Drawing The
Devils Fork

The Devils Fork (also known as the Devil's Tuning Fork) is a fabulous optical illusion that's been around for a very long time.  The way to draw it with pen and paper is a mystery to me, however.

For some time (years, actually) I've been wondering if I could reproduce it with PaintShop Pro and after watching some pen and paper tutorials the steps to a successful completion slowly became clear.

The method includes some Guides, Vector Layers, the Pen Tool and three little ellipses.  The primary tools are Vector Tools which may prove to be a bit of a challenge for someone who loves pixel art.  I, too, was in the pixel category but after some time with vectors I've come to really enjoy working with them.

This tutorial is complete with PaintShop Pro X8 however it can be successfully completed with any Vector based program, such as ...

  • Photoshop's Pen Tool.
  • Adobe Illustrator.
  • Inkscape (an awesome and free vector program you can download for Mac and/or Windows).

These are the ones I know how to use and there are many, many more that will work perfectly.

This is what the end result will be after a few short steps (14 to be precise).

Let's get started ...

PS - video is at the bottom of this page

Devils Fork
How to ...


Using Guides to keep the project on track is the only way to go.

The Rulers and Guides are set in the View Menu -

  • View > Rulers
  • View > Guides
  • View > Snap To Guides

I set the original document size to 3000 pixels X 3000 pixels and then started adding the vertical Guides.  I decided to make each arm of the devils fork 200 pixels wide with 200 pixels between the arms.

Vertical Guides

To add Guides simply left click in the ruler and drag out onto the document.  When you get where you want the Guide release the button.  If it's not where you want it to be follow the Guide to the ruler, left click and more the Guide.

For no particular reason I set the first vertical guide at 600 pixels and added five more for a total of 6 Guides.

Here's the top ruler with the Guide positions.

Devils ForkTop Ruler with Guides

Horizontal Guides

The top Horizontal Guide sets the placement for the top of the arms (the little ellipses).

The ones down the page set the height of the Devils Fork.

That's it for the Guide set-up so let's move on to drawing the Devils Fork ...

The Ellipses

The little ellipses on the top of the arms are drawn with the Ellipse Tool (Q).  Set the Options as shown in the attached screen shot.

The Line style:  has disappeared - choose a simple line and a width something in the range of 5 to 10 pixels.

Click on the leftmost Guide and draw an ellipse to the next Guide - it will stop when it gets there but it will probably not be in the Horizontal Guide.  

When the ellipse is drawn, click the Pick Tool (K), move over the ellipse until you've over the center of the ellipse, left click and drag it over the Horizontal Guide - the first one's in place!

Now Right Click on the Vector layer you just created and select Duplicate.  A new ellipse will appear on top of the first elliptical then use the Pick Tool to more it into place at the top of the second arm.

Do this one more time and drag the third ellipse to the top of the third arm.

After creating the three ellipses they were Merged them into one layer by right clicking on the the top Vector layer and select Merge > Merge Down.

Do this a second time so that all of the Ellipses are on one layer.

Now it's time to start drawing the rest of the Devils Fork.

Drawing Lines
With The Pen Tool

The lines that make up the Devils Fork are drawn with the Pen Tool using the following settings ...

  • Draw Lines and Polylines
  • Normal Line Style
  • Width 7 pixels (the same as the ellipses - mine are 7 pixels)

This where the Guides come in really, really handy!  

Every vertical line has a guide and every horizontal line has a guide.

Every line that will be drawn as well as the starting and ending point for every line is on a Guide or where two Guides meet.  

With Snap To Guides selected in the View menu all you need to do is find the starting point and then draw the line to the end point which keeps the lines neat and tidy.

Start at Line 1 on the outside of the top left ellipse and work around the Devils Fork in sequence.

The procedure for each line was to ...

  1. Select the Pen Tool.
  2. Set the Options as above.
  3. Draw the line.
  4. Click Apply in the Option Bar.
  5. Move on to the next line.

Once you past being mesmerized by the optical illusion of the Devil's Fork it really is an easy thing to draw - just a few ellipses and some straight lines.

Here's a gif that demonstrates the steps in order.

There's not much you can do to paint your Devils Fork but you can change the color of the fork and change the background color - like this - I do like bright colors on a black background.

Devils Fork Video

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