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Better Know a Brush 01 - The Pencil

My name is Renée and I love to draw. I'm part of the SketchBook community team and I'm starting this blog series called: BETTER KNOW A BRUSH!

There's a billion different ways to customize a brush. Kyle covers it really well in this post. But what about the default tools?

The default tools are locked down in some ways, and you can only change basic attributes. Why would you want to use the airbrush? The felt pen?

BKAB will be quick simple tutorials on the default brushes in your tool palette. It's meant to help you understand each tool individually, and inspire you to think about how use them, and how to customize brushes. I'll be working in SketchBook Pro 6, but the concepts behind the tutorials will apply for other platforms as well.  

 First up: the pencil brush




In order to properly simulate a pencil, the opacity is baked into the brush in a special way: If you're using a pressure sensitve device, you can get a softer stroke by drawing lightly.


This means shading with only the pencil tool alone will be a little tricky. I'm kind of a shading nut- I want everything smooth and blended. The pencil tool isn't going to let me have that! Since my goal is to create a final image only using this brush, there's two methods I might consider: cross hatching or cell shading.



So how would I go about creating a finished piece with only the pencil tool? I knew wanted to draw an image that would take advantage of what the pencil is good at- nice lines! Cel shading is cool, but hatching really captures the essence of the brush better. I immediately thought of hair and grass skirts and put them together: a Ballerina in a grass skirt!



 I keep my first sketch loose, and work on refining the anatomy and pose before I get to the fine details. After I'm happy with the image overall, I start laying down color. I like to lay down big broad areas of different colors, and use a pencil brush between.01 to 1 with a very gentle hand to shade between them.

When I'm shading the hair and the skirt, the lines follow the movement and direction. This helps describe the texture of the materials. When I'm shading her skin, I'm using an arbitraily decided direction to shade. If I followed the contours of her body with my pencil lines, she might look like she was covered in fur. That could be cool, but it wasn't what I was going for.   


Ta-da! Now get out there, and pencil!

Reader Comments (12)

Great Idea for a series of posts, looking forward to more!

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin Rabe

Way cool! I love the pencils (especially the Hard Pencil) in SketchBook Pro and I think it is the best pencil of any program or app...EVER! Great tutorial!

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Cowan

I knew Keith, the pencil man, would beat me here. Nice work and looking forward to more from you. BTW I who never used an airbrush in "real life" do to expense and set up find the SketchBook Pro airbrush out of this world. And the fact we can make our own brushes is icing on the cake.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzi54241

Great tutorial ... need all the help I can get. Will be watching with interest. Which tool did you use for blocking, please?

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan Graham-McMillen

Hi Jan! Even for blocking out the color and doing the very first sketch I used a huuuuge pencil brush at 14.0.

March 19, 2013 | Registered Commenteradsk.renee

Nice article

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersam

HUUUUUUGE pencil ... got it. Thanks, Renee. Am working with the months old 2.5.1 version, so I trust you that it will translate.
So far so good. Looking forward to the next!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan Graham-McMillen

Thanks for the tip! Love the serie idea! Looking for next "issue" ;)

March 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLuis Peso

Very cool! I really like the hula girl! Also you can cheat a large pencil by selecting the pencil tool, creating a new brush and clicking current brush. That essentially gives you a pencil that scales smaller and larger than the default pencil tool in SBP.

March 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Milo

I am looking forward to more

April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNoobnomore

Well done. Looking forward to more!

April 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChasishea

Thanks for this series. I am just learning to draw digitally, and am getting interested in the Sketchbook. I hope to see more of this to get a better handle of the many options there are.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelmeet El Gato

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