Photoshop isn’t just for photos. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at Photoshop’s ability to create vector graphics with the pen tool.
Learning to draw with the Pen Tool is one of those lessons that isn’t very long but takes a bit of practice and, like most things with Photoshop, is best demonstrated visually. Be sure to watch the video to really get a grasp on how this works and use the text below for reference. If you’d like to look at the final product, you can download my drawing of Christine. It’s a Photoshop CS5 file, so you’ll need version CS5 to be able to open it.
That said, let’s get started!
An Introduction to the Pen Tool
Photoshop’s Pen Tool is very powerful but it can be deceiving. When you think of a pen, you think of pressing down and making a flowing mark with it. You don’t generally think of a pen as a tool that creates dots on paper and automatically connects them in specific ways based on a number of factors. You don’t because a pen can’t do that in reality, but that’s exactly what it does in Photoshop. While this may seem a little odd, it’s a very powerful and useful method of drawing vector graphics.
The Pen Tool is actually a lot of tools in one, and we’ll be looking at how to use most of them when drawing. The basic operation of the Pen Tool involves clicking around the Photoshop canvas to make points appear. These points will be connected by lines and start to create a shape. If you hold down the shift key before creating a point, it’ll ensure this line is straight or forms a a perfect 45-degree angle (depending on where you attempt to place your next point). This is fine for drawing simple, rough shapes, but if we want curves and more unique shapes we need to do a little more work.[imgclear]
Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s hard to get a grasp on the Pen Tool at first because it’s awkward, so you have to practice. The easiest way to practice is to trace photos. Silhouettes are excellent starting points because you’re only dealing with one colour. Once you’re able to get your stroke and shape the way you want it, you can move on to doing more complex drawings like the one created in the video associated with this lesson.
That’s all for today. Tomorrow we’re going to look at web design and layout, and then we’ll wrap things up on Friday with a recap, your next steps in your Photoshop education, and what great online and offline resources are at your disposal.