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Is learning the pen tool necessary?

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  #1  
Old 01-06-2008, 12:04 PM
One4UAll One4UAll is offline
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Is learning the pen tool necessary?

I'm a lower-intermediate PS user. I'm reading Katrin Eismann's "PS Masking & Compositing," & have come to the chapter on the pen tool. My experience with the pen tool has told me to avoid it, if at all possible.

All I'm doing, right now, is optimizing my images, but I do need to make good selections, sometimes, & Katrin's book, so far, has helped me. At this point, I'm not into compositing, but I will be down the road.

I'm thinking, at this point, to skip the chapter on the pen tool, because I want to get on with optimizing my images as they are, rather than spend hours learning the pen tool. ***But, if any of you think it's critical, that I do so, I'll follow your advice.*** I know the pen tool makes the most accurate selections, except in some situations.

BTW, I've searched the Compositing Forum re: this & have bookmarked links to tutorials. IOW, I'm aware of resources out there.

David
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  #2  
Old 01-06-2008, 12:12 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

For a lot of people, including myself, the Pen tool was something I needed someone to sit down and show me how to use - Since I've learned it I've managed to teach people how to use it in a few minutes.

For my own use, I love it - especially if I mask after my pen selection... So I'd suggest learning it, especially if you can find someone to sit down with you. Once you get it, it's pretty intuitive.
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  #3  
Old 01-06-2008, 12:27 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

make a clipping path or using the pen tool is one of the basics of photoshop, why would you want to avoid using it?
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:31 PM
bills bills is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

I do a ton of compositing, color correction ect etc. Knowing the pen tool is an absolute must. I could not do without it. Take my friendly advice, learn the pen tool. You'll be happy you did.

Bill
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:53 PM
mrkronk mrkronk is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

I agree that it's important. Probably one of the best ways to close crop - espicially items that have really defined edges. Obviously it's not going to do the job if you were trying to close crop hair blowing in the wind, but for products, skylines ect, I find it to be the best.
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  #6  
Old 01-06-2008, 01:57 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

If you allow me to express my thoughts, my friend, I would say: "YES! TOTALLY NECESSARY!"

If you want precise selection, go for pen tool. Lasso, quick mask, yes, they're all cool but not really so precise. Paths can be saved and loaded. Anchor points can be added or removed. "Editable" is the key word.

You don't really need to read a whole chapter to learn how to use it, just a little bit of pratice. =D
Isn't really difficult to learn pen tool. What you really need to know is that you can hold Alt key to "kill" the direction of an anchor point (difficult to explain in english... try it and you'll see) and hold Ctrl key to move an anchor point.
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  #7  
Old 01-06-2008, 04:01 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

No, not necessary at all. I use it frequently because I'm in the publishing industry (deep-etching furniture, God help me!), but for plain retouching work, I never use it. I find masking much better.

Having said that, I agree with the other posters. The pen tool is quite easy to learn.
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Old 01-06-2008, 04:07 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

Horses for courses really. Some people prefer the pen tool, some people prefer to mask. I dare say there will be times that you need to use the pen tool, and you should at least make the effort to learn the pen tool in case you ever need it. Skip the chapter, but do go back to it later.

Knowing how to use the individual tools, and the best time to use each tool, is a fundamental basic of getting the best out of Photoshop.
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  #9  
Old 01-06-2008, 04:09 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

It's probably the first selection tool I reach for when I have a masking job to do. Think "click, click, click" straight line selection. "Click drag, click, drag, click drag" rounded corner selections. The pen tool is just drawing a tracing line. Each click has two possible paths, the one that leads to that point (click) and the one that points toward where you plan to click next. When you work with the pen tool, you have to look ahead and see of the next destination point is a straight or curved path and use the ALT/OPTION key at the end of your current "click" (before you lift up on the mouse button) to direct the outgoing path toward it's goal. It's all about looking ahead. :-)
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  #10  
Old 01-06-2008, 04:21 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87eHFPkcTEU

Hope that helps.
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  #11  
Old 01-06-2008, 04:37 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

The pen tool is well worth your time to master. Although it does seem intimidating at first, that is only because it is a bit different than what you are used too. It really isn't that difficult, and will save you much more time than it will cost you to learn it. Go ahead and skip the chapter, until you can devote some quality study time to it, but don't wait too long.

Here is a short tutorial I put together that might help.
http://davesdfr.com/Media/PenTool2.htm
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2008, 05:40 PM
One4UAll One4UAll is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

Thanks to all for responding & indeed I'll learn the pen tool. JMB's & Dave's tutorials helped immensely, esp. knowing about the rubber band feature in JMB's tutorial & adjusting handles in Dave's. Makes me a little embarrassed to have had all these doubts, but I'm glad I asked. Now, to continue practicing on that "S" image that I made by following Katrin's instructions.
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  #13  
Old 01-07-2008, 03:40 AM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

The pen tool is as easy to learn as ABC....

Meaning:

Trace A B C in Arial Black....

The A is only straight lines (easiest)
The B has straight lines and some curves (intermediate)
The C has no straight lines (hard)

It's the easiest and quickest way to learn the pen tool. Which by all means you should learn. Really.
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  #14  
Old 01-07-2008, 04:49 AM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

Once you finally learn it you will wish you learned it sooner. It is something many Photoshop users put off at first and even struggle with when they start but once you fins what you can do with it you will always want it in your toolbox.
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  #15  
Old 01-07-2008, 10:12 AM
punkjumper punkjumper is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

and should you ever venture over to Illustrator, you'll be glad you spent the time learning the pen tool
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  #16  
Old 01-07-2008, 04:32 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

It's not necessary, but you should learn it to make decent curves (no way you're cutting them better with the lasso tool), and, as said above, sooner or later you will be in Illustrator, where it's very necessary
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  #17  
Old 01-09-2008, 08:08 AM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

Yes on good quality imagery you can mostly get away with proper channel based masking, in practice it tends to be quicker. Smooth artificial edges produced by pen selections can be damaging to fashion images especially if those are used as the basis for color and tonal adjustments, and images are reworked several times. Thats unless you want to produce robots. As Benny has said there are times when proper curved selections are necessary (cars are one example), and thats where the pen becomes your friend. It's an important part of the tool box, learn it.
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  #18  
Old 01-13-2008, 01:12 PM
One4UAll One4UAll is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

I should have phrased my question as, "Is learning the pen tool necessary *for retouching*"? I raised the question because accessing this forum on a daily basis since Oct., I could not recall one post that used the pen tool in topics I viewed/participated in. Further examination of the forum shows that out of about 660 topics since Oct., only 6 had a post that used the pen tool.

I don't doubt the sincerity of responders in insisting on learning the pen tool. Experts in this forum are adept with the tool. It's just that they haven't used it very much since Oct.

I've spent many hours learning this tool and have achieved a fair amount of proficiency, but enough is enough. I don't need to create paths to export to Illustrator or QuarkXpress. For me, the pen tool is only a more precise option to the polygonal tool.

All I can say is, If you're not compositing, or if you're not exporting to Illustrator or QuarkXpress, etc., you don't need to learn the pen tool. It depends on your objective. If the pen tool comes easily, fine. If it doesn't, skip it, until you absolutely need it for the above purposes, because then it will ensure your livelihood.

Responders in this topic have given me helpful links, esp. to YouTube tutorials, so go to YouTube & do a search on "pen tool." You'll get tutorials, galore.
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Old 01-13-2008, 02:04 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

One4All, NOTHING in Photoshop is absolutly necessary to learn. There are so many other ways of making a selection. Everyone has their favorite so the pen tool is not the be-all-end-all.

I'm not surprised that if you searched on "pen tool" you may not have found many references in the RetouchPRO threads. I would guess that if you searched on "selection" or "make a selection" you will found hundreds and hundreds of posts that include the term because so much of manipulating or creating masks in Photoshop REQUIRES some kind of selection. To say that people haven't used the pen tool very much since October is an assumption based on bad information. You assume that they don't use the pen tool to make a selection because they didn't specifically say they did. As you said, "Experts in this forum are adept with the tool". Perhaps they are considered "experts" because they use all the tools that are available and continue to learn new and better ways to use them.

Creating paths to export to Illustrator or QuarkExpress is not the reason most folks use the pen too. That process is pretty specialized. But the use of the pen tool is pretty common, but nobody said you HAVE to use it.

It's entirely up to you. Use your selection tool of choice.
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:08 AM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

I couldn't agree more with Swampy.
As with everything you do in Photoshop, there is always another way to do it. But if you want to be a better Photoshop user, obviously you should have the aim to learn all of Photoshops tools, including the Pen tool.

I use the Pen tool on a daily basis for masking, but only in situations where i consider it to be more effective than the other tools i know.
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  #21  
Old 01-14-2008, 11:51 AM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

Quote:
Originally Posted by One4UAll View Post
I should have phrased my question as, "Is learning the pen tool necessary *for retouching*"?
YES it is necessary, but if this is just a hobby then do whatever it takes to get your required result...
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Old 01-26-2008, 12:38 PM
hermes hermes is offline
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

This is my first post here so be gentle!

I would be lost without pentool skills, for me the pen tool represents far more than just another way of making a mask or selection.

I use a pentool for cutting out images that are either directly imported into a newspaper workflow and essential if they are needed with a transparent background.

For use we virtually have no choice in the matter, we are required to use it for images that breakout of a page onto the folio, we could not simply erase or mask an area, it has been tried before and the workflow doesn't work like that for us.

I have worked with Photoshop from day one and the pentool has become an easy tool to use, I would reccomend trying to get used to it as it's a good skill to master.

To me there is no comparson between the pentool and the mask or the lasso tool, the pentool is far more accurate and you if you need to use it you will be left with no other choice!

You can make a good selection from a pentool path but have you ever tried to make a path from a selection...it goes horribly wrong...
It's like using the screwdriver on a swiss army knife instead of the real deal, yes it will work but not as well as the correct tool for the job!

We do however mask images when we are building a montage etc but the pentool for me is one of the most important tools in my Photoshop box!

cheers....
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:44 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

i am very intimidated by the pen tool...i just can't seem to get it even though i've tried various tutorials. I guess i just don't see why it's so special in the first place because masking seems to work perfectly fine for me. I'm sure i'll have to learn it one day but for now i'll stick to masking
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Old 01-26-2008, 03:21 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yelhsaneerg View Post
i am very intimidated by the pen tool...i just can't seem to get it even though i've tried various tutorials. I guess i just don't see why it's so special in the first place because masking seems to work perfectly fine for me. I'm sure i'll have to learn it one day but for now i'll stick to masking
yelhsaneerg... The pen tool is just another way of making a selection in order to create a Mask. It is not a masking technique in and of itself, just another way to get there. Use what you are comfortable with.
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Old 01-26-2008, 03:44 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

well, I am also going through the same chapter of this very same book (btw fantastic book), and am thinking why a heck I didn't learn the pen tool earlier, imo it's a fantastic , and for certain jobs much faster than other ways of masking.
I guess we all have our own preferences.
Peter
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Old 01-26-2008, 08:14 PM
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Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

Some people also resist using layers and masks. They are not that hard to learn and benefit the user a great deal. Using the PS bible, these topics just came up and were pretty easy to understand.
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Old 01-28-2011, 04:12 PM
foresaa foresaa is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

+1
On each new point use the Alt Key (make it a habit) the Pen tool becomes your friend and very quick



[QUOTE=JMB;178717]If you allow me to express my thoughts, my friend, I would say: "YES! TOTALLY NECESSARY!"

If you want precise selection, go for pen tool. Lasso, quick mask, yes, they're all cool but not really so precise. Paths can be saved and loaded. Anchor points can be added or removed. "Editable" is the key word.

You don't really need to read a whole chapter to learn how to use it, just a little bit of pratice. =D
Isn't really difficult to learn pen tool. What you really need to know is that you can hold Alt key to "kill" the direction of an anchor point (difficult to explain in english... try it and you'll see) and hold Ctrl key to move an anchor point.[/QUOTE]
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