General Question

noodlesndoodles's avatar

What are the best settings for drawing with my wacom tablet in illustrator?

Asked by noodlesndoodles (8points) March 28th, 2010

I’m a noob tablet user, and I can’t seem to get the settings right so that my drawing look slick but still hand drawn. The lines are always too thick and clumsy-looking with weird width variations… Any ideas?

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12 Answers

richardhenry's avatar

I’m not a tablet user, but it might sound like you want to turn off pressure sensitivity?

Fyrius's avatar

Tablet user here. @richardhenry is on to something, it sounds like pressure sensitivity is the problem. But I wouldn’t advise turning it off altogether, because it’s a neat feature you can use to your advantage.

I don’t know about Illustrator, but in the program I use (the Gimp) you can decide what variable is determined by your pressure sensitivity. Apparently at the moment that’s line thickness. Your drawings will become more sketch-like if you set it to opacity instead.
I guess it’s the difference between a brush and a pencil.

I don’t know how to do that in Illustrator, though. (Try Help? Google?)

Mariah's avatar

I’m a tablet user but not an Illustrator user; I use Photoshop. My advice, and I know that this isn’t what you want to hear, is that the problems you’re having will go away with time and practice. Seriously – I could not draw a straight line on my tablet when I first got it. For some people, it just takes a lot of getting used to.

It’s true that turning off or changing the pressure sensitivity would get rid of the width variations, but lines of variable (in a good way) width are something you’re eventually going to want to have, so rather than getting rid of width variation altogether, I think it’d be best to just keep practicing with it until you get control over it. Also, I don’t know if you have layers in Illustrator, but something that works for me is to have a rough sketch on one layer, and to go over it and refine the lines on another layer. Inking still doesn’t come easy to me after five(?) years using a tablet. I oftentimes have to go back and erase the edges of my lines where they are too thick to thin them down, or add more to lines that are too thin.

Do you have different brush sizes in Illustrator? In Photoshop, you could switch to a smaller brush to get thinner lines. Sorry I’m not familiar with the program you’re using.

Oh, and another thing. I don’t know if you have a setting called “jitter” in Illustrator, but in Photoshop, this is a term that basically means “randomness” and if it’s enabled with respect to your line thickness, it could be giving you a lot of unwanted results.

markyy's avatar

I use a Wacom Intuos 3 and like @Mariah I could not draw a straight line either. Turning off the pressure helped, but it sounds like you might have set the tilt too sensitive in the Wacom Tablet Properties.

Fyrius's avatar

I got used to basic sketching with my Wacom in a few hours in MS Paint. Just sayin’.

If you’re a complete newbie at this, then instead of trying to master pressure-dependent line thickness drawing right away, I’d rather advise you to go have fun with something simple first. Such as doodling with the pencil tool in MS Paint.
If you want to make anything professional you’ll have to learn the advanced stuff, of course, but why not take it one step at a time?

I remember my first Wacom doodles were some Azumanga Daioh and Equilibrium fan art.

markyy's avatar

@Fyrius After those quickly and well made Astrochuck avatars, I’m not surprised to learn you are a fellow tablet user :)

Fyrius's avatar

Why thank you. :) And indeed those would have been either more disastrous or a lot less quick, would I not have had my trusty tablet.

noodlesndoodles's avatar

Hey thanks so much guys!
I’ve been playing around with the pressure setting etc, but I think the issue is specifically related to Ilustrator…
To try and be a bit more specific, for example if I’m drawing an “S”, with the settings so that I have a 1pt stroke with slight width variation for a hand-drawn look, where the S bends at the curves i get a huge filled patch/much thicker stroke :( This is actually the problem, and it’s the same with other letters, it always occurs at that sort of curve area.
My tilt settings are on the default wacom tilt settings…
It seems to be something to do with the angle of the handles on the points making the curve, but when I adjust these so that the funny blob fill thing goes away, it changes the shape of the curve too much!
Hope this makes sense :P It’s very frustrating!

Fyrius's avatar

Is it really a matter of curvature? Are horizontal, vertical and diagonal straight lines all the same thickness? It sounds a bit like you’re using a calligraphy brush shape… But you’d probably know if that were it.

Could you upload us a picture of what your drawing looks like when it goes wrong?

noodlesndoodles's avatar

I am using a calligraphy brush – I read that this was the best brush to use for drawing in illustrator (as per this article: ). As I’ve said, I do want variation in the stroke, but my problem is that it seems distorted/too much on the curves.
In this pic > , top left is the original drawing with he red rings on the trouble areas. Top right is the same drawing after adjusting handles and adding points (as i mentioned previously). The bottom 2 are showing the points.
Is this normal?

Fyrius's avatar

It sure as heck doesn’t look like the sort of thing a drawing program creator would intend to be normal. :/

Does this sudden increased thickness appear in real time if you draw the curves very, very slowly?
If not, if it only happens when you draw very quickly, I think it might be a cursor mapping error. Like the program can’t keep up with the movement of your stylus, and then it extrapolates the path it thinks you drew from a few points it did record, but it misses a few point along the way and takes a shortcut.
Maybe. Or it could be something else altogether. I’m no expert in how drawing software works, so this is little more than a guess.
If this is right, it would be odd that it draws the line you intended and a wrongly extrapolated line, rather than only the wrong one. But if you look closely, the unwanted side of the overly thick line always starts a bit curvy and then goes straight towards a point where it joins the rest of the line again at almost a right angle. That looks very much like it’s taking the shortest way between two mapped points…

Does this happen for every brush you try?

noodlesndoodles's avatar

I drew it very slowly :P It’s pretty weird. I’ve just now changed the roundness of the brush from 100% to 10%... that seems to sort it out. Suppose I’ll just go with that from now on then…

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