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Beginners Guide To Using The Pen Tool In Photoshop: Part 2 – Drawing Straight Paths

This is the second post of my guide to using the Pen Tool in Photoshop. Previously I wrote about WHY should we learn how to use the Pen tool. Now we’re going to get into the nitty gritty and actually start using it.

The Pen Tool & Straight Lines

It is super easy to draw straight lines with the pen tool, so that’s where we’ll start. Straight paths are created by simply clicking the mouse button. The first time you click, you set a starting point for a path. Each time you click after that, a straight line is drawn between the previous point and the current point.

Before we use the Pen tool, whether for making a selection or for drawing shapes, we need to configure the settings on the Options Bar.

1. Open a new blank document in Photoshop. I’ve created one at 1000 x 1000 pixels with a resolution of 72ppi.

2. In the toolbar, select the Pen Tool. Pen Tool Photoshop

The shortcut is to hit P on the keyboard.

3. In the Options bar at the top of the screen;

  • Choose Path from the first dropdown option.
  • Click the arrow for Geometry Options and make sure that the Rubber Band check box is not selected in the Path Options pop-up palette.
  • Make sure that the Auto Add/Delete option is selected.
  • Select the Combine Paths option.

Pen Tool Options In Photoshop
Note: If you’re outlining a subject for selection, or for drawing a path to add pixels to afterwards, choose the Path option. If you wanted to draw a vector shape with the Pen tool, you would choose Shape. It’s not the end of the world if you choose the wrong one, but it saves a few steps if you pick the right one before you start.

When you first select the pen tool, before you draw any points, a small x will appear beside the cursor. The x means that you are about to start drawing a new path.
Pen Tool - Start A New Path
It’s important to pay attention to the small symbols which appear beside the Pen tool cursor because it tells you how the Pen will behave.

2. Click once on the document where you want the straight line segment to begin. Do not drag.

3. Click again where you want to add the next point. The points that connect paths are called anchor points.

3 - Add Second Anchor Point

Note: If direction lines appear (they look like extra lines coming out of an anchor point), you’ve accidentally dragged the Pen tool and you will draw a curve rather than a straight line. If that happens, choose Ctrl + Z (Windows) or Cmd + Z (Mac) to undo, and click again.

Notice that the first anchor point you created when you clicked the first time is now hollow, while the last anchor point is a solid square. A solid anchor point means that it is currently selected.

4. To continue creating your straight line segments, just keep clicking on the document where you want to put an anchor point and Photoshop will create the path in between.

4 - Continue Clicking With Pen Tool

Tip: If you want to constrain the angle of the segment to a multiple of 45° hold down the Shift key as you click.

The path you see above is called an Open Path. That means the starting point and the end point are different, they do not join. You do not have to create closed paths every time you draw. Open paths are perfect for drawing all types of lines.

If you want to fill an area with colour though, it’s a good idea to close the path. To close a path, simply click back to the first point you created. You will see a small circle appears next to the Pen tool pointer indicating that the path will close correctly.
Once you close a path, the cursor will immediately change to indicate that the next time you click on the document you will be starting a brand new path.

5 - Closing The Path

If you want to leave a path open but then start another new path, Ctrl + Click (Windows) or Cmd + Click (Mac) anywhere away from the path you drew. Alternatively, you can finish a path by clicking on any other tool in the toolbox.

Adding and Deleting Anchor Points

There will, of course, be times when you want to add extra anchor points to your lines or delete existing anchor points that you don’t need. A good rule of thumb when working with vector graphics is to use as few anchor points as possible to achieve smooth lines. This is particularly true when drawing curved paths with the pen tool, which you’ll see in the next post.

Deleting an anchor point to a path

1. Select the Delete Anchor Point tool from the toolbox (hidden under the Pen tool). Delete Anchor Point Photoshop

2. Click on the point you want to delete.

7 - Delete Anchor Point From Path

Adding an anchor point to a path

1. Select the Add Anchor Point tool in the toolbar. Add-Anchor-Point-Tool Photoshop

2. Click anywhere along a line segment using the Add Anchor Point tool.

8 - Add Anchor Point To Line

Often the path shape may not look very different after you add a point to a straight segment, but when you edit the point (we’ll come to that in a future post) then you’ll see the difference.

Pen Tool Practice!

So that’s how to draw straight line segments, very easy and nothing to be frightened of there. The key to using the Pen tool is practice, practice, practice.

  • Try drawing open paths of Zig Zags.
  • Try drawing closed paths of triangles, rectangles, squares, polygons, stars and other random shapes where the first anchor point becomes the end point.
  • Get a feel for finishing paths and starting new ones. Have a go at drawing all of the shapes below. It will help you get a feel for using the pen tool

Straight paths drawn with the pen tool in photoshop
The next part of this guide will show you how to draw curves with the pen tool in Photoshop.

I hope you’re finding this guide useful and would be super grateful if you would share it. Thank you! 🙂

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How To Open Images In Camera Raw

I recently wrote an introduction to Camera Raw in Photoshop, briefly outlining what Camera Raw is, and what the raw file format is. In this follow-up, we’ll take a look at how to open up images in the Camera Raw plug-in. We can work with Raw, JPEG and TIFF files.

You can open a raw file in Photoshop, in much the same way as you would open any other type of image file. The difference is, the raw file opens in the Camera Raw window instead of the main Photoshop workspace.

Open Raw Files From The File Browser

To open a raw file from your Windows File Explorer, or Mac Finder, you can:

  • Double-click the file’s icon. If Photoshop isn’t already running, your computer will launch it and then open the Camera Raw window.


  • Ctrl + Click (Mac) or Right-Click (Windows) on the file and then choose Open With > Adobe Photoshop CC. This will open Photoshop if it’s not already open and then open the Camera Raw window.

As Camera Raw was originally made to process photos taken in raw format, if you double-click on a raw image on your computer it SHOULD automatically launch Photoshop and open the image within Camera Raw. If the raw file doesn’t open, check that you have the latest version of Camera Raw from Adobe’s Creative Cloud if you’re using Photoshop CC. Or check the Adobe website for updates if you’re using an older version of Photoshop.

Open Raw Images in Camera Raw From Bridge

It’s simple to open Raw, JPEG and TIFF files from Adobe Bridge. Here are three different ways to get your photo from Bridge to Camera Raw:

  • Double-click a raw file in the Content panel. The image opens in Camera Raw.


  • Click once on any image – Raw, JPEG or TIFF, then press Ctrl + R (Windows) or Cmd + R (Mac).


  • Activate an image in the Content panel and then choose File > “Open in Camera Raw.”

Open From Bridge To Camera Raw

Open JPEG or TIFF images in Camera Raw

You can open JPEG or TIFF files from Bridge (as mentioned above). You can also open a JPEG or TIFF from Photoshop, directly into Camera Raw, by doing the following:

  • In Windows: From Photoshop’s File menu, choose Open As. Browse through your folders to find the JPEG or TIFF image you want. Click on the file you’re interested in, then change the pop-up menu at the bottom right to Camera Raw, then click Open.
  • On a Mac: From Photoshop’s File menu, choose Open. The Open dialog appears. Browse through your folders to find the JPEG or TIFF image you want. Click on the file you want. In the Format pop-up menu at the bottom it will say JPEG (or TIFF if you chose a TIFF file), now click on that menu, then choose Camera Raw. Then click the Open button and your image will open in Camera Raw.

Open A JPEG or TIFF into Camera Raw

How to Make JPEGs and TIFFs Always Open In Camera Raw

If you’d like to set up so that every time you open a JPEG or TIFF, it opens directly in Camera Raw, you can do that in the Camera Raw preferences. I would recommend this for photographers, but I don’t recommend it for designers.

1. Go to Photoshop > Preferences > Camera Raw (Mac) or Edit > Preferences > Camera Raw (Windows)

2. At the bottom of the Camera Raw Preferences dialog, under JPEG and TIFF Handling, set both JPEG and TIFF to Automatically Open All Supported JPEGs and Automatically Open all Supported TIFFs, respectively.

3. Click OK. Note that this change won’t kick in until the next time you start Photoshop.

Camera Raw Preferences - JPEG and TIFF

Opening more than one file at a time in Camera Raw

You can open multiple files in Camera Raw from either Bridge or Photoshop, and you can apply the same edits to multiple files simultaneously. This can be really handy if you have a pile of images that were all taken in the same environment and require the same sort of adjustments, such as creating more contrast or removing colour casts.

To open multiple files from Bridge, into Camera Raw, do the following:

1. In Bridge, open the folder holding your photos.

2. Shift + Click all of the images you want.

3. Choose File > Open In Camera Raw.

Open Multiple Files From Camera Raw

Your files open inside Camera Raw. Notice the film strip along the left side. Choose any photo to edit by simply clicking on the thumbnail.

Multiple Images Open In Camera Raw

And that’s how you can open in Camera Raw.  Now you can start to have fun editing your Raw, JPEG and TIFF files.

I hope you found this post helpful. Please share it. Thank you! 🙂

What Is Adobe Camera Raw?

What Is Adobe Camera Raw And Why Should I Use It?

Adobe Camera Raw is a plug-in piece of software in Adobe Photoshop. It is sometimes ignored (or feared) by new Photoshop learners because at first glance it looks a little confusing. The nice thing about it is, though, it’s actually pretty simple to use once you figure out which bits do what.

If you want to learn how to successfully and efficiently edit photographs, you need to know how to use it. And I’m here to help you with that 🙂

Why Should I Use Camera Raw To Edit Photos?

Camera Raw allows us to edit and enhance raw files from our digital cameras. We can also edit JPEG and TIFF files in Adobe Camera Raw.

Let’s quickly clarify what raw and Adobe Camera Raw actually are.

  • A raw file contains unprocessed picture data from your digital camera’s image sensor.
  • Adobe Camera Raw is the plugin we use to edit Raw files. We can use it to apply sharpening, set white balance, adjust contrast, colour and tonal range, and much much more.

Adobe Camera Raw Interface

One of the main advantages of editing photos in Camera Raw as opposed to editing in Photoshop, is that Camera Raw does not change or damage your original photograph. This is known as non-destructive editing. Camera Raw also includes some editing features that aren’t in Photoshop.

As we edit our photos in Camera Raw, the changes we make are a set of instructions that are applied to our photo and we see a live preview as we work. We can also go back and make changes as often as we want, or we can completely reset our changes without ever harming a single pixel. It is wonderful! 🙂

The other good news is, although Adobe Camera Raw was originally created to process photos taken in your camera’s raw format, you can also use it to process your JPEG and TIFF photos too.

If you’ve used Adobe Lightroom before, Camera Raw will look very familiar because they are essentially the same thing. They share the same image-processing technology.

File Formats and Camera Raw

Although Photoshop Camera Raw software can open and edit a raw image file, it cannot save an image in a camera raw format. You can save the image in other image formats, such as Digital Negative (DNG), JPEG, TIFF, or Photoshop (PSD) formats.

Adobe update Camera Raw fairly frequently. If you’re using Creative Cloud, make sure to keep your versions up to date.

Different camera models save camera raw images in many different formats, and the data must be interpreted differently for these formats. Camera Raw includes support for many camera models, and it can interpret many camera raw formats.

Raw File Extensions

When you download your pictures from your camera for the first time, you might notice some strange file extension that you haven’t seen before. Here are the raw file extensions from some of the biggest camera manufacturers)

  • .NEF – Nikon
  • .CRW – Canon
  • .ARW .SRF  .SR2 – Sony
  • .PEF – Pentax
  • .ORF – Olympus
  • .3FR – Hasslebad
  • .RW2 – Panasonic

There are, of course, many more camera makers and Adobe regularly put out updates to Camera Raw to support new cameras that have come on the market.

Now that you know what Camera Raw is, the next step is to actually get your photographs into it. Click here to read how to open images in Camera Raw.

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How do I get back to the old (legacy) New Document dialog box in Photoshop?

The New Document dialog

If you’ve updated Photoshop to CC 2017, you will have noticed a fairly big change in the New Document dialog box.  (You can learn how to create new Photoshop documents with the new Start Screen here).

Photoshop New Document Dialog Box

Some long-time Photoshop users are finding the new New Document dialog box to be a bit clunky and would prefer to get back to the streamlined “old school” version where you just type in the dimensions and resolution you want, without wading through presets and templates.

Here’s how you can change back to the more familiar dialog box.

  1. On the mac, choose Photoshop CC > Preferences > General (shortcut is Cmd + K)
    On the pc, choose Edit > Preferences > General (shortcut is Ctrl + K)
  2. Click in the checkbox beside Use Legacy “New Document” Interface to enable it.Photoshop General Preferences
  3. Click OK to close the Preferences dialog box and next time you create a new document, you’ll see the more familiar legacy New Document dialog box.Legacy or old version of the New Document in Photoshop
  4. If you decide at a later time that you would like the new New document dialog back again, just go back into the same option in Preferences and uncheck it.

Hope you find that useful 🙂

How to create a new file with the *new* New Document box in Photoshop CC

The New Document dialog box has been completely redesigned in Photoshop CC 2017. It allows us create new documents from presets, or from our own custom settings, and it also lets us save our custom settings as new presets so we can reuse them. Another new feature in the New Document dialog box is the ability to create documents from templates, but we’ll look at that in a separate post.

Creating A New File In Photoshop

To create a new document in Photoshop, we use the New Document dialog box. There are several ways to get to this dialog box.

1. When you launch Photoshop you can click on the New… button on Photoshop’s Start screen



2. Click File > New on the Menu Bar along the top of the screen.


3. Use the keyboard shortcut, Cmd + N (Mac) / Ctrl+N (Win).

Any of these options open up the New Document dialog box.


The New Document Dialog Box

Along the top of the New Document dialog box, you’ll see a row of categories – Recent, Saved, Photo, Print, Art & Illustration, Web, Mobile, and Film & Video. By default, the Recent category is selected and you will see a set of document sizes that you’ve used recently. If this is the first time you’ve opened Photoshop, or if you have reset Photoshop to factory settings, there will be nothing in this category.

Any recently-used document sizes appear in the Recent category.

Creating New Documents From Presets

A handy time saver when creating new files is to use a preset. A preset is simply a set of pre-determined width and height dimensions, a choice of portrait or landscape orientation,resolution and colour mode. There are other options but these are the options you are most likely to be interested in.

  1. To choose a preset, first pick the type of document you want to make, for example, is it for web, print, a photo? Click on that category name along the top. For this example, I’ve chosen Print.


2. A set of four presets appear in the dialog box. To see more presets click on the View All Presets + link.

3. You’ll see an extra bunch of thumbnails representing various Print presets. Use the scroll bar along the right to scroll through them.

4. Click on the A5 preset. Notice how the Preset Details change on the right hand side to match the A4 details.

5. If you’re happy with this preset, click Create. The New Document dialog box closes and your new document opens in Photoshop.


How To Create A New File In Photoshop With Your Own Custom Settings

Let’s say that you want to make a document at a size that is not already available as a preset. It’s easy to add your own custom settings.

1. Choose File > New in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen.

The same New Document dialog opens as before.

2. On the right hand side, in the Preset Details section,  type in the values 10 inches for width, 3 inches for height and change the colour mode to CMYK.

Now, let’s say that this is a document size that was may want to use again, then it’s a good idea to save it as a preset.


3. Click the Save Preset icon (circled in red).

4. Give it a name by typing in the Preset name field at the top. (It will say something like Untitled initially). Give it a descriptive name to make it easier for yourself to remember what the preset is. I called mine Jen – Banner – 10 x 3.

Then click Save Preset again.

Your new saved preset now appears in the Saved category. This means you can come back to it at any time and it will speed up your workflow by not having to type in the values each time you want a document of that size.

5. Click on the Create button and your new file opens.

And that’s how you make new files in Photoshop.

If you’ve found this post useful, I’d be so grateful if you would please share it.  Thank you!