Drawing with Adobe Photoshop


Drawing with Photoshop involves creating vector shapes and paths. In Photoshop, you can draw with any of the shape tools, the PEN TOOL (P), or the FREEFORM PEN TOOL(P). Options for each tool are available at the options bar.

Before you begin drawing in Photoshop, you must choose a drawing mode from the options bar. The mode you choose to draw in determines whether you create a vector shape on its own layer, a work path on an existing layer, or a rasterized shape on an existing layer.

Vector shape share lines and curves you draw using the shape or pen tools. Vector shapes are resolution-independent—they maintain crisp edges when resized, printed to a PostScript printer, saved in a PDF file, or imported into a vector based graphics application. You can create libraries of custom shapes and edit a shape’s outline (called a path) and attributes (such as stroke, fill color, and style).

Path share outlines that you can turn into selections, or fill and stroke with color. You can easily change the shape of a path by editing its anchor points.

A work path is a temporary path that appears in the Paths panel and defines the outline of a shape. You can use paths in several ways:

  • Use a path as a vector mask to hide areas of a layer.
  • Convert a path to a selection.
  • Fill or stroke a path with color.

In this article you will learn how to convert a path into a selection and the implementation of the Pen Tool (P) to make a selection of a section of the image. Additionally CUSTOM SHAPE TOOL (U) will be used to make a quick figure.

Drawing modes

When you work with the shape or PEN TOOL (P), you can draw in three different modes. You choose a mode by selecting an icon in the options bar when you have a shape or pen tool selected.

  • Shape Layers. Creates a shape on a separate layer. You can use either the shape tools or the pen tools to create shape layers. Because they are easily moved, resized, aligned, and distributed, shape layers are ideal for making graphics for web pages. You can choose to draw multiple shapes on a layer. A shape layer consists of a fill layer that defines the shape color and a linked vector mask that defines the shape outline. The outline of a shape is a path, which appears in the Paths panel.


  • Paths. Draws a work path on the current layer that you can then use to make a selection, create a vector mask, or fill and stroke with color to create raster graphics (much as you would using a painting tool). A work path is temporary unless you save it. Paths appear in the Paths panel.


  • Fill Pixels. Paints directly on a layer—much as a painting tool does. When you work in this mode, you’re creating raster images—not vector graphics. You work with the shapes you paint just as you do with any raster image. Only the shape tools work in this mode.

About paths and the PEN TOOL (P)

In Photoshop, the outline of a vector shape is a path. A path is a curved or straight line segment you draw using the PEN TOOL (P), FREEFORM PEN TOOL (P), or a SHAPE TOOL(U). The PEN TOOL(P) draws paths with the greatest precision; shape tools draw rectangles, ellipses, and other shape paths; the FREEFORM PEN TOOL(P) draws paths as if you were drawing with a pencil on paper.

Converting paths to selections

Just as you can convert selection borders to paths, you can convert paths to selections. With their smooth outlines, paths let you make precise selections. Now that you’ve drawn paths for the hat, you’ll convert those paths to a selection and apply a filter to the selection.

  • In the Paths panel, click the Hat path to make it active.
  • Choose Make Selection from the Paths panel menu, and then click OK to convert the Hat path to a selection.




  • In the Paths panel, click the path to make it active. Then, from the Paths panel menu, choose Make Selection.


  • In the Operation area of the Make Selection dialog box, select Subtract From Selection, and click OK.


In this way, you can carry the selected fund to another convenience or create a new layer area.



Working with defined custom shapes

Another way to use shapes in your artwork is to draw a custom or preset shape. Doing so is as easy as selecting the CUSTOM SHAPE TOOL (U), picking a shape from the Custom Shape Picker, and dragging in the image window.

  • Make sure the Shape layer is selected in the Layers panel. Then click the New Layer button to add a layer above it. Rename the new layer Pattern, and then press Enter or Return.
  • In the Tools panel, select the CUSTOM SHAPE TOOL (U), which is hidden under the Polygon tool.


  • In the options bar, select the Shape option to open the Custom Shape Picker, and select the figure to use.


  • Make sure that the foreground color is white. Then press Shift and drag diagonally in the image window. Pressing Shift constrains the shape to its original proportions and view the opacity.




The PEN TOOL (P) and PEN FREEFORM TOOL (P), are quite useful for drawing a figure and also for greater accuracy in selecting areas. Thus, it is a good choice when selecting and cutting complex shapes.

Additionally, with the use of CUSTOM SHAPE TOOL (U) you can collaborate in making predesigned figures immediately, it can be kind of selection or taken as a new layer.


  1. ADOBE (2014), Adobe® Photoshop® CC Help, link [https://helpx.adobe.com/pdf/photoshop_reference.pdf] visited as of 2015-06-01.
  2. ADOBE (2012), ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS6, CLASSROOM IN A BOOK: The official training workbook from Adobe Systems. United States of America.

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