Is Sketchbook Pro for you? Part 3

Is Sketchbook Pro For You

Parts: 1 2 3 4 5

Let’s get back up to speed

In part one, I gave a brief introduction to my work in progress guide for deciding if Sketchbook Pro is for you. 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.

This time, I will highlight the major tools you will be using in the program to rapidly develop drawings, storyboards, illustrations, and sketches.  Familiarity with the software unleashes maximum creativity, as you’re not fumbling around trying to figure out how everything works.


Everything we are going to use that is a brush, pen, marker, or eraser, can be resized using the resize brush pad, seen here. You simply click and drag to resize the brush radius. Easy!

How many Tools are in that Toolbox?

Most of the following tools are going to be familiar to you, but the highlight in Sketchbook Pro, it could be argued, is the pencil tool.  Using a tablet computer or Cintiq really emulates the feeling of sketching on paper, faster and more effectively than more resource heavy programs.

So the pencil tool functions not only as a useful pencil for sketching, but combined with the color palette it becomes a colored pencil box with unlimited selection.  Prismacolors, eat your heart out!

Before I forget to address it, adjusting brush properties are pretty important if you want to have control over the density and varieties of your brushes. The fundamental properties of every tool are accessed from the top center of the brush palette, in the brush properties button.

Once a tool is selected in the brush palette (highlighted by blue) you can open the brush properties and the brush settings can be changed.  The optional settings vary from brush to brush.  We will cover custom brushes later.

Now Stand Still, Dorian!

The next tool is the airbrush.

the airbrush works a little different than in Photoshop, functioning more like a proper airbrush.  Using the eraser as your makeshift frisket (or the marquee) you can duplicate similar results as in traditional media.

In the brush properties, you will be able to adjust size and flow.

Next we have the marker, which shines here.

The best thing about the marker tool is that if you are familiar with working with markers, the effects are quite similar, although speedy.  Just what you need for rapid prototyping or storyboarding.

In the brush properties, you can adjust size and slant rotation.

The chisel tip is like a harder edged marker.

Not to be outdone by the marker, the chisel tip is a lot more poppy and fine edged. The more I use it the more I like it.

Brush properties that you can adjust include size and slant rotation.

The ballpoint pen is the least like it’s real world counterpart

Having used ballpoint pens in real life on bristol for years, by variation of pressure you can achieve a kind of feathering that doesn’t replicate here.  However, separating your expectations from the versatility of a true ballpoint pen, and coupled with the brush properties gives you the precision you need that chisel tip and marker do not, with adequate similar expression.

Brush Properties that are adjustable are size and ink opacity.

The paintbrush is deceptively useful

One of the biggest advantages Photoshop has is the flexibility of their paintbrush for digital artists.  When you first use Sketchbook Pro the paintbrush will seem unsatisfactory in comparison.  I promise that when you adjust the brush properties and save it as a custom brush, you will be quite pleased.

You can adjust size and paint opacity (also kind of replicating hardness) in the brush properties.

Finally, we have the felt tip pen

The flexibility of the felt tip pen in Sketchbook Pro is pretty substantial. The ability to use it as a go between with all the other media tools is understated.

You can adjust size and tip hardness (also serves as opacity) in the brush properties.

The rest comes later

We will look at the rest of the tools in the next update, including both erasers (there’s two?) the smear, blur, and sharpen tools, as well as the ruler, symmetry x and y, the ellipse tool and line property tools.

As always, if I have overlooked anything in this post, 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:

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

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13 Responses to Is Sketchbook Pro for you? Part 3

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  3. Sherm says:

    Super-helpful…thanks for breaking it down for us. In the past I have tried out some of those tools and simply stopped using them because I didn’t like the first results. Now I’ll go back in and tweak the settings some more and see what happens.

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  5. Great series! I love the fact that it is such a great no-nonsense drawing tool. I find that I spend more time thinking about drawing than the interface. The down-side: It likes to crash occasionally and obliterate files.

    • Carsten says:

      Heather, it has yet to crash on me, or obliterate files… What are you running it on? I’m working on a pretty sizable image for print right now that’s 600DPI and it handles it very well. Working on win7 w/ a motion comp. tablet…

  6. Rene says:

    I use the Mac OS X version and I love it. However, like Heather I had it crash on me a few times. I’m sure they’ll remove those bugs in time. Anyway, on the Mac, ForeverSave is a good way to autosave your files, so an occasional crash isn’t something you need to worry about.

  7. Pingback: Is Sketchbook Pro for you? Part 4 | Slumber Ground

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  9. Philip says:

    Carsten, which Sketchbook Pro tools do you find yourself using most often?

  10. August says:

    It’s hard to find well-informed people for this subject, however, you seem like you know
    what you’re talking about! Thanks

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