Using the pen tool was like using cruise control for the first time.
Initially, the most difficult part for me when using the tool was my inability to recall the anchor points to make slight adjustment. For some reason, I was unable to get them to appear the first few times. Eventually, after clicking around, I managed to figure out some solution, but it definitely too checking out some online forums and watching a few YouTube videos to make sure that I wasn’t going completely insane.
The “motion” assignment was really fun. It was a good starter for becoming familiar with the pen tool and the directions were easy to follow along with. I managed to complete this section in about 15 minute after I chose a photo of Joseph Gordon-Levitt jumping in the air to a rock star pose. Breaking the images down into three parts, I started with the original, created the standard blackout shape in the “before” and then incorporated a fun background with outline for the “after.” Again, all very easy to complete after following the instructions in the tutorial.
Overall, even though I am much more suited following a set list of what to do, I believe videos to be most effective for working with the pen tool, because they allow the user to actually see what is happening to the image and of course we must “see it to believe it.”
Once I finally made it to the magazine assignment, I was able to easily recall the anchor points to adjust any minor hiccups in the outline shape. This was good practice for me because of all the flyaway hairs that I was having to compete with, as well as the green landscape that I was originally set up in front of. It took several tries, zooming in and zooming back out to make sure that the image looked realistic and normal flowing.
My advice for individuals who are exploring the pen tool is to find a way to practice, practice, practice. Find something that you think looks cool, a fun image or something and just keep playing around with it until you think it looks perfect. Even though the skill is very simple, you’ll be amazed at the things you can do all with a little pen tool.
Reflecting back, some of my favorite resources for getting me through this exercise were of course Felice’s tutorial (thank you!), it was very self explanatory and inspirational to see all of the beautiful illustrations she has created. Additionally, I watched Joseph Francis’ Photoshop Pen Tool Tutorial as well as the Pen Tool Introduction – Photoshop Beginner Tutorial on YouTube. Each of these videos, although similar in basic skills they are trying to teach, allowed me to better understand why creating vector graphics is better for everyone in the long run. Just taking a few minutes to trace your graphic in Illustrator or Photoshop will save you a lot of heck later when you try to resize the image for some other use.
I really enjoyed getting to work with the pen tool and only hope that I can find more opportunities to use it in the future.