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If I want to draw a nice line with the Pen Tool in Photoshop, I make a path and then stroke it. However, the stroked path is not a vector now. When I create a shape instead, it must be closed before I can stroke it (or Photoshop will close the shape itself with a straight line).

What I want is to create an open shape (like e.g. the Line Tool does), with the Pen Tool, such that I have a vector line instead of the rasterized stroked path layer. How can I do this?

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  • As far as I know, Photoshop can draw any opened shape with the pen tool and store the result in the path panel. without closing it. -- hope I could understand your question or maybe a screen capture will help.
    – hsawires
    Jan 6, 2015 at 15:33

3 Answers 3

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Update: For Photoshop CC

This is now possible in Photoshop CC by drawing your path and adjusting the Stroke options in the Control bar across the top of the screen.

enter image description here


Previous answer (CS6 or earlier)

  • Create a closed shape with the Pen Tool.

  • Add your vector stroke to it.

  • Add a layer Mask (raster or vector) to your vector layer and mask away the section of the path you do not want visible.

Unlike actual vector applications, Photoshop is not designed to create open vector paths. This is merely one of the shortcomings of Photoshop vector tools. You have to simply hide the portions of the closed path you do not want visible.

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  • Photoshop is not designed for it; is it possible with Illustrator?
    – BNJMNDDNN
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:15
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    Absolutely possible with Illustrator. In fact, Illustrator does this without any issues whatsoever.
    – Scott
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:23
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    I wish pretty shocked you couldn't do this in Photoshop too, especially as it has the Line tool. The Line tool actually creates a closed shape instead of a line but since it only has 2 point you don't notice. Nov 2, 2015 at 11:48
  • Note that you cannot use this technique along with a Stroke effect on an unfilled path; the mask is applied before stroking, and so cannot remove an unwanted stroke section.
    – Phrogz
    Jul 12, 2017 at 21:31
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    @Phrogz You can ---- Choose the Blending Options for the layer with the mask and tick the Layer/Vector Mask Hides styles option (whichever is appropriate). That will hide the stroke outside the mask.
    – Scott
    Jul 12, 2017 at 21:34
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In CS6 just stop drawing with the pen tool and select another tool or change the pen to a convert point tool. Stroke/save/etc.

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Two ways to create an open path shape with the pen tool:

  1. Draw a path with the Pen tool with tool mode set to "Shape". This will give you a strokable open path shape. (NOTE: If the stroke width is less than 3 px you might not see it behind the path line.)

enter image description here

  1. Draw a path with the Pen tool with tool mode set to "Path", then hit the "Make: shape" button in the control bar. Note that the path operations mode must be set to "Combine shapes" or it may try to close the path when converting to a shape. (Not sure why you would do it this way instead of way #1, but it's an option.)

enter image description here

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