Inking in Adobe Illustrator is usually performed with the help of different brushes. But watching the works of professional illustrators, we do not always understand what types of brushes were used at the same time. I read a lot of discussions about the settings of calligraphy brushes to create a unique outline. The problem is not in the brushes settings, but in the method of inking. Today I will tell you about one of these methods. The DrawScribe plugin will help you to work more quickly and comfortably in the process of creating outlines.
At the end of this article, you may also find the original Illustrator artwork file of the images shown above, including all the original dynamic sketch strokes!
Find out more at the jump!
Some background information
This method is shared with us by a professional illustrator Ilya Esaulov. For inspiration you can visit his blog and look at his wonderful illustrations.
To demonstrate the inking technique I will be using a sketch, which was kindly provided by Victoria Vasilyeva specifically for this article.
Paste the sketch into the current document (File > Place…). Convert the layer where the sketch is located into the template layer and lock it in the Layers panel. Create a new layer above the first one. In this layer we will be creating an outline.
Usage of the Paintbrush Tool and Bob Brush Tool requires certain skills of the user. You should perfectly master the control over the pressure on the stylus of the Wacom tablet and at the same time create the path of the desired shape. Such skills come with experience. Besides, you cannot create arbitrary shaped outlines using the brushes. This is the outline that we can see in the works of illustration professionals. Let’s take a look at the inking technique using the Dynamic Sketch Tool which is one of the tools found in the DrawScribe plugin. Take this tool and open its panel (Window > DrawScribe > Dynamic Sketch panel).
I want the tool to be as accurate as possible when repeating the movement of my hand, so I set the Accuracy and Smoothness sliders to minimum.
Continuing to set up the tool, open the Dynamic Sketch Preferences dialog window by double-clicking on the tool on the toolbar, or pressing the Enter key. Select the options and set the parameters indicated in the picture below.
In order not to accidentally edit already created objects, turn off the Keep Selected option and turn on the Only Edit Selected Paths option. In order for the created lines to match the movement of the hand as much as possible, I set the minimum value of 2 px in the fields of Close or Join Path Within ___ and Continue Path Within ____ options. The Create Points at Tangencies option was selected by default and allows you to create smooth and easily editable paths.
Now proceed to the creation of the outline. Set black for the fill and reduce its opacity to 50% in order to see the sketch in the process of creating an outline. The Stroke color must be disabled.
Disabling the New Path Have Basic Appearance option (see picture in the previous step) will allow you to create new objects that will have the same opacity. Create the shape of the outline with the help of the Dynamic Sketch Tool. If you want to edit the created path, turn on the Edit or Continue mode in the Dynamic Sketch panel.
In such a way we can create outline of any complexity.
What brush settings can help you create such a shape? None — you just need a different approach here.
Of course, you should not be using this technique throughout the entire work. There are places where it is more convenient to create variable width paths (a feature from Illustrator CS5 onwards). For example, to create a mustache, turn off the fill and turn on the stroke, then set the relationship between the path width and the pressure on the stylus and the average values of Accuracy and Smoothness in the Dynamic Sketch panel.
In this way combining both techniques, you will quickly get nice, professional results.
Friends, destroy the stereotypes created over the years. It does not matter what technique you use. The most important is the result and how much time you need to achieve it. By combining the techniques described in this tutorial, I save about 50% of the time normally required!
Download the dynamic vector background artwork
Click here for the Illustrator CS3/CS4 version…
Click here for the Illustrator CS5 version (PDF compatible)…
About the author
My name is Iaroslav Lazunov, I am a graphic designer from Zhytomyr, Ukraine. I am glad that I finally found the job in my life that I can share my knowledge and experiments with you in my tutorials.