Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pentooling: Rendering

Today, I'm going to be going over the very universal tool, the pentool. The pentool is very useful to graphic artists, and really anyone else who know how to use it, correctly that is. Some simple practice and good teachings can allow anyone to master the pentool, so to speak. Which in this post, I will try to produce said good teachings. 

First off, there are a couple important uses for pentooling, what I mostly use it for, is rendering. Rendering is the process of cutting a selected portion of an image out of a picture. Since rendering is my main use for the pentool is rendering, that's what the first part of the overview will cover. And before I start, I just want to say that rendering can be very difficult if you are trying to get a clean cut. For my work however; I like to have my renders as sleek and close to the edge as possible, so it's a very monotonous task for me.

For the purpose of this tutorial, (and for the good of my work ethic) I'm going to be rendering this very simple, easy-to-do comic page. 
(resized for tutorial)

The first step to pentooling, is quite simply, getting a hold of it. Here's where you can find it on the toolbar:

As long as you have the default settings for the pentool as of now, you should be good to go. 

If not, you should probably make sure you have these settings checked: Paths, pentool, auto add/delete, and exclude overlapping path areas.

Next off, locate an area where you want to start the cut. In this case, it was by the left arm and the smoke trails coming off of his gun. I will clarify below:

Now depending how big your image is, and how precise you want the render to be, that will decide how much you want to zoom in on the image to start with the pentooling. I don't recommend zooming in over 500%, in fact that's how much I zoom in for ALL of my cuts, to get as precise as possible, no matter what.

So, once you get to your starting point, click with the pentool, and connect to another point around the outlines of what you're trying to render. I've found that rendering comics are a lot easier for rendering, because they always have a defined outer "shell", as you can put it, to pentool along.

Here is an image preview so you know if you're doing what you've done so far correctly.

Next, what you wanna do is click in the middle (or somewhere relative) of the line so you get an anchor point. From the anchor point, hold ctrl and move the point until you get a nice curve going along the outside edges of the desired render. You may also have to move the beginning anchor points you made, (ctrl+click) to get the desired result.

It should end up looking something like this:

Now continue these steps until you get a product like so:

Next off, you need to connect the pentooling at the anchor points that you started with, and the last one you just finished making. Once you complete the pentooling shape, you should get a solid, thin, grey line. Right click, and from the drop down menu, select "Make selection..." option. Another menu should pop up, in which you just keep the default settings select and click "OK". You should get the marching ants selection.

IMPORTANT: One thing I forgot to mention above, was that you need to make a new layer under your original image, and take the lock off of it before you can actually delete part of the image.

Then, simply hit the delete button on your keyboard, and voila! You have a nice section of your image rendered. 

If you're like me, you probably realized this isn't the funnest process in the world, but it's very useful skill to have, no doubt. If you enjoy this however, (some people render simply as a hobby) then you're going to love the next step, which is simply to apply all the steps to finish rendering your entire image.

Below I have my finished render, it took me about 10 minutes altogether to render the entire thing, although I've estimated it takes me about 1-3 hours to cleanly cut a detailed image.

So there it is, nothing too impressive or usable, but it was an easy cut. It's resized down a great amount from the original image, which was 1280x1818.

One extra note, this is not the only method to rendering. Some people I know pentool around the subject as a whole, then make the selection and invert it and press delete. The method I've shown above is my personal method, and is usually the best way to be precise and accurate, in my opinion (going by sections).

Anyways, I hope you learned something from this tut, if you have a comment, question, or request please let me know through the comments below. Thanks for reading!



  1. nice guide, very detailed :)

  2. Well done! You get the idea across to your readers. You are a good writer.

  3. Love using this technique, comes in handy a lot of the time.

  4. thanks! I was looking for a tut on this!

  5. Good tutorial and the pictures helped a lot. Now that I know this I think it could come in handy in the future. Thanks again :)

  6. DOOD THANK YOU. this is one of the skills i lack in PS, you just got a bookmark in my browser haha.

  7. Great tutorial, rendering take so long for me to do cause i'm really impatient and i HAVE to make sure everythings perfect

  8. Pen tool is very useful... beizer curves are now integrated in every adobe program.

  9. Basic but it's good to remind things like that.

  10. awesome post, bro! waiting for MOAR

  11. Great tutorials dude, I'll keep an eye on your blog and I'll try to find some tips on what to do on mine ^^

    Keep'em comming =)

  12. thanks for the comments on my blog!

  13. Thank you. I use GIMP. I'll nose around the menus to find the equivalent.

  14. Thx for this guide, meaning to get into PS

  15. i use magnetic lasso for easier areas and then pen tool for more precise cuts

  16. whoa, that's a detailed tutorial

    btw, check out my new post on GTL Everyday :)

  17. Totally Wow, what a nice post, you showed me something!