Creating a Pencil in Photoshop

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In our tutorial today we’ll draw a 3D-looking pencil. We will create it in 4 main stages according to the 4 physical parts of the object – the pencil head, the long body, the metal sleeve that connects the rubber and the rubber itself. Each one of these parts has different materials and characteristics which we will try to mimic using the Photoshop Tools.



Step 1: Creating A New File

Create a new file with a size of 425 x 200 px and 72 dpi.
Color the background with gray #9e9e9e (RGB 158, 158, 158).



Step 2: Creating The Pencil’s Body

We’ll begin with creating a few basic paths to help us achieve the distinctive shape of the pencil’s body. We’ll then color it and will add a few effects to create the look of a hexagon profile that characterize (most of the) pencils.

Open the Paths Window and create a new path.
Activate the Rounded Rectangle Tool, set the corner radius to 7px and in the tool’s options window make sure the Snap To Pixels option is checked.
Create a path with the size of 155 x 15 px in the center of your file.



Hold the Alt Key and use the Path Selection Tool to duplicate and move the path twice as shown in the image below.



In the Paths Window, Ctrl+Click the thumbnail of the Path to make a selection.
Open the Layers Window, create a new layer and name it BG.
Click Ctrl+G to put the layer under a group and name that group Body.



At the bottom of the Layers Window click the Add Layer Mask button.
A new mask has been created from the selection to the Group.
Hold the Alt Key down while clicking on the Mask’s thumbnail in the Layers Window. This will let us view the mask directly and will make it easier for us to edit it.



Use the Rectangle Marquee Tool to create a 155 x 29 px rectangle selection as shown below.



Go to Select -> Inverse (or click Ctrl+Shift+I) to invert the selection.
Click Del to erase.
Your mask should look like this.



Create another rectangle selection like the one in the following image.
Fill the selection with white (#ffffff) and deselect.
Your mask should look like the one in image 2.8.





All the work we will do within the Body group will now be confined within the shape we defined the mask.
In the Layers Window, click layer BG to activate it (and cancel the mask view).
Fill layer BG with black (#000000).



We will now color the body’s BG layer.
Set your Foreground Color to #f29301 and Background Color to #f2a30a.
Use the Linear Gradient Tool, set to Foreground to Background, as shown in the following image.



We will now focus on the top part of the body and will color it. That part will be more illuminated than the rest, as if there’s a light source above it. This will add to the 3D effect of the body, as if it had a hexagonal profile, just like a real pencil.

Create a rectangle selection that covers the top 7 px of the body.
Create a new layer and name it Top.



Set the Foreground Color to #fee0a4 and Background Color to #ffd269.
Apply the Linear Gradient Tool as shown below.



Moving on to the bottom part of the body. This will be the darker part of it.

Create a new layer and name it Bottom.
Set the Foreground Color to #d7750e.
Create a rectangle selection wider than the body that encloses the bottom 9 px of the body.
Fill the selection with the Foreground Color.



Deselect.
Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur, set the radius to 0.6 px and apply.



The final touch for the pencil’s body would be a light strip.

Create a new layer and name it LightStrip.
Use the Single Row Marquee Tool to select a 2 px high row, positioned as shown in the image below.
Fill the selection with white (#ffffff).



Deselect.
Apply the same Gaussian Blur filter as before by clicking Ctrl+F.
Set the layer’s opacity to 60%.

That’s it for the body part.



Step 3: Working On The Pencil’s Head

We will begin with defining the mask for the head. After that we’ll continue to color and add different effects to achieve the proper shading and we will finish with creating the graphite tip at the end of the pencil’s head.

Collapse the Body group.
In the Layers Window, create a new layer under that group.
Use the Rectangle Marquee Tool to create a 39 x 15 px selection, positioned as shown in the image.



Fill the selection with black (#000000).
Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to create a selection similar to the one shown below.
Click Del to erase the selection’s contents.



Deselect.
Duplicate the layer.
Flip it vertically by choosing Edit -> Transform -> Flip Vertical.
Move the duplicated layer and position it as shown in the image.



We will now use the shape we created as a mask for the head group.

Click Ctrl+E to merge down the 2 new layers.
Name the merged layer BG.
Ctrl+Click the thumbnail of the layer in Layers Window to make a selection from it.
Ctrl+G to create a group that contains layer BG.
Name the group Head.
Click the Add Layer Mask to create a mask from the selection.





Let’s color the BG layer now.

Activate layer BG.
Set the Foreground Color to #c69751 and Background Color to #f9ead1.
Apply the Linear Gradient Tool as shown in the next image.



Let’s add some shades now.

Create a new layer and name it Shades.
Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to create a triangle selection like the one below.
Fill the selection with black (#000000).



Continue with the Polygonal Lasso Tool to make another selection, as shown below, and fill it with black (#000000).



Deselect.
Set the layer’s blending mode to overlay and opacity to 60%.
Apply the same Gaussian Blur filter we used before (radius 0.6) by clicking Ctrl+F.



We’ll now work on the graphite tip. We’ll begin with creating a group for it and add a mask to it to create the tip’s shape.

Create an empty new group by clicking the button at the bottom of the Layers Window.
Name it GraphiteTip.
Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to create a 29 x 29 px selection and position it like in the example below.



We’ll now create a mask for the group from the selection.

Click the Add Layer Mask button.
Create a new layer within the group and name it BG.
Fill the layer with color #1f1f1f (RGB 31;31;31).



We’ll be adding some specular effects to the pencil’s tip now.

Create a new layer and name it Specular01.
Set the opacity to 60%.
Use the Linear Gradient Tool, set to White To Transparent, and apply in the following manner.



Create another new layer, name it Specular02 and set its opacity to 50%.
Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to create a selection like seen in the next image.
Fill the selection with white (#ffffff).



Deselect.
Go to Filter -> Blur -> Blur.
Collapse group Head.



Step 4: Creating The Metal Sleeve

We are now moving on to the 3rd stage of creating the pencil – the metal sleeve.
Again, we’ll begin with creating a group for this section and confine its layers within a mask. After that we will color it and add different effects to achieve the metallic look.

Create an empty group above the Body group.
Name it MetalSleeve.
Use the Rectangle Marquee Tool to create a 26 x 29 px selection and position it like in the following example.



Click the Add Layer Mask button to create a mask from the selection.
Create a new layer within the group and name it BG.
Set the Foreground Color to #70a1a6 (RGB 112;161;166) and Background Color to #746d50 (RGB 116;109;80).
Use the Linear Gradient Tool and apply as shown below.



Let’s add some specular light effect.

Create a new layer and name it Specular.
Set the opacity to 60%.
Set the Reflected Gradient Tool to White To Transparent and apply in the following manner.



Create a new layer and name it LightStrip.
Set the opacity to 70%.
Create a 2 px high row selection as seen below and fill it with white (#ffffff).



Deselect.
Apply a Gaussian Blur filter with a radius set to 0.6 px.



We’ll now add some dark reflection to enhance the metallic feel.

Create a new layer and name it DarkReflection.
Set the Foreground Color to #4e3a28 (RGB 78;58;40).
Set the Radial Gradient Tool to Foreground to Transparent and apply as shown below.



As the last step for the metal sleeve, we’ll work on the slits that are usually characteristic of pencils.

Create a ne layer and name it BrightSides.
Set the blending mode to Overlay and opacity to 30%.
Use the Rectangle Marquee Tool to create a 5 x 20 px selection and position it according to the following screenshot.



Fill the selection with white (#ffffff).
Deselect.
Create another rectangle selection, this time 6 x 29 px and place it according to the screenshot below.



Fill the selection with white (#ffffff).
Deselect.



Create a new layer and name it Slits.
Use the Single Column Marquee Tool and the Shift key to select 2 columns as shown below.
Fill them with black (#000000).



Deselect.
Again, use the Single Column Marquee Tool and the Shift key to select 4 columns like shown in the screenshot.
Fill the selected columns with white (#ffffff).



Deselect.
Set the layer’s blending mode to Overlay and opacity to 50%.

That’s it for the sleeve part, we will now continue to the last part of the pencil – the rubber end.



Step 5: Creating The Pencil’s Rubber End

Last part of the pencil – the rubber end. Similarly to the previous stages, we’ll confine all the layers in this stage to a masked group.

Create a new empty group at the bottom, below all the other groups (and above the background layer of course.
Name it Rubber.



Activate the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a radius of 7 px. Also make sure Snap To Pixels is checked in the tool’s options.
In the Paths window create a new path.
Create a 29 x 29 px rectangle and position it as shown below. Please make sure it extrudes 21 px to the right of the pencil’s body.



In the Paths Window, Ctrl+Click the path’s thumbnail to make a selection.
In the Layers Window, activate Rubber group and click the Add Layer Mask Button.





Create a new layer within the group and name it BG.
Set the Foreground Color to #a6492d (RGB 166;73;45) and Background Color to #da917c (RGB 218;145;124).
Use the Linear Gradient Tool (Foreground to Background) in the following manner.



Create a new layer and name it Specular.
Set the Radial Gradient Tool to White To Transparent and apply as shown below.



Set the layer’s blending mode to overlay and the opacity to 20%.



Create a new layer and name it DarkReflection.
Set the Reflected Gradient Tool to Black To Transparent and apply as shown in the image below.



Set the layer’s blending mode to overlay and opacity to 30%.



Last thing we will add to the rubber are a few bite marks, to make it look somewhat worn.

Use the Lasso Tool (this time, not the Polygonal Lasso!) to create a selection that generally resembles the one in the image below.



Create a new layer and name it BiteMarks.
Set its blending mode to overlay and opacity to 25%.
Fill the selection with white (#ffffff).
Deselect.
Collapse group Rubber.



Step 6: Adding Shadow

The last thing we are going to add to our pencil is shadow. We’ll do this by adding a Drop Shadow layer style and by manipulating the Outer Glow layer style to add some complexity to that shadow.

In order to add the layer styles we will need to merge all the pencil’s layers.
But before that, let’s duplicate everything to keep the layers available for future manipulations you might want to do…

Multi Select the 4 groups in the Layers Window and click Ctrl+G to group them under a new group.
Name the new group Pencil.
Now duplicate the Pencil group and name the duplicated group PencilFlat.



Click Ctrl+E to merge PencilFlat to one single layer.
Click the eye icon next to group Pencil to turn off its visibility.



Double click on layer PencilFlat to open the Layer Style Window.
Choose Drop Shadow and set the following parameters.



Before you close the Layer Style Window choose Outer Glow and set the following settings.





That’s it! Our pencil is finally ready.

Comments

  • James Flint

    Beautiful tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kr

    seems to me that quite a few steps are missing which is too bad b/c this seems like it could be a nice tut.

  • AnnR

    Thank you. I was able to figure out the missing info w/the help of some great people in the Adobe Forum for Photoshop : ) After that I found this tut wonderful and I LOVE my little pencil : ) thank you so much for the design idea I had fun even through the frustration ~ mostly b/c I am a Newbie ;)

  • David

    Great tutorial, thanks!