As I was working in Illustrator on a Vectortuts tutorial, I realized something profound. I was using the pen tool to trace a knife for the tutorial I was working on, and it just hit me: the pen tool is just like productivity. This is crazy because I have been using the Pen tool since high school, and I have never put the two together.
For the purpose of this blog post, I will be showcasing a different project using the pen tool.
In using the pen tool, you must think about the next step while you are making your current step. You can’t make a long stroke without suffering the consequences. This reminds me of the “mind like water” reference. Meaning, that you should respond to each event, circumstance, with the appropriate response. Like water reacts to a rock or pebble be thrown in it, you too must react that way to conserve energy for all other tasks.
If I make too long of a stroke around a corner, it will leave me in a bad position for the next action.
However, if you do it just right, you will create a smooth trace and ensure correct position for the next stroke.
But sometimes you just can’t make the best trace possible. So you do your best and come back to it later.
By iterating, you can refine your design (or your given project) to create the outcome you want. My tools at hand help me by adding anchor points and taking anchor points away, as well as smoothing out the lines to create the right shape.
There are also elements of “flow” involved in using the pen tool. When you get the technique of the pen tool down, you will get into a mode when you are making all the right moves and steadily advancing through the process. Your focus is only on the next possible stroke, not visualizing the whole project being completed. You are not in the flow all the time, but there are special moments when this happens and you will be surprised where it takes you. When I have been in the flow, I have worked on a project for hours, only for it to feel like minutes have passed.
Before you know it, you have completed the entire project.