Curves!?
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  1. #1
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    Curves!?

    So, I've always had issues using my tablet... there seem to be a plethora of "secrets" i've yet to discover about technique and the like. One of my biggest questions is... HOW do people building hard surface stuff in their drawings get curves so damn perfect? Look at the pack on this bot's back. How are these curves done so well? I could easily do that freehand and scan it in but this seems to be done digitally. Anyone know? Btw this is a "junk trader" from Insomniac's latest Ratchet and Clank game.

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    Well...in my experience there are a number of ways to get to that.

    First and most obvious, practice. Some people are just skilled and steady enough to be able to pull this off with a tablet. Since you can already do this freehand, I don't see why doing it with a tablet would be impossible.

    The second most obvious route would be to use the "pen tool" in Photoshop, or to draw out them out in Illustrator where it's much easier to draw smoothly formed shapes. I don't know much about 3-D programs, but I'm assuming you could use that to acheive the effect. It seems that it would be very possible to do a simplified drawing of that robot's pack in sketch up.

    Another thing you might want to look out for is the line-width variation of any brush that you use. If the line doesn't vary that much, it can be much much easier to draw shapes consistently. Don't use a brush that can go from 0 to 50 when you only need it to go from 20-45, for instance.

    And here's my sketchbook. Help me out with some c&c?
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    well i have a few solutions.
    1.) Use photoshop in conjunction with the pen tool. Use brush pressure when you stroke a pen path.

    2. Ink with Painter. Painter has a "damping" feature which makes making long calligraphic strokes easy and SUPER smooth. The higher the damping the smoother your strokes "can" be. Around 80-90 is good.

    3. Use Paint tool Sai...Fantastic inking program as well for the exact if not better reason as stated for Painter. It's not called "damping" but it does the same thing.

    Sure its possible but looking at this drawing i doubt it was done freehand with a default round photoshop brush. Could be vector art for all know that has been rasterized then brought into photoshop. Mess around with the scratchboard tool (pen category) in Painter with the damping set to around 90 and see how you like it.

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    this picture was drawn in Sketchbook then colored in photoshop
    check http://creaturebox.com/

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    In Photoshop drawing lines after zooming in gives a bit more smooth result. Other option is using pen tool.
    Personally I recommend simple free drawing program that I started using at work for cartoony lineart stuff. I'm really glad I found it beacause it saved my butt when I had to do some smooth lineart quickly. It's called AzDrawing and you can adjust line smoothing in it. Also the ability to freely rotate canvas helps. After inking it has even export to PSD feature.

    http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA033...azdrawing.html
    (there should be link to azdraw112_en.zip which is english version of a program)


    Here's some video with the program used



    Last edited by Farvus; December 24th, 2010 at 03:24 AM.
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    Yup. The easiest way to do it is using guides. Either vector guides on computer, or on paper you have all sorts of ellipses and French curves. (ArtRage, the oddball program, emulates the French curves on computer. )

    Another trick is working really large and then shrinking the picture down. Small irregularities produced by the hand's wobble will disappear.

    And yet another thing is, some of these sweeping "freehand" lines may well be carefully planned and meticulously built by hand, rather than swept with one grand and elegant motion. Appearance usually indicates the method, but does not necessarily dictate the method.

    Looking at your example picture, I would say that the latter two had been used (working large and building the line). Possibly some ellipse guides, but even then the artist did not use mechanical ellipse tool, but drew the actual line by hand. I can see little irregularities that are telltale.

    (In fact, these little irregularities are essential for the hand-made look that vector curves typically lack. The trick is having just enough of the hand wobble, so it would look alive and vibrant, but not sloppy.)

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    Painter also has a way of drawing along the constraints of a path. Sort of like Photoshop's "stroke path" except you have complete and total pressure control. You choose it by selecting the brush tool and then selecting the third button after the "straight line with brush" option.

    Be warned though, that it can be quite frustrating as Painter keeps trying to make every line after a path a new layer. This is probably why I've never seen anyone else use it before.

    Sketchbook Pro is a favorite of industrial designers because it (much more easily than Painter) allows you to make an ellipse and paint over it. However, there is no way to draw over a completely custom path like Painter.


    Below is a sketch I started using one of the pencil tools in Painter as an example.

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    Last edited by Zirngibism; December 24th, 2010 at 11:20 AM.
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    Hey guys,

    I drew the Junk Trader image and thought I would jump in and give a little info about the techniques used. As c0ffee mentioned the image was drawn in Sketchbook Pro with a Cintiq and colored in Photoshop. Sketchbook Pro has a nice ellipse template to create circles while still allowing pressure sensitivity in the stroke. This was only used for a couple circles in this particular image though. Everything else was freehand.

    We tend to get a few questions about our linework at Creaturebox. The key is to approach digital drawing in the same manner you would approach traditional drawing. By locking your wrist, and drawing off your elbow and shoulder, you can get much longer and smoother strokes. It takes practice but ultimately it's the best way to give yourself a ton of flexibility in your mark making.

    There are lots of programs that do all sorts of things--including smoothing your strokes. I would suggest heavily against these however. Over time, they will tend to hold you back more than propel you forward. Lately at CreatureBox we've been jumping back into traditional work and I have to say it's been a blast. Practicing with a stack of pencils and paper can be so much more fun than the computer sometimes.

    Hope that helps! Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions. Happy drawing!

    Last edited by daveguertin; December 24th, 2010 at 04:58 PM.
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    Thanks for that info! And welcome to CA. It's always great to see another professional helping us lowly amateurs.

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    This is great information, I recently started getting into digital drawing/painting (visual communication program) but my background is in sculpture and ceramics and I have wondered the same thing about nice tight lines and very happy to see my assumption about constraining to a path is in the right neighborhood!

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