CS4: Just can't get the hang of this tool

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by Jon_Are, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    I'm talking about making selections with the pen tool

    Every tutorial I read swears that the pen tool is the best method for making a selection, much more precise than the various lasso tools.

    I've been practicing a little every day, though, and I just can't get the thing to behave like I want it every time. In my hands, it is anything but precise.

    My practice has been mostly on selecting an apple. I do fairly OK until I'm half-way around the apple, but coming back, the tool seems to act in a different manner - I can't get the entire arc I created to line up with the outline of the apple no matter which way I lengthen/shorten/bend it.

    So, does anyone here have such skills? To the point where they are totally at ease using this selection tool?

    Does anyone agree that, as selection tools go, the pen is The Bomb?

    I ask because all the claims I've read seem, at this point, far-fetched. I thought I just needed more practice, but now, I'm not so sure.

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  2. Stormin

    Stormin TPF Noob!

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    Are you using a mouse?

    I've got one of THESE and it truly is the best tool for PP that I have found. It makes recreating natural shapes so much easier.

    Between the Intuos 4 and my keyboard, I don't even use a mouse anymore.
     
  3. henrycooke

    henrycooke TPF Noob!

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    pen tool <3. Just practice.
     
  4. WTF?

    WTF? TPF Noob!

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    yeah it took me ages to figure the pen tool out, once you learn its really handy though.
    play around with the settings up the top, therell be 3 icons to the top left of the toolbar thing, for selecting things, make sure the second of the three is selected, it should have the pen in a square or something.
    then once youve selcted everything, bring down the drop down menu thing off the pen tool icon and select the "convert point tool" and you use that to make the curves in the line, by clicking and dragging the points out.
    once thats all done, right click the picture, go "make selection" and your on your way to victory.
    hope i helped.
     
  5. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    So, is it preferable to just make a quick pass around the object first, then fine-tune it?

    Or to spend more time on the first selection, trying to get it as close as possible.

    I'm not giving up yet, but I don't want to waste any more time without hearing from some folks that it really is worth learning.

    Jon
     
  6. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    OK, let me be more specific.

    I'm trying to select an apple.

    I click first at 9 o'clock.

    I click at 12 o'clock and a straight line forms between my two points. I drag the handles out and the straight line arcs, easily fitting into the curve of the apple.

    Now the trouble begins. When I click my third point, at 3 o'clock, the new line between 2 & 3 is not straight, as before, but arced outside of the apple. It is this portion that is impossible to form nicely against the apple.

    Proceeding around the apple, I get some initial paths that are straight - these are easy to work with - and others that are arced outside of the apple- these are impossible.

    There seems to be no rhyme nor reason why some paths are straght and within the image while others are curved and outside of the image as I proceed around the apple.

    And up top, I have the middle (paths) icon selected.

    I hope this makes sense.

    Jon
     
  7. henrycooke

    henrycooke TPF Noob!

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    i avoid the arcs, make lots and lots and lots of little straight lines all around the apple.
     
  8. Peano

    Peano TPF Noob!

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    Don't believe everything you read. The pen tool is best for some selections, but what works best always depends on the particular selection.

    If you're trying to mask out an apple, you'd probably find the quick select tool easier to use, because an apple has clean edges that the QS tool can find pretty easily. Quick Mask might also be faster and easier than the pen tool, because it's pretty easy to paint around a clean edge.

    The pen tool is worth learning. All Photoshop tools are worth learning. But don't fall for that "best" talk. There's no best anything in Photoshop. What works for one image won't work for another.
     
  9. Peano

    Peano TPF Noob!

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    If that gets you what you want, OK. But my advice to the OP is, if you're going to use the pen tool, learn to use it properly. Its main power lies in its capability to make smooth arcs.
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't use it often, probably because I'm not all that fast with it, and I'm much faster with other selection tools. But it's definitely worth learning. Keep practicing and reading/doing tutorials.
     
  11. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the replies.

    I'm not against practicing, nor against learning.

    It's just that the tool doesn't appear to respond consistently, that's what is frustrating.

    Oh well. Back to the, uhhh....drawing board. :D

    Jon
     
  12. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    Photoshop's Pen tool is far from the best pen tool implimentation. It works and is certainly worth learning and using.

    I am quite skilled with pen tools. In my current day job our shop-standard drawing application is Corel DRAW. I spend a lot of time with its pen tool. Illustrator's is also decent. Possibly the most refined and powerful pen tools was Macromedia FreeHand's (partial pat on my own back for that one as I played a reasonably significant part in advancing its abilities back when I was on the FreeHand development team). Still, I usually use other tools for selecting and masking when in PS.
     

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