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Tuesday
Aug232016

For Good or Evil, Illustrator Is My Tool

When I decided to create my comic book, I knew it was going to be totally digital. Not completely my choice, but out of necessity. At this point, I have neither the dexterity or close-up vision to do what I did 30 years ago with traditional tools. But I knew that this could be accomplished with the drawing program, Illustrator.

There would be problems, I knew that for a fact. Digital doesn't react as cleanly as my pin, brush, and ink would. But after my last paint project showed me, keeping a hold of the paintbrush without dropping it was a chore. The only solution would be to go full on digital. After five pages, the frustrations are on slowly receding. Not disappearing, but making me less frustrated.

The main frustration is also the key to being able to do this digitally in the first place. The Bézier curve. A line doesn't have to be perfect when you initially lay it down (it rarely is) and can be fixed by adjusting the position of the point and curvature with the handles. And that's a good thing. Fixing lines after the fact is not very easy when working with real ink.

But the problem occurs with nearly every line drawn that when the stylus is lifted from the tablet, it's mostly a surprise where the end of the stroke will point. the slightest tilt of incorrect pressure on of the stylus affects that final point which can cause the entire line to become undesirable. It's then I make the decision to wither delete it and try again -or- start fiddling with the points and handles.

Tutorials for the Pen Tool

I mistakenly thought that I would quickly find a tutorial that would show me the error of my ways. I found lots and lots of tutorials but not once did the answer to my problem revealed. Most said, "Set this and this and this, and you will get perfect ink-like lines." After doing the settings as I was told, my lines looked nothing like theirs. Obviously, there was something else they had done which allowed their lines to work which was not in the video.

It wasn't until last week while watching yet another tutorial that the vidder/artist made an offhand remark when creating a shape with the pen tool. 1) Click a point making sure there are no handles visible. 2) place a second point just slightly past the next curve. 3) pull the handles until the line goes where you want it. 4) (and this is the important part) click the new point to remove the second handle. This way you begin with a static point for the next segment.

Ever since, creating shapes has become ten times quicker and much, much cleaner.

Alas, I am still searching for a tutorial to assist me making my brush strokes cleaner. After fiddling with the brush settings of Smoothness and Fidelity, my lines behave themselves much better but there's still the errant tail which I need to go fix.

So I solved my shape creation problem with the pen tool but still need to work on fixing the brush tool problem.

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