You don't have a layer selected on which to draw a mask.
Can't you draw a shape with the pen tool on a shape layer without drawing a mask on another layer?
Yes, but that didn't seem to be what you were asking.
If you have no layer selected, using the pen tool draws a new shape layer.
If you have a layer selected, using the pen tool draws a mask (unless the layer is a shape layer, in which case it draws a new shape within the selected shape layer).
Please, read the Help sections on shape layers and using the pen tools:
I should have mentioned I do have a shape layer selected.
Using the pen tool is only creating more shape layers though instead of shapes...
There are options in the tool bar that allow you to create a mask or another shape. Please read the help files that were given to you in a previous post. That explains it.
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Finally figured it out.... My shape layer was not extending through the length of my composition
so because I was further down in my timeline I was just creating new shape layers...
Is there a setting somewhere that defaults new layers to the length of the composition?
Thanks for posting! I was having the exact same problem. I tried everything I could think of. I even tried making a new comp, where of course everything worked perfectly. But in the first comp every click of the pen tool made a new layer.
One thing in my humble opinion Adobe could do better is error response in program.
All of the posts I found while searching-until yours- said the same thing- "well dummy read the manual." I did not see this mentioned in the manual, maybe it's in there, but geeze I burned a lot of non-billable time on a very basic thing. Adobe needs to find smarter customers I guess.
Thanks again, finally solved.