Draw with Photoshop Elements' Pencil Tool - dummies

Draw with Photoshop Elements’ Pencil Tool

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Drawing with the Pencil tool in Photoshop Elements creates hard edges. You can’t get the soft, feathery edges that you can with the Brush tool. In fact, the edges of a pencil stroke can’t even be antialiased. (For more on antialiasing, see the following section.)

Keep in mind that if you draw anything other than vertical or horizontal lines, your lines will have some jaggies when they’re viewed up close. But hey, don’t diss the Pencil just yet. Those hard-edged strokes can be perfect for web graphics.

1Select the Pencil tool from the Tools panel.

The Pencil tool can be used for digital drawings like this one.

By default, the Pencil tool’s brush tip is the 1-pixel brush. Yes, even though the Pencil tip is hard-edged, it is still referred to as a brush. In the next few steps, you customize the brush by setting various options.

2Click the arrow and select your desired brush from the Brush Preset Picker drop-down panel.

To load another preset library, click the Brushes menu at the top of the panel.

You aren’t limited to the standard old brush strokes. Check out the Assorted and Special Effects brushes found in the Brush drop-down menu at the top of the Brush Preset Picker panel, as shown. You’ll be surprised by the interesting brushes lurking on these panels. Use them to create standalone images or to enhance your photographic creations.

Access the menu on the Brush Preset picker panel menu to save, rename, or delete individual brushes and also save, load, and reset brush libraries. For more on these operations, see the following section.

3Choose your brush size.

If you want to change the size of that brush tip, drag the Size slider.

4If you want the background to show through your strokes, adjust the opacity by dragging the slider or entering an opacity percentage less than 100 percent.

The lower the percentage, the more the background images show through.

Your strokes must be on a separate layer above your images for you to be able to adjust the opacity and blend modes after you draw them.

5Select a blend mode.

Blend modes alter the way the color you’re applying interacts with the color on your canvas.

6(Optional) Select Auto Erase if you want to enable that option.

This option removes portions of your pencil strokes. For example, say that your foreground color is black and your background color is white, and you apply some black strokes. With Auto Erase enabled, you apply white if you drag back over the black strokes. If you drag over the white background, you apply black.

7Click and drag with the mouse to create your freeform lines.

To draw straight lines, click at a starting point, release the mouse button, and then Shift-click at a second point.