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Is learning the pen tool necessary?

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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

  • #2
    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
      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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      • #4
        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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        • #5
          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
            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
              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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              • #8
                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
                  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
                    Re: Is learning the pen tool necessary?

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

                    Hope that helps.

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                    • #11
                      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
                        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
                          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
                            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
                              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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