PaintShop Pen Tool
This tutorial is an introduction to the PaintShop Pen Tool and you need
to know a few ground rules and heed a few warnings before you get
The Pen Tool is not for the faint of heart, the mildly committed
digital editors or those who use the automatic adjustments (the One
Step Photo Fix'ers, for instance). The Pen Tool takes dedication,
perseverance and a lot of trial and
error before one becomes adept with the beast. Along the
path to mastering the Pen Tool you may experience frustration and the
urgent need to hurl your mouse or Intuos Pen across the room.
avoid the PaintShop Pen Tool unless you prefer to let the automatic,
adjustments in PaintShop Pro make all of your creative adjustments.
In reality - there is absolutely no fun or satisfaction using the
auto adjustments while there is enormous satisfaction and pride in
creating your own masterpieces!
Once the happy state of understanding and adeptness in using the pen
tool is reached then you
will have a very powerful PaintShop tool at your disposal!
Here's a recent comment from Stephen - in an earlier comment he said he
was just learning the Pen Tool and the video tutorial was posted just
in time ...
|I figured out a neat idea to help me learn the pen tool.
I purchased an
inexpensive (think Dollar Store) coloring book. I now scan in one page
at a time into my photo editing software, I am using the PEN tool to
select each area to color.
Next I turn the PEN path into a selection
and fill that selection with a color.
Makes learning the PEN tool fun
and interesting. I end up with lots of paths, and lots of layers, but I
am finally understanding the PEN tool
I am not perfect yet, but having
fun practicing. And practice is the key to getting really good.
What Does It Do?
So what does the PaintShop Pen Tool do, exactly and why should you
bother to learn how to use it correctly?
It's probably the most accurate method to cut out an object in an
I'm a real fan of the Edit Selection method of
selecting but it is not nearly as accurate as the Pen Tool.
is the selection tool of choice for advanced
It takes some diligent effort to learn how to manipulate the
tool. Once it's mastered then it's a simple mater to use it when
This wall seal was photographed on a marble background. The Pen
Tool was used to cut out the seal and it's easy to see the really
crisp, sharp edges. You can learn how to do a cut-out here ...
The PaintShop pen tool makes it easy to create complex shapes and
designs for logos and tattoos, for
instance. It is particularly useful for making beautiful,
smooth complex curves.
This cute little Gecko started out as a tattoo on the arm of the young
gal who clips my dogs toenails.
She agreed to let me photograph her tattoo and after a few hours work
with the Paintshop Pen Tool, this is the end result.
You can do something like this from a photo or, if you're creative,
then you can design your own.
A third application of the PaintShop Pen Tool is to ink a drawing or
This may appeal to both the artistically
challenged (like me) as well as the artistically gifted. As a
matter of fact, using the Pen Tool helps to understand and appreciate
such as the shapes of faces, hair lines, lips and noses.
am quite sure that after you complete a few portrait inkings with the
PaintShop Pen Tool you will start noticing beautiful shapes
in the real world - shapes like ...
- Hair framing a face.
- Curve of the lips.
- The gentle shape of eyebrows.
- The shape of the eyes.
- The smooth shape of noses.
- And more ...
These are the different tools and techniques you need to understand and
use for success ...
It doesn't look like much, does it, but these are all the things you
need to work with and understand to create some fabulous inked art.
- Pen tool and its options.
- Painting, Gaussian Blur and layer opacity.
If you've been working with Paintshop Pro then you are probably
layers. If layers are still somewhat of a mystery to you then
perhaps it would be a good idea to work through the Layers
The ability to create and manipulate layers will make your Paintshop
inking much easier. For instance, the inking of my little dog,
Libby, required 14 layers to complete.
Tool and Options
Pen Tool lives at the bottom of the tool bar (outlined in yellow).
There's no flyout - just the Pen Tool and when you select it then the
choice of the options is what you need to deal with.
Bar - Left
From the left edge, the choices are ...
- Edit - generally used to adjust a curve.
- LInes and Polylines - may use on occasion.
- Bezier - makes wonderful curves and is one of the
- Draw Freehand - the other primary inking Tool.
- Close Selected Open Contours.
- Start New Contour.
- Three check boxes that should be checked.
- Drop Down arrow for working with offsets.
Bar - Right
No amount of description can really tell you how this tool works - the
best thing is to just get in there and get dirty with pen tool.
- Duplication X and Y (you can do a lot of creative things
with Offsets and Duplication)
- Line Style - normally use a solid line for inking (28 line
styles are available)
- Line Width
- Joint - how joins will look
- Miter limit of joins
Nodes have zero, one, or two control
The length and direction of
the control arms determine the shape of the contour at the node.
straight or curved line between two nodes is a line segment.
four types of nodes: symmetrical, asymmetrical, cusp, and smooth.
You can use symmetrical nodes to create smooth, flowing curves on
either side of a node. Any adjustments to one control arm are mirrored
by the other.
You can use asymmetrical nodes to obtain a different amount of curve on
each side of the node, but keep a smooth flow through the node. You can
adjust the length of each control arm, but the not the direction.
can use cusp nodes to create extreme changes in direction. You can
adjust the length and direction of each control arm
independently. Cusp nodes are probably the most useful and when
working with a project it's probably best to convert all the nodes to
You can use smooth nodes to create a smooth transition between straight
and curved line segments.
Curves and Draw Freehand
This is a bezier curve drawn with the Bezier Curve tool contained
within the PaintShop Pen Tool.
Bézier curves are used to create nice smooth curves that can be
modified indefinitely. "Paths," as they are commonly referred to in
image manipulation programs,
are combinations of linked Bézier curves.
The following three curves are all drawn with the Freehand Tool
contained within the Pen Tool.
There are three freehand curves here and each one was drawn with a
different Tracking Value (the top one has a Tracking Value of 1, the
middle one has a Tracking Value of 50 and the bottom one has a Tracking
Value of 100).
The Tracking Value is the number of nodes that are added when the
freehand lines are drawn. The lower the number, the smoother the
freehand curve and the easier it is to modify the curves.
If you've got a fairly steady hand and a Wacom pen and tablet then give
the Freehand a go.
This is one of the the choices you need to make - Freehand or
Bezier. Both are good and the Freehand will require more work
after the initial line is drawn. Probably the best thing is to
give both tools a go to determine which is better for you and your
PaintShop Pen Tool Video
PaintShop Pen Tool
Does It Do?
Nodes and Control Arms
Pen Tool Video
Feedback and Comments