Photoshop Top 40, Feature #32: The Pen Tool

If you’re anything like me, you just finished celebrating Labor Day by not laboring in the least. Happily, the same cannot be said of Photoshop Top 40. Tuesday after Tuesday, this proud and relentless podcast marches on.

Fittingly, today marks Feature #32, The Pen Tool, one of the most powerful but labor-intensive tools in all of Photoshop. Newbies select images with the likes of the quick select and magic wand tools. Both are highly automated, but they rarely work. Experts use the pen tool. It takes some work to master, but it always works in return. In other words, learn to use the pen tool and you’ll be prepared for any masking job.

The base photograph comes to us from Stas Perov of image vendor Click this link for a special deal.

(For a list of all Photoshop Top 40 videos thus far, click this link.)

Incidentally, Photoshop Top 40 is now available as a downloadable podcast from iTunes. Click here to subscribe.

Next entry:Martini Hour 031, In Which Colleen (Ahem) Follows Deke and Mordy on a Geek Excursion

Previous entry:Martini Hour 030, in Which Deke Wishes Colleen Would Get with the Program


  • getting excited

    The powerful Pen Tool falls in at a low #32… man I can’t wait to see the awesomeness that is ahead because the Pen Tool rules!

  • My fav feature of all time!

    My fav feature of all time!

  • I don’t seem to understand

    I don’t seem to understand how it works! :(

  • I’m with smacky doodle

    I figured the pen tool would be like top 10 for sure.

  • You may need more than an 8:30 video

    I devote an entire chapter to the pen tool (Lesson 11, “The Pen Tool and Paths Palette”) in my book, Photoshop CS4 Channels & Masks One-on-One.

    If you’re a customer, you can check out Chapter 15: “The Pen Tool and the Paths Palette,” in mt video series Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques. I believe there’s about 90 minutes of content there.

  • I love using the pen tool

    I love using the pen tool for masking, even though it’s a bit more work than most methods and not everything warrants that level of detail. But when it does, there’s nothing better.

    One thing I’ve always wanted in PS was to be able to click the last point you drew to remove the second handle, ala Illustrator - I did NOT know you could hold alt and position the second one as you drew it (I’ve always just continued to the next point, then gone back and tweaked it).

    I almost wasn’t too excited about this one, since I figured I knew all I needed about the Pen, but that one nugget is very helpful, so thanks for sharing!

  • Still a newbie with photoshop

    Thanks deke for the free Vid, Im somewhat new to photoshop and your tutorial on really help out. I can tell that you are an expert at what you do.

  • I like the pen tool

    I love using it. Thanks for video.

  • thank you thank you!!

    Thanks for putting the tips on iTunes for subscription. Its great to have them playing on the computer or on my ipod when I am trying to sort something out. Thanks a bunch deke and minions!

  • Photoshop top 40

    Deke, ma’man:

    In the past year or so, since transitioning to digital after 50+ years of film, I’ve spent approx. $2500 on printed matter (er, uh, books), but it I could keep only one, it would be you CS3 one-on-one. OK, that should do for the sucking-up part of this missive herewith.

    Question: might I assume that when you’ve worked your way to #1 in the Top 40 series, you will make the whole set available on DVD? Might I assume that you are at least considering doing so? Might you be swayed by a few hundred emails like this one encouraging you to do so? Might I assume that I will alienate you if I continue with these inane questions?

    I have enough to do for the moment. I’ve worked my way through everything you have to offer on that relates to Photoshop and photographers, and am getting ready to start over (at my age, Half-heimers is the norm, not the exception. Half-heimers? the faculty for remembering about half of what you see, hear and read about half the time). Try to avoid getting old, Deke; I can’t recommend it.