Illustrator: How to use the pentool

Before I get into creating a full illustrator tutorial, I need to first make a basic guide on how to use the pentool. This is essential for creating a vector base illustration. Plus I tend to ink my vector illustrations using this tool, and if you don’t know how to use it, my tutorial will just go over your head. :’D Once you know how to use it, then you will be able to ink your own illustrations. 🙂

Remember to use layers to keep your objects in the right place. You don’t want want one of your illustration’s eyes, for example under the head where it can’t be seen. Command (Control for PC) + Shift “[” or “]” or Command (Control) [ or ] will be your best friend.

First off, you need something to trace. In my case, my fugly sketch of my reaper bunny. If you don’t have a sketch, grab any picture with an easy shape to trace.

Reaper Bunny sketch

Pentool Tutorial So open up your sketch. Ideally you would like to put this on a different layer than the one you will be inking on. So if you know where the layer window is, create a new layer for inking. 😀 But that’s not too important right now.

So select the pentool, and make sure the stroke color box is black, or whatever color you want. In the screenshot, you will see it highlighted at the bottom of the tool bar. The box underneath it is the fill color. But you don’t want any color in that box. To make it no color, just click on the tiny white box with a red cross through it.

Now to your sketch/picture. Now click where you want to start tracing. You will see a dot like in the screenshot below.
Pentool Tutorial

STEP 3: The rest I’ve explained in the screenshots… :3 Click to see larger view.
Pentool Tutorial

Pentool Tutorial

Pentool Tutorial

QUICK NOTE: A little explanation of how the other tools in the pentool panel work. To open it, hold your mouse down on the pentool button and it will open up.
Pentool Tutorial

And that’s about it..! Just go through that process to ink the rest of your illustration. 😀 It’ll take some practice to get used to it, but once you’ve learned it, it’s easy~!

Next entry I will post up one of my inking processes.


Just comment below. 🙂

Comments (4)

I’ve always had problems using the pen tool. Thanks for this, It’ll definitely come in handy ;D

12 years ago

Thanks for the tips!

However, I’ve often seen inked works with varying pressure for the lines. Is this possible with the pen tool or is this a brush/tablet with pen pressure? It would be amazing if it can be done with the pen. 🙂

– Bex

12 years ago

Very awsome tutorial! <3 Always thinking about you Jen!

12 years ago

It is possible~ I’ve seen it done~ My friend actually does a great job at doing it, however you have to find a brush that allows you to do that~ I haven’t done it myself though, since I do pen pressure inking in painter or photoshop~

12 years ago

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