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I've been struggling with this for some time now. The tool is set to pencil tool. The color is set to black. The layer is at the top of the layer stack. But still it won't draw a simple line.

Interesting thing though: if I bump up the size of the pencil tip and draw back and forth, I get some random bits drawn in.

Using CS5. Thanks for your help.

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sounds like it's set to use a brush style. – DA01 Jun 20 '13 at 23:44
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can try cleaning the controls:

In the brush menu, choose Clear Brush Controls. You will need to do this with the tool set to pencil (and also to brush if you are having trouble with both):

enter image description here

Image source - Solution seen here

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Yup, that did it. Thanks. Just not sure what it was set to, and why or how it got set to it. – NotoriousWebmaster Jun 21 '13 at 0:44

Make certain the Blend mode for the Pencil Tool is set to normal. Check the Control Bar. Painting tools can have a blend mode set specifically to the tool.

blend modes

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Yep. Forgot to mention I'd checked, and even experimented some, with that one. It set to Normal. – NotoriousWebmaster Jun 20 '13 at 22:09
Then the next thing to do would be to reset Photoshop preferences. – Scott Jun 20 '13 at 22:11

Select the Pencil Tool, open the 'Brush' panel and uncheck 'Dual brush'

Worked for me, same problem.

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