View Full Version : Pen Tool vs AutoCAD splines

10 October 2004, 02:37 AM
I've been recently trying to get familiar with the pen tool so I can make nice luxurious curves. I really want to create ornate sort of decorative patterns. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with AutoCAD, but for me it's much easier to achieve those results using the ACAD splines.

I guess I have two questions.

Does anyone have any tips for using the pen tool to create the types of curves I've described? I've looked around for tutorials but haven't found much. Is there any other technique I'm not aware of that might be even better than the pen tool?

Also, does anyone know of a good way to bring an AutoCAD screen into Photoshop? The way I've currently been doing it is saving to PDF and then opening the PDF. Doesn't seem like the ideal method. I wish there were a way to use the vector data from ACAD in another program, although I'm sure that's wishful thinking.


10 October 2004, 07:46 AM
1. plot out the main points of the curve first. then, holding alt, click the anchor point and drag to pull out its arms and create a curve. adjust all anchors in this manner to get the desired effect

2. alternately, to make, for example, a simple arc, plot out the start and end only. then click in the middle (the cursor should appear with a + attached) to create a new point. then hold control to move this point and make a arc.

but basically, using alt is very flexible, because you can change the tangents on both the incoming and outcoming lines from any anchor. just experiment!

10 October 2004, 04:34 PM
thx for the tips! I'll keep practicing ;)

10 October 2004, 08:04 PM
Adobe's pen tool is really an Illustrator specialty, but the same principles apply in Photoshop. The best way to learn is probably to take a picture and trace it's outline. To make straight segments, just click. To make curved segments, click and drag.

My suggestion for modifying your curve is to use the "Convert Anchor Points" tool. To change a point with curves to one without, just click on the point. To modify the handles on the curve, click on the handle, (the line extending out from the point which not your curve), and drag the handle so that you curve resembles what you want it to be. Do note that if your two handles aren't at the same angle, you probably won't have a smooth curve.

Have fun learning it; it comes in handy when you work with vector-graphic programs, like Illustrator.

For getting an AutoCAD screen into Photoshop, I would just use the "Print Screen" button. It will copy whatever is on your monitor to the clipboard, and you can paste it in Photoshop.

10 October 2004, 11:40 PM
I'll give you the best pen tool tip: use the shortcuts!

Serious, if you don't use the different pen tool shortcuts then you're spending lots of time selecting the right tool in the tools palette and if you do that enough then you sure gonna hate the pen tool, I can guarantee you that!

Here's a site where you can download a pdf with all the shortcuts:

10 October 2004, 12:53 AM
taking screenshots of an autocad screen doesn't work out so well jumbo ; /
thx for the tips tho everyone.

10 October 2004, 08:20 PM
Dude, it's all about getting used to things. An experienced Photoshop user probably hates Acad's splines the first time he uses them, the same the other way around.
You have to start from scratch when you start with vectors in PS and forget about Acad, otherwise you're only going to be pissed of.

10 October 2004, 05:44 PM
Yep, I'm learning... slowly but surely ;)

10 October 2004, 05:58 PM
if your serious about paths illustrator or freehand is the way to go...way more tools to play with such as the "interpolate path" tool.

10 October 2004, 10:03 PM
Some also prefer Xara X, which I think is much easier and fun to use than Illustrator. I use both.

The problem with Illustrator ( and now I ignore the fact that it's a 'fat' and slow program); once you're used to Photoshop you get the impression that lots of tools in Illustrator are in the wrong place. After a while you get use to it, but not after some initial frustrations.

11 November 2004, 08:30 PM
If you want to use the ACAD splines you are best using Illustrator or Freehand. Depending on the version of the program that you are using. Latest version of Freehand (the better of the two) will open DWG files, or you can export your DWG file as a R12 DXF and then open it in Freehand. You can then manipulate the spline with stroke and color and all that fun stuff. However you can not fill the spline with a color unless it is a closed P line. If you want to use your ACAD spline in Photoshop you can save it out of ACAD using the plot command and saving it as a Tiff file or an EPS. You will have to set up a new plotter if you do not already have one that can plot a tiff or eps. Use the wizard to set it up.

11 November 2004, 10:23 PM
wow, freehand will open DWG's? Why doesn't illustrator do that?

11 November 2004, 10:38 AM
it does. One of illustrators best kept secrets.

11 November 2004, 10:44 PM
holy crap why didn't u say so?! ;P This is the best thing since sliced bread.

11 November 2004, 03:47 PM
Sorry I wasn't sure if Illustrator would open up DWG's or not I don't use it that much.

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