1. Design & Illustration
  2. Illustration

Create a Fairy Castle Using Illustrator and DrawScribe - Dynamic Sketch Tool


In this tutorial, we will continue learning about the DrawScribe plugin, which is developed by Astute Graphics, allowing for more convenient work in Adobe Illustrator.

Today we will talk about the features of the Dynamic Sketch Tool, which is a fully-featured drawing tool and combines the functions of the Pencil Tool and the Paintbrush Tool, while possessing dynamic properties and other advantages at the same time. The properties of this tool and applying it in practice will be discussed in this part of the tutorial, as we complete our castle illustration.

Step 1

First of all, let's take a look at the Dynamic Sketch Tool as a tool for creating a variable stroke width. Note that variable stroke widths are only possible in Illustrator CS5, which is the version that Adobe introduced their "Beautiful Strokes" technology.

Take the Dynamic Sketch Tool and open its panel (Window > DrawScribe > Dynamic Sketch Panel). It may be necessary to extend the panel by opting for Expand Panel from the panel's flyout menu.

Like with the Paintbrush Tool, we are able to set the relationship between the variable stroke width and several parameters.

If you are using a Graphic Tablet in your work, you should establish the relationship between the stroke width and the pressure of the stylus. If you use a mouse for drawing, then you need to set the relationship between the stroke width and the cursor speed (Sketching speed).

None of the standard tools of Adobe Illustrator possesses such a feature. You may also set the maximum and minimum stroke width, which would correspond, for example, to the stylus pressure or cursor speed.

Step 2

At the bottom of the Dynamic Sketch Panel, we can see a diagram of the dependence of the stroke width to the change in the selected parameter. By default, this diagram shows a linear relationship, but you can edit it (add points, move, bend, etc.), setting up the tool to work the way you want it to.

Step 3

In this artwork, I used the Dynamic Sketch Tool for the creation of small details, such as shadows and highlights on the surface of the castle. Before we talk about using the tool, I would like to make a little digression. When you create vector artwork, make it of the same size its raster counterpart is supposed to be. This way you will not need to create unnecessary objects that will not be visible when viewing full-size and work less accurately.

This principle will save you plenty of time and this is how professionals work. To create small objects you will naturally zoom into the composition. And to quickly gain an overview of the entire image, use the shortcuts Command + 1.

Well, in this work I was using the Graphic Tablet, so I set the relationship of the stroke width to the stylus pressure. I then enabled the Repeat Sketch Traces and Edit or Continue paths buttons in the Dynamic Sketch Panel, and created the first stroke of variable thickness on top of the flag of the castle.

Step 4

The Repeat Sketch Traces mode allows us to redraw the created path beginning with the start point while modifying its profile. The three stripes next to the cursor indicates you are within the threshold distance of the start point to allow you to specify a repeat sketch

Edit or Continue paths mode, as its name implies, allows you to edit and continue the current path.

Step 5

Paths created with the help of the Dynamic Sketch Tool possess dynamic properties. In other words, the parameters can be changed after the creation of paths. For example, you can change the accuracy and smoothness levels, or change the relationship between the stroke width and the selected parameter.

And, of course, you can change the maximum and minimum width of the existing paths.

Step 6

Those who use a Graphic Tablet in their work typically understands how difficult it is to draw a straight-line segment, especially if it is located at an odd angle. With the help of the Dynamic Sketch Tool, you can create straight-line segments mid-sketch. To do this, in the process of drawing a new sketch, hold down the Option key. When you release the Option key you can either end the sketch or continue the path creation.

Step 7

Let's talk about the other modes of this flexible drawing tool. Intelligent path joining mode allows you to connect intersecting strokes, removing parts that are beyond the point of intersection.

Gesture trimming mode allows you to remove parts of, or whole, paths with zigzag gestures across the path. Ensure that the Gesture trimming mode is enabled via the tool's panel and cross the target path between 3 and 5 times.

It may take a little to get used to, but you should find it a natural process very quickly. The result is that it allows you to quickly remove the unnecessary parts of the outline. I think this option will save a lot of time for those who create illustrations.

Step 8

When you use the Paintbrush Tool in your work to create a variable stroke width, then the points of the created path will be located in completely random places.

This fact makes further editing more difficult and causes the path to not be as smooth as we would like it to be. The Dynamic Sketch Tool allows you to create points at tangencies. This option is enabled by default. To disable or enable it, go to the DrawScribe Preferences window which opens when Double-clicking on the icon of the tool in the toolbox, or press Enter when already in the tool.

Now create a shadow near one of the windows.

As you can see, the path contains only three points and is quite smooth without editing.

Step 9

Paths created with the Dynamic Sketch Tool can be edited using the Width Tool. This tool is available to users of Adobe Illustrator CS5.

A path that is edited in such a way loses the sketches dynamic attributes, but can still be edited further using the Dynamic Sketch Tool. Intelligent path joining and Gesture trimming modes will also work for such objects.

Step 10

Using the described technique, create highlights and shadows on the architectural elements of the castle.

In the picture below, I turned off the visibility of the basic objects of the castle, so that you are able to see better the areas where this work was carried out.

Step 11

The Dynamic Sketch Tool can be used to create closed paths with fills. In other words, you can use the Dynamic Sketch Tool as the Pencil Tool to color objects. Just paths created using the Dynamic Sketch Tool will have dynamic properties and other advantages that I have already talked about in this tutorial.

Using the Dynamic Sketch Tool, create a shape of a cloud and fill it with a gray color, then set the Screen Blending Mode in the Transparency panel and reduce the Opacity.

Create a few more of these objects by placing them one on top of another.

Step 12

I used the same technique to create cliffs under the castle. Just use a light beige color for the fill and the Multiply Blending Mode.

This mode allows you to darken the areas where objects overlap. The more objects lie one on another, the darker the result will be. Therefore, there are more objects in the cracks in the cliff than in the adjacent rocks.

Final Image

The tools found in the DrawScribe all you to draw faster and more conveniently. For more information about the plugin features view DrawScribe movies. You can download a 14 day trial version of the DrawScribe plugin as well.

The final artwork is shown below.

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