Introduction to the Pen Tool

    ●   The Pen Tool the pen tool is a “gateway" tool. Once you understand it you'll have an easier time with the other tools because it has crossover characteristics all graphic artists must know.

    ●    Start by Making Simple Straight Lines

Learn About:

Bevel and Emboss Drop Shadow

  •   This tutorial is part of the Drive Me Wild project and is part of a series:

The Pen Tool Tutorial #1 - Straight Lines Pen Tool Tutorial #2 - Curved Lines Pen Tool Tutorial #3 - Windows

Other People's Work:

Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.

rim example rim example wheel example fill tirecar example car tire car-example car example car example
rim example

Step #1: Open a Blank Document in Adobe PhotoShop ~

Open Photoshop & create a new canvas. Hit Cmd (⌘) + Ncmd key + n key or go to: File > New

… select inches.

Make your canvas 8.5 x 11 inches.

8.5 by 11 inches

It's a good idea to choose Transparent in the Background Contents too.

background contents transparent


Step #2: Find an Image ~

Go to Goggle or find an image you want to copy on the internet.

Right-Click, copy or save it.

copy image

Go to: Edit > Paste or hit the keyboard shortcut Cmd(⌘) +V

Step #3: Create a New Layer ~

Go to: Layer > New > Layer

… or use the keyboard shortcut: Cmd (⌘) + Shift (⇧) + N

+ shift key +

… name the layer something, like rim or tire or whatever …


… and lock the background layer =

Step #4: Select the Pen Tool ~

Click on the Pen Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (p) …

pen tool

… and make sure Paths is selected on the Menu Bar.

menu bar

Step #5: Connect the Dots ~

Using the Pen Tool is a lot like playing Conect-the-Dots.

Step #6: Close the Shape ~

Notice when you get back to where you started, the Closed Shape pen tool closed shape icon appears

… you must close the shape by hovering over the starting point and click.

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Step #7: Repeat

Repeat the steps for all the rims.

Step #8: Make Selection ~

Right-Click somewhere in the shape & hit Make Selection

make selection

… make sure it says New Selection and then OK.

Hit Ok again

Step #9: Marching Ants ~

Now you see the "marching ants." That means your shapes are selected and ready for the next step.

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Step #10: Color ~

Select your color …

… and fill the selection by going to: Edit > Fill or hit the keyboard shortcut : Alt (⌥)+Backspace(Delete)alt option key + backspace delete

fill color

Step #11: Bevel and Emboss ~

Make sure the new layer is selected and go to: Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options

blending options

… and adjust the Bevel and Emboss to contrast to your composition as best you can.

Step #12: Drop Shadow ~

Also add Drop Shadow to the new layer by going to: Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow

drop shadow

Adjust all the settings! Add as much contrast to your composition as you can …

spokes example

Last Step: Save Your Project & Attach ~

Go to: File > Save as … and save your work as .psd document.

save as an ai


    •     ALWAYS save your projects using the following naming convention:


    •     DO NOT name your project any other way - Improperly named projects will not receive credit and you will be sad.


    •     NEVER leave your work on the desktop or depend on a flash drive - instead, save your work in a folder you can find later - preferably on a virtual drive where it can be backed up.

SAVE YOUR WORK FREQUENTLY! No excuses for missing or lost work! Attach the .psd file and keep working …

Other Resources: Here is a zipped folder containing all 5 compresensive pen tool worksheets.