How to Use the Pencil Tool in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

If you’re ready to start using the Pencil tool in Photoshop CS6, keep in mind that lines that aren’t vertical or horizontal look jagged up close. However, this doesn’t necessarily pose a problem in all cases, especially when working with web graphics. Those same hard edges can lend themselves to producing crisp-edged images for display in a browser window. To try out the Pencil tool, follow these steps:

  1. Activate the Pencil tool by selecting it from the Tools panel.

    The Pencil tool shares a flyout menu with the various Brush tools. You can press Shift+B to make it appear if it’s hidden underneath the Brush tool.

    The Pencil tool’s current brush tip (usually the 1-pixel brush, unless you select something else) appears in the Brush Preset Picker on the Options bar.

    Click the thumbnail or arrow in the Brush box to summon the Brush Preset Picker panel if you want to select a different-size pencil tip.

  2. If you want to draw using anything other than Normal mode, select a mode from the Mode menu.

    Blend modes other than Normal cause colors to interact and blend in different ways.

    It’s recommended that you set your Mode and Opacity (see the next step) on your drawing layer in the Layers panel. That way, you have control over editing later if needed.

  3. Select opacity for your pencil strokes.

    If you want whatever is in the background to show partially through your strokes, select opacity of less than 100 percent by using the slider or by typing an opacity percentage directly into the text box.

  4. If you’re using a pressure sensitive tablet, you can select the two options for using pressure to set your opacity and size.

  5. Click and drag with the mouse to create your pencil lines.