Understanding the Pen Tool

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Most drawing applications today have some sort of “pen” tool. This tool is hard to pick up and start using because it doesn’t draw like a brush tool (click and drag to paint). It can work like the Polygon Lasso tool in Photoshop (click points to draw a polygon), but as soon as you click and drag the results can seem to go crazy. So, here is some general knowledge and some tools to help you learn how the pen tools works and how you can be a better artist using it.

The Pen tool is actually a tool that creates Cubic Bézier Curves. What the heck is that? Well, the way I see it, there are two ways to describe it: the nerdy mathematical way or a 4-minute video that shows how it’s done.

The Nerdy Mathematical way


Mike Kamermans walks through the math behind the curve. It also lays out the problems with computers being able to render curves and a ton of other stuff that is super fascinating but way above my head. This guy is really smart. Thus, why I need…

The 4-minute video

For those of you like me, I did okay in precalculus but after that I am out. I just want to know the basics so I can use it. This video does a great job of doing just that!

Okay, how do I use it?

So now that you know how a Bezier curve works, here is a new tool to help you learn how to actually use it! It’s called the Bézier Game. All you do is click Start and follow the on-screen instructions. It starts easy and then gets more complex. Take your time and enjoy. It will just hit you when it finally makes sense!



Steve StoneUnderstanding the Pen Tool

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