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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
Illustration by John Hersey

Working with the Blob Brush tool


From:

Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Working with the Blob Brush tool

Okay, so now we're going to have a look at the Blob Brush tool. I love the Blob Brush tool. It's fairly difficult to explain, but basically it allows you to paint like a painter would paint. And that means painting several strokes to get one continuous line. It's very seldom that I draw a line in one stroke like this. And with the Pen tool and the Brush tool, you tend to have to do that. Or, you have to join the paths later. But with the Blob Brush tool, you can paint a series of lines and it will automatically join them together.

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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
Subjects:
3D + Animation Design Illustration Character Animation video2brain
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Angie Taylor

Working with the Blob Brush tool

Okay, so now we're going to have a look at the Blob Brush tool. I love the Blob Brush tool. It's fairly difficult to explain, but basically it allows you to paint like a painter would paint. And that means painting several strokes to get one continuous line. It's very seldom that I draw a line in one stroke like this. And with the Pen tool and the Brush tool, you tend to have to do that. Or, you have to join the paths later. But with the Blob Brush tool, you can paint a series of lines and it will automatically join them together.

So, if I paint there, and then paint again there, and paint again there, and let's do it once more. And now I select that holding down the cmd key or ctrl key on the PC. You'll see I've got one editable line. Now you'll notice something different between that and the regular Brush tool. If we zoom in, again using cmd+on the keyboard, ctrl+if your on the PC. Notice that the line goes around the brush stroke. So instead of having one line denoting the brush stroke, we have two lines denoting the brush stroke. And if I go and edit that, you'll notice it makes it slightly more complicated for editing.

Cuz I've now got two paths to edit, instead of just one path to edit. So it has pros and cons like everything else. Now notice I can undo one stage at a time and redo one stage at a time. Which again is really nice and like a real artist would work. Now if I just go back to the regular Pen tool and I choose the same brush, I just want you to see what the difference is. So if I do exactly the same again, the first thing you'll notice is we have only one line per brush stroke. Which makes it a little bit easier to edit for sure.

I can just select these points and edit them individually, and the brush stroke will adjust to either side. But notice I have 3 separate paths to edit, and if I wanted to join them together, the only way to do it would be to group them. So pros and cons, but the other nice thing about the Blob Brush tool is you can create shapes like this belt buckle here. So if I choose the Blob Brush tool and I'm going to make it slightly bigger. You can also use calligraphic brushes as well incidentally with the Blob Brush tools if I select this one. And then select it you'll notice it gives me an editable calligraphy line so I can go in and edit the points and change the shape.

Make it look a bit more random. Or even use the Smooth tool on it, so I can start to smooth out my calligraphic pen strokes. So you couldn't really do that as easily using the regular Brush tool. So again, pros and cons. But as I was saying, if I select the regular Brush tool, and I come down here to the belt and then, I make the brush bigger. So, using left bracket and right bracket will allow you to make the brush bigger or smaller. Then I can start to create these nice hand-drawn kind of shapes. Start to create this belt buckle with shading.

Now, I've made that brush a little bit too big. So, again, I'm going to undo those steps. And just make that brush a little bit smaller before I start so, let's just double-click that and we'll make it a 2-point brush. Okay. So again, you can use the dialog box, you can use the keyboard shortcut. Left bracket and Right bracket tools will allow you to make adjustments. Okay, so I can start to draw and create this nice inky kind of effect by drawing repeated strokes. Now, you might be thinking why is she not worrying about going over the edges, well, I'll show you why in a second.

Okay, so I create the effect I want, and then you'll see that I have these nice chunky shapes that I can go and edit really easily, move them, adjust them any way I want. The reason I'm not being too careful with the edges is I can then use another tool I really love called the Eraser tool, which is here. With the Eraser tool, I can make my brush smaller again using left bracket, and I can just trim the edge of that. The edges I want to trim off, I can just quickly trim using the eraser tool.

So, it's kind of like sculpting, with vectors. It's fantastic. Okay. Just trim off those edges. So, get the benefit of having inky brush strokes without having to be too careful. Which, in my book, is fantastic. Now notice it's not deleting the one at the bottom. That's because it's not selected. It has to be selected in order for the eraser tool to work like that. So there we go. We've drawn something that looks like it's been drawn with a marker pen or something, just by using one tool. And instead of having hundreds of brush strokes to edit, we've only got one. Now it's also good for drawing things like the arms, so let's just Create a new layer for the arm, and we'll call it Arm 01.

And I'm very quickly going to drawn in this arm here. Again, just drawing all the strokes with the Blob Brush tool. Not really worrying to much about them. So its great. But one point with Illustrator, you have to be very precise and careful with the way that you drew. But now with all these tools, you can draw quiet roughly and it's a lot more like drawing in a paint program then it used to be so I love it. Now I'm going to draw another arm so let's put another arm. We'll call this Arm O2, and we'll draw this one here. And it's really nice as well because it picks up, the kind of natural inflections that you have when you draw.

So if you have a slight wobble it doesn't really matter. I am going to go back to the jacket layer and I am just going to fill in these sections here okay, again I am not being too careful. I am just going, rough strokes and if you do too carefully you don't really develop a style. I find that if you're a little bit rough with your pen strokes you start to develop more of a style. Cuz you're kind of working more intuitively I always think.

Okay, so very quickly we can get that whole body drawn, then I think I'm going to leave you there, and open up one where I've done a lot more on it. So let's just zoom out a little bit. And then we will have a look at the finished one. Okay, so here we have one way of taking at look a little bit further and drawn a few more lines on there.

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