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Fun with Photoshop - Creating a Vector Mask using the Pen Tool

by Courtnie Croft

Summary : Using the Pen Tool to create a Vector Mask to hide the background of an image.

First of all, open your image. Then in the layers window double click the background layer (your image) to turn it into a new layer. Now zoom in until you can see all the details of your image clearly (View > "Zoom In" or Ctrl ++).

Select the Pen Tool .

Make sure you have the paths option of the pen tools selected. It should appear in the upper left hand corner of your application and looks like this: You want the one on the right. Having the other one selected will draw a shape.

Using the Pen Tool we are going to trace around your image, this will create a path we can use to hide the background of your image.

To use the Pen Tool:
Click once to create an anchor point and click again to create a second anchor point, this will draw a straight line. Do not release the mouse button on the second click if you wish to draw a curved line. Instead, move your mouse in the opposite direction of the way you want the curve to go (you can move your mouse left and right to get the curve just right). Once you have your curve, release the mouse button. If you want to start a new curve in another direction, Alt+Click on the anchor point you just created (this will end the current direction). Trace all the way around your image. To complete the path click on the first anchor point you created.

Repeat this if there are any other areas of your image you wish to keep.

Once you have everything outlined click on the Paths tab in the Layers Window, or select the window menu -> Paths. You will see a Path titled Work Path; to save it, double click and rename it. Click the icon "Load Path as a Selection" located at the bottom of the paths window. Click back on the Layers tab then click the icon "Add Layer Mask" located at the bottom of the layers window and the background of your image will disappear!