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View Full Version : Which drawing tool in Illustrator? (newbie question)




PkennethV
Mar 2, 2008, 10:27 AM
I've just got a Wacom tablet for use with Photoshop but since I also have Illustrator I thought that I'd give it a try. I've watched some training videos on Lynda.com and think I've pretty much got the hang of each of the tools.

I'm about to start my first "real" illustration and am thinking that a contour line shoe drawing I did in art class might be a good one to start on (scan and trace then play around with color etc.). The question I have is which of the drawing tools should I use for tracing the actual shoe. I'm not sure if I should use the pencil tool or the paintbrush tool. I do want the variety of appearances the paintbrush tool can give though. I guess another question would be if there's a way to just get the basics lines down first then tweak them later.

thanks a bunch for all suggestions



creator2456
Mar 2, 2008, 11:04 AM
learn the pen...be the pen...live the pen

jerryrock
Mar 2, 2008, 11:44 AM
For tracing or defining an object, the pencil tool and brush tool will act the same with a Wacom tabet in Illustrator.

The pen tool would not be a good choice for tracing.

bocomo
Mar 2, 2008, 12:13 PM
also explore the live trace function

nfocus design
Mar 3, 2008, 11:45 AM
I use the pen tool for tracing all the time, but I don't use a tablet. Just the mouse.

Live trace usually does okay on line drawings, but not always the best choice in every situation. If you're new, I'd start practicing with the pen tool. Just my 2 cents.

klymr
Mar 3, 2008, 01:50 PM
Pen tool, but use it in outline mode (Cmd+Y). I personally think it's way easier to use the pen tool with the Wacom pen over a mouse. I find it easier to drag the handles out to where they need to be. That's my take on it.

JasonElise1983
Mar 3, 2008, 03:52 PM
seriously? The op asked for help using a wacom tablet in illustrator... And people answer him "live trace"!!!

On the subject... Use the pen tool. It's much more precise and you can add the same brush effects to it.

-je

Jim Campbell
Mar 3, 2008, 04:58 PM
Use the pen tool.

These words are wisdom ... the pen tool is the key to using Illustrator. It's hard work, but absolutely worthwhile.

Curiously, everyone I've ever met who is remotely competent in Illustrator seems to have an entirely different way of using the Pen tool (I have two entirely different approaches myself, dependent upon the job). It sounds like zen mumbo-jumbo, I'm sure, but it's still true ...

Cheers

Jim

JE-Illustration
Mar 3, 2008, 06:18 PM
I will say the live trace is greatly improved in CS2 from other lower versions. However I've seen other designers use the live trace... I personally can't let myself use it. As a perfectionist live trace really stinks. Unless you don't want the art to be precise and look bad.

I just bought a wacom tablet to, but haven't used it in illustrator. I'm a huge pen tool guy and use a mouse to do it... never tried with the pen yet.

Dabbled with it in photoshop and painter, but can't see how people get use to it lol.

snickelfritz
Mar 3, 2008, 06:26 PM
Line drawings are done with a regular pencil and paper, then scanned into Photoshop, outlined with the mouse and pen tool, then rendered/shaded using the tablet.

nfocus design
Mar 3, 2008, 06:42 PM
Why do people draw in Photoshop? If you're going to take the time to draw something, do it in Illustrator so you can have it in vector format.

klymr
Mar 3, 2008, 06:49 PM
Why do people draw in Photoshop? If you're going to take the time to draw something, do it in Illustrator so you can have it in vector format.

Because people believe Photoshop is the best design program out there. I'm sure none of you believe that though. :p

nfocus design
Mar 3, 2008, 06:53 PM
Because people believe Photoshop is the best design program out there. I'm sure none of you believe that though. :p

I love Photoshop for editing photos and a few other things, but for drawing, I prefer Illustrator. Like I said at least you'll have it in vector format if you use Illustrator. If you use Photoshop, you're stuck with the original image size or smaller.

klymr
Mar 3, 2008, 07:10 PM
I love Photoshop for editing photos and a few other things, but for drawing, I prefer Illustrator. Like I said at least you'll have it in vector format if you use Illustrator. If you use Photoshop, you're stuck with the original image size or smaller.

Oh yes, I completely agree. I love Photosho, but not for everything.

nfocus design
Mar 3, 2008, 07:22 PM
I think Adobe gave us a pretty good clue by the names they gave the software.
Illustrator = illustrations
Photoshop = photos

Not to say they can't be used for other things. To each his own.

snickelfritz
Mar 3, 2008, 07:27 PM
Show me yours and I'll show you mine.

sowillo14
Mar 3, 2008, 09:22 PM
learn the pen...be the pen...live the pen

You sir could not be more correct!! The pen is your friend....you just have to show it love:p

PkennethV
Mar 3, 2008, 09:30 PM
Hi everyone, so the pen tool it is! Here's my first piece (I'm pretty happy with it actually). I'll be working on some shading and maybe a shadow next.

http://img116.imageshack.us/img116/5223/shoe2color1hqwp3.th.jpg (http://img116.imageshack.us/my.php?image=shoe2color1hqwp3.jpg)

klymr
Mar 3, 2008, 10:59 PM
Hi everyone, so the pen tool it is! Here's my first piece (I'm pretty happy with it actually). I'll be working on some shading and maybe a shadow next.

That's pretty dang amazing for your first time using the pen tool and working with illustrator! My first attempt looked nothing like that. I tried to draw a pipe wrench and it turned out ok. Not nearly as much detail as you have there. 'Grats on a job well done!

phiberglass
Mar 3, 2008, 11:01 PM
Pen tool, learn it, love it. :D

creator2456
Mar 4, 2008, 03:38 AM
Hi everyone, so the pen tool it is! Here's my first piece (I'm pretty happy with it actually). I'll be working on some shading and maybe a shadow next.

That's pretty good for learning the pen. I wish I could find my first Illustrator exercises.

A suggestion to understand the handles and curves better. Draw a couple ellipses/circles with the ellipse tool/+shift then trace them with the pen tool. Remember that the fewer point you use, the smoother the result.

Here is what I have been working on for my graphic design class this semester. We chose the object the first day of class not knowing what we were going to do with it. The 1st thing we did was the analytical drawing (top left) followed by the graphic translation (bottom right). Next was the abstraction (bottom left) and finally the icon (top right). I am still working on the graphic translation to get all the curves working together and smoothing them out.

nfocus design
Mar 4, 2008, 08:19 AM
Well, here is my first pen tool drawing from back in 1995. Our project was to scan a photo and then bump up the contrast so it would be easier to trace. The picture is my nephew. I think it turned out looking kind of like Bobby Hill from King of the Hill. The other 4 drawings are from more recent days. I'm still not as good as I'd like to be, but I have improved. I don't get the chance to draw as much as I'd like.

bocomo
Mar 4, 2008, 04:05 PM
i mentioned live trace because the OP said he was going to trace a drawing.

just like the pen tool, it takes practice but the good thing is you have fully editable paths after you use it-you are in no way stuck with what it gives you!
(Live Trace Options is your friend-my students were grumbling until they had a grasp of the myriad option available, then most of them loved it)

great job on the first time with the pen tool! much better than my experience. when i started in the mid 90s, we had to type the alphabet then trace the letterforms with the pen tool-yuck!

that project with the padlock looks good too, creator

JasonElise1983
Mar 4, 2008, 04:50 PM
but live trace is not drawing and has nothing to do with someone wanting to learn how to use their wacom tablet with illustrator. yes, i've used live trace, and yes it's good...but the end result is not original art. it is a photo with what essentially is a filter applied to it. and i also cringe at the idea that someone is teaching their students to use this.

-je

klymr
Mar 4, 2008, 04:57 PM
and i also cringe at the idea that someone is teaching their students to use this.

-je

My teacher showed it to us, and then followed up by saying he'd know if we used it in any assignment. He'd then follow that up by applying a lower grade to the said project. I've only used live trace in a real world environment once, and that was at work. We had the store logo save as a .jpg, pretty large .jpg, but a .jpg nonetheless. I placed it in Ai and used live trace to convert it to an .eps file so we could have it stamped on jewelry boxes. It worked out beautifully for that. I'd never consider using it otherwise.

phiberglass
Mar 4, 2008, 05:56 PM
The flower and ladybug are pretty sweet.

JE-Illustration
Mar 4, 2008, 11:43 PM
Here are some things I've done in the past with the pen tool using the mouse.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v340/TitusAV1611/My%20Art%20Work/ShawnIllustratedFINAL.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v340/TitusAV1611/My%20Art%20Work/JasonsSilverCar.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v340/TitusAV1611/My%20Art%20Work/BrotherInLawNoPhoto.jpg

bocomo
Mar 5, 2008, 08:21 AM
but live trace is not drawing and has nothing to do with someone wanting to learn how to use their wacom tablet with illustrator. yes, i've used live trace, and yes it's good...but the end result is not original art. it is a photo with what essentially is a filter applied to it. and i also cringe at the idea that someone is teaching their students to use this.

-je

cringe all you want, it's just a tool, a means to an end. should the students learn less? it's no substitute for learning other tools, just one of the many...

and for it not being original art-give me a break! my students were art studio majors and could draw quite well. this enable them to "import" their original hand-drawn art into illustrator as vector objects that they could resize and otherwise manipulate to achieve the results they were after.

just an option, nothing more. they learned the pen tool, etc. as well

don't worry, we didn't use live trace because we couldn't draw (i cringe when people use photoshop filters alone and think they've created art-so i understand where you're coming from) ;)

JasonElise1983
Mar 5, 2008, 08:29 AM
don't worry, we didn't use live trace because we couldn't draw (i cringe when people use photoshop filters alone and think they've created art-so i understand where you're coming from) ;)

Thanks for clarifying the situation. That is my gut reaction to Live Trace because i've seen it used so many times to replace the good 'ole down and dirty way of creating art in illustrator. I mean, you can just drop a photo of your self in there and click a couple of buttons, and Voila! "artistic" self portrait. It is a good tool to know, but i just think it's also good to know it limitations. Sorry if i came across like a jerk...there are just a few things that take me to a bad place i can't get out of: Live Trace, Curlz MT, and Windows. :)

-je

bocomo
Mar 5, 2008, 08:38 AM
I mean, you can just drop a photo of your self in there and click a couple of buttons, and Voila! "artistic" self portrait. It is a good tool to know, but i just think it's also good to know it limitations. Sorry if i came across like a jerk...there are just a few things that take me to a bad place i can't get out of: Live Trace, Curlz MT, and Windows. :)

-je

no problem-i could see where you were coming from (live trace+photos=crap)
we only used it to import drawings into illustrator

LOL at Curlz MT, i'm with you on that one-don't even get me started about bad type choice...

:)

nfocus design
Mar 5, 2008, 07:34 PM
Almost all of this was drawn with the pen tool. I think the background is the only thing I didn't make with the pen tool.

tsd
Mar 5, 2008, 10:22 PM
Threads like these are why I join Graphic Design forums! I'm all about the pen tool. It does take quite a while to master - I'm coming up on 10 years, but it really is the best way to get precise, CLEAN lines.