Mastering The Pen Tool In Adobe Photoshop

The Pen Tool is one of the most advanced and accurate ways to make selections in Adobe Photoshop. Because of this, it can also be one of the most intimidating and frustrating features. I often find myself doing everything I can to avoid having to use it... but then the image never ends up looking it's best and it's back to the drawing board. For those looking to master this powerful feature, like myself, check out these two entertaining new training methods!

Just last week Phlearn released a great video detailing the easy path (no pun intended) on how to use the pen tool, and as Aaron says in the video, "all it takes is a little practice and a lot of selecting!" and you too can me making picture perfect selections! 

Now while watching the video, Aaron will make it look easy, so most beginners to the pen tool could get frustrated when trying to follow along for the first time. That's why i'm sharing the second awesome discovery of the week! The Bezier Game! Part of a series of games, tools, and articles created by Method Act, meant for designers and yet incredibly powerful & useful for the fist time Pen-Tooler! 

This Bezier-game, (  will start out with a series of "tutorial" paths and then brings you on to some pretty challenging shapes to make your way through, beginning with what looks like a VW Beetle (screengrab in the gallery)! For those of you looking to step up your Photoshop-Fu, these should be your go-to tools until you can make selections and paths like a boss!

If you've got any other awesome training tips for mastering the Pen Tool, or any other in photoshop, let me know in the comments!  


Someone did send me another awesome resource for the pen tool! 

Colin Smith of Photoshop Cafe has a great Vectors and Paths Explained Page available which dives into some more advanced information!

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Nino Batista's picture

Pen Tool FTW

Leigh Smith's picture

Mastering? This is just and intro. Nothing advanced here. Phlearn even said "intro" why are you calling it "mastering"? Ah, thats right, for more clicks...

David J. Crewe's picture

There's no short cut to mastering any feature in Photoshop, it takes practice, and these are simply fun ways to make practicing, and thus, mastering the Pen Tool for the masses!

Chad Westover's picture

What a lovely hair helmet she has.

Dave P's picture

It doesn't take that long to master selections IMO, buy a decent graphics tablet and learn workflows from decent teachers such as Jack Davis rather than trial and error. This on the other hand is more like "how to make single exposures look like a bad composites with zero feathering" tutorial

Spy Black's picture

Although paths are the mainstays of silos in production, I don't agree with Aaron that it is the most advanced or accurate way to make a selection, effective channel seps are. It's accurate only if you're dealing with linear boundaries. Of course, that fact that it's editable is it's strongest asset. That said, it's still a critical tool in making masks of course, knowing how to use a pen tool accurately is paramount to making effective masks. The pen tool is there when you have too much noise to make and effective channel sep.

I wouldn't agree that it's necessarily "quick" either. Try pathing a wicker chair. Right.

You really need to know how to effectively to use ALL your masking tools together to get truly accurate masks. A combination of paths and channels seps will get you to the promised land.

Selena Jain's picture

I have come across another very detailed tutorial on Photoshop Pen Tool here . Though it is an written one but they have explained each technique to use pen tool here. Anyway thank you for sharing the video version, it will be easier to understand now.