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Tips & Tricks

A Game To Learn How To Use The Misunderstood Genius That Is The Photoshop Pen Tool

By Kishore Sawh on September 11th 2016

The Pen Tool is, for many, the most daunting Photoshop tool there is. It was for me, as it felt unnatural, and the flow and bend of the points and lines didn’t seem as organic as other tools in the panel. But the Pen Tool needn’t be abhorred due to fear, or avoided, and if you do avoid it, you’ll let some of the best in Photoshop pass you by.

Graphic designers have long known and benefited from the many applications of the Pen Tool, but Photographers stand to gain a tremendous amount of ability with it as well. In fact, one of the brilliant things about learning to use it, it that it isn’t exclusive to Photoshop, so you may at one point find yourself in front of another illustrative graphic program and recognize your old friend. So what is it?

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The Pen Tool is really all about making selections. You may wonder then, why it isn’t found in the same grouping as the other Photoshop selection tools like the Quick Selection Tool, but once you try it, you’ll understand. It follows paths very unlike the rest, and truly could more appropriately be named the Path Tool (Probably called a Pen Tool because it was initially developed to assist in the designing of cars). How the paths connect from pixel to pixel is really what makes it such a brilliant tool for making selections whether you want to cut an object out, or move, or simply just separate it to do some other editing.

But, in order to see the true genius of the Pen Tool, getting a grasp of what it is and does is critical, and there’s no better way to do that than to learn to use it. The problem is, however, as mentioned above, it’s not intuitive. Luckily, rather than watch a video or read about how it functions, there’s now  a game called The Brezier Game by Mark MacKay, to help bring you up to speed in record time. It’s pretty simple, and effective, and worth trying out. Check it out here.

And you should do these things on a continual basis as Photoshop is a perishable skill. Don’t believe me? Try taking a month off and coming back and see if you can really keep your output level the same and at speed.

[REWIND: Wacom Offers Free Year Of Adobe CC Photography Plan With (Now Cheaper) Intuos Pro Purchase]

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About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Olivier Borgognon

    Hi Kishore,

    Funny you mention the Bezier Game. I have been using it as an educational/practice tool for my classes for a while. Students love the fun of it, and even if they find the pen tool a struggle to start with, they enjoy the game and it does help their skills.

    http://method.ac/ has a few more games than the bezier one which are well worth spending some time on.

    I have also found another bezier game from Adobe which has come out last year

    https://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/how-to/pen-tool-game.html

    This could add to your article maybe, and let the pen Fun begin !!

    Great short and to the point post. Thanks for sharing and your time.

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  2. Felix Wu

    This is such a great learning tool! Really appreciate that!

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  3. Ett Venter

    I found this site about a year ago, and it was instrumental in my learning the use of the pen tool. If you’re useless at using the pen tool, spend loads of time on this site.

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