So you’re drawing with Photoshop … “Do I use the Brush tool or the Pen tool?” you may be wondering. The short answer is: use the Brush tool. Read on to find out why, and watch the video down below for tips on setting up your brushes for success.

drawing with photoshop

Drawing with Photoshop — Brush Tool vs Pen Tool Differences

The difference between the pen tool and the brush tool is technical: the pen tool produces a vector image and the brush tool produces a raster image. As a result of this, the two tools function completely differently and if you want to draw cartoons, the brush tool is the only way to go.

How to set up your Photoshop brush tool for drawing

There are two things that make a difference to your line art when using a brush tool:

  1. the diameter of your brush stroke, and
  2. the line width variation produced by your drawing pressure.

Your starting line diameter is immaterial, because you can adjust it up and down simply by using the square brackets on your keyboard. Tap [ as many times as necessary to reduce the line width as you need to and conversely, tap  ] as many times as necessary to increase it.

The line width variation produced by your drawing pressure is much more important because if you select the wrong setting, you get a uniform line diameter.

Uniform line diameter is all very well — Hergé used it of all his Tintin work — but I prefer the varied line width as it produces a more interesting and dynamic effect. Try both of them for yourself and see what you prefer.

Drawing with Photoshop — Raster vs Vector Image?

In layman’s terms, a vector image can be blown up to any size without becoming pixelated whereas a raster image cannot. If you are creating a logo or an image that is going to go on a billboard beside the road, ultimately you may want a vector image. However, for drawing cartoons for use on the web or even to print onto post cards and stationery for clients, a raster image of the right resolution does the job perfectly. And if you decide you do want a vector image, you could pay someone to convert one of your cartoons to vector.


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