Tutorial: Inking with the Pen ToolInking an image with a mouse can be time consuming and frustrating! However, you don't have to have a graphics tablet to get professional inking results.  Photoshop's Pen Tool is a versatile & easy tool to get quality inked artwork.

Step 1: Import Your Sketch

Scan or take a photo of the image you will be working on and open it in Photoshop.


Step 2: Create  New Layer

Name your new layer "Inks" or some other descriptive term of your choice.


Step 3: The Pen Tool

Before starting, double check your brush. You'll want a brush that has a fairly hard edge and that is the same size as the lines you'll want to create (in this example the "Round Point Stiff" brush was used) .   Once your brush is set up, click on the Pen Tool.  We will start inking right at the top of our little guy's head. First we will click once where the head joins the ears, and then make a strait line over to the other ear & head joint.  Once we have our line, add another point near the middle of the line.


Step 4: Make the Curve

Obviously we don't want our line to be strait, not here anyway! So hold down the CRTL key while clicking on the middle point of the line.  Move your mouse, you'll notice that the point moves and creates a curve. There will also be two handles extending from the point, you can use these to further influence how the curve will look.  Drag the point and handles as needed to create a line that follows our original sketch line.


Step 5: Make the Lines

Now it's time to actually make our first mark!  Right-click anywhere on the curve we have created with the pen tool. You'll see a menu pop up, click on the "Stroke Path" option.


Step 6: Define the Stroke Path

Stroke Path has some options, if you click the "Simulate Pressure" option it will give you lines that simulate the pressure one might use on a pen. This will give you nice lines of varying thickness. You can also choose to use other tools to create the stroke with. For now we will be using the Brush tool (that's why we had to make sure it was set up earlier!).  Check "Simulate Pressure" and hit OK. After you finish your inking section hit delete 2 times to clear the path you have made.


Step 7: Carry On

Now that you know how to create a curve with the pen tool, carry on using the same method you've already learned to finish inking the rest of the drawing.  Continue in small, easy to manage chunks. Use the intersections of lines as your guide.  Remember, if you mess up, there's always Undo!  After a little while, you will end up with the finished critter!


He's all inked!  Note: The eyes were done with the brush tool not the pen tool.  The brush tool was used to make the eyes. A hard brush with the brush size of the eyes to make an appropriate sized dot.  There is also another background layer of a light gray placed under the inks to cover up the original sketch.  From here you can move on to coloring or just enjoy your line art!

The Finished Product

Pen Inking Tutorial: Finished Product