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  • Pen tool vs. lasso tool?

    In another thread, Mig mentions using the pen tool to create a path. That got me wondering, what is the benefit of using the pen tool to create a path (and then turning it into a selection) over using the lasso tool to create a selection? Or is this another case of using different techniques to get a similar/same result?

    Jeanie

  • #2
    For my money, it depends largely on whether you work with a mouse or a tablet. Fill your screen with a picture and then try to outline a large area fairly precisely with the old lasso tool. I run out of mouse pad and patience real quick.

    I use either the newer polygonal lasso tool or the pen tool (pen only if I am working on an older version of Photoshop that doesn't have the new poly lasso). I work with the mouse in one hand and my hand on the space bar to slide the image over - I usually zoom in so that I can make more exact selections the first time. I find it easier and quicker, and you have the ability to save the image with the path for use in a publishing program such as Quark. Newspapers especially like the use of the paths in images that are cut out of their backgrounds, and things like catalogs, etc. also use images with paths in their pages.

    I guess it's all in what works best for you or for what purpose you are going to use your end result for.

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    • #3
      The pen tool allows you to edit your path after you're done, using similar tools as found in Illustrator or other drawing programs (bezier points, etc.)
      Learn by teaching
      Take responsibility for learning

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      • #4
        yeah, that too - but it doesn't "feel" the same (or didn't a few versions ago when last I tried) as it does in Illustrator using the Beziers (is that a word?)

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        • #5
          As much as I've tried to work comfortably with the pen tool, it's still a time consuming task for me to get it right. When I think I'm doing one thing I wind up with something else. Once it's finally finished it's easy to grab and move the points to reshape it but I still only use it when working with paths.
          DJ

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          • #6
            Horses for courses but I tend to use the poly lasso tool when I don't need that much accuracy and I use the pen tool when an image is more fiddly or has more curves. Bezier curves are a man's best friend as Doug points out they are also editable.

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            • #7
              I'm with DJ on this one. I just haven't mastered the pen tool enough to be comfortable with it...

              Anyone care to write a Tutorial on using it?

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              • #8
                I'm with Jak. Same situation here.

                Ed

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                • #9
                  Here's what problems I encounter with the pen tool.
                  1. I think I'm going to grab some handles and I end up moving the point somewhere else.
                  2. I think I'm moving the thing and I end up adding or subtracting a point or handles appear.
                  3. Most frustrating of all, is that you get an area beautifully shaped only to touch the next point to fix the next area and out flys these handles messing up the previous spot.
                  4. I can't seem to figure out the key strokes for add / subtract a point or move or even change a point. I swear they change after each use. So I end up going to the tool palette to pick each one over and over and even they change function in the middle of using them.
                  6. I spend so much time trying to get the tool to behave the way I want that I might as well just hit the lasso or quick mask and do it the easy way.
                  7. Oh yeah, getting the selection to finally close when done is next to impossible too.
                  8. And don't go back to fix something or you will end up with a line cutting across most of your image. I usually end up with a spider web of unwanted lines by the time I think to undo history states.

                  Have I covered most of the frustrations that everyone is having mastering this tool or are there some goodies I missed?

                  I know alot of pros swear by it's accuracy and efficiency but personally I can't seem to get the thing to work and I usually give up half way through. So if anyone can make this tool look and act easy, I will definately declare you a PRO. I will admit, when you get it right it looks great but keeping it that way is next to impossible.
                  DJ
                  Last edited by DJ Dubovsky; 06-07-2002, 12:59 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Whilst we await a full blown tut on the pen tool, let me add that the Alt key is the pivitol key (imho). By using Alt and clicking on the centre point (the point that you want your line to continue from) you will in effect deleting the last point (sounds obscure but really works).

                    I will try and find time to write a tutorial for it over the weekend, unless someone has beaten me to it

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                    • #11
                      Wow - seems like perhaps this was a good question to ask! I'm embarassed to admit this, but I think that I've only tried using the pen tool once and felt so clueless, that I just put it aside and never looked at it again! So, if anyone can write a tutorial, I'd greatly appreciate it - and I promise to practice with it!

                      Thanks for the discussion on this!

                      Jeanie

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                      • #12
                        The pen tool is easy for those who use Illustrator and other design tools a lot. I used to be comfortable with it, but that was long ago. Here's a pretty good basic tutorial with a link within it to an advanced tutorial complete with practice files.

                        Of course, this doesn't let any potential pen tool tutorial-writers off the hook
                        Learn by teaching
                        Take responsibility for learning

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the link. That's another one for my list of tutorials.

                          Ed

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                          • #14
                            I liken the pen tool to playing golf. People who do it well make it look easy.

                            I'm in the majority who tried it a few times, but (probably) gave up too soon.

                            One learning tip I recall reading suggested practicing pen tool skills on "curvy text," large point letters at first (to get the hang of it); smaller point type as skills develop...or maybe it was small first, large later.

                            Well, anyway...

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