Is the Photoshop Pen Tool Dead in the AI Era?

In an age dominated by AI, one might question the relevance of traditional tools like the Pen Tool in Photoshop. Do we still need it?

In an age dominated by artificial intelligence and advanced software tools, one might question the relevance of traditional tools like the Pen Tool in Adobe Photoshop.

Is the Pen Tool dead? As a Photoshop beginner, should I spend time learning it? My answer is that it is far from dead, and it’s essential you learn it as a beginner.

Understanding the Pen Tool

The Pen Tool is a vector-based tool within Photoshop that offers precise control over creating paths and shapes. It utilizes anchor points and control handles to craft smooth curves and straight lines, making it an indispensable tool for creating complex selections, shapes, and paths.

Precision and Control

The Pen Tool provides unparalleled precision and control in design. By strategically placing anchor points and manipulating control handles, designers can create intricate paths and shapes with utmost accuracy.

Vector Paths and Scalability

Paths generated with the Pen Tool are vector-based, ensuring they remain resolution-independent and can be scaled without compromising quality. This quality is fundamental for creating logos, icons, or graphics that need to adapt to various sizes.

Versatility in Design

The Pen Tool boasts remarkable versatility, allowing designers to create anything from basic shapes to highly intricate designs. Whether you need to trace a logo, design custom typography, or craft illustrations, it is more than up to the task.

How to Make a Logo in Photoshop

The Role of AI

In recent times, AI-powered selection tools have gained traction for their ability to swiftly and accurately make selections within Photoshop. Tools such as the Object Selection Tool and Select Subject utilize AI and machine learning to identify and select objects or areas in an image.

While AI tools offer convenience and speed, they might not always provide the precise and customized selections achievable with the Pen Tool. AI tools are advancing rapidly, yet they often lack the nuanced control and artistic intuition that a human designer possesses.

Why the Pen Tool is Still Essential

Precision in Selections

When dealing with intricate shapes, fine details, or areas with subtle edges, the Pen Tool shines in creating precise selections. It excels at crafting accurate cutouts and masks, a critical aspect of professional image editing.

Editing Flexibility

Paths created with the Pen Tool are easily editable, allowing for refined adjustments. Designers can modify anchor points, curves, and segments to achieve the desired outcome, offering a level of flexibility that automated tools often struggle to match.

Go ahead and do some random drawing on a blank canvas:

Vector Graphics and Illustrations

The Pen Tool remains indispensable for creating vector graphics, icons, logos, or any design requiring crisp, scalable visuals. It guarantees that your graphics retain their quality and integrity, regardless of the size they’re displayed at.

Artistic Freedom

Designers value the Pen Tool for the creative freedom it offers. The ability to craft paths and shapes according to their unique vision, tweaking every detail, makes it an essential tool for expressing creativity.

Mastering the Pen Tool

To fully harness the potential of the Pen Tool, mastering its various functionalities is essential. This includes understanding anchor points, control handles, creating and modifying paths, and utilizing path operations like combining and subtracting. Practice and experimentation are key to becoming proficient with it.

I would recommend this tutorial on Adobe’s website as a start.


In my opinion, rumours of the Pen Tool’s demise in the AI era are greatly exaggerated. Despite the rise of AI and advanced selection tools, the Pen Tool remains an indispensable and powerful tool in the toolkit of any graphic designer or digital artist. Its precision, control, versatility, and role in creating scalable vector graphics ensure that it will continue to be a cornerstone of design workflows for years to come.

Further Reading

Crafting Precision: A Beginner’s Guide to the Pen Tool in Photoshop

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