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Tama's Pentool Tutorial for Photoshop CS2

Discussion in 'Smeargle's Studio' started by tama_chan, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. tama_chan


    Apr 4, 2007
    NB: This tutorial is written by me and has been copied into many other forums, hence you may recognise it.

    Tama's Guide to Pentool
    Table of Contents
    1) Introduction
    2) The basics of Pentool
    3) Things you can do with Pentool
    4) FAQs

    I've noticed that for some reason, there's an air of mystique to Pentool. After all, it seems as though I get a lot of attention just for using it :/. Truthfully, Pentool is just one of those things that aren't exactly intuitive but once you start to get a hang of it, it becomes no biggie. Still, aside from vector sigs, you can render images a lot faster than with Wand (in many cases) and you can even make fake C4D's out of Pentool amongst other things (if you don't have C4D, like me. However, this remains a secret ;)).
    Now, will this guide help? I would consider reading this, if you're like these people here:
    Anonymous User 1:
    I just have no idea how Pentool works! All I get are just some squiggles and I can't control it!

    Anonymous User 2
    Vector sigs look cool!
    At the very least, by reading this guide, you'll have a better understanding on how Pentool works.

    The Basics of Pentool
    As stated in another forum, "just think with Paths". Basically, the premise of Pentool is forming Anchor Points and arranging them so that a path forms between the points. It's really like playing "connect the dots". Now here are some pointers on Anchors and forming paths:

    Corner Points
    Straightforward one here. Just click and you get this type of Anchor. Use this if you want sharp corners. In fact, if you just rely on these sorts of Anchors, you'll get a polygon.

    Curved Points
    To get this one, you have to click and drag. A handlebar will immediately appear and you can proceed to change how the resulting curve forms. Not really that much harder than the former Anchor type, because you can see the resulting curve as you toy with the handlebar. This sort of Anchor will allow you to make curves.

    Cusp Points
    To get this one, make an Anchor Point (any will do). After that, hold Alt and click on said Anchor Point. It'll turn into a Cusp Point. Imagine that the result of a Cusp Point is that of a simplified seagull. Anyway, here's some piccies of Cusp Point in play:
    Below, is an image that shows all of the Anchors:
    If the Path that you laid down isn't perfect, you can just hold Ctrl and adjust the Anchors. To start adjusting things, just hold Ctrl and click on the Path, so that the Anchors appear. After that, you can do the following:
    + Reposition Anchors. To do so, hold Ctrl and drag the Anchor Point itself to wherever you like.
    + Adjust the way the Path curves. You can either hold Ctrl and drag the Path to wherever, or you can hold Ctrl and adjust the handlebars on Curve Points. Do whichever fits your fancy.

    Things you can do with Pentool

    Pretty obvious application of Pentool here. You have many options to modify the resulting shapes, such as adding Stroke or changing the way it fills. In any case, be familiar with the Pen Toolbar at the top of the window. Here it is:

    TOOL PRESET PICKER: Let's you save and reuse tool settings. I don't bother with it.

    SHAPE LAYERS: If you select this one, your paths will appear in the form of a Shape Layer. You will also toy around with other Shape Layers if you leave this option on. This is something I use a lot

    PATHS: If you simply want to draw a path, select this option. It will also allow you to do things like Rendering, Stroking etc. Very useful.

    FILL PIXELS: You have to be using Custom Shape Tool in the Pen Toolbar in order to use this option. I don't bother with this one, because turning on Shape Layers pretty much does the same thing. Still, the advantage of this one is that you don't get cluttered with lots of layers.

    PEN: The bread. Very important tool (especially for this guide :)!)

    FREEFORM PEN: Pretty crappy tool for noobs. If you can use Pen, then forget about Freeform.

    SHAPES: The butter. If you can't be bothered Penning a Path, use these! The default shapes are very good (the default Custom Shapes contains things like hearts, arrows etc) , and you can even make more Custom Shapes yourself. Very very useful tool indeed.

    GEOMETRY OPTIONS: See that arrow there? It allows you to alter properties of your tools, such as always constraining proportions. The Rubber Band tool is there if you want to know how your shape will turn out, but it's a retarded tool because you can easily change paths. In short, I never use this (but there's no harm in doing so I suppose).

    CREATE NEW SHAPE LAYER: Read the name

    ADD TO SHAPE LAYER: If you turn this option on, your next shape (whether be from Pen, or from a default Shape) will add upon the current Shape Layer. An alternative is to hold Shift, begin forming the shape and letting go before you finish the shape (assuming you didn't want to constrain proportions or restrict orientations).

    SUBTRACT FROM SHAPE LAYER: Like above, but the next shape will delete the appropriate area. For example, to create a crescent, you could make a circle, then turn on this option before making another circle overlap the first one.

    INTERSECT SHAPE AREAS: Only the intersecting areas of the shapes will show up (similar to the previous two options).

    EXCLUDE OVERLAPPING SHAPE AREAS: The opposite of above.

    FILL STYLE: Very important. You can choose to fill up the vectors however way you want with this (like giving the shapes a metallic look, a pleated look, or even just being Stroked).

    FILL COLOUR: Americans spell it 'Color'. I am not American, and we all know that Queen's English>American English. Back on topic, this is too easy: it just fills up the shape with whatever colour you want.

    How to Stroke Paths
    If you want to create a smooth line, then learn how to Stroke Paths. Otherwise, happy mouse-painting ;o
    Anyway, put your Pen on to 'Paths' mode. Make the path, and once you're happy with it make a new Layer. With the Pen still active, right-click the Path you just made and select 'Stroke Path'.
    You will be given options as to how to stroke it: they're all the painting-based tools (like Pencil, Brush etc). The way it strokes is based on whatever settings are on the tools (e.g. if your current Brush setting is say, at 2 pixels and you choose to use Brush, the Path will stroke with a 2 pixels Brush line). Choose whichever method you want, and then you get your Stroked Path.

    I am surprised at how there isn't a guide on this here yet :o. Wand is not good enough btw!!! Why? Not only because the King said so, it's also because you get issues like poor colour contrast in some piccies (therefore adjusting Tolerance is a pain). So, I shall begin talking about how to render with the Pen.
    For a start, if you enjoy using images like this one of a disturbing Smoker:
    Then you won't really need to use the Pentool to render. In that image, the render is well contrasted with the background so that a simple Wand can select Smoker.
    However, there are also times when the image looks really good, but it is not very well contrasted with the background. This is when you need to learn how to use Pentool to render such images. Here's a very good example of such an image:
    Emo boy here refuses to let you use the Wand on him because he will use his emo powers to make Wand-work a bothersome business, no matter what Tolerance settings you use. Try it yourself if you don't believe me. I shall show you how to make Emo-Byakuya behave (as well as many other images).
    Set the Pentool on "Paths" (it's stupid to leave it on "Shape Layers", as we're not making a vector here!) Make your Path around the render. Try to use as few Anchors as possible, and remember that if the Path isn't perfect, you can just use Ctrl and adjust it! Magnify the image too if you need be. Not much to say, as your Pathing skills will come with more practise.
    After you make the Path, right-click the Path and click on "Make Selection". Click OK again (because we don't need Feather), and now the render will be selected for you.

    Making Custom Shapes
    Let's make a face into a Custom Shape! If you want to make him into a Custom Shape, firstly, set the Pen to "Shape Layers" (for some reason, Photoshop is that much of a bitch to not let you make Custom Shapes with just Paths :/. Can someone please explain?).
    Make your Path (for this one, I used Cusp Points, and turned on "Add to Shape Area"), then right-click the Path and select "Define Custom Shape". Name it whatever, and you've got a new Custom Shape to play with!

    Some Templates
    Here I have put up a piccie on how to make some shapes (spirals and hairlines). This is just a guide to making those shapes, so you don't need to be exact. I have posted up different ways of making these shapes, as you may feel that one way is more suitable than another.

    NB: If you want to make a hairline by Stroking, make sure that you activate Simulate Pen Pressure. With this option, think of what a real fountain pen would do: when you begin to write, it starts off being slender but it gradually fattens up in the middle, before tapering off again.
    I would post piccies on how to make flowers, but I just steal some flower patterns off google and then I trace its outline with Pentool if I need to manipulate the pattern (remember that Vectors will not pixellate if it is transformed). Much much easier that way.
  2. Manty


    Jan 17, 2007
    pretty cool stuff.
  3. Juuka


    Mar 25, 2006
    This is great, I'll use this as a reference when my friend let's me borrow Photoshop!
  4. SolarHavok


    Dec 5, 2006
    This is a really well-thought and well-put tutorial. In fact, I think it should be stickied, since pentooling is an essential for really good coloring of images in photoshop. Also, vector tags are fun. : >
  5. Vidd


    May 28, 2005
    Initally I thought this was about some vector-only program because of the lack of the space in "Pentool".
    I remember seeing a vector trace for the first time and thinking it was amazing.

    What exactly do you mean by that?

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