February 05, 2014

“Ask Me About The Pen Tool”

Remember “The Girl With The Photoshop Tattoo?” Check out the commitment Edge Animate PM Sarah Hunt (@sarahwhatsup) made to her love of vectors & design:


Sarah writes,

Before joining Adobe I was a unicorn covering a broad span of disciplines related to design, code and animation. For years I weaved my way in and out of various design tools on a daily basis, and I’ve always had a strong affinity for Adobe design tools; I’m that person that has mnemonic throwpillows and slaps Photoshop stickers all over everything. Creating vector art with Illustrator has always been a meditative experience — I’m by no means an award-winning designer, but I’ve always felt in my element when creating digital art.

It was an interesting shift joining Adobe in that I’m no longer the designer. I’m the person helping influence tools people like me use every day. On the one hand, my job is AWESOME and I love it, though on the other I felt myself quickly disconnecting from my graphic design roots. This kinda bummed me out. I decided I wanted to brand myself as a reminder to keep in touch with my inner artist during the times I get caught up in the product development world.

Designing the tattoo was a quick process. When I thought of a symbol that represents design, the Fibonacci spiral was the first visual that came to mind — it captures both logic and beauty in a single picture. I also wanted to visualize the love I have for vector art as it’s consumed a significant part of my life. The curves of the spiral naturally lent themselves well to anchor points and bezier handles (which I meticulously designed to match the appropriate math of the curve) and topped it off with an 8-bit style pen tool. I couldn’t be happier with the result!

This reminds me of one of my first encounters with Adobe.

In 1999 I was an alpha tester for LiveMotion. PM Michael Ninness wrote me to say, “Hey, do you use the pen tool in Flash? If you think it’s important to have in LM, you might want to chime in on the prerelease forum.” I spoke up, and with surprising speed, a bunch of other testers immediately piped up as well. Little did I know that this was a big battle within the team, and that Michael had written to all of us individually, putting his finger ever so slightly on the scales of user feedback. He got his way, and when the team implemented the pen tool, he got them these commemorative shirts:

Pen Tool

[Big hat tip to LiveMotion Jedi Joe Bowden for still having the shirt after all these years!]

Posted by John Nack at 10:42 PM on February 05, 2014


  • Max Dunn — 11:06 PM on February 05, 2014

    Wanted that tattoo since that era…

    LiveMotion rocked, so did Google Buzz. Hopefully in your new role you will explain to us eloquently why good technology dissipates at random while bad technology infests our devices at will.

    I believe that is why Google hired you, as you are so artful at pointing out the potential good side of technology decay, milking the silver lining of clouds like Shantanu and (Google hopes) the dilettante BS from the Google that poses so well to mimic Photoshop, despite the absence of functionality.

    Yet it is fact that at a board level, neither Adobe nor Google today understand Photoshop at all. Not even remotely. You will have to deal with this.

    The founders are absent, the product vision as it was back in the day is completely lost, you are there for $ only, and that is the most you can hope to attain. Enjoy that white bus on my behalf.

    Hope I’m wrong, good luck…

  • michael jahn — 9:06 AM on February 06, 2014

    @Max Dunn – I had no idea that you were related to Dan Margulis !

  • John Stevenson — 10:27 AM on February 07, 2014

    Max, Of course Adobe is not what it was. No company that has innovation as its foundation stone can stand still. From its last quarter financial summary: “Adobe Marketing Cloud quarterly revenue was $316.2 million, representing 38 percent year-over-year growth”. That’s the new Adobe, as seen (excellently, visually, and even musically) here: http://youtu.be/CjaXrHKu4LQ

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