Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Wish There Was a Good Drawing and Inking Program

I can't seem to find a single drawing program that has all the fundamental tools you need to do good clean finished drawings in it.

I have to use at least 2 programs to get a clean drawing done and then I have to spend a ton of time fixing up details. - There oughta be quick and easy clean up tools in the drawing programs.

The way I'm doing it now is I import my rough drawing into illustrator and then ink the lines

But the brush tool in illustrator, although smooth is full of irritating quirks.

I ink with a thick and thin pressure sensitive brush but the ends of the line are always pointy. That means I have to overshoot every line that crosses or touches another so that where they cross they are sort the same thickness - but even that doesn't quite work.

Then I am stuck with all these extra overshot lines that cross each other and I need a simple way to cut them off. The eraser doesn't work and is too time-consuming.

In Harmony, they have a nifty tool that you can just click the overshoot and delete it. Too bad Toonboom doesn't make a drawing program.

So after I have inked a drawing in Illustrator, I export it to Photoshop - while keeping the layers (and turning "anti-aliasing" off)

Then I have to manually go in and clean up all the overshot lines. The eraser tool is too clumsy for that and takes too long. I have to zoom way in close and use the pencil tool at 1 pixel size and draw an extra line to cut off the corners. Then I use the wand and select the overshoot and delete it.

Too many steps!!

You'd think someone out there would make a program that was truly artist friendly and that had all the essential drawing and cleanup tools in one simple toolbox.

Each program seems to have some good ideas for tools, but they only half figured them out.

But they all have millions of random non-essential menus, tools and gimmicks that I can't imagine more than 1% of the artist population would have any interest in.


Archie said...

Is adobe Illustrator no good John?

auds said...

It's tough to get (I had to import my copy from Japan and use a fan translation) but Illuststudio might be worth checking out.

David de Rooij said...

I like to do inking in ToomBoom (Animate Pro 2).

If you want to erase those extra line bits in Adobe Illutsrator you need to select the line and go to objects > expand appearance. Now you can erase it! The downside is that you can't edit the selected paths anymore. But I only use expand appearance when I know the lines are staying the way they are.

Martin M said...

Hello Mr. K,

A couple possibilities - but it depends on what you want to use them for:

Manga Studio EX - has a more "Traditional" style inking process than Illustrator. It has both Vector and Raster drawing modes. You can alter the brushes/pencils/pens so you get the pointy or non-pointy pen ends - and it has fantastic response to pen pressure (at least in my opinion).

Manga Studio also has a more traditional drawing inking approach since it is specifically built for comics - you pencil on a lower layer (and it acts like pencils), add a new layer and you ink...and it acts like ink.

It also has fantastic perspective tools.

Another possibility is Corel Painter - which emulates traditional art - and for the most part very well. However the eraser is a little problematic since it tends show the "digital" aspect of the erasing by leaving a slightly faded edge - or if you use the hard eraser, it cuts too sharp. This might be fixable by playing with the palettes.

Corel Painter however is not vector friendly. (Or at least I haven't found it to be - but then again, that is not the intended output.)

With Illustrator, the eraser does work IF you go to Object> Expand appearance or paint with the blob brush. But then if you want to adjust a line, it becomes a nightmare.

In Illustrator, if the line thickness is an issue, you may have to double click on the brush you're working with, and change the settings on the Diameter to Pressure, and adjust the Variation to your preferred pt weight. The larger your brush, the larger the variation of thickness.

Hope this helps. I think Manga Studio Ex might be closer to what you are looking for.

Chris_Garrison said...

Have you tried inking in Manga Studio? I love it. You make your own brushes to your favorite preferences.

You know how Flash and Illustrator will correct your lines .. To me, it's always too much or too little, no matter where I set it. But in Manga Studio, you find your favorite setting, and it just works perfectly. Just WORKS! There are times when I turn the correction down for a short line or up for a long line, or I turn the correction off, but adjusting it only takes a sec, so it's great.

You can turn off the tapering of the lines, relying only on your own pressure, or you can set the tapering to whatever amount you want. Awesome!

When I want to erase the ends of lines, I just turn the pen around and erase them, no problem. But this does require that I ink far to near, so I can erase the end of a line without encroaching on another line that should come in front .. because I usually ink mainly all on one level.

It also has this great thickening and thinning tool, in case you finish the drawing and decide you wish you'd made certain lines thicker or whatever. It's not perfect, but it's good enough to use on occasion.

Check out my Manga Studio inks on these 2 comics:

Still, having discovered how much I love to ink in Manga Studio as compared to Flash or Illustrator, I've noticed that being tied to the computer oppresses me enough that, I now realize that I much prefer inking on paper, on my light table. As long as that "perfect" look isn't required, I have way more fun drawing a comic like this one, than those above:

And I think it's also more fun to look at, for being less perfect.

Jeff LaMarche said...


As a software developer (and fan of yours), I can tell you part of the problem is that few of the people writing software of this type actually use the software they write very often, and even fewer use it in the way that you use it.

Add to that that most companies don't want to go toe-to-toe with the 800lb gorilla that is Adobe, and of the companies that do, most don't want to go after only a part of the "artist market".

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that professional cartoonists and animators are a pretty small percentage of the market for something like Photoshop or Illustrator, so bigger companies aren't going to cater to you because they know you'll use whatever tools you give them.

I think a smaller company could make a profit (but probably not a killing) selling a product designed specifically to meet needs of artists like you, especially now in the world of app stores and online distribution.

I own a small software development company (about ten developers focused mostly on writing Mac, iPhone, and iPad) so I know a little bit about how this stuff works. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them for you.


Martin M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shotgun_Mario said...

I've had the same issue with illustrator too, and am still searching for something better.

What someone needs to do is write a script for illustrator so you can open a graph-editor up and adjust the thickness of the selected line in the editor after it's drawn... that way you can make spots thicker/thinner wherever in the line (or really smooth transitions between thick and thin), and get really nice rounded end points as well with minimal hassle!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Can’t you expand (Object > Expand) the completed brush strokes. Then divide (Window > Pathfinder > Divide) the two overlapping lines and delete the excess? That would save you loading up Photoshop to clean up the overshot lines.

Joshua Kahan said...

Tell me about it!

Adobe could quite easily combine the best elements from flash, illustrator and photoshop into one hell of an animation program. That would be my dream.

Why not take your drawings straight into photoshop?

At the moment I do all my rough work in flash and once i'm 100% happy with the timings I clean up/make everything shiny in photoshop.

Mosobot64 said...

Paint Tool Sai might work for you.

It's a Japanese drawing program that allows you to make clean, yet nuanced lines, and of course it also supplies basic fill options.

You still may need to switch to Photoshop to access advanced textures and fillings and things, but for just basic drawing, Sai works very well and has options.

Ian McPherson said...

Have you tried using the scissors tool in illustrator?

JR Gauthier said...

Manga studio is the BEST program for inking. Its the only program that feels right when it comes to inking in my opinion. You should give it a try. Dont judge it by its kind of gimmicky/cheap name, alot of comic book artist use it. I could not recommend it more!



chages said...

Cintiq in photoshop is the way to ink digitally. It has a bit of a learning curve but once you nail it you can't go back.

Taber said...

Hmm brush strokes in Illustrator shouldn't always be pointy on the ends unless your brush shape is pointy or you always taper off pressure at the ends of your lines...

When I try the brush tool in Illustrator, my lines can end fairly bluntly.

Adam Tavares said...

Have you tried using Illustrator's "blob brush" with just a field color and no stroke color instead of the normal "brush?" I've used that for inking lines and coloring before.

I use a pressure sensitive tablet and with the right blob diameter range it will work much more like an actual ink brush than the "brush" tool.

Pete Emslie said...

John, thank you for voicing my sentiments exactly! In the 15 years I've had a computer, I have NEVER been able to successfully draw a simple smooth line with Photoshop. I use an Intuos pen and tablet, and the only way one can get a reasonably smooth line with it is to view the file at 200% or larger, thereby only being able to see a small portion of your art at a time - making it impossible to draw a line of any significant length.

And don't get me started on Illustrator, a program I consider to be absolute crap in regard to actual illustration. All it does is enable you to make stark, sterile graphic shapes, and only then if you can figure out the damn pen tool, a skill that has eluded me, I'm afraid. Friends have tried to teach me how to use the bezier curves with the frigging handles, but I have never been able to understand the process despite numerous attempts. Besides, it's too much damn trouble to produce something like that when I can so easily accomplish what I desire with my tried and true method - using a REAL brush, with REAL ink, on REAL illustration board!

Good luck with your attempt to get any software techies to even begin to comprehend your basic art requirements - they're a rather dim bunch in my opinion.

andrea said...

I was looking into this myself,
This may help speed up the process a little:

Peggy said...

Hmm. I mostly avoid the "inked" look, in part because AI just really doesn't do it well and I love AI a lot. That said, try AI's Blob Brush (shift-B). It works pretty much exactly like the one in Flash, except for not being a blobby pile of suck. You can just whip the Wacom stylus around and use the eraser to clean up the ends of lines.

The problem with AI's blob brush is that the only way to change its settings is to double-click on the tool, which is pretty annoying.

Also a friend of mine who used to be a brush-and-ink cartoonist for most of her career switched to Manga Studio a couple years ago and loves it, I've never heard her bitching about its brush tool.

Sex Mahoney said...

The programs recommended in the comment section are all interesting, and there are some incredibly talented artists demonstrating their ability with them on youtube. Truly, this is the greatest time to be alive.

Still, the technological nuances of any medium leave clear marks, which, to an attentive critic, admirer, or fellow artist reflect both the time and manner in which the work was created. Depending on what you like better, or hate least, embrace the distinctive markings of the medium, be they overshot lines or pointy ends.

ChristopherC said...

I love Manga Studio too, I only have the Debut. When I deserve it (draw enough) I will get the full version EX.

El Arte de Mr. Swartz said...

Corel painter maybe...

Ryan Storm said...

I'm honestly having the same problem.
The best program I have leaves a white outline around brush strokes which can't be filled with paint. They can only be painted over and unless done perfectly, ruins the lines.

Gregory Jones Jr. said...

I found Paint Tool SAI to work pretty well with line work.

kurtwil said...

JK, what about Toon Boom's Storyboard Pro?
It apparently offers a wider array of drawing styles than Toon Boom's cel animation programs, including a brush possibly more appropriate for your drawing style. And its results can be exported to Toon Boom's other animation programs.

Danielle Soloud said...

Manga Studio is hands down the best inking program. You can find the basic version for like $30.00, well worth it!

Ryan Cole said...

I'm with everyone who mentioned Paint Tool SAI. I switched to it from Photoshop last year and never looked back. It's not bogged down with a lot of unnecessary filters and image editing programs, it's all drawing based, so the program runs great. Plus you can save it as a photoshop file with the layers intact if you need to anything more complex.

JohnK said...

Can you fill colors with a paint bucket

- without getting the anti-aliased ragged halo between the lines and fills?

JohnK said...

I use macs by the way.

Bwanasonic said...

For the ragged halo thing, if you can avoid the Photoshop step, and stay in Illustrator, the Live Paint function might do what you want.

kurtwil said...

JK, from photoshop's very beginning, artists I worked with and myself kept yelling for a paint bucket that could do more intelligent fills, including "under" the drawn lines. Big studios asked for that too. For whatever reason, Adobe does not improve it.

It could be because in the early days many animation studios demanded "proprietary" features from software vendors. A lot of those vendors either got burned, or realized the "nicheness" of the requests and simply ignored them.

Keep talking to Toon Boom, JK. They want to please artists like you!

Lavalle Lee said...

We should all go back to paper pencil then cels. Everything done on computers, usually looks like it was done on a computer.

SikArtist said...

That sounds complicated. Forgive me but, I don't understand why you just don't use photoshop. Illustrator seems overrated to me and if you need vectors there are ways to vectorize things done in PS. I almost never use the eraser tool. Instead I use layer masks. This way I don't have to commit to any changes until I'm done.

James Nethery said...

Hey John,

Have you tried TVPaint? The drawing tools are absolutely incredible (The animation tools are great too!). It may be what you're looking for.


Pete Emslie said...

John, there's a method I use in my illustrations where I'm filling in flat colours like cel paint that I can describe to you fairly easily if you're using Photoshop. Assuming your linework is all on a transparent layer, you can just go to "Select", then choose "Modify", then "Contract". If you contract your line width by 1 or 2 pixels then paste it onto a new layer underneath your Line layer, then when you fill in areas with the paintbucket, the colour will neatly tuck behind your outline on top. I hope that may help solve your dilemma!

JohnK said...

The way I fill colors in Photoshop is to keep the lines non-anti-aliased

and then just use the paintbucket

the problem is making the lines in the first place. In Photoshop, the only way to draw smooth lines is to use the brush - which is anti-aliased - and then you can't fill the colors without going through mutiple tedious steps

like Pete's suggestion.

But the brushes in Photoshop are not very good anyway-not for crisp smooth lines, anyway

Ash Collins said...


Moel said...

John, maybe give ArtRage a try. It has Inking Tools, natural Pencil Tools, Layers and lots of other nice stuff. You can rotate the paper and even set the grain and style of the sheet:

Chris_Garrison said...

The way I fill colors in Photoshop is, I duplicate the line layer, then set that top layer on Darken. Then use the paintbucket on the lower layer, set at a high tolerance. If it eats into the line, it doesn't matter, because the line is preserved on that line layer. That doesn't really work for colored lines, though. I have to put those on another layer, so they can be set to Normal instead of Darken.

>> In Photoshop, the only way to draw smooth lines is to use the brush -

I hate trying to make smooth lines in PhotoShop, but it is apparently possible. I know the guy who does the Mon-Sat Blondie, and he inks it in PhotoShop! I think it's a matter of working at a high resolution and lots of practice.

But again, as I and many others here have said, Manga Studio is da bomb. When I fill shapes with color in Manga Studio, it doesn't seem to effect the line at all. And if the shapes aren't closed, you can adjust a setting to where the paintbucket won't go outside the shape unless the gap is over a certain size.

I still color stuff in PhotoShop, though, just because that's what I'm used to. I think maybe Manga Studio isn't great for choosing colors and such, though I haven't tried it much in that regard.

Mak said...

If you're having trouble with smoothness in Photoshop, have you tried working on a big scale, and then scaling it down when you save? That'll smooth your lines up, depending on how big you start out and how small you go.

You can also draw your linework on one layer, then make a new layer underneath for colors. Just trace your linework in the areas you want to floodfill with the lasso tool, then fill in the selection on the color layer.

I tend to use MyPaint, since Linux has limited options when it comes to paint programs, but there's a Mac version as well if you're curious, and it's all free.

It's got some limitations; there's no floodfill (I just make a new layer underneath my inks and then fill it in with a fat brush), you can't import layers or select/move around; everything's drawn by hand just like it was on paper. And there's no vectors. Plus it works best with hotkeys, which you'll probably have to memorize, but the easiest ones you'll pick up quick just because you use them so much (there are menus, though, so it's not like you HAVE to use hotkeys, but it's much handier).

But it's got some really nice brushes that are easily adjustable and you can make more, you can rotate the paper virtually without having to rerender it all, and... well, it's free!

Mak said...

Though if you're really looking for vector inks instead of bitmap, have you tried Inkscape?

Martin M said...

Re: "Can you fill colors with a paint bucket

- without getting the anti-aliased ragged halo between the lines and fills?"

With Manga Studio EX - YES this is possible. The colors butt right up to each other when using the bucket to make fills.

Placing a color underneath does not create any strange effects or other haloing either (

Now do note: The lines will look a little jagged when you zoom in. However at normal sizes it will look crisp and sharp - and when it prints it will be perfect. This because the lines are generally RASTER not VECTOR, unless you use the Vector brush.

Your other issue with "halos" in Photoshop could be a "trapping" issue - this is remedied by making a copy of your ink layer either in Alpha channels, or on a layer below and creating a grey tone ink line that is just slightly smaller than the ink layer - The steps to this are documented very well in the DC Guide To Coloring and Lettering Comics by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein.

Haloing is also a peculiar issue in Illustrator.

From the quick tests I conducted in Manga Studio it seems like the program you are looking for.

You mentioned something to the effect of why there isn't a program that just has the basics...well MSEX does - Pencil, Pen, Brush, Bucket an Eraser are it. And a canvas to get started on.

Essentially it lets you get started right away, and if you want to find out more then you can go digging - but essentially all you need to make a comic or cartoon image is the Pencil, Pen, Bucket and page and you're off. (Just turn off the stroke in, stroke out and the brush correction in the brush palette and you're off).

Doug Tennapel swears by it - and has an hour long video showing how he makes illustrations in MS EX. He also claims to use only the most basic of the tools.

I know I'm sounding like a shill for the program here (I'm not), but from what you describe, and all the programs that I've played with, this is probably the closest to what you are looking for - and also the best bang for your buck.

Pete Emslie said...

Sorry, but ArtRage is highly overrated. I sprung for ArtRage Deluxe 2, but I've never been able to produce anything decent with it. No, the smooth brush tool does not result in a perfectly controlled ink line. Those of you who believe that have never had the experience of doing real inking with a trusty Winsor & Newton fine red sable brush. REAL media remains so far superior to digital tools in being able to achieve that most basic requirement of an artist - namely, a simple, smooth, COMPLETELY controlled line.

Bodicus said...

How come you don't hire inkers and ink over animation cels?

Ryan Storm said...

Unfortunately no, the outline can only be filled one pixel at a time.
The program is called Sketchbook Express if you want to use it, its free, and for MAC

Adam Gunn said...

I use to have a solution for the overshoots in flash. I'd just set the brush to paint behind and switch colours for every line - then I'd select the overshoot and delete it. This made for some very slick inking.

I don't know if the same thing is possible in ToonBoom.

Ryan Cole said...

"Can you fill colors with a paint bucket

- without getting the anti-aliased ragged halo between the lines and fills?"

Actually that's one of my favorite things about SAI. You can click and fill in a separate layer from the linework, and if you have the paint bucket set to 'all image' instead of 'working layer', it will fill based on where the line work is. But it's on a separate layer, so even if it does bleed into the linework (it never does), you can set the layer behind the line work and voila!

Ryan Cole said...

Ohh...sorry John, I should have double-checked, but it doesn't seem to be available for the Mac.

SoleilSmile said...

Someone may have mentioned this before, but 50 comments is a lot to swim though:
Couldn't you just use the scissors tool to make a blunt line? That's what I do. Just hit "c", the scissors appear and all is happy. The "b" key returns you to your brush,"a" for the direct selection tool to tweak your line and "v" for the general selection tool. Is that too many steps? You're supposed to be able to smooth the "pulps" in the clean up line as well, but I think that only works with the pencil tool clean up line.
I've gotten so adept at inking (for my standards) thanks to your Sody test, I never thought that there may be an easier way to go about vector inking until now.

Until something John K. terrific is invented, try the scissors tool. Get good at those hot keys and go to town. You're the one who inspired my addiction to Illustrator, John. I'd hate to see you abandon it.

Much love and gratitude,

Erik B said...

it's sometimes like the guys who make these programs are not artist them selfs, or work close with artist. Altough i cant imagine how to make software my self.

i too, am always figuring out how and when to use drawing tools for different purposes... but i hope they can make a good vector based program in wich you can draw very secure and has a lot of variety.

Olivier Vuillemenot said...

John, do you work with a Cintiq or a regular pen tablet ? Because I think it's more about the pen tablet and not the software. When I draw with my pen tablet, it has absolutely NOTHING in common with drawing on paper, making very hard to draw correct lines.
I don't own a Cintiq but it must be the solution, I guess.

kurtwil said...

When we painted cels in Photoshop at Unlimited Energee, we used a QuickKey macro on each line drawing, which we called layer A:

1. remove bluelines from A (tricky),
2. generate separate layer B from A (we kept A for future use),
3. use LEVELS to thin B's line and smash it to black/white
4. Use paint bucket on layer B for fills,
5. Merge line layer A with fill layer B (usually used darken mode).

That was for good shows (like Disney or Ren and Stimpy work we tested for - we got Disney).

The __cheap__ shows had a much simpler process:
1. Scale line drawing up to 200%,
2. Use LEVELS to smash line to black/white,
3. Fill using the bucket,
4. Scale filled drawing back to 100% using the Binomial or Cubic algorithm (whichever looked best).

These days Photoshop's own macro engine can do most if not all of that stuff.

JohnK said...

"using the Binomial or Cubic algorithm (whichever looked best)"

There you go. What language is that for artists?

"Use LEVELS to smash line to black/white,"


"generate separate layer B from A '

Every solution seems to be even more complicated and abstract than what I'm already doing.

You'd think you could just fill lines with the paint bucket. Why do they even invent things like paint buckets if they don't work in one shot?

Mister 1-2-3-4 said...

What do you think about using the pencil tool rather than the brush tool in Photoshop? Pencil lines are drawn without aliasing, so you can do paint bucket fills without getting halos. Of course, the lines are more jagged, but if you work at a high resolution and shrink it down for the final output that shouldn't be a problem.

Nick said...

You can also use the paintbucket in Illustrator if you do the "object" -> "expand appearance" bit and select all the lines.
But as several people have pointed out, once you do that it becomes a real pain to make any changes to the lines, so I'd reccomend making a backup copy of all the lines on a separate layer.

Adam Gunn said...

Using the setting "paint behind" in Flash really worked well - you just had to switch colours quickly for a different line and you could just click on and delete the overshoot of a line that crossed another line.

Do other programs have a "paint behind" option for the brush?

peter wassink said...

TVPaint has a real fast response for drawing.
A great many tool settings and it allows you to color using a paintbucket on a seperate layer. You can choose to expand the color under the lines.

And one of the big advantages over photoshop is that it has a timeline.

Pete Emslie said...

The Photoshop pencil tool is wretched! It produces a bitmap line, so even when working at a huge resolution it's still going to look jagged when reduced, made up of square-edged pixels. The problem I keep seeing on this thread is that too many of you offering solutions have been brought up in the digital age and don't seem to get what John and other longtime cartoonists require for their art: Namely, a simple, smooth, fully controlled thick to thin line. So easy when using a real brush and ink on illustration board, yet a frustratingly elusive (perhaps impossible) goal when using digital media.

SoleilSmile said...

Kurtwil, are you speaking of using the channel editor to extract a clean up line? If so, here's a non-physics explanation for John.

1.Scan in your drawing. Try to erase as much of the blue construction lines as possible.
2.Open the file up and copy the original image layer and hide the first image layer ( this is so you'l have a spare in case you make a mistake.
3.Make a new blank layer. This will be the layer you will deposit your channel extraction into.
4.Press "i" for inverse and you will get a reverse image.
5.Then go to LEVELS and slam the gamma to bring out as sharp a line on the positive (whet) parts the image as you can. In your case that would be the clean up line.
6.Next, go to the CHANNEL EDITOR click the dotted circle icon that is located at the bottom of the channel box. After doing so, you should see the marching ants selection around your clean up line.
7.Click out of inverse moss (hit "i" again)
8.Choose the PAINT BUCKET and the color that you would like to use
9.Then click on the blank layer and deposit the extraction into.

You then will have you beautiful clean up line which should reflect your original hand inked pigment line from your scan. Note: the cleaner the image and the thinker the lines of your original image will results in the best raster digital image.

I hope this helps.


a million pictures said...

have you checked out Anime Studio Pro ? Aside from the misleading name, it's the best vector drawing program I've been able to find so far

Cotton Gin said...

Have you tried autocad?

David Nethery said...

"Can you fill colors with a paint bucket without getting the anti-aliased ragged halo between the lines and fills?"

With TVPaint Animation , YES this is possible. Use the paint bucket fill tool in "behind" mode to paint behind the lines .


kurtwil said...

""Use LEVELS to smash line to black/white,"


Sorry, Maybe some one else can explain these Photoshop features in less technical terms?

Sad truth is there's some techno-jargon (left-brain) involved with any drawing (right brain)computer program.

2nd sad truth is digital tools often get more complicated and versatile without really addressing basic artist needs.

At Unlimited Energee, animators on one side of building, and digital "artists" on the other routinely held classes for "cross overs" to understand each others jargon. Was huge help.

Mister 1-2-3-4 said...

@Pete Emslie: 1) I'm 40 years old. 2) John says he is importing his Illustrator files into Photoshop with anti-aliasing turned off, which means that all the edges are bitmapped, exactly like the edges produced by the pencil tool. 3) I grant that, even when using the pencil tool to create art at 600dpi or 1200dpi, the edges do still look a little crunchy on the screen. However, when the art is reduced to the target resolution, Photoshop automatically blurs ('aliases') the edges and the jaggedness becomes indistinguishable.

Raff said...

Try Digicel Flipbook.Made specifically for old-school animators. It's a nice raster system but the fills fill properly and quickly and they don't get stuck in any anti-aliasing crud like other programs.

Oscar Baechler said...

Late to the party, but I implore you to try Pixelbender Oil Paint on raw sketches.

Pixelbender is a new filter coder thingy in Photoshop, which includes a bunch of presets. Most of them suck, but the one thing that's awesome is Oil Paint. The PB Oil Paint filter on a photo or something works well enough, but on sketchbook scans it turns out great for a single button click.

Like with anything, a computer button does not an artist make, and you'll have to do some cleanup work afterward. However, it gets such awesome results that I bet you it's the next Lens Flare.

Here's an example of it I worked on.

Ryan G. said...

Heya John. I didnt read all the comments so forgive me if someone else beat me to it..but after you draw a line in Illustrator, just hit the letter "C" and that will bring up your scissors tool.

Click on your line at the base of the overshoot and delete.

Laylassong said...

the only time i have ever seen the paint bucket tool work as it should was paint shop for windows 98. but you had to make the drawing in paint shop for that tool to work.

Matthew Douglas said...

I have the same frustration with Illustrator. I applaud you for keeping the integrity of your sketches. That's been a problem for me since the beginning of my transition to digital.

Tyson Cocks said...

I agree with Martin M (and others on here), I use Manga Studios to do clean ups for my drawings as well. I haven't used it much for cleaning up animation drawings but I imagine it would do a great job and feel more natural.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has tried everything under the sun, you will not find, repeat, will not find a good inking program that doesn't take 10 times longer than doing it for real by hand.

Scan your inks use a brush or pen, and then color digitally. Its the best way. Or at least the quickest.

To do inks well digitally takes vector drawing or a thousand undo's with a custom brush.

And vector is annoying and takes forever. (The curve tool)

Anonymous said...

Also, sorry for the double post, you could consider 101 dalmations style, and just use a pencil to ink, lots of control then all you have to do is master the drawings in photoshop (really simple, you just auto-color in most cases, or adjust the blacks and whites until it is clean.)
Try it out.

MrGoodson2 said...

The link takes you to a blog I created when I saw your post on this topic.
I really dig the technique I show off with this blog.
Make comments on that blog if you want anything explained.
This may be something a lot of people already know how to do. But it may stimulate some thinking about a techy realm of photoshop
the artist might not ordinarily explore.
Hope someone finds it useful.
Like you John. It would be fun to give back a little for all your great sharing.

Anonymous said...

Kind of makes you want to go back to just doing it by hand doesn’t it? It might even be quicker. I spend a lot of time in Illustrator too and agree that some brushes just don’t behave naturally. It is great for tight areas and then I have to go back and forth between Photoshop, ToonBoom, and sometimes Flash. Have you ever tried Painter? They have perhaps the most extensive collection I have ever seen in any type of painting program. It’s not great on vectors, but gosh it’s the closest thing to naturally drawing with paper and pens.

Craig Deeley said...

Love to read your blog.
I am a long time (since '91) Mac user and have used it all - and have the same issues with inking (software woes) that you describe.
I look for something resembling artist focused tools constantly. I dream of a good overall tool too.
Illustrator just isn't made for freehand art... Thought the brush tools for laying down a clean line are good.
The only FAST solution I have found to cutting off the overshoot has been to bring the Illustrator art into Flash, break all the lines and delete or drag away the extra overlap with Snap To Objects on. This still means a lot of cleanup time AND an extra step in your work flow - but its faster than Photoshop for cleaning up the mess. It stays vector and can be exported at any resolution (bitmap).

Jesse said...

I have to agree. Toon Boom is a far superior program for drawing. However, I do enjoy drawing in Flash and Illustrator. Illustrator's strength are typically for print hence its grid like structure. Though if you use the line tool then convert the lines to fills in Flash this works great as well. I prefer this method then I import my flash files into Toon Boom and use modules for cast shadows and what not.

Nate Bear said...

I have the saem trouble with illustrator. I've been using it long enough to get it to do 99% of what i want.

I have yet to try it but Ray Freden does all his inking in Manga Studio which is a program primarily geard towards drawing comics.

jsawtelle said...

Might want to look at this plugin set for Illustrator:

Lee Kalba said...

I do all my "inks" in Photoshop or Art Rage, using a tablet. CS5 has a rotate tool, so you can rotate the view of the canvas kind of like you would a piece of paper, instead of trying to put your arms in awkward positions. Art Rage also has that feature, but I had to make my own ink tools that behaved more like a sable hair brush, though the smoothing option in Art Rage is kind of neat.
In Photoshop, I just used the pencil tool to get aliased lines. But I always do my colors on a layer under the line work. I also do feathering and hatching, so just using the fill tool/paint bucket wouldn't work.

line work done in Photoshop

nrobalik said...

I've seen a bunch of people suggest it, but Manga Studio is my weapon of choice. For colors I might still end up in Photoshop (you can do them in Manga Studio, it's just a familiarity thing) or ArtRage.

Like, for example:

Esby said...

I've been using a program called ArtRage Studio Pro which I've found pretty good for drawing, inking and colouring. There are a wide selection of different drawing and painting materials (pencil, inkpen, watercolour, felt pen,oil paints,etc..) available. It also completely compatible with photoshop (and supports many of its functions.

HernĂ¡n G. Fuentealba said...

I always wondered how french artist could draw comics so clean with brush and ink, I tried one, and it was very complicated, only few times I could make somethint decent, but as someone mentioned, I think if one could do it, there is no way it could be beaten by any software, all the tools has their problems, I use flash sometimes, and its almost imposible to draw a line exactly the way you want with the free tool,

MrGoodson2 said...

Check that out. I'm glad my email reminded me of this thread. I started using illustrator the way this guy details and it works great.
A case of keeping it as simple as possible.

Anthony Agresta said...

hi john

i was just wondering sorry to be a pain when and if your going to create the cutting tools plugin for illustrator cs6 please. i need them i really do.

John Smith said...

Paint tool sai Mac - Paint Tool SAI Mac such as MyBrushes and MyPaint is worth considering when digital painters need Paint Tool SAI for Mac

John Smith said...

Paint tool sai Mac - Paint Tool SAI Mac such as MyBrushes and MyPaint is worth considering when digital painters need Paint Tool SAI for Mac

John Smith said...

Paint tool sai Mac - Paint Tool SAI Mac such as MyBrushes and MyPaint is
worth considering when digital painters need Paint Tool SAI for Mac