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Adobe Illustrator: Create Line Drawings Part 1

Adobe Illustrator: Create Line Drawings Part 1

Dani Jones

One Grumpy Dude

This is one grumpy dude. He was created in Adobe Illustrator with the brush tool. I don’t use the program a lot, but when it comes to “inking” my drawings, I find it very useful. Here’s an in-depth look into the making of this cute little grandpa guy including:

  • How to place a sketch into a new document
  • Some digital drawing tips
  • How to fix little mistakes after you’ve drawn your stroke
  • Ways to finish and color your drawing

Preparing to Draw

I start by placing my sketch into a new Illustrator document. Go to File–>Place. Find your sketch file. Before you click OK, make sure the box that is marked “Template” is checked. Notice that your sketch has been placed on its own layer and has automatically been locked and changed to 50% transparency.

Be sure to select “Template”.

Be sure to lock the layer and ready.

Get your tools ready. The default brush set will not do for most artists. Create a variety of brushes to use for your drawing, or open up ones that you have saved. My brush palette features round calligraphic brushes in different sizes.

To ink drawings in Illustrator, I like to use the brush tool. I like it better than the pen tool because it better simulates the traditional inking experience and results in looser drawings. Learning to trace a drawing on the computer with a tablet can be really frustrating. You may have to try several times before you get just the right stroke. Just keep practicing using your tablet and eventually you will find yourself pushing Undo less and less.

Some Tips to Get You Started

Try “drawing” with your brush, as opposed to just tracing your sketch. Try not to be too stiff and concentrate on staying loose and spontaneous. Try not to break your flow by fixing every little mistake. Just push through, and you can go back and fix it later. Don’t concentrate so much on making an exact tracing of your sketch. Stay as loose as possible.

Starting your inking

Use a variety of line. I’ve made a custom brush palette with several different sizes, from a bold 7-pt line to a very thin .5-pt line. You’ll notice that any drawing I do has a balance of thick, medium, and thin lines. Also put some variation within the strokes themselves. Use a tablet and set the brush to be affected by your pen pressure. Notice the use of both thick and thin lines in my little drawing.

Lay down each stroke with confidence Your lines will be smoother and more stable. Try to keep your strokes longer, instead of shorter. When drawing with your tablet, try to use your whole arm, and not just your wrist.

Take advantage of the shape tool for those objects that are just too difficult to draw with the brush tool. I’ll usually resort to the shape tool for circles, ellipses, and squares.


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