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Once you have created all your paths you can now use a function called STROKE.  Create a new layer, and select one of your paths.  In the PATHS WINDOW you will see in the bottom left hand corner a small white circle.  Clicking this will stroke a line along your path using your currently selected brush, brush size and colour.  Once you have done this, deselect your path (click on a blank area in your paths window).  You can now take a soft erasure and rub out the ends of your line.  This helps give a more sketch like feeling to the line.  You may also want to duplicate this layer then move and rotate it just a little.  This will also help give the line a more sketchy feel.  If you continue to do this you should end up with an image of taught and clean linework, yet still retaining a fast sketchy feeling.  From there it is a simple task to render your image in the usual manner.  Luckily this is also an area where paths can be useful.
This image has been sketched and then lined out using a similar method to the one described above. To show an example of how paths can be used to mask areas however I have removed the white reflection from the windshield. Using a path to "mask" the area will allow us to be very soft with our airbrushing, but give us the opportunity to remove unwanted overspray. This is in effect similar to using masking film when rendering with a real airbrush. 
The image to the left has been created by drawing lines using the path tool.  The first thing I have done in this image is to scan a sketch to use as reference.  Then, with the sketch faded down using the opacity tool, I have used the pen tool to draw out the design.  You can actually find more details about these stages in my previous tutorial Photoshop Taping.  Remember to keep your paths as simple as possible, and use a different path for each line.
To do this I have created a new layer above all the others. Onto this I have then generously sprayed some white. When doing this you do not need to worry about the overspray. Just concentrate on getting the colour gradient correct in the areas where you will keep the colour......the windshield. Once you have done this you can create a path around the window (hopefully you know how to do this now). This time however, go to the paths window and click on the little menu tab in the top right (where you normally select save path). Under here you will find an option to "make selection". Choose this. Something to note here is that where it asks you for a feather radius it is a good idea to put in a very small figure....but not zero. This will ensure that you do no get a jagged stepped edge to your selection. I usually use 0.2 as a figure. Once you have made this selection you now need to invert it, in effect selecting everything except the window. You can do this by pressing CTRL, SHIFT and I at the same time. Now hit delete. You should now be left with only your white reflection and no overspray. The final thing I did in this image was to lower the opacity of this layer just to tone down the reflection slightly. This is just a small example, yet it should show how using the paths tool will help you control your soft gradients a lot better.


You should now have a good understanding of how the pen tool works, and some of the functions it can be used for in car sketching and rendering. From the knowledge gained in this tutorial you may want to go back and look at some of the other tutorials on this site. Your fresh way of looking at the pen tool and paths should give you a new insight into how the designers have achieved such impressive results. As always however, the main thing is to now practice, practice and practice. Good luck!!
The last thing you will need to learn with your paths is how to modify the curves they make. This is the part where most people stumble. With a little practice it is however quite simple. First start by creating and saving a path with a smooth point (see above). Now that you have a path, hold down the control key and click on the smooth point. By clicking on it you select the point meaning you will now see both direction points. Holding down the control key will now let you click and drag on these to adjust the curve. If however the point you wish to adjust does not have any direction points (is a corner point), you can create them by using the ALT key function. To do this simply hold down the ALT key and click and drag on a corner point. This will then turn this into a smooth point, which you adjust as previously explained. The final thing you can do is of course convert a smooth point into a corner point. This is achieved by simply holding down the ALT key and clicking on a smooth point.
You will now see your path on your page (it may be that none of the edit points are visible....if this is the case, hold down control then click and drag over your path). The first thing you may want to do after creating a path is to add or remove points. These are the simplest of modifications to make. To add a point simply click on your path where you wish to add. To remove a point you simply need to click on it. When doing this you will notice that a small + or - sign appears next to the cursor. It is also relatively simple to move a point once you have created it. Simple hold down the CONTROL key and click and drag the point you wish to move. When performing this action the curser will turn to a small white arrow.....changing to a small black arrow as you actually drag a point. Practice with this until adding, deleting and moving points becomes second nature.
Before we learn how to modify our paths we should first learn how to save a path to work on. Begin by creating a path similar to one of the two examples above. Then in the PATHS window (if this is not open you can turn it on under window, show paths), click on the expandable menu tab in the top right corner. Here you will find the option to save your path. You can choose any name for your path, and at any later time you can come back to this PATHS window and choose any of your previous made paths. To select a path you merely need to click on it, and to deselect a path you just need to click on the empty region beneath all your paths. For now however, select the path you have just created (by clicking on it) and we can begin to learn how to modify your paths.
In the example above we just clicked on the page to get the three points of our triangle. This time however, when adding the third point do not release your mouse button. Instead click and drag downwards. You will immediately notice that you have changed this point to what is known as a smooth point. Once you now release the mouse button, you can continue and finish your path using exactly the same method as before. Hover over the first point you placed until you see the close path "o" then click. So now you have created a straight and curved path. What if you now need to modify this path however. Well, once a path has been created you can use some very simple methods to add, delete, covert or adjust the points. There is one more thing we should learn before that however.
, lets try the tool. Quite simply, by trying and playing around with the tool you will learn how to use it much faster. Begin by creating a new page and selecting the PEN tool. Check that it is set to the PATHS style and then by simply clicking on your new page create a path similar to the one shown on the left. have now created a path. Try this exercise again, but this time look carefully at the curser whilst placing your points. You will notice that before placing any points there is a small "x" next to the curser signifying that it is ready to begin a new path. Once you have begun placing your points the next interesting extra symbol to appear is a small "o". This appears as you place the last point and. It tells you that you are hovering over the first point you positioned, and that Photoshop is ready to close your path. OK, now that you have created a simple straight edge path, lets now try one with some curves.
options tab for the pen tool is where you can access some of the different ways of using the tool. This tutorial is going to focus only on the PATHS method, as opposed to the SHAPE LAYER or FILL PIXELS method. The PATHS option is shown selected in the image to the left. By selecting this option you will be able to create paths that are independent of any layer, and can be modified at anytime without directly effecting your image. Feel free to experiment with the other settings to see what happens, but remember to switch back to the PATHS option for the remainder of this tutorial. One thing to remember when changing this option in CS versions of Photoshop is that your changes will also effect the shape tool, and vice versa. Knowing this may save some of you a bit of confusion (especially those of you more used to earlier versions of Photoshop).
To begin, the image on the left shows the TOOLS PALETTE where you will find the pen tool (and its variants which can be seen by clicking and holding on the pen option).  Whilst it is good to know that you can select the different pen functions here, this tutorial will demonstrate that this is not necessary.  All the variant functions of the pen tool can be activated by using simple shortcuts.  The first of these is simply pressing the button P to activate the pen tool.  The other options you will need in this tutorial (we are going to ignore the freeform option here) can be activated by hovering over different elements of your path, and by using different combinations of the SHIFT, CONTROL and ALT keys.  These will be explained further in some practical examples later in this tutorial.
Adobe Photoshop Paths

There are many ways within Photoshop to select specific areas to adjust or modify.  By far the most powerful of these is to work with paths, using the pen tool.  Whilst the pen tool can seem a little daunting at first, with a little practice you will find it useful for many purposes.  This tutorial is going to explain the basics of the tool, as well as show a couple of examples of how it may be used when drawing and rendering your designs.

The first thing that should be noted in this tutorial is that depending on the version of Photoshop you are using, certain elements of the tool may be found in different locations than stated here.  The general theory and functionality of the tool is similar in all versions however, meaning that regardless of the version you are using this tutorial should still prove useful.
page last updated; 2014-06-15
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