How to Select Pen Tool Modes in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

Although every path in Photoshop CS6 consists of three basic components — segments, points, and direction lines — the Pen tool enables you to use these components to create a few different types of paths. You must choose one of the following from the Pen tool’s Options bar:

  • Shape: This option creates a shape on a new vector layer. After you create the path that defines the shape, Photoshop fills the shape with the foreground color and also stores the path in the Paths panel.

  • Path: This option enables you to create a traditional path that hovers over the image. The path you create is a work path — which is temporary, appears in the Paths panel, and is unsaved. If you’re creating a path that you eventually want to load as a selection, this is your option.

  • Pixels: This option is available only when you’re using the shape tools. It allows you to create a shape and fill it with the foreground color, but it doesn’t create a shape layer, nor does it retain the path.

For the first time, Photoshop gives you the capability of having true vector layers and not just the faux vector layers of the past where a vector path clipped to a pixel layer. This feature is revolutionary, especially for graphic designers, who use vector and pixel layers equally in their work.