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.

  • 1
    sounds like it's set to use a brush style.
    – DA01
    Jun 20, 2013 at 23:44
  • 1
    Select the Pencil Tool, open the 'Brush' panel and uncheck 'Dual brush' Worked for me, same problem.
    – Jon
    Oct 15, 2015 at 2:06

3 Answers 3


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


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

  • Yep. Forgot to mention I'd checked, and even experimented some, with that one. It set to Normal. Jun 20, 2013 at 22:09
  • Then the next thing to do would be to reset Photoshop preferences.
    – Scott
    Jun 20, 2013 at 22:11

Didn't work for me, none of the above ... What I ended up doing is, created a new project, selected a layer with some pencil drawing in it, copied it and pasted into my original project - then erased the drawing just pasted and voila, the pencil started to work properly. Don't have any idea why it didn't work until I pasted some extra - perhaps someone has an explanation?

  • 2
    Actually, I think I just figured it out. The zoom was so large that I didn't notice there was a selection outside of the visible area so I was trying to draw outside of it and it got clipped. CTRL-D did the trick by deselecting it - pasting also fixed it as it set the clipping to the full image.
    – Pitus
    Feb 21, 2019 at 22:58

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