13 Replies Latest reply on Nov 2, 2010 4:31 AM by Reynolds (Mark)

    One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.


      It is acknowlegded that the pen tool is one of the most difficult tools to learn, and it is also one of the most important tools that is further used all the time. And actually I am quite good at using it.


      But it is sort of beyond me why this tool isn't brought into 2010 instead of 1998 with a few simple improvements. But by far and away, it is just beyond me why after at least some 147+ billion alt-clicks around the world, and then another 657+ billion Ctrl-z's because one missed the tiny microscopic box the first time they tried to hit it, that a simple function turn-off check box is yet to be provided to turn the next point function off, when one wants to select their own direction every time. Which is just about everyone, all the time. In fact, it is clear from virtually all YouTube videos that this alone is the major reason why millions of people just say "screw it" and never use the pen tool in the first place because they can never figure out why it is so unruly, until they learn this necessity (which in my opinion is nothing short of ludicrous).  But if thats the way it's going to be an ON-Off check box should be provided and the default should be "OFF", not "On".  I can't even figure out a script or a hotkey to eliminate this completely worthless step that every serious PS user does about a zillion times a day.


      What really brought this to a head for me is that I just got a new Wacom Intuos4, used on a new 28 inch monitor, and hitting that tiny box is all but impossible, And you have to do it on almost every single point.  Is there no justice in the world.....



        • 1. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
          Reynolds (Mark) Level 4
          a simple function turn-off check box is yet to be provided to turn the next point function off, when one wants to select their own direction every time.


          Don't know about anyone else, but I don't understand this request. What are you looking for? 'Next point function'?

          • 2. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
            Toys-R-Us Level 1

            Adobe, in their infinite wisdom decided to guess where you want to go with your next point every time that you left click-drag a point to create a curve from the last point (which is almost all of the time) you were at. The problem is that their educated guess as to where you want to go next is wrong about 95 percent of the time, so the transition of curves do not line up correctly at the previous point.  This last sentence is somebody elses, not mine, but they are spot on.


            Because of this problem, they programmed the pen tool to allow you to go back and Alt-click the last point, and you can then adjust the subsequent point to get a smooth curve through the previous point that you just Alt-clicked on. So if you watch virtual any YouTube video or tutorial, they all Alt-click the previous point every single time !  It’s just routine. That's waht you do.  Stupid, but that's what you do !!!!! And because Adobe defaults to guessing where you want to go next, and because it is almost always wrong, until you learn to Alt-click the last point about single every time, the tool is totally unruly and most people just quite at this point because they don't know why. In fact I did the first time for about a year.  Virtually 100 percent of the tutorials today now give you this tip however, simply because it is vital. AND THEY STRESS IT OVER AND OVER !!!!


            Since about 100 percent of the people Alt-click the previous point about 100 percent of the time, it is a total waste. It slows you down considerably, and further you miss that tiny little box on the last point about 15 percent of the time and have to do a Ctrl-Z to erase the erroneous point you just made. Then on gray that percentage of missed boxes goes up to about 30 to 40 percent. Remember this is just if you click drag to create a curve from the previous point. Not it you just go straight to the next point as you would do in making a rectangle.


            What is so ludicrous is this is a flaw that has bugged people for years. And frankly everyone quite complaining about it years ago, because Adobe is just not going to fix it. It’s about like their totally antiquated lighting and lens flare filters still unupdated since about1984. They just are not going to fix them to be of the quality of the rest of their program. In fairness here, adjustment layers have kind of taken over in that arena.


            The pen tool is one of the most important tools in Photoshop. And yet it is perhaps the most difficult and for sure the most antiquated. It’s the most difficult tool simply because it is the most antiquated.  And when almost 100 percent of the people have to go back and Alt-click the last point almost 100 percent of the time, you would think the person in charge of this tool would finally wake up and do something about it. That something would be a check box to turn that part off, and/or a hot key like the space bar to alt-click it for you, but in pen tool mode only.


            Some might say the Alt-click is simple enough all by itself.  But try going around a complex shape where for over 100 times you have to go back and  find that tiny little box and hit it perfectly with the Alt key.  A spacebar shortcut would eliminate hours a day of tedious work just because of this rediculous shortcoming.


            Believe me when I say I am not alone as this has been beat to death in the blogs, and nothing has been done, so basically everyone just quite flapping their jaws on the subject years ago.  But I've got to tell you, I would love to be the guy who is the supervisor of the person in charge of this tool.  And I'm going to be kind and not tell you why.

            • 3. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
              Level 7

              Since about 100 percent of the people Alt-click the previous point about 100 percent of the time,

              I've never heard of anyone doing that very often.

              Where did you find tutorials saying to do that every time?  And yes, that would be a waste of time and totally unnecessary.


              Either you're trying to use the pen tool to create straight line segments (and there are easier ways to do that), or you missed the tutorials that tell you to click and drag for the bezier control points (just like in Illustrator).


              Either way, I can understand your frustration - because you aren't using the tool the way it was intended, or the way that any tutorials I have seen tell you to use it.

              • 4. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                Toys-R-Us Level 1

                Trust me when I say I know well what I'm taking about.  In fact th is has been beat to death and has always fallen on deaf ears.  Since your post I found it on 6 tutorials.  Here just one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDrtyNmp3A4


                Others just come out and say this is the secret of using the pen tool. I would quite agree !!! As I stated, you do not have to do this on straight lines. But the pen tool was made for curves.  That's what I do 95 pecent of the time. And if you do curves in Photoshop, you do have to go back and Alt Click the previous point almost every time. Yes, you can screw around with handles, that is if you want to get fired for lack of output.  But to get the job done, you go back and Alt- click the last point.  The question is, how many more years is Adobe going to keep their head in the sand on this issue, and not fix the problem so that the users can be more productive.


                I posted this not to argue, but to get their attention.  But if there is a fix, or a work around, I am very open to that too.  The lack of a better way really slows one down when using the Pen tool.


                I made that last statement, because there was a work around on the Transition tool problem I've had for years, and just posted about.  I was not aware that his tool works differently on Smart Objects, and it thus allows true "best axis" changes after the fact.



                • 5. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                  Level 7

                  There is no fix.  You're just not using the tool as it was intended, and apparently not understanding how the tool works.

                  Most people have no need to alt-click the points.  And until your post, I had no idea that anybody *would* did that on a regular basis.


                  If you are struggling with a tool (especially for that long), that should be a great clue that somehow you are missing something important about how the tool works.


                  Yeah, that tutorial author also seems self-taught.  He's missing a lot (most of which I thought was covered in the manual).

                  • 6. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                    Toys-R-Us Level 1

                    This is my point. Everybody is doing that, and it is taught in almost every tutorial on the web if you go and look.  Just look at the comments as to how appreciative struggling people are.  It also the same techique shown on countless other videos. That was just the first one I looked at tonight.  On the surface it looks pretty easy, and to an extent it it.  But as I said earlier, when one does large and intricate paths with many points it gets very tedious.  On certain monitors, certain colors, and pen tabled defined areas, it is downright hard to do and really slows one down.  Since clearly on the web, many many people actually use this method for their pen tool needs, reguardless of the tools original intent, the user base is clearly saying that there is a need for a simple change in future versions.  A check off or a hot key would greatly enhance the tools usage speed and functionality for the user base that is using it as they desire as customers.  Not to throw fire on the point, but it took three versions of Photoshop before they got the Clone Stamp "Aligned" toggle to actually work and not default back most of the time to something some engineer in an Adobe office cared little about.  And after 10 years, I'm not certain it still isn't broken at times.


                    I'm trying to be productive here....   Nothing more.  This blog is titled "Photoshop Feature Requests".  This is a good one !



                    • 7. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                      Gyno-jiz Level 5

                      Watch the tutorial author use the tool correctly on the second red circle (right at the 1:53 mark). Before that, he's dragging the control handles out too far. If you alt-click every node, you're creating corner nodes every time, which is the wrong way to use the tool (trust me, I was "trained" to alt-click every node and it took a lot of practice to shake the awful habit) -- circles don't have corners, so why would you create a corner node when tracing a circle?


                      If you find a bunch corner nodes are working for you (which they will absolutely not when tracing smooth curves), be sure to take a look at other selection tools in Photoshop's arsenal (channel calculations, quick selection, magic wand, etc). You can convert those selections to a path if needed. Chris is obviously correct when he says this is not the proper way to use the path tool.


                      If you're just creating a bunch of down-and-dirty silos (which alt-clicking every node will get you) there are much better ways to go about it, in most cases.


                      If you don't believe me, try tracing any of the tutorial's sample shapes and post your convincing results. You'll find yourself with lopsided, misshapen circles and lumpy curves, or you'll spend a ton of time getting the corner nodes just so (and they'll never be perfect, just good enough to fool the eye).


                      (FYI, the clone stamp tool will reset to aligned if you alt-click twice in a row).

                      • 8. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                        Toys-R-Us Level 1

                        I hear what your saying but I would guess it takes a lot of time, skill, and experience to get that right.  So a large user base defaults to the simpler and faster method. And it is what is taught on the web for the most part.  I see it over and over again.  I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's what the main stream does, right or wrong. There is no denying that many people struggle with just this issue, and many give up even using the tool as a result.  So give the customers simple and quick alternatives. They are the customers after all.



                        • 9. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                          Gyno-jiz Level 5

                          Post it in the Elements request area then, please.


                          (Right or wrong? Really?)



                          • 10. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                            Toys-R-Us Level 1



                            Once again, I think you are right and those tutorials are in fact wrong. That's why I came here.  I went back and played around with what you are saying, and I too may have to give up the old Alt-Click every time method.  I really don't know why this got started like it did, but in fact there is a better way just as you state, And yes it appears much more accurate with little or no time and placement penalty.  Kind of a no-brainer.


                            And Chris, I think you are correct as well. This is not the way the tool was intended. I'm getting it, finally.  The only problem was I could not get started right several years ago, and the tutorials I saw didn't have it right either when I went to them. One in particular which swore this was the only way. And the bloggers were really complaining about it as well. But as you so stated, those people who created the videos don't know how to use the tool correctly. Frankly, I was a non-believer in what you were saying, but I am also someone who listens and then goes and tries.


                            I'm man enough to say I was off base on this one, but in my defense, I was not alone and a bit misdirected.


                            Thanks Again.



                            • 11. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                              Level 7

                              Actually, it'll take a lot less time and frustration if you learn the tool instead of fighting against the tool. Also, you'll end up with much smoother paths.

                              The only time you should need to alt click a point is when it's on a hard corner.

                              • 12. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                                Level 7

                                Errr, how did I not see you last post until after I posted?

                                (goes off to check on forum servers... nothing visibly wrong, chalk it up to gremlins)



                                Glad you're closer to getting it working smoothly now. (pun intended)


                                Really, I don't know how some of these myths get started.

                                Maybe we need a "Photoshop Mythbusters" special....

                                • 13. Re: One Really Big Pen Tool Shortcoming.
                                  Reynolds (Mark) Level 4
                                  but I am also someone who listens and then goes and tries.

                                  Yes you clearly are Toys-R-Us, wish we saw more of that around here!


                                  Of course its now a lot easier/quicker to put up YouTube vidoes than it is to spend time and effort actually learning the product. Which means this kind of misinformation is likely to grow.  "Photoshop Mythbusters" is a good idea.