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Pen Skills in practice

So now that we know how to make straight paths and curved paths and even change the direction of paths, let’s go ahead and put it all to use. We’re going to create the shape of a duck and we’re going to use all of these guides that are in the template to help us create our path.

Pick this image

So with the pen tool selected, I’ll start at the top of the head and I’m just going to click and drag up using those guides. Now I need the path to go up, so that’s why I dragged up. Now I need the next direction to go down so I’ll click on the second point and just drag down. Now as I drag down, I’m always looking back at the line segment that’s being drawn, right, as I reposition this point. So even though I’m drawing the direction line forward for the next path, I’m paying attention to the line it drew behind. All right, now I’ll click on this third anchor point here and because there’s not much of a curve, I don’t need a very long direction line. Then I need it to curve in the other direction, so I’m going to click and drag up. But you can see, I actually really want it to drag a little bit further, but if I release the cursor right now, I’m not going to get this nice, long curve across the back. So I’ll hold down the Alt. That’s going to split these lines, right? So I can go in any direction I want. I just want to make it a little bit longer so it gives a nicer, more gradual curve moving forward.

So I’ll click and drag out, and I’m really watching the back direction line here or you can watch the shape of the curve. And again, once I release my cursor, I need to change the direction here, so I can either hold down the Alt key and click on the anchor point and drag or I can hold down the Alt key and actually click on the direction point and then just drag that out. So now I need to click again and drag up. Then I want it to start going in the other direction, so I’m going to click and drag down. And if it’s not exact, that’s just fine. I think you’re just, you really need to get the feel of the pen tool. It’s kind of like telling someone how to ride a bike, so just click down here at the next anchor point. This is going to be a long drag here ’cause we want that nice, kind of rounded curve at the back of the duck. Then we’re going to need a shorter drag here for the next start, basically, of this line coming up.

Then I will click and drag up. Again, watching the curve or the line segment that I’m drawing behind me, but also trying to pay attention to the line that I’ve got ahead of me. I’ll click and drag again. This time, I’m going to want to change the direction, so I’ll hold down the Alt key and click and drag just to break the curve into a corner point that goes in this other direction, click and drag out. Again, click and drag in the direction you want it to go, and when we return to the starting point, I’ll just click in order to close that path. Now we’ve created a work path, so I’ll want to save that by double clicking on it and saving the path. And then let’s go ahead and convert this path into a shape by clicking on the shape. I’ll double click the icon for the shape layer in the layers panel, and let’s go ahead and just change the color of this. Maybe making him a little bit more brown or we could make him whatever color we want. If we want to make it bright orange, that’s fine, too. So I’ll click okay, and then just hide the background, hiding that template, and then clicking off the path in the path panel.

So there you go. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be drawing great paths in no time.

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