By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

You can use the Photoshop Creative Suite 5 Pen tool to create precise selections that would be difficult to create using other selection methods. The Pen tool produces clean edges that print well and can be edited using the Direct Selection tool. Using a path as a selection is extremely helpful when you’re trying to make a precise selection.

1Open any file or create a new, blank file.

Make sure that the Paths button is selected on the Options bar or else you’ll create a shape layer.

2With the Pen tool, click to place anchor points.

Experiment with placing the anchor points. It takes practice to get the right level of precision.

3Drag to create a curved path around the image area you want selected and completely close the path by returning to the start point.

A circle appears before you click to close the path.

4Choose Window→Paths.

In the Paths panel, you can create new paths and activate existing paths, apply a stroke, or turn paths into selections by clicking the icons at the bottom of the panel.

5Click and drag the Work Path down to the Create New Path icon at the bottom of the Paths panel.

The path is now named Path 1 and is saved. You can also double-click to rename the file, if you like.

6Click the Load Path As Selection icon.

The path is converted into a selection.

Use this quick and easy method for turning an existing path into a selection: Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac) the path thumbnail in the Paths panel.