that we have a slightly different alignment off those shapes so we can begin toe build this up without having to draw every single shape that we're working with him. So I'm gonna lock my background lay here, so I'm gonna highlight my layer and press the padlock means I can't mess it up for cause any problems that actually, I'll do that with my hue, saturation adjustment layer and my grey layer as well. So now I can't move by his layers because they're locked. So I jump back up to my top group layup and and I can either select layers from my layers panel across here, which is a nice, clean way of selecting your layers. Or I can change my auto select to layer. And that means now that when I click on hold, I can grab a layer in here and move it. So I'm holding down command and clicking on that layer on its, allowing me to select those layers. Sometimes I prefer toe do it within the groups because easier toe pick out different layers . But I just want to remove anything overlapping that might be happening with these different layers. So I'm just gonna shuffle these around a little bit 8. Advanced Shape Modifications: Okay, so I've removed the overlapping there, and I just want to show you a couple different ways in which we can modify our shapes. The 1st 1 is, as we saw with the direct selection tool we looked at how it could modify the individual points change and vary the curves that we have on each of these different shapes that we've created. Okay. And when I'm looking at these curves, I'm really looking for look smooth and it almost looks like a natural curve. And that's why this is such a nice excites again, use the pen tal because we're not working to any specific design. We're just really looking and playing with the designs we have in front of us. I'm just gonna minimize this layer and hide my shape Group one just so I can more easily find these layers. In fact, I'm gonna leave shape route one on, but I'm just gonna unlock it, drop the capacity a little bit just so I can still see it, and then I'll lock it down again so that I can see which layers are on my shape group to. So now I'm gonna come to triangle here and we didn't look a moving triangles around. But we can modify those in exactly the same way with the direct selection tool. Okay, we can also, if we come up now to the pentacle on hover over one of these edges add points to that shape so I can add a point with the pencil or more than one point. And then with a direct selection tour, I can now move out and you can see here. Actually, that this new point I've added has a curve in it, and we can modify and edit those curves as well. So the way that we do that is with the convert parental. So I can change these curved points to hard edges by clicking on them with convert points. All And then I can also drag out points that aren't curved and had a curve to them. So I can start with one type of shape and then change the endpoints into a curve shape or back into ah, hard and shape so I can convert those points. Now if I enter, I'll remove those points from being visible. Jump back to the move tool and now we can jump back in, and we can really begin to just play with the brushes. So the brush again that I selected a nice, soft edged brush. No hardness on it. And that's what's really giving us these kind of radiance within those shapes so we could start toe, vary some of the contents, those shapes. And you can see that the way that it works best often with these shapes is by painting where outside the shape itself, to give that really nice soft edge. Okay, so I can just move between these shapes. Aiken, turn off the Aibel toe, find out which shaped his witch him. You know where I should be painting if I want to modify things. So I just press the eyeball and we can just keep going, modifying the shapes that we're working on, adding details on developing our design as we see fit. So really, with a few simple techniques, you concoct these interesting and elegant designs 9. Change Colour with Adjustment Layers: Now, I'm just gonna minimize this and just show one other technique that we can do. So I'm gonna unlock my shape, group one here, and add a hue saturation adjustment layer on top of that group. Now a group transparency can be borrowed just like any layers transparency. So if I right click on this you saturation adjustment layer and create clipping mask And now when I adjust that layer and actually I'll just turn back up your capacity for my group , you can see now when I adjust this hue and saturation here, it's adjusting it for the whole layer. Okay, so I'm modifying those layers. I can also turn on colorize as well, if I want to switch it up a little bit and change those layers from being a multicolored layered to being a single kind of layer. Okay, so we can have some fun with that, and we can also as well modify the capacity of our hue saturation adjustment layer so that we're kind of blending those two things together 10. Add Noise & Prepare for Export: Okay, So one last thing that I do before I output this project is I would just create Jupiter of this and had some noise to it. So I'm gonna go to image Duplicate, and I'm going to duplicate just the merged layers. And now, once I've done that, I'm gonna have you this 100% and then I'm gonna go to filter noise and that noise. What? This means those heavy greatness that I put in there are gonna be broken up a little bit by this little bit of noise that I'm popping into my design here so we can increase the Grady in quite a lot. Or we can go for something like around one or two. That's just gonna add a tiny touch, Grady in on that last look and feel toe finish off the design. So thanks for watching. That's why we're gonna finish up here with this intro to working with the pencil on shape players. An adjustment layers on. Do I look forward to seeing some of the designs that you come up with these techniques and that you post on the course project board