Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

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Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby MadCat on Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:07 pm

This has been bugging me lately... I'm trying to get nice, smooth lines with my brush in Adobe Photoshop Elements (sort of the budget version of Photoshop, if I recall correctly). I'd been looking at a tutorial by Jeph Jacques of Questionable content (http://www.questionablecontent.net/tutorial.php)
and his ink lines are incredibly smooth, without the sort of soft fading around the edges that mine always have. http://www.questionablecontent.net/tutorial/3big.png is the close-up. Just solid lines, black all the way to the edges. None of the non-black pixels around the edges that make the line look kind of hazy. He says it's just a 15 round brush, but mine gives me those grey edge pixels, not a smooth line.

Does anyone know how to do this? I tried messing with the brush hardness and other settings, but it doesn't seem to fix it completely. Using the Pencil gives me pure black lines, but they're pixelated and jagged. So how do I achieve a smooth black line? :?:
I want my job description to be: "gets paid to draw sexy ladies." :D
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby Dave on Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:21 pm

Are you using a mouse or tablet?

A tablet helps a lot. The pens detect how hard you're pressing down, and it gives you clean lines every time unless you specifically set it up not to. There will be some amount of "not quite black" gray on the exterior of your lines, but that's what makes it look smooth and clean. A mouse will be uniform by default, which may not be what you want since the default line is "fuzzy" on the sides.

Here's some general tips that should help:

Draw large. I suggest drawing something twice the size of your intended final size. If something's gonna be 800 by 600 pixels, draw it 1600 by 1200 pixels. When you reduce your drawings, they'll look sharper and cleaner. Mistakes are less visable. Scott McCloud backs this up in his book "Making Comics". Just by looking at Questionable Content, if Jeph is using a 15 round brush, then I guarantee you he draws large and reduces the image before posting it. Incidentally, I draw Squishy 4x larger than what you see and use size 9 round brushes for most images. I use a 13 round for those THICK lines you see soemtimes, and reduce it to a 5 round brush for the thin detail lines.

For color drawings, use a high tolerance with the paint bucket. I use a 50 tolerance on my paint buckets (photoshop users should know what I mean) when laying down initial colors. This eliminates a lot of the "fuzzies" you see, which makes the lines seem not as clean. It also helps if you lay the colors on a layer underneath the line drawing. This cuts down on headaches due to mistakes in coloring as well as making the lines even cleaner.

I'd have to see what else you're doing to help you, but these two tips should be a good start.
Last edited by Dave on Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby MadCat on Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:42 am

Hey, neat! I wondered how/what you drew Squishy at! I would love to see a close-up of your lines sometime, if that would be okay. *bribes Dave with cookies*

I tend to draw 4x final size as well, to try and get it as smooth as I want. I'm using a Wacom tablet (pretty dinky one, not sure the actual measurements). I've got it set up to detect pressure and respond with varying line thickness, so I'll have to experiment with that more to see how firm I can get my lines. I'll have to check out that paint bucket tolerance thing, though; I hadn't heard about that.

My lines tend to look pretty uniform, I think, because I haven't learned much about line modulation yet. :( I usually go between 6 and 9 pixels for my lines, with that pressure modulation I mentioned. I could send you an in-progress image so you can see what I'm doing with my lines if you want. (I took a screencap zoomed in to where you could see the line fuzziness I'm talking about.)

(I also tried using pen and brush inking, on my strip #5, and I definitely think inking on the computer is a bit easier and neater-looking. The blacks are actually black.)

I definitely appreciate the help and advice, thank you so much!
I want my job description to be: "gets paid to draw sexy ladies." :D
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby David Yun on Sat Mar 01, 2008 3:18 am

Anyone else think Dave's fucking sexy when he actually knows what he's talking about for a change? ;)
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby MadCat on Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:54 am

Woo hoo! Slash alert! :twisted:

... okay, then brain went to weird place and dressed Dee like Bianca. O_o
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby james on Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:04 pm

I must say that I watched Dave draw the other day at his house and it is impressive. He has come a long way from drawing on napkins in high school. :shock:
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby trebuchet on Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:38 am

David Yun wrote:Anyone else think Dave's fucking sexy when he actually knows what he's talking about for a change? ;)


I say we jump into his pants next time we're over at his house.
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby Dave on Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:52 pm

trebuchet wrote:I say we jump into his pants next time we're over at his house.


The jeans or the sweats?
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby trebuchet on Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:42 am

You look mighty good in them there jeans, boi.
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Re: Smooth Ink Lines... HOW??

Postby Dave on Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:46 pm

Oh, these? Thanks. I got them at Target. On sale.
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