Deke's Techniques 622: Masking with Photoshop's Pen Tool

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke demonstrates how meticulously mask a sweet shark using the precision of the Pen tool in Photoshop.

The story begins with a night dive in Maldives which was overrun with nurse sharks and stingrays (not to mention divers). We were assured by our guides on the Carpe Vita that this would be a night dive not to miss. Basically, we descended 60-70 feet, hooked in to avoid being swept off by the current, and just let the creatures swim around us.

Thus this photo that Deke took, while he was more or less tethered to the rocks and while he was forgetting much of what he learned from Hergen in the making of their Underwater Photography: Wide Angle course. The coral is over exposed and the focus is a bit off the main subject.

Shark the dark

No matter, Deke may still be learning how to balance currents, sharks, stingrays, scuba gear, photo gear, my total anxiety with night dives, and being underwater, but he's got unassailable command of Photoshop. Armed with the pen tool and some color fills, he gets very close to the effect he was looking for in the first place.

Shark with a Pen tool path to mask the background

If you're a member of, Deke's got a follow-up movie in which he shows you how he uses a second masked layer to make brightness and contrast changes to enhance the effect.

Deke's Techniques, useful around the world and under the sea.


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Pen tool and shift key

I am using Photoshop cc 2017. I am trying to continue drawing on the active path by holding down the shift key and placing the pen tool over the path and clicking. It does place an anchor point but it is not attached to the path. Also the anchor point is black and not white like the rest on the path. If I use the control key to move the path the anchor points I created do not move with the path. How do I get them to be part of the path? I watched two of your videos on and they were great, but I could not get this one "trick" to work, you stated both of these tricks worked in Photoshop. I hope you can help. Thanks!