Photoshop tutorial: How To Use The Curvature Pen Tool

In this Photoshop tutorial, Tigz Rice shows you how to use the new Curvature Pen tool from Photoshop CC 2018 – and how to get the most from it.


The Pen tool is one of the most useful tools in Photoshop – used by artists, designers and photographers alike for everything from creating vector shapes to graphics to creating masks on photos. However, perhaps due to its wide range of uses, it’s also known for being one of the hardest tools to learn how to use – requiring several selection tools, converter tools and a lot of pressing the Alt key.

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Thankfully, with the release of Photoshop CC 2018 last month at the Adobe Max 2017 conference, Adobe has released the Curvature Pen tool. This combines all of the features of the Pen into one very simple-to-use tool.

Want to know how the Curvature Pen works? Tigz Rice shows you how in this tutorial. We’ll be working with simple black and white shapes to give you the best overall understanding of how to use it, whether you want to use it with your artworks, designs or photos.

Project Files

Please visit the desktop site to download the project files.

STEP 1

First, download the project file, which we’ll be using as a guide for creating paths with the Curvature Pen tool. Open this image up in Photoshop.

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STEP 2

Select the Curvature Pen tool from the Pen tool subsection of the toolbar. If it’s your first time using the tool and you can’t find it, follow Step 3 – otherwise, head straight to Step 4.

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STEP 3

If you can’t find the Curvature Pen tool, go to Edit > Toolbar…

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STEP 4

On the left hand side, in the Extra Tools section, scroll right down to the bottom of the options and click and drag the Curvature Pen tool into your Toolbar under the Pen section.

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STEP 5

Press Done to confirm and head back into the main Photoshop window to now select it ready for use.

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STEP 6

Click to make your first point.

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STEP 7

Then go ahead and click to create second point. At the moment, you won’t notice any difference between Curvature Pen tool and the regular Pen tool, as you’ll get a straight line.

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STEP 8

Now go ahead and click to add a third point, and this is when you’ll see the Curvature Pen tool spring into action, rounding off the last three points into one smooth curve.

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Keep clicking points around the edge of the shape until you reach the beginning of the circle again.

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STEP 9

To close off your vector path, hover over the starting point until you see the little O appear and then click to close the path.

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If any of your vector points are off and you need to shuffle them about, simply click on the point and drag into place.


STEP 10

You can add new points by clicking anywhere on the vector path and the click and dragging it into the correct place.

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STEP 11

Alternatively, you can remove points by clicking on them to activate (once activated, the point turns solid blue). Then press the Backspace key.

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The great thing about the Curvature Pen tool is that all of these functions are controlled directly within the one tool, rather than having to switch between multiple tools as required with the previous Pen tool.

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STEP 12

Moving on to our next shape, you can see here that we have a heart, with a mix of curves and sharp angles. Starting from the top centre of the heart, draw round one side as we did in the previous steps.

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STEP 13

When you get to the bottom of the heart, click on the bottom point of the heart as normal. But this time, double-click on the point to convert it into an angle rather than a curve.

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STEP 14

Continue round the edge of the heart shape until you reach the top and close off the path. Again, you will need to double-click on the initial point to turn it into an angle rather than a curve.

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STEP 15

At this point, you can now go back around your heart shape and fine tune any points that need your attention – or add in any extra points for finer details.

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STEP 16

Want to practice on a few more complex shapes before you let loose on your own work? There are a few extra shapes for you to practice on provided in the project files.

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