Tangent-less curvy paths in Photoshop! ( Feature request )

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Here is a feature I have been wishing for, in Photoshop, for years:

Curvy paths WITHOUT tangents!

Creating paths in Photoshop is a pain, frankly, and extremely time-consuming (feeling a bit archaic, at times, even). One major slow-down is having to carefully adjust tangent information, as the path is being laid — which can be further hampered by the current zoom setting, as well as the DPI resolution of the input device (I know, both are remediable, but speed and an unbroken workflow is the issue).

Many 3D modeling programs, such as 3DS Max, include tangent-less splines — with so-called "smooth" vertices ( as opposed to the "Bezier" ones, which rely on tangents ) — where the best cubic curve is automatically fitted to pass through all the vertices that have been laid down [ Note: this requires at least 3 vertices to make a curve, as opposed to a straight line ].  ...I use them all the time, preferentially.  One major advantage, besides speed, is that they also tend to be smoother, since tangents (especially weighted tangents, like the ones in Photoshop) have a nasty way of introducing flat spots, thus requiring a lot of post-editing and finessing.


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Namolo Kaman

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Posted 2 weeks ago

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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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Have you tried the Curvature Pen Tool? 

(Edited)
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Keith Anderson

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It might be a bit rude to but into someone else's request, but I also have tried the tool with handles and following the suggestion above, I tried the curvature pen tool.  I even worked through a lesson I found in a book describing the tool with handles.  The aim was to draw a cup with a handle.  It all left me underwhelmed thinking, "There must surely be a better way".  I successfully drew a few anchor points with the curvature pen tool, but it wasn't easy to work out what to do with the pretty curve I'd drawn.  I created a path layer, but that just postponed the "so what?" question.  I'm guessing, but both tools seem to insist on creating closed paths forming shapes.  It certainly isn't easy, with the implication that it is impossible to draw a pretty stand alone curved line.  I tried deleting an anchor point, but my line went crazy and produced loops and cusps all over the place.  I tried selecting the "pixels" option, but that was greyed out.  Meanwhile, I just approximate the curves I need with lots of short straight lines.  Tedious and not pretty, but predictable.
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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I don’t think it’s rude, in a Forum one has to expect that others chime in and that the discussion may occasionally swerve a bit from the original subject. 

The effect of a Bezier handle on a curve may not feel predictable to you yet, but if you invest a little time to familiarise yourself with the handles as created with the Pen Tool you should be able to get a better grasp. 

Having worked with Bezier curves for a long time the Curvature Pen Tool feels useless to me; but I frankly could not evaluate if creating identical curves could be done with fewer input operations with the Pen Tool or the Curvature Pen Tool. 
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Namolo Kaman

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Hi, thank you for the replies.

I am still on CS6, so I was unaware about the new(-ish?) Curvature Pen Tool; though, from Keith Anderson's comment, it doesn't seem to be the easiest thing to use.

As far as Bezier handles, I have had tons of practice professionally, off and on, over 20+ years, and I still find them frustrating, and needlessly slowing the process; certainly, compared to dropping so-called "smooth vertices" for splines, on the fly, in 3DS Max, and nudging them around to get the desired curve.

With Bezier handles — tangents — in PS, it's 2, if not 4 additional data points that have to be specified, and managed : direction ( sometimes, on both sides! ) AND magnitude ( sometimes on both sides )! I would rather not deal with this stuff at all, and add or remove handle-less [ in 3DS Max parlance, "smooth", or alternatively "corner" ] vertices on the fly, as needed.

I'll try the new Curvature Pen Tool, and see how it goes — though I have a feeling it won't be as effortless as what I described.

Thank you for your help!
(Edited)
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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So have you checked out the Curvature Pen Tool? 

One major advantage, besides speed, is that they also tend to be smoother, since tangents (especially weighted tangents, like the ones in Photoshop) have a nasty way of introducing flat spots, 
What do you mean by »weighted tangents ... in Photoshop«? Bezier handles have a clearly defined effect and that’s not limited to Photoshop. 
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Namolo Kaman

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I mean Bezier handles, in Photoshop, have a particular magnitude ( that's what I meant by "weight"; it's not just direction ) affecting the curve passing through the vertex. Granted, maybe there are no Bezier handles, in any program, that set direction only.
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Namolo Kaman

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...Ok, I just watched a tutorial on the Curvature Pen Tool.  ...That's it! ☺

Thank you!
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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The Curvature Pen Tool offers a different way of creating/editing a Path but when one switches to the Pen Tool one can manipulate the pathPoints and their handles as before. 

If you want to check it out you could avail yourself of the free trial, but that’s only 7 days now, as far as I know, not the 30 days it used to be some years back.