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Tutorial 4 (Page 1): Complex Selections using Paths

When you are faced with more complex selections where you would like to isolate part of an image from a complex background, the pen tool is the most effective and reliable method to use.

The pen tool is an amazing tool and once you get the hang of swinging node extensions/handles around curves, it is the easiest and most precise method that you can use - in addition, it is a more permanent method of being able to retain a selection as a path and you can go back to it as often as you like without repeating the process every time you need that area reselected.

Here is a high resolution file that you can download to practise this tutorial on (right click your mouse button and save the image to your computer). There are a couple of basic exercises so that you can get the hang of manipulating the pen before you can tackle isolating Daisy from her natural background.

Tool overview

The pen tool options can be accessed on a pop up menu by holding down the pen tool button on the toolbar. These are the tools that we will be experimenting with, so please feel free to refer back to here to the basic explanations during the exercise if you need to...

Pen Tool - This is the main one that we use to create a path with.
Freeform Pen Tool - For those brave enough to hold down the mouse continually and draw around an object freehand.
Add Anchor Point Tool - handy for adding additional points/nodes in areas that need an extra one for manipulation...
Delete Anchor Point Tool - does exactly that, deletes any nodes that you feel need to be removed in a path.
Convert Point Tool - if you hold this tool over an anchor point/node, click and drag, it creates new handles that can be used for manipulating the direction of the path.

Positioned above the pen tool...

Path Selection Tool - selects the path as a whole entity if you need to move it...
Direct Selection Tool - This handy tool when used to select a path gives you the ability to move individual nodes without affecting the whole.

Tutorial 4: Page 1 2 3 4 5 <Tutorial Index next>