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Clean lines – update!

Ok, here’s a sneaky preview of the work so far. At the weekend (the latest) I will share my takes on using the pen tool in photoshop for inking. I have spend so much time using this baby that I actually consider my self quite a mastah by now. NOT.

Still, some things you realize once you start I found some things to bear in mind and some that might turned out helpful for less experience pen users. Stay tuned.

This one does not do greatest justice to all the hard work I’ve put in, twisting my fingers and straining my  back trying to get those crisp and juicy outlines just right but I just couldn’t help to overlay it with some colors and texture that’s, by the way, ripped directly from the original scanned  sketch. I am still trying to work out the colors and the hairdo but It is safe to say there are some wicked costume ideas here (ah, so modest;))). Anyways – here it is:


cool outfit

Clean Lines in Photoshop



I have been through a few youtube videos and other tutorials elsewhere to find out how to create those really crisp and clean outlines when drawing or tracing sketches in Photoshop. I am using a Wacom Intuos 3, with a sheet of paper pasted on top to make the pen feel more natural (it works great, by the way) and I do consider my stroke pretty confident and my hand quite steady. But to follow/trace the curve of the underlying sketch and make it look elegant and effortless – it is a bitch! Actually it is a no-can-do – for me, at least. For this example I took my “babe in the sexy outfit” image 


I opened the image in Photoshop, copied the background layer (CTR + J on PC or CMD + J on Mac), created one more layer on top of the copied one (CTR/CMD+SHIFT+(ALT)+N = hold ALT if you do not want a NEW LAYER dialog box to appear, otherwise, use the same combination without ALT so you will be able to name the layer on the go, which is a good practice) and filled the layer with white colour.



There’s is a very nifty keyboard shortcut for filling the layer with background or foreground color: just make sure your background and foreground colors are set to default by either clicking the two overlapping black and white squares near the bottom of the tools palette(see image) or simply hitting D on your keyboard. From then, just CTR/CMD + BACKSPACE to fill the layer with white or ALT + BACKSPACE to fill it with black. For the purpose of this example, white is recommended;)  

setting default colors in photoshop




Then, I changed the white layer’s opacity to the point where the original sketch showed through but remained nicely dimmed allowing my new, perfectly crisp and clean lines to stand out. In my case this is around 70% and you can either do it dragging the opacity slider (located in the top corner of the layers palette) down to 70% or simply hitting the number 7 on your keyboard (if you type 7 quickly followed  by 5, the opacity will change to 75%)

changing the opacity



After that, all I needed to do is to create one  more layer on top of the white one(again CTRL/CMD+ALT+SHIFT+N) to put my line-art on and I was all set for the hard work.







First of all I tried to go on about it “traditionally”, with the wacom and the brush tool tracing the lines free-hand, erasing unnecessary bits.

When you do that it is important that you first pick a basic round, hard brush(opacity 100%, hardness 100%), open up your BRUSHES palette (F5 on your keyboard or WINDOW > BRUSHES) and make sure you only tick the SHAPE DYNAMICS box changing the SIZE JITTER to PEN PRESSURE

brush dynamics settings
















However good this technique might be for some people, I had to give up. After a couple of hours of drawing, erasing, redrawing, erasing again I had this and was nowhere near satisfied with the result:jagged-freehand

Worn out and disappointed I decided on the pen tool  (P on your keyboard)


pen tool in the toolbox

pen tool in the toolbox

  To be able to use pen tool efficiently, It’s options for it as follows:pen-tool-settings1

Here are first results:smooth-pentool


iMac RAM upgrade. Crucial;)

I just pimped my 20″ iMac with an additional RAM  (2GB DDR2 PC2-5300 for less than £21!). Now It’s 3  GIG’s and it has been one of the best computer related investments in my carrier next to wacom tablet. It has cut the time of opening and saving high res, multilayered files in photoshop by 2/3. The same with scanning at high resolution. I do not expect you would see an amazing improvement with and video and 3D editing software but when it comes to Photoshop it’s a bliss. One of the best thing is that I can now paint and draw at high res, using large textured brushes and do not have time for a quick nap in-between the strokes while the computer is trying to cope. Well, this sounded a little extreme, but I there is really a tangible difference between what my Macintosh had been capable of before I fed it the new RAM and what it can do now. Definitely recommended.

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