pen tool

Deke's Techniques 633: Designing an Intriguing Cube Logo in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 633: Designing an Intriguing Cube Logo in Illustrator

In this week's free episode of Deke's Techniques, Deke uses Adobe Illustrator to create an intriguing (TM Deke) cubical logo.

While the bulk of the exercise is really drawing with the pen tool and figuring out (with your artistic-spatial abilities) what color each "side" should be, the real infrastructure here is provided by an intricate set of snap-able guides. And thanks to Illustrator's reflect and rotate tools, you can draw this yourself using math and a little organization.

Guides in place to draw a cube logo in Illustrator

Then, the sides and corners are traced and filled with the pen tool:

And in the end, you have this compelling cube:

If you're a member of, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he shows you how to take unfortunately mitered corners like these:

Sadly mitered corners in Illustrator

And turn them into beautifully aligned corners like these:

Consistent cubic corners in Adobe Illustrator

Deke's Techniques, walking you through cubic space so you don't lose your way.

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Deke's Techniques 624: Tattooing Your Face in Photoshop

Deke's Techniques 624: Tattooing Your Face in Photoshop

In this week's free episode of Deke's Techniques, Deke shows you how to tattoo your face. And do so using Photoshop so that you can rethink that decision at any time.

Here's our model from the Dreamstime image library, tweaked by Deke to prepare her for the awesome dekeIfication that's about to happen to her:

Then, after drawing the design in a series of pen tool paths, he applies these totally removable decorations to her face:

A face tattooed in Photoshop

Frankly, this might be one of my favorite techniques of all time. But even if you're not quite set to do such elaborate work in the name of intricate face painting, this video has a lot of great advice for developing some basic Photoshop skills, including:

  • Efficiently copying and pasting layer styles
  • Knowing when to use Fill opacity instead of the regular kind
  • Pasting, merging, and clipping paths and shape layers to create one integrated design.
  • Tweaking layer styles to create more realistic lighting and texture.

For members of, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he shows you how to use the Pen tool to create the design (as well as add a Feather the entire design to increase the realism.)

An even more intricate Photoshop face tattoo design.

By the way, if you're not familiar with the Pen tool and are inspired by Deke's deftness with it, you can check out his two-part course on using the Pen tool: Learning the Adobe Pen Tool and Adobe Pen Tool: Mastery.

Deke's Techniques, tattooing your face! (Seriously, what else is there to say.)

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Deke's Techniques 552: The Rule of Thirds for Smooth Bézier Curves

Deke's Techniques 552: The Rule of Thirds for Smooth Bézier Curves

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke considers how best to position control handles for creating smooth Bézier curves. This edition will be of particular interest to those of you who, like me, occasionally find their pen tool creations to be a bit, well, lumpy.

The key to Deke's approach is to keep the "invisible" control handle in mind. For those of you who didn't watch Deke's Techniques a few weeks back (was your internet broken?), the third control handle is the one that you can't see in Adobe CC interfaces, that theoretically connects the two ends of the other control handles.

After some mathematical and positional noodling, Deke arrives at the conclusion that if you keep this mystery handle at about 1/3 the total of your curve, your shape is nice and smooth. Even if your shape is like this s-curve:


Or this oval:

A smooth oval in Adobe Illustrator

Or even this...thing (featuring corner points with smooth segments in between):

An irregular shape with corner points and smooth curves in Adobe Illustrator


By the way, this episode is brought to you by Deke working on a new course, Adobe Pen Tool: Mastery, which Deke is toiling away on as we speak and is due out later this year. You can prepare your mind for this master class by watching Adobe Pen Tool: Fundamentals already there and waiting for you in the library.

If you're not a member and you want to check it out, you can get a free 10-day trial at

Deke's Techniques, smoothing your curves with rules of thirds. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 547: How Bézier Curves Really Work

Deke's Techniques 547: How Bézier Curves Really Work

In this week's free Deke's Techniques, Deke explains how Bézier curves work:

The Bezier Curve equation

OK, see you next week!

But really, in the process of developing his upcoming Pen Tool Mastery course, Deke dove deep into the math (as only Deke can) to really try and understand how the Bézier curves featured in Adobe CC applications work. And of course, since he's both a math major and a fine artist, he diligently, diagramatically draws it out for you:

The Bezier equation at work

I'm going to leave the actual explanation up to Deke, but let me just say, if you normally watch Deke with the double-speed option available at, you may want to set your speed back to normal for this particular installation, because the science of this art form comes at you fast and ferociously.

If you use the Pen tool or just want to understand how those control handles work (hint: there's a third one that the interface doesn't tell you about), you owe it to yourself to check out this dekeDive.
The Bezier lattice informs the curve

Deke's Techniques, geeking out so that you don't have to...except, you totally want to! Read more » 

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An August Avalanche of New Courses at dekeAcademy (aka Deke's collection)

My dekeAdemics, welcome back to school---the School of Deke, that is. Our favorite graphics guru has been working his digital fingers to the bone this summer and has not one, but three, new courses out at this month. (And there's another one just gone to the elite editing team. Whew. You've earned a quick nap, Professor Deke.)

Here's a review of what's new at the ol' dekeAcademy (aka the Deke McClelland Collection at what the new courses cover, who might want to watch them, and why you might find them useful. Remember, if you're not a member of, you can still watch a few (often useful) free movies (I've embedded some below for your sampling convenience). And you can always get a 10-day free trial subscription by signing up at

And these will be just a few of our Fall 2015 offerings:

New Course: Photoshop CC 2015 One-on-One: Fundamentals

What: Photoshop CC 2015 One-on-One Fundamentals is a total refresh of Deke's flagship step-by-step project-based Photoshop tutorial for beginners, with all new sample files for those of you who are revisiting what's happened with Photoshop in the CC 2015 version.

Who: Anyone who wants to learn Photoshop from the ground up, folks who haven't used Photoshop in a recent incarnation, or anyone who ever feels like they're half-guessing at why they do what they do in Photoshop.

Why: Because knowing is better than guessing when you're looking for predictable results and efficient creativity.

What else: Complete updates to the Advanced and Mastery levels soon to follow. So. if you find Deke's method works for you, you're set for the rest of your Photoshop education.


New Course: Adobe Pen Tool Fundamentals

What: Adobe Pen Tool Fundamentals is a course on the basic skills and knowledge needed for using the powerful, yet mysterious, Pen tool in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.

Who: Anyone who wants to learn to draw free-form shapes with precision in any of these three applications.

Why: The Pen tool has some, shall we say, un-intuitive behaviors, but once you know the basics, its powers start to unleash in your mouse-hand.
What else: The second part of this course is coming later this year, and will solidify your mastery of precision curve-drawing.


Eight Things to Know about Photoshop

What: Eight Things Everyone Should Know About Photoshop is Deke's list of the top  general features in Photoshop that will help you wrap your mind around this pixel-wranging behemoth of an application. It's a sort of "How do I even know what I need to know?" solution.

Who: Anyone who'd like to get more of the big Photoshop picture in a quick and entertaining course.

Why: Actually, these movies Deke created for Photoshop's 25th anniversary were so good we didn't want to let them languish in the history files.

What else: You can read more about this course (and watch the movies) here.

And coming soon, Illustrator 2015 One-on-One: Fundamentals which features this delightful creature, one of my favorite dekeAssets ever:

  Read more » 

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