In Photoshop, how does one create the below single-line zig zag effect, per the instructions? Every time I have completed a work path, it will join one end to the other, so the stroke I apply after making it into a selection will always be of a looped shape. (N.B. The grey line above the jagged one is the bottom edge of a rectangle that was created in the previous step. The zig zag line appears to be on its own)

Thanks very much for any help.

enter image description here

  • That screenshot is showing a layer style being applied to a shape layer. It does not show a pencil or brush stroke applied to a selection. And Photoshop does not automatically join open paths together. But if you convert an open path to a selection, then of course the selection is going to be a closed loop. How would you create a selected region that doesn't have a closed border? Where would the selected region end and the unselected region begin? Regardless, how do you apply an "outside" stroke to an unclosed path? Dec 24, 2012 at 17:36
  • I agree with and understand your comment, but I am still at a loss as to how this is done. Per the line of instruction, the author has somehow created an open "zig zag" line using the Pen tool. Whenever I have attempted to turn a path into a selection, it has - as you logically pointed out - closed the loop to create the selection. How, then has the author succeeded in creating a jagged line using the pen tool, as we can see from the screenshot? Dec 25, 2012 at 0:53
  • It's hard to tell without the context of the previous directions. But I suspect it's not actually an open path, and he simply drew the bottom edge of a rectangular path as "zig zaggy". Dec 25, 2012 at 1:53

3 Answers 3


There's a trick... it's not an open path. It's a closed path with 3 sides outside the canvas.


By making 3 sides fall off the canvas, their edges aren't seen, the path is closed and you can then apply layer styles to it.

  • Yup, I discovered this was the right answer. Thank you, Scott. Jan 15, 2013 at 13:09

Make sure the Paths option is selected when the Pen tool is active. In the screenshot, the Shape Layers option is selected.

enter image description here

  • I did this, but it still converts the path into a loop... Would you mind spelling out the process, please? Dec 24, 2012 at 18:40
  • Could you post a screenshot of what's happening? Maybe I misunderstood the problem
    – JohnB
    Dec 24, 2012 at 18:42
  • No problem. I just don't know how the author created an open, jagged line using the pen tool, as you can see in the screenshot... Whenever I try to make a path a selection, it closes the path. It would seem that this would be easier using the brush tool, for example, but the author clearly wrote "pen" tool... Dec 25, 2012 at 0:54

Are you clicking and dragging? Do not click and drag. Just click then let go then click where you want your next point to be. Double click on your last point to finish the line. Hope that helps.

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