julianna kunstler logo
Based on the book "Photoshop. Classroom in a Book".




Objectives: Students learn to use Pen tool and edit vectors paths.
Essential questions:
1. What is a path?
2. What are path's components?
3. How do you edit paths?


Paths are vector-based (line) drawings. This means that you can stretch and re-shape a path and it will not lose detail.


Open image 1

Most of the drawing and editing of paths can be done via the tools under the Pen tool icon in the Tools palette.

Click and hold the mouse button on this icon to bring up all the other tools:



Select the Pen tool.



Choose Paths in the Option bar.

Path is an invisible line that holds information about the direction, the curve, and the length.

To draw a straight segment you need to place the start point and the end point - they are called anchor points.

To draw a straight path AB:

click on A

click on B

After you finish a path - you need to end it:

Command (Ctrl) click outside the path.

Now you are ready to start a new path.


There are two selection tools for paths:

Path Selection Tool - selects the entire path with all anchor points.

Direct Selection Tool - allows you to edit a path by selecting and (or) moving one or few anchor points, one or few segments of a path.


Paths are stored in Paths palette. When you place your first anchor point - a new Work Path will be created. To save the path - double-click on the Work Path and name it.

After you drew the AB path:

End the path.

Select it.




You are going to apply a stroke (color) to the path. After a stroke is applied to the path - it becomes visible and will stay visible after printing.

Choose a nice bright color in Swatches palette.

Select Brush Tool. Set the brush size to 5.

After you selected the path, go the Paths palette and click on the Options menu.

Choose Stroke Subpath.


Select Brush as a tool to apply stroke.

Click OK.


This is what your path should look like.

Tou can move or delete the path, but the stroke that you applied will stay. You can apply different colors to the same path as you move it around.

Try that!

Check the Paths palette:

the Work Path thumbnail should change as you add more paths.

Draw paths CD and EFGHI. Don't forget to end the paths (Command/Ctrl click)

Apply different color strokes to the paths.

Select (with Path Selection Tool) the EFGHI path.

Choose a color from swatches palette.

Go to Paths palette. Click on Options menu.

Choose Fill Subpath.

This window will pop up.

Click OK.


This is what it should look like.

Even though the path is not a closed shape, the fill was applied. The closest sticking out anchor points were connected with straight lines (E and G; G and F).

The fill did not create extra paths between the points. It is still a zig-zag line, not a closed shape.


Here is another fast way to apply fill to a path: The first button on the bottom of the paths palette.

Draw a closed path JKL.

When you are closing a path (return to the start point), a small circle appears next to the cursor.

Apply a fill.

Apply a stroke.

Repeat the steps with the Star design.

To save a Work Path:

Double-click on it in the Paths palette.

Give it a name or keep is as default Path #.

Click OK.

Now the information about the paths you've made will be saved. Next time you click with a Pen tool - you'll create another Work Path.

This is what your Paths palette looks like.

File > Save

Close the file.


Open image 2

Drawing curves with the Pen tool requires some practice. Click on point A and drag up to the red dot. This is how to start a curve that will go up through the anchor point.

When you click and drag - you create an anchor point with direction lines.

Direction lines go in two directions.

Direction that you drag the direction line will be the direction the curve will go through this point.

Example: to set the curve to go up through point A - you drag the direction line up; to set the curve go down through point B - you drag the direction line down.

Finish the curve ABCD. Drag the direction lines to the red dots.

Don't forget to end the path (Command/Ctrl click). Use Direct Selection tool to see how you can edit the curves by moving the direction lines.

Draw the path EF

Note: The curve goes up through both anchor points.

To draw a circle:

Click and drag up from point G

Click and drag down from point H

Double-click on point G

Open image 3

Look at the curve to your left. Note that the curve goes down through point B; then it goes up through the same point B.

How is that possible? The answer is Corner Point!!!

By creating a corner point you stop one segment and start the next one fresh.


This is how you do it:

Click and drag up on A

Click and drag down on B

Option/Alt click on B (this stops the first segment and transforms B into a Corner point)

Click and drag up on B

Click and drag down on C

End path by Command/Ctrl clicking outside the path.

Apply a nice stroke to the path.

Create a path DEFG.

Note that there are two corner points there!

Click on D (don't drag - the first segment is straight!)
Click on E (don't drag - this is the end point for the straight segment)
Option/Alt click and drag up on E (to start the curve up)
Click and drag down on F (to have the curve go down through F) Option/Alt click on F to cteate a corner point for the next straight segment.
Click on F (don't drag - it's a straight segment again!)

Apply a stroke

Draw a path HIJK.

Apply a stroke.

File > Save

Close the file.

Open image 4

Draw the path.

End it (Command/Ctrl click)

You are going to add an anchor point to this path.

Choose Add Anchor point Tool


Click in the red dot (on the path).

You just added a point to your path. The Cursot changed to the Direct selection tool.

Grab the new point and drag it up to creat a curve.

Apply a color stroke.

Next path:  

Draw the next path (three anchot points).


You are going to delete one anchor point from the path.

Choose Delete Anchor Point Tool.

Click on the center (red) anchor point.

Now it's a straight line


Apply a color stroke.

Use Pen tool to draw a Star.


You are going to convert corners into curves and curves into corners.

Choose Convert Point Tool.

Place the cursor over an anchor point.

Click and drag it.

You just converted the corner into a curve!

Repeat the steps with the rest of the corners and transform the star into flower.


You can apply some fill color.

To convert a curve back in a straight corner - click on the ancjor point with the Convert Point Tool.


File > Save.

Close the file.

Open image 5

Draw a path around the cat's mask.

Start at point A (green dot).
Click and drag up to the red dot.
Click and drag at point B

Corner point B: Option/Alt click on B.

Click and drag on C, D, E, F, G

Corner point G: Option/Alt click on G

Click and drag down on H

Corner point H: Option/Alt click and drag H to the yellow dot

Corner point A: Option/Alt click and drag A to the yellow dot

Save the path.

Attention: there are 4 corner points!!!

Delete the path you just created and draw it again.

Practice a few more times. Then close the file. Don't save.

Open image 6

Draw a path around the cat's mask.

Save it as "cat"

Select Magic Wand Tool. Set tolerance to 60

Click inside the mouth to select it.

You are going to transform the mouth selection into a path.

Click on the path button at the bottom of the paths palette.

This created a new Work path.

The mouth path will look not quite accurate.

You are going to use direct Selection Tool to ajust anchor points and direction lines to make the curves right.

If you need to - use Add or Delete Anchor point tools.

Save the Work Path by renaming it "mouth".

The path should look like this:





File > Save

Click once on the Cat path in Paths palette to select it.

You are going to convert it into selection:

Click on Load path as a selection button at the bottom of the Paths palette.

Now click once on the Mouth path in the palette to select it.

Go to the Paths palette options menu and choose:

Make Selection.

As long as you already have a selection on the image (the cat's face) - the window will pop up and suggest the option to Subtract from existing Selection.

Click OK.

Now you have the cat's mask selected without background and without a mouth.

Time to apply some filters.

Go to Filters > Artistic > Neon Glow


If you don't like the preview - use other filters.

Actually, use as many filters as you like to make the cat look really fun!


When done - type your name and print.