Lieblingstutorials – How to use Photoshop’s Pen Tool

Hier folgen noch mal zwei Tutorials, die ich gern mag, wobei das erste eigentlich nur die Voraussetzung für das zweite ist. Was hab ich mir da – ohne Anleitung – schon die Zähne ausgebissen…

How to use Photoshop’s Pen Tool


Create a new work path and Create a new shape layer.
We will use the Create a new work path option as this the most commonly used. You can find these options in the top left hand corner of the Photoshop window.
Just like selection tools, the pen tool has several different options for the resulting path. The most commonly used is „add to path area“.
Take your pen tool and click on a blank canvas similar to what I have done below. Each time you click you create an anchor point.
Hold down Shft, move the mouse and click again. Holding down shift while making an anchor point creates it in a straight line with the last anchor point.
We can add and delete anchor points on the path we have created. Right click on the pen tool on the toolbar to reveal further tools. Use the Add and Delete Anchor Point Tool to do just that!
I used the Delete Anchor Point Tool to remove the forth anchor point.
Now, let’s look at the Convert Point Tool for curvature modification and moving anchor points.
With the convert point tool click and drag on the second anchor point. Without letting go, move the mouse around and see how it affects the curve. The line that is created is called the Tangent Line. The tangent line controls the curvature of the curve.
Holding down Ctrl click on the anchor point and move the mouse, see how this allows you to move the anchor point.
Click on one end of the tangent line and drag.
This breaks the tangent line in half and creates sharp path changes.
Move the entire path by selecting the Path Component Selection Tool from the toolbar and drag the path to a new location.
Delete your path by right clicking on the path and select Delete Path.

Finally I will briefly touch on another style of creating a path. With your pen tool create two anchor points however on the second click don’t let go, drag the click to create the tangent line. The tangent line will affect the next anchor point that you create. Try it out. I don’t use this technique because I find it slower but many do…use the technique that feels right for you.

So that’s the basics of Photoshop pen tool. Try the following exercises, cutting out an image and creating a custom shape, to practice your use of the pen tool.

Turn Photos of People into Line Art


Preparing the Layers

Open your photo in Photoshop. Rename the layer „original“.
If your picture is quite dark you will need to lighten it a little. The reason for this is that we will be tracing over the photo in black so we need to be able to see the lines we are creating clearly.
Adjust the Brighness of the photo
Image >> Adjustments >> Brightness/Contrast…
Duplicate the „original“ layer. Rename this new layer „top“.

Create two more new layers. Place them under the „top“ layer.
Fill the layer closest to the „original“ layer white and rename it „background“.
Leave the other layer transparent and rename it „line art“

Turn the visibility OFF for the „background“ and „top“ layers.
Visibility ON for the „line art“ and „original“ layers and the „line art“ layer is active. See image below.
(All this organisation will be explained soon).
We are now set to create the line art.

Brush Tool Settings

When creating line art you want to vary to thickness of the line (line weight). Varying the line weight emphasizes the perspective of the drawing. As lines become closer the viewers the lines get thicker. Lines taper towards the furtherest part of the object. The image below shows an exaggerated example of this. Also areas that fall into shade can have a heavier line, while areas in light can be represented with a thinner line. A good way to get better idea of this is by studying the line art of comic books.

Another technique is to use just two line weights. A heavier line is used for the outer edges of the object and all internal lines are a smaller size. I’m not a fan of this style but each to their own, as long as your picture doesn’t look flat.

To taper the lines in Photoshop we need to adjust our Paint Brush Settings.
Click on your Paint Brush tool. Now click on the brush palette tab at right top of your photoshop screen.
The settings you use are going to vary with each line you create, especially the diameter. Below shows one Brush Tip Shape I used.

Next click on the Shape Dynamics.

1. Set the Control to Fade. (This will allow our line to taper).

2. Adjust the fade setting. (I’m using 250 here but try experimenting with various combinations of 2 & 3).

3. Adjust the Minimum Diameter. (I’m using 27% here but the key to great line art is variety so experiment).

Make sure your foreground colour is black. See image above.

Creating the Paths

The best place to start is the center of focus, which is normally the face. Since I’m using an image of Scarlett Johansson I’ll start on her lips.
Remember the point where you start the path is going to be the thickest.

Make sure the pen tool is set to Create New Work Path. See below.

Create a path paying attention to the angle of the curves.
Note: Keep the distance of each line rather short. Don’t try to create one line to go right around the lips.

Once you are happy with the path, right click and select Stroke Path… See below.

Turn ON the visibility of the white „background“ layer. Delete the path (right click and select Delete Path).
Now you can clearly see the line you have created.

If you are happy turn OFF the white „background“ layer and create the next line.
If not use your History Palette. See image below. By clicking here you can adjust the curve or paint brush settings.

If the line is only slightly off you can use the Eraser Tool. Rather than using the eraser tool in a up/down motion, move it on a diagonal to the line art. That way the line will have a tapered effect at the end. See image below.

To create a line that is tapered at both ends like the one shown below. In the brush Shape Dynamics Window change the Control from Fade to Pen Pressure, and the Minimum Diameter to 1%. See second image below.

When you select Stroke Path this time check the Simulate Pressure box. See image below.

Once you have finished creating an item, like the lips, it’s important to check them against the original. Turn the visibility ON for the white „background“ layer. Turn ON and OFF the visibility of the „top“ layer. If it looks like the lips are „jumping“ then you will need to adjust the line art.

To create very thick line areas, such as the eyebrows shown below, we create a closed path and choose Fill Path instead of Stroke Path. (A closed path means that there should be no ends to the path, like a circle.)

The image below shows the upper eyelash path I created. I also used Fill Path here.

To create shapes that are round, square, oval, etc remember to use the Shape Tools. (Found next to the pen tool). The image below shows how I created the iris outline using the Ellipse Tool to save time.

I guarantee that you will get faster and faster at this technique of creating line art in Photoshop, so stick with it.

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