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.

Ready?

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: 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

      Tagged , , , | 12 Comments




Is Sketchbook Pro for you? Part 2

Parts: 1 2 3 4 5

This screen doesn’t look like Photoshop

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.

This time we will begin to uncover the way that Sketchbook Pro prioritizes canvas space and bends the user interface around that priority, including tool selection, color selections, and layer properties.

I have to say before going into all of this, that the tools and toolbars are stunningly self-explanatory and easily understood just by simple prodding. If you have ever used any digital drawing program then you should understand essentially what everything is.

A quick note about the interface before I go any further:
Pressing (or clicking and holding) most everything brings up context sensitive menus radiating from the center of what you are pressing. This touching and dragging feature is prevalent program-wide for tools, layers, and options on the main screen and is a core feature of the interface. 

Breaking down the tools and their icons

With all of that said, let’s see what the tools are:
Here is the toolbar. We will quickly identify what is here and touch on what they do later.

Broken up by sections we have: Undo and Redo, Select, Lasso Select, Crop, Zoom/Rotate/Move Canvas, and Move/Rotate/Scale Layer.

Ruler, Elipse, Symmetry X, and Symmetry Y

Freeline, Straightline, Rectangle, Anchorline, and Oval.

The last section brings up properties bars, being:
layers, brushes, and colors, respectively.

In the bottom left corner we have what Autodesk calls “The Lagoon”.
We have some great context sensitive access here.

The ring of pearls in the top left of the bow are the interface tools.

This lets you set how many elements of the user interface you want on the screen.
It lets you quickly and easily turn things on and off in order to focus on making your entire screen your canvas.

Moving clockwise we have the Tools/Views button.

You will be using the magnifying glass a lot, so it’s good that it is mapped to the Lagoon in addition to the toolbar.

The brushes button, then the color palette button, which lets you quickly use 7 colors of your choice as well as bringing up the color properties panel.

The edit button, which brings up context sensitive layer and document-wide moving and canvas rotating properties.

And the file button, lets you save and move multiple open images at once.

The ability to customize how much or how little screen space the user interface controls really frees you up to spend your time illustrating, not managing properties bars endlessly.

Now that we have an essential overview of our tools, we can make them work for us!

In part 3 tomorrow, Dorian is going to show us how all the tools work as best he can :)

      Tagged , , , | 11 Comments




Is Sketchbook Pro for you?

Parts: 1 2 3 4 5

Do I really need another drawing program?

If you are reading this, you are either pondering purchasing Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, have already bought it, or you are on the 15-day free trial. Greetings, my artisan brother or sister!

This isn’t a how-to guide or a review.

This is a raw, naked in a school bus dream theater, give me the overall substance of the thing, not necessarily a step-by-step overlook. This is to help quickly aid you in your decision to purchase this software or not, and to get you familiar with the interface enough to get up to speed in creating content in Sketchbook Pro.

Understanding that will help you follow along and not get frustrated looking for the breakdown of tools or a step by step.

Let’s get some software

First of all, 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

This guide will be written using a motion computing tablet PC and the Windows version.

Here also, are Autodesk’s Frequently Asked Questions that may address any concerns I don’t intend to cover here (for example, the iPad or mobile versions, filetypes, etc).
images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/sketchbookpro_2011_faq_us.pdf

I downloaded the non-consecutive 15 day trial from Autodesk’s website about two months ago and promptly purchased the software upon finishing my trial period.

The free form trial means you can use it for 15 actual unlocked days, one day at a time, even if it takes you a year to use up those days. Which is very cool of them to do.It took me a little under two months to fit those trial days into my schedule.Now, I use Sketchbook Pro every day. I’m still uncovering features of the program, so if I leave anything out,  drop me a note and I’ll add it into the next Sketchbook Pro post.I want to take a minute and shine some light on this though, how many times have you downloaded a timed software trial and simply run out of free time to experiment with it because your days ran out? Not so here.
There’s no “time trial” stress in seeing how the product fits into your current workflow. You can naturally fold it into whatever life throws at you as your trial days are unlocked only when you open it and use it.That’s enough about the demo…Let’s talk about what Sketchbook Pro is and is not.

Sketchbook Pro is not a replacement for Photoshop.

Photoshop was created for image editing. Somewhere along the way it became the standard for digital artists. I still use Photoshop for some things, but my primary drawing program is now Sketchbook Pro.
Every design decision in Photoshop was made to better edit photos and do layout prototyping. Every design decision in Sketchbook Pro was made for the express purpose of illustrating. The difference when you are drawing is immediately noticeable.In other words, there’s no wasted processing power or features you may never use.
The software seeks to help funnel the rapid development of your sketches, storyboards, concepts, or rough ideas and get them marked down quickly, without having the user interface get in the way.It flourishes on tablet computers or a Wacom Cintiq, due to the interface being completely designed around their draw-on-the-screen functionality.

For more about Wacom’s Cintiq, visit the droolworthy page:
wacom.com/cintiq/

Even though the workspace and tools seem initially built only for simplicity and speed, they are also very robust, powerful, and flexible.

in part 2, I delve into the toolsets, the workspace, and what to make of all you see when you first get started.

*submitted by Eric Merced 2/14/2011. Thanks Eric!

      Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments