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Is Sketchbook Pro for you? Part 5

Parts: 1 2 3 4 5

In part one, I went over a touch of what Sketchbook Pro is and is not, and I contrasted it with the current industry standard illustration go-to program (in mind share anyway), Adobe Photoshop.

In part two, I began to uncover the way that Sketchbook Pro prioritizes canvas space and bends the user interface around that priority, including tool economy and color selections.

In part three, I highlighted the major tools you will be using in the program to rapidly develop drawings, storyboards, illustrations, and sketches.

In part four, I explored the erasers, the focus tools, and we bent time and space by learning about the Space Tools.

This time, we are going to put it all together with a short video walkthrough of a small drawing from beginning to end and highlight layer properties and management.

Ready? Let’s go!

Why Sketchbook Pro is valuable to me

First of all, I used to work primarily on a wacom intuos3 tablet, after moving up from an aiptek tablet when I first began working digitally over 6 years ago.
It was a great improvement, but drawing on tablets took me a long time to get used to. There was a disconnect in drawing on one thing and looking at the screen to see what you are drawing at the same time.
I recently got a motion computing tablet with wacom digitizer in it.  That’s a fancy way of saying that its a laptop without a keyboard and a wacom tablet built in.
It’s a significantly older model, but man… WHAT AN IMPROVEMENT! Drawing on the screen is so useful that I find it difficult going back to my regular drawing tablet.

One day I hope to invest either in a Cintiq or a newer motion tablet, but in the meantime I am happy with what I have.  My screen resolution is locked at 800×600 which is why I went investigating lightweight drawing applications in the first place, and discovered Sketchbook Pro.

The design decisions to prioritize screen space and drawing process over user interface mean so much to me and my current needs.  The lack of general information about how to jump into the software out there led me to create this guide.

Dorian and I are going to walk you through a simple drawing made in Sketchbook Pro from beginning to end.  I’ll be highlighting layer properties and management, as well as using a variety of the tools we touched on in our guide.  I hope you find it helpful to you.


Where to try the Software for yourself:

If you haven’t given the trial a spin I recommend doing so.
For PC: autodesk.com/trysketchbookpro

For Mac users running 10.6 OS, you can get it from the Mac App Store
there’s also a free “express” version available

I just found this out this week, but for individuals considering buying a Cintiq or Intuos 4 tablet hardware from Wacom (or have already bought one), Autodesk and Wacom have partnered to bring you a free express version of Sketchbook Pro when you purchase the hardware.
Please go here for details on this offer and click on “Software” to register your device and get your download.

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Is Sketchbook Pro for you? Part 4


Parts: 1 2 3 4 5

Before we begin, a refresher

In part one, I went over a touch of what Sketchbook Pro is and is not, and I contrasted it with the current industry standard illustration go-to program (in mind share anyway), Adobe Photoshop.

In part two, I began to uncover the way that Sketchbook Pro prioritizes canvas space and bends the user interface around that priority, including tool economy and color selections.

In part three, I highlighted the major tools you will be using in the program to rapidly develop drawings, storyboards, illustrations, and sketches.

This time, we are going to explore the erasers, the focus tools, and what I call, the Space Tools. I call them that because we can bend time and space with them!

Before we get to the Space Tools, I left out a couple of important regular brush tools last time.

We have the erasers, both hard and soft edged

The eraser tools work similarly to one another, one being crisp hard edges, while the other is a feathered, soft edge.  The soft edged one is like the black hole version of the airbrush I guess.
In the brush properties, you can adjust size and amount erased (essentially opacity).

Here is the smear tool

This lets you distort an image with a brushstroke.  It is kind of like a twisting vortex of distortion on the brush tip.

In the brush properties you can adjust size of smear and amount of smear (density).

And for some blur..

The Blur tool allows for a set amount of blur to be attached to a brush.

The brush properties that can be changed are size and strength (density of blur).

Finally, the sharpen tool

Sharpen increases the contrast between lines and colors and appears to give a sharp edge to the pixels.

Size, Strength, and Sharpness (intensity of effect) can all be adjusted within the properties.

2011: The Year We Make Rendering Solid Objects Easy

I call these next tools “Space Tools” because they effectively enable you to render shapes and spaces accurately and quickly.  If you are prototyping and speed is of the essence, you are probably not going to get a physical circle stencil, for example, to put on your drawing tablet to make a perfect circle.  In the past with other programs, you could make a selection with a circle marquee, but that never guaranteed straight and even lines within the selection.

As artists, we have had to come up with our own behind the scenes solutions for accurate and consistent shapes and space renderings in a drawing program.

How is Sketchbook Pro any different?

Sketchbook Pro changes the entire process by enabling you to make your selection with a marquee (like we are used to) with full rotation, scale, and anchor controls.  Once you have the shape marquee where you want it, your brush is anchored to the selection for marking.

If you have ever lined up a ruler or stencil onto a piece of bristol and held your pencil to the edge of the guide to mark it, the feeling is similar.  You still retain all pressure sensitivity but the shape becomes anchored to your marquee.

GENIUS

Maybe this has been done elsewhere before, but it’s totally new to me. I am very thankful.
Something that used to totally slow down my process now feels intuitive, fast, and reliable.

An Epic Drama of Adventure and Exploration

The straight ruler delivers straight, accurate lines with anchor points on either side.

The ruler uses anchor points that you can click or drag to place each end.
They look like this: 
The middle handle you can click and drag to move the ruler around the canvas, which looks like this: 
Sketch anywhere on the canvas and the stroke will snap to the ruler and will be the length that you draw.

When you are ready to close the ruler, close it with the close button:

The elliptical ruler delivers accurate, perfect ellipses with full control over scale & rotation.

Similar to the straight ruler, the elliptical ruler also uses handles to adjust the marquee before sketching.
In addition to the middle handle, which moves the tool around the canvas, you have scale, stretch, and rotate.
They look like this, respectively: Sketch anywhere on the canvas and the stroke will snap to your marquee guide and be the density or opacity that you draw. Easy.

Symmetry X and Symmetry Y copy whatever you draw across a plane to the opposite side in real time.

The symmetry tools will place an axis across the canvas either horizontally with x, or vertically with y.  Rotating, scaling, and panning within the canvas alters where the axis is placed. Any line you place on one side of the axis will be mirrored on the opposite side.

When drawing with symmetry, to stop your stroke at the line of symmetry, turn on Edit > Preferences > General > Stroke stops at the center line.

Line Quality is King

The following line tools are useful for even faster duplication of lines and shapes.

Line

The Line tool lets you make straight lines that you click and drag with whatever brush you have highlighted. Quick and easy, this will give you yet another option to expedite your work.

Rectangle

The rectangle tool works just like the line tool.

Select your brush, then drag and release the marquee.

Your perfect rectangle is marked down.

Easy.

Polyline

Polyline lays down straight lines similar to the line tool but instead uses anchor points to “set” every break point.

In other words, your line marquee adds with each click and anchors.

When you are satisfied with your line, double click to set it and render the line proper.

Oval

Ovals work exactly like the rectangle tool.  Select your brush, click and drag to set your oval design.

Release your pen to mark the canvas with your shape.
So simple and non-invasive to your creative process.

I love it.

Now You Have an Overview of the Tools

Now you have an understanding of how all the tools and User Interface in Sketchbook Pro have been designed from the ground up for the express purpose of helping to get your ideas down faster and easier. The program effectively steps out of the way and all that’s left is you and your creative process.

In the next and final update, I will take us through a drawing from beginning to end and highlight layer properties and management while doing so.

I hope these posts have been useful to you.  If I have overlooked anything in this or past postings, drop a comment below and I will update it.

Where to try the Software for yourself:

If you haven’t given the trial a spin I recommend doing so.
For PC: autodesk.com/trysketchbookpro

For Mac users running 10.6 OS, you can get it from the Mac App Store
there’s also a free “express” version available

I just found this out this week, but for individuals considering buying a Cintiq or Intuos 4 tablet hardware from Wacom (or have already bought one), Autodesk and Wacom have partnered to bring you a free express version of Sketchbook Pro when you purchase the hardware.
Please go here for details on this offer and click on “Software” to register your device and get your download.

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