Tutorial on How to Use the Pen Tool in Photoshop

For anyone getting started with Photoshop, the pen tool can seem to be very intimidating. This is because most users feel a pen tool, like a normal pen, should draw lines in Photoshop as you drag it across the canvas. Yes, the pen tool can do that, but in a different way. And by different, I mean accurate.

Mechanics of the pen tool

A pen tool is different from any other drawing tool. It is specifically designed to help you draw the exact kind of curves which you want to. It takes a bit of patience in the beginning to get a hang of it but trust me, it’s worth it.

Pen tool is all about placing two points in space and bending the line in between the two points to allow you to draw perfectly smooth curves.

Let’s say I put two points A and B on photoshop canvas

points in space pen tool tutorial

I want to make a curve in between them. So, I will click on the centre of the line to place a bending point.

bending point pen tool

You will see that the bending point is a square with two circular dots on either side. The two circular dots are connected to the square bending dot in a straight line and this straight line is exactly parallel to the line that points A and B make.

Square bending point

The square bending point is the point which will help you draw a curve. Just by clicking and dragging it you will be able to make the line between point A and B curve.

3 creating curve with pen tool

You can also drag it diagonally to make skewed curves.

diagonal curve using pen tool

Two circular dots

The two circular dots on either side of the square bending point will help you further alter the curve between point A and the square bending point; or point B and the square bending point.

Now, you will have to press and hold the control button on the key board (command for mac) and then click and drag the circular points.
curve dots pen tool tutorial


Also, you can move the original points A and B by pressing down the control key (command key for mac) and click-dragging them with your mouse.