photoshop creative

How to create art with the Pen tool in Photoshop, part 2

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by The Photoshop Creative Team
April 17, 2014

Continued… Use Photoshop’s Pen tool to create detailed work that is made up of simple shapes a photo

Follow part 1 of this tutorial


Next we’ll block out the main shape of our model. Select the Pen tool option Shape layers. Select the black colour we created in the previous step. and cut out the model in a similar way, being precise and similar to the model’s shape. Once you close the path you’ll notice a new layer has been created in your Layers palette. Name it ‘model block’.


Now it’s time to start adding detail back in. Start by looking at the overall picture to decipher the lightest parts. To temporarily hide the model block layer, click the eye icon next to it in the Layers palette. Select your ‘off white’ swatch and use the same technique from the previous step to trace around the face.


Move onto the midtones. In our image, this will mainly mean the shine from the hair. Repeat what we have performed in the previous steps and block out the midtones. Always remember to name your layers in a way that makes sense to you, in case you need to make alterations later on.


It makes sense to group layers together that represent certain sections of the image. Select one layer in the palette then, while holding Cmd/Ctrl, click any other layers you want to group together. Then hit Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a group from the selected layers.


Now we can look to add detail back in, specifically on the face where we have paid attention to the eyes. Add in colour using a solid white colour to create the whites of the eyes and pupil reflections. Reordering new layers so that they sit in the correct order is important, and it’s why we named our layers.


Now for the shine on the hair, the earrings and the shirt creases. Drop the transparency of the creases to 20% to create a nice blue/green colour and help separate it from the hair’s shine.


To finish, select the background layer and then the Gradient tool (G). Click the colour in the top left-hand corner to open the Gradient Editor. Select a black to white gradient and press OK. Now click and drag from the top of your canvas down to the bottom and release.