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Drawing with the Pencil tool

From: Animated Character Design with Illustrator

Video: Drawing with the Pencil tool

Okay. So, I have to admit, I'm a little bit nervous about sharing this next technique with you because it involves drawing in front of you directly in Illustrator. Now, normally, when I do my drawings, I'm on my own, in my studio. And I'm free to make as many mistakes as I want, and I can just easily cover them up and correct them as I go along. But here, I'm going to be drawing live in front of you. The file that I have opened is Pencil tool.ai and that's from the Bringing Artwork Into Illustrator folder. Now, the Pencil tool is a great tool to use if you want to draw freehand in Illustrator using a graphics tablet.

Drawing with the Pencil tool

Okay. So, I have to admit, I'm a little bit nervous about sharing this next technique with you because it involves drawing in front of you directly in Illustrator. Now, normally, when I do my drawings, I'm on my own, in my studio. And I'm free to make as many mistakes as I want, and I can just easily cover them up and correct them as I go along. But here, I'm going to be drawing live in front of you. The file that I have opened is Pencil tool.ai and that's from the Bringing Artwork Into Illustrator folder. Now, the Pencil tool is a great tool to use if you want to draw freehand in Illustrator using a graphics tablet.

Now, I'm using the Wacom Intuos Wireless Graphics tablet and I'll just quickly bring up the Wacom website, where you can find out more information about that tablet. Now, if you don't have a graphics tablet, you can still use a mouse to draw, obviously, but it won't allow you to be quite as detailed as using a pen and a tablet will allow you to be. I've created my Template layer, so the first thing I need to do is create another layer to be able to draw on. I'm going to hold down the ALT key as I click on the New Layer button.

And that's going to bring up my Layer Options dialog box, where I can type in a name for the layer. So, I'm going to call this layer Head, and we're going to draw his head onto this layer. Now, I like to set up the layers as I go along, keeping in mind that I want to animate all the different body parts individually. So I'm going to create a head layer, a body layer arm layer, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, I've set up my head layer. So, I just start drawing the head shape. I'm going to start from the bottom of the ear here and start drawing the head shape.

Now, I don't need to worry too much if it's not too accurate and I make mistakes. Like, you can see me making all over the place here. Because I can actually adjust, the path after it's been drawn. And sometimes that's easier than drawing in one continuous shape. So, quite often what I do is start by drawing it roughly, and then just go over it. And you'll see that as I redraw, it just adjusts the shape of the path for me. And that's because of the settings that I have for the pencil. Now, you have to be careful. If you draw a little bit too far away from the path, it may just remove part of the path, so we'll just have to undo that and start again. So you need to make sure you're drawing quite close to the shape of the path. You can adjust those settings if you double-click the pencil tool. You can adjust the Fidelity and the Smoothness.

Now, if we want to make it a little bit more accurate, we can increase the Fidelity. Smoothness will take out any bumps, so if you feel that your hand's a little bit shaky, increase the Smoothness up to about 20%, and that will just smooth it out a little bit. Now, edit selected path defaults to being within 12 pixels. So, if you draw within 12 pixels of the original line, that will redraw it. If you want it to be a little bit more accurate and not miss when you stray too far away from the path, that's the reason why we lost the ear there, you can increase this up to 20 pixels.

And now even if I'm 20 pixels away from the path it will still redraw, so I don't have to be quite as careful. Now I don't like that smoothing. That smoothing is st a little bit too smooth for me. So, I'm going to undo a few steps, and you'll have to do this when you're drawing. You'll have to try undoing and redoing and playing around with the settings until you get it right. So, I'm going to bring the Fidelity down to 3 and the smoothness down to about maybe 5. And we'll leave this as it is. So, let's just click on OK. So, I can just smooth that a little bit but not too much.

And again, just redrawing until we're happy with the shape, and that's bit too much there. Now I need that to be a little bit rounder, so we'll just round it off a little bit. Okay. And his jaw's a little bit too fat. Again, I've just strayed a little bit too far away from the line there, so I'm just going to redraw that. And we'll put a little bit of roundness in his chin. So, he's got a nice dimpled chin. And we'll just take that corner off there as well. So, you'll see that by redrawing, you can just perfect it and get it a little bit closer to what you're after. Okay.

Now, I could sit and play with this for hours, and I usually do. I usually waste a lot of timeLAUGH redrawing until I'm exactly happy with it. I used to do sculpture at art college and it reminds me of being able to redraw until you're happy with the look of it. So, once you've draw round that and you're happy with it, I would probably take a little bit longer, you can maybe start to draw some of the smaller shapes. Like, if we draw the eyebrow in there. And again, I'm just doing this quite roughly at the moment, I'm not being too careful about it. Now you'll see that as I try to draw the line of his eye, it replaced the eyebrow. And that's because I have that setting on, edit selected paths. If I don't want it to edit them, I can remove that and we can take off keep selected as well.

And now when I redraw it will draw a new line. So if you're going to be drawing a lot of lines close to each other, then it's a good idea to turn that option off. And of course, if you make mistakes while you're drawing, you can always switch it back on again. But I think this is going to be okay for us. I'm just going to trace his mouth. His chin, get that nice dimple in his chin, and we'll also put some detail into the ears here. So, I'm just going to put some ear detail in there. Okay? So, they look more like real ears.

Now, another thing that you could do now that you've got the Edit Selected Paths option off is you could draw hair on there, which of course you couldn't do if you had Edit Selected Paths on. Every time you do that, it would draw a new line. So, there we go, there we have a rough drawing of our little character. Not the best drawing in the world but we're going to improve it. So, you can use the Smooth tool as well, over the selected lines to iron out any unwanted bumps. So, if you don't necessarily want to redraw but you just want to smooth some of the lines, you can just select the Smooth tool and then hold down the Cmd key or Ctrl key on PC to select a line. Let go of the Cmd key or Ctrl key and then just redraw, just to Smooth it out a little bit rather than redrawing it.

You can do the same with the ear here. So, I'm holding down the Cmd key or Ctrl key on PC, and then I'm just smoothing out that line a little bit using the Smooth tool. So, the Smooth tool does the same as the pencil tool without redrawing the line, it just smooths out any bumps that are left after drawing your pencils. Okay, and if you want to get rid of any sections, if we have a look here and I just zoom in using Cmd Plus on the Mac, or Ctrl Plus on the PC, you'll see I've got a little overlap section here.

I can also use the Path Eraser tool. So, if I've overlapped or drawn a little bit too much with the pencil tool, I can just go in and just erase sections by using that there. So, I just erase a section of the path by clicking and dragging over it, until I'm happy with it. So, that's the tools that exist under the Pencil tool, the Pencil tool, the Smooth tool and the Eraser tool.

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Animated Character Design with Illustrator

29 video lessons · 3385 viewers

Angie Taylor
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