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Making a Selection

If you’ve ever tried to use the Pen tool, you may have found it difficult to use—most people do! It’s not exactly the friendliest of tools. It is, however, very powerful, so it’s worth persevering and trying to understand a little more about how it works. Here’s how to use it to make a selection:

  1. Select the Pen tool in the Tools palette. On the tool options bar, make sure that the Paths option is selected (see Figure 3).
    Figure 3

    Figure 3 Setting up the Pen tool correctly is important; select the Pen tool and the Paths option from the tool options bar.

  2. Click at various points around the shape to add anchor points. If you click, a straight line is created. If you click and drag at the same time, you create a curved line between the last anchor point and the new one. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect at this stage.
  3. When the shape is complete, hold your mouse over the first anchor point—the pointer shows a small circle in its lower right side. This indicates that you are over the anchor point, so click once to close the path. The path shows as the work path in the Paths palette (see Figure 4).
    Figure 4

    Figure 4 Click around the shape using the Pen tool to make an approximate selection. Combine straight and curved lines as needed and click over the first anchor point to close the path.

  4. To move a segment or an anchor point, click the Direct Selection tool, click on the point or line segment, and drag to move it. To change the direction lines on an anchor point independently of each other, display the direction lines by clicking on the anchor point with the Direct Selection tool; then select the Convert Point tool and drag on the direction line to alter (see Figure 5).
    Figure 5

    Figure 5 To move direction lines independently of each other, display the direction lines using the Direct Selection tool; then drag using the Convert Point tool.

  5. To resize a path, select the Path Selection tool and click on the path. A set of sizing handles appears—if not, click to enable the Show Bounding Box checkbox on the tool options palette—and you can drag on the handles to resize the path or rotate it. Press Enter or the Commit Transform icon on the toolbar to confirm the change. Click this only once because, when you click it, the icon changes its purpose.
  6. To add anchor points to a path, select the Pen tool, hold your mouse over the point on the path where the anchor point is to appear, and click once to add a new point. If you click and drag you can create a curve at the point. The same Pen tool clicked on top of an existing point removes it.
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