Pick Up The Pen Tool: Basics | Brian Shepard | Skillshare

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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

6 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Connect the Dots

    • 3. Paths and Shapes

    • 4. Anchor Points

    • 5. Turning Paths Into Selections

    • 6. Modify a Photo

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About This Class

A pen is probably the first tool of choice when you need to draw or write something down. It's a common instrument -- one we've gotten so used to that we don't even need to think about how it works once it's between our fingers.

Photoshop's Pen Tool is a different story. You might've been surprised to see what happened the first time you used it. If it's something that you've ever found confusing or useless, then this class will steer you in the right direction.

The Pen Tool is basically an instrument for drawing polygons on a digital canvas, using anchor points to create paths and vector shapes. Those paths can be used to apply effects to specific areas of a picture, and the shapes can be drawn to create stylish vector artwork, even on top of other image layers. The Pen Tool is capable of many, many things, and we'll explore the basics of what it's good for in a series of instructional videos that you can follow along with.

This course is intended for beginners who have no experience with the Pen Tool, so anyone is welcome to join. We'll use what we've learned to turn an ordinary photograph into a fun digital project, and by the end of the class, you'll be just as comfortable with the digital tool as the real thing.

Meet Your Teacher

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Brian Shepard

2D Game Artist and Illustrator.


A slightly-above-average illustrator and character designer for video games. Trying to improve my understanding of character design, storytelling, and how we culturally respond to visual cues like shape and color in everyday situations. Making an effort to help anyone else who wants to learn the same things!

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1. Introduction: When you pick up a pan, you pick up a basic writing and drawing tool. It's something that most of us are familiar with and have been for much of our lives. When you pick up the pen tool and photo shop, you might be in for a surprise. What exactly is this weird device? And why doesn't it stand to work like a normal pain? It may not seem like it at a glance, but the truth is that is deceptively powerful. If you've ever been put off or confused about how the pencil actually works, I'm here to help you learn one of the most powerful digital instruments you can use. This class will serve as an introduction to his basic features and a few things you can do with it, even as a beginner. And once we figured out how it works well, exercise what we've learned to turn an ordinary photograph into a fund digital project. The pencil is good for a number of things, but let's start with the basics 2. Connect the Dots: so the pencil is basically a tool for drawing shapes on a canvas. Now those safe could be symmetrical pie guns or curvy blobs. But for now, let's just try to worry about the one of the straight edges. So I have a canvas open and photo shop here, and it might be helpful for you to fall along in the program as I'm explaining things. So I'm less side here. First thing we want to do is select a pin tool. The icon looks like a pin, so it's hard to miss or you can press P on the keyboard. In either case, you should see your icon of your cursor changed to a pin. Now at the top, we can see there are lots of different sets. Settings for the pin tool. Um, see if, if I change to the you know the brush tool or the move tool, those just this upper bar well, changes depending on what tool have selected. So for now, let's just talk to worry about these 1st 2 options, Um, one for state layers and one for drawing past. Make sure passes selected now anywhere you click on your canvas. The Korean anchor point. Um, this is sort of like a fence post that ties the outer boundary of the state will be making together. So as you can see, I can create anchor points anywhere I click on the canvas. All right, So what, you have a few in places? Like I said, you could make a many as you want to. You can even move them around. So we're gonna go back on the left here and select the direct selection tool, or we compress a on your keyboard. Um, select an acre point and just drag it anywhere you want on the canvas. So once you draw a shape with the pencil is not set in stone. You can move any anchor point around that you want to. Now, if you want, you can move the entire shape as well. So gonna go back on the left here. Um, I'm gonna click and hold on. This direct selections will like on you'll see a window pop up. So now you want to select passed selection tool. And now you see, we can move the entire thing once if we want to. You. So I would encourage you to just Ah, try making some shapes. Like I said, just click anywhere on the canvas to create. Probably gone will depend tool and, ah, what you're comfortable with that. Try moving the anchors around, see what kind of different safe you could make a good way to think about. The pin tool is kind of like two dimensional clay. Um, you can create a seat and mold and sculpt it as much as you want. So now that we have an idea of how to drop our guns would depend, too. Let's figure out what this is useful for. 3. Paths and Shapes: So if you're a call from last time, we have more than one way of drawing with the pin tool. So let's go up here at the top again. You can see we have pass, which is what we use last time and safe layers. So what exactly is the difference between these two? State layers are great because you can create area with the pin tool and photo salt will automatically fill it in with the foreground color, which, as you can see, is right down here. So let's connect the dots just like we did last time. With anchor points, you can see that the program is filling in the area with the foreground color. Now. You also noticed that on the side here in the layers panel is crazed a vector layer now because they're vectors that can be enlarged infinitely without losing inequality, and I'll explain more about what that means. Ah, a little bit, Um, when you use the pencil, you actually don't have toe. Connect the dots manually. You can use predetermined shapes as you could see up here. We have rectangles around a rectangle and lips, polygons and even ah, some custom shapes so you can use these predetermined shapes to create vectors. I'm having to manually draw if you so choose. Drawing with the path is useful for, let's say, altering specific areas of an image. So let's go up here again. Makes your ah path of selected. Now suppose you have a photograph, and you only want one side of it to be blurry. Let's create a shape again, using one of the predetermined shapes right on the Kansas, and the pencil allows you to Onley impact this area of the photograph. So, as you can see, it can be very, very powerful, depending on how you use it. Now let's see. You do want to draw a custom shape like you did before. Connecting the dots. Create an area around this tree doesn't have to be perfect for now, I just want to cut out basic seat in this photograph, and this time let's invert the colors. Now the third drawing option filled pixels. It works with Photoshopped pre defined shapes, so let's choose one of these shapes. Let's choose this custom shape. You'll see that filled pickles becomes available now. Whatever safe you choose could be dragged out on the canvas, and when you let go, photo shot will still fill it with the foreground color. Now the Ariz Oh, probably looks a lot like when we use state layers before. But it's important to note that if you enlarge this layer afterwards, the result will not be very star because it's not a vector. Now let's look at a similar layer is a vector, and let's look at what happens when we try to enlarge it. You could see that remains sharp, no matter how big we make it uneasily to tell whether or not your shape is a vector. So check here on the right and the layers panel vector state players have This icon is so what color it is and have a great blocks that will show the path of the victor, which is made of anchor points. If you hover over this great box, you can even see the outline. Their evidence represents the victors path so you can see this layer on top has none of these things. So when you try to scale it up, it will probably look kind of pick silly and blurry, which is not good. So this is a really important thing to keep in mind when you're working with the been tool , always remember to use the settings that best complements the end result you're after. 4. Anchor Points: so earlier. We saw that wants to create a path or a safe layer. You can move the anchor points around as much as you want. Now let's take a look at some other things you can do is anchor points. So let's go over here. Um, extra safe is selected Korea seat and again, your nose here on the right that this creates a new vector layer. So once we have a say player, these anchor points click and hold on the pen tool to open up further options. You can add anchor points anywhere you want if you feel like ah, you see needs some or anywhere. And once they're there and go over here, she was a direct selection. So, just like with the earlier or press a on the keyboard and move these anchor points that you added, just like you normally would so again really starts to feel like, Like I said, two dimensional clay Aiken, hurry to say add anchor points and sculpt it as much as you want. Now let's go over here to the pen tool. Open up more options but holding it down, holding down on the mouse. You can also delete anchor points. Of course, if you want to, to get rid of any that you think are unnecessary. You see this? This shape is starting. Look, kind of ah, kind of funny, but you have a lot of options. Toe work with questioner ankle points now. Ah, one last thing I want to look at with the pencil option is the convert tool. This allows you to alter the curves on the east anchor point. Now, curves and the pin tool are, um it's a very complex instrument, so I'm probably not going to go over in this particular class. Well, definitely dedicated future future class to it, so I wouldn't worry about it too much for now, but it looks interesting to you. I definitely recommend trying it out just the kind of different shapes you could make. Now, keep your mind that even pre defined shapes when their state layers they're made of anchor points just like the ones that you jar yourself. So as you can see, this custom symbol is made up of anchors everywhere. Some of them are straight edges, and some of them, like I said, they use curves so you can create one of these custom pre defined shapes and experiment with anchor points the same way you would as if you were to draw it manually, point by point. 5. Turning Paths Into Selections: Whenever you created path the Siris of anchor points, you could choose to leave it open, ended or closed into a complete state. Now you'll notice a little circle next to your cursor. When you're about to close the state, you can see right here the major about to connect the last anchor you made with the 1st 1 But in any case, what you have at least three anchor points, we could turn the path into a selection. You saw me do this in a previous lesson, when we blurred half of a photo inverting the colors in a different part. So first you want to create a state with the pencil, just like normal. Now, right? Click on the canvas. You'll see a window pop up and one shoes make selection. Now you get a second window with more options. For now, just worry about making sure that new selection is bubbled in and they impressed. Okay, Now a selection creates that bounder, if you to work within. On em is layer. That means you can invert the colors. We're at a blur, and the effects will only work within this. This boundary we see here with the dotted line. You know your path is a selection because the gray line will turn into an animated, dashed line like you could see right here. So, like I said, once that happens, any changes you make to a layer let's turn on this photograph will only happen with within this triangle here. So when I invert the colors, you see it on Lee happens within the specified boundary. Now, when you're shape is still a path, let's make a new one and you have not turned it into a selection yet. Any effects you apply to an image layer will still affect the entire thing. So when I invert the colors, you can see the entire layer is impacted here. So if we don't work within a certain area, you have to make serious to turn into a selection first. Now, if you have a vector stable air, you can also turn that into a selection. Now, remember, over here in the layers panel, we have this great block that shows the path of the vector. Basically, what you do is you hold control or command. You click on this gray area, you can see that the path becomes a selection. So now when you go with your Emma's layer, you can add effect, and it will only happen within that area. 6. Modify a Photo: So let's try an example. Project together and see what we can create using the pin tool. Go out and take a photograph or you can find one that you already have and bring it into Photoshopped. So first, we're going to use the pin tool to create some vector state layers on top of the photograph . So we want to go up here and again, make sure that state layers is selected, and I'm gonna use this custom like on. I'm going to play some snowflakes over this photograph, even though you know Riley, if we don't, we don't actually ever see snowflakes. But that's okay. That's what it's a photo shop is for, so you can use any shape you want. You don't have to use a custom icon. You can draw a manually if you're feeling confident enough, but we're just using the pen tool to kind of draw on top of an image layer. So the next thing I'm going to do is look for an area in your photograph. Um, that catches their eye going to draw a path around it. Now for this part, I do want you to draw manually connecting the dots um, just so we don't forget how to do it. And also because I think it will give you much more freedom to get the exact shape you want over your photograph. So once you have your path and you can again, you can move anchors around as you need to. That has to be perfect right off the bat. But once you have a path, turn into a selection, and as we saw anything you could do to an image layer. Under normal circumstances, you can do with an a selection. So there are lots of predetermined filters and Photoshopped. You go up here under filter, you can see there's lots of different things you can do. Um, so I want to go with the blur effect again. Specifically, a stapler. Add a little bit of depth to this photograph now. One other thing you can do with a selection is you're gonna cut out parts of an image. So if you see right here, I have the selection around this traffic cone. Now, if you go to the top, the top toolbar, click on edit and cut. Now the cone disappears, but it's on the clipboard, So let's turn this this layer offer. Now go back up to edit Select paste. Now you can see it creates a new layer with just the cone on top. Go back to our previous photograph. Turn that on. Now you can see it. Looks like we have a cut out of the traffic cone on top of this other photograph. And we're gonna even move this new layer around if we want to. You place it right here. Now, if you want to, you can use this process over and over again to Korea, so of collage effect using hundreds of different photographs. So hopefully that gives you an idea of what the pencil is capable of. And rest assure is capable of much, much more. But at the very least, maybe you're a little more comfortable that how it actually works. Now it does take practice to get used to, so keep trying until you get the hang of it. Remember, always start by connecting the dots. Thank you all for joining this course, and I hope it was useless to you. Hopefully we'll keep finding ways to meet use at a photo shops Most flexible tool