Tutorial // Pen Tool

Hey guys! Another tutorial for you today. This one is a little more complex than the others I’ve done before. It’s about the Pen Tool. I know a lot of people have absolutely no idea how to use it, but once you figure it out you’ll definitely be thanking me! It’s a pretty simple way to add intricate highlights and definition to your photos. I also find that this is a really great way for people to add highlights if you aren’t able to afford a tablet (mine ended up costing me almost $400.00) which is an outrageous amount of money, although I thought it was way worth it, or even if you’re just beginning! So let’s get started ;3

Oh, but before we do. I’d like to thank my new frand, Pineapple Pizza for being my gorgeous model for this tutorial! ❤


If you click on the image above, you’ll be able to see more clearly that in my layer panel I have two separate groups. One group set to normal, and the other set to color dodge. There’s a reason for that. The color dodge setting makes things significantly more… glowy, for lack of a better word; which is going to come in handy when you want certain spots to really pop.

We’re going to start off with the normal group for now and work our way up to the color dodge group. The pen tool can be accessed in two ways.


Or by simply pressing the P key.

The first thing you need to know about the pen tool is that it uses anchor points, and sometimes that means tons and tons of anchor points, depending on what kind of line you’re trying to draw.

For my first example, I’ll just use three anchor points:


The next step you want to take is to move anchor point #3 to around the elbow so that your swivel points will be better able to navigate around the rest of the arm; so hold down ctrl while dragging anchor point #3 and you should have no problems!


Please notice before I go any further, that I am doing this on a completely separate layer! Also, the bottom of my path doesn’t exactly line up with her arm, so what I’m going to do is simply add another anchor point by getting my pen tool and clicking somewhere between anchor points #2 and #3, and ctrl + dragging until they’re lined up properly.

Now what we have our path in place where we want it, the next step is to actually trace the path with a brush!

Which, you may or may not know can be accessed here:


Or by simply pressing the B key; just be sure you’re using the regular brush tool.

In this particular instance, I suggest using a very small brush, so I’m setting mine at around 3 pixels (also keep in mind, my image is pretty large). With the path still intact, get your brush ready with the appropriate size in the color you want (I usually start off with white, but you do you!) and simply click the Enter key! You’ve now officially traced your first official path! To get rid of the path itself, go back to your Pen Tool and click enter, the paths and anchors should all disappear. Mine looks like this:

At this point you may be asking yourselves why I do two separate groups. The reason for this is because I eventually lower the opacity of the normal group to about 50% and add a pretty fluorescent color to the color dodge group to make my image really pop. You’ll see in my finished product! I’m going to jump ahead now and finish off with the rest of the normal group so I don’t bore you guys to death with my step by step process.

After this I’m turning my opacity of this layer down to about 50%, and I’ll be moving on to the color dodge step! In the color dodge step I do the exact same things, only instead of using white, I’m using a brighter color, I took a shade of her hair and make it a little lighter. Here’s the finished product with a few added lighting effects cause I got bored 😛


BTW, my tablet is out of commission for the next few days until my new stylus comes in the mail, which is why my picture looks like shit D:

Aaaand here’s the before and after!


I hope this helps, and again, if you guys have any questions please, please don’t hesitate to contact me in-world or on SLFB! Likewise, if you have suggestions for beginners (that are not covered in my PS Lessons) please feel free to let me know! I’d be more than happy to do that for you guys.

❤ H