Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Coloring in Sketchbook Pro mobile

I had a grand plan for this weekend -- color a paper doll on my phone while traveling.  It totally didn't happen!

So my parents got me an early birthday present.  My mom & I went to see Cher at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.  I thought I'd color my doll on my phone while in the car.  It's a couple hours from my house and seemed like a reasonable activity.  Except that I was carsick for the first time ever! Ugh.  I spent yesterday coloring the doll instead (and catching up with my sons!) and I'm going to share that lesson today.

And Cher was amazing.  I'm pretty sure it makes me super lame to love her as much as I do but I totally don't care.  It was well worth it!!

Anyway, today I'm going to introduce Autodesk's SketchBook Pro mobile tablet app and the Sensu stylus/brush for mobile devices.  I'm thinking about moving from a laptop/Wacom workflow to drawing directly on a screen and I thought this would be an interesting experiment to see if that's REALLY the way I want to go...

I grabbed SketchBook Pro for free during an Amazon app store deal, and the regular price is $4.99.  Really not a bad price for the robust nature of this program! The Sensu brush (pictured below) retails for about $40.  I got one for Christmas and love it!  It works with most devices.  I've used it on my Samsung Galaxy S4 as well as a Nexus tablet with no issues.  It also works on the Microsoft Surface as well as all of the Apple devices.

There's a stylus on one end and a paintbrush on the other.  It comes about and the back end becomes a cap for the brush.  The whole devices becomes compact enough to fit in a pocket.  I love it!  I think it's incredibly useful.

To start, I used the doll I outlined last week.  I tried doing some of the inking in Sketchbook Pro but was not happy with the results.  It doesn't have palm rejection, so anytime I tried to lay my hand on my phone, I got a big splotch on my drawing.

Let's go over the interface briefly.  At the top of the image is a toolbar.  The first icon is the Gallery.  This contains the save buttons and access to previous drawings in SketchBook Pro's gallery.  Next is the Info/Settings button.  It contains preferences, a quick tour, user manual, about the app, and a news link.  I used this app pretty much out of the box.  The only change I made was to turn on the back button on my phone as the undo shortcut.  All of that can be found in Preferences.  Next are the tools.  I didn't use that tab during this project.  It contains some fun things like symmetrical drawing tools, basic shapes, flood fill, transform, and several other tools.  After that, there's the brush menu, color wheel, and layers.  I'll go over each of those individually.  Also notice that there's a tiny circle at the bottom of the image.  That contains a quick menu that we'll look at, too.

This app supports layers.  Some others don't and I think layers are essential.  Sketchbook Pro also allows for some layer manipulation.  I was able to set the outlines to Multiply (the way I would in Photoshop) and colored in a layer underneath it.  Here's the Layer menu with the Multiply setting selected.

I used the plus icon to add a layer below my outlines.  If you select and hold down the layer, you can drag the order of it as well as delete it.  It's all pretty intuitive.

I like to start with skin tones.  When you select the color wheel, this is what pops up.  There's a color wheel as well as HSB color options.  You can switch to RGB (on the left) and select swatches (on the right) or use the color picker (top right) AND select Copic marker swatches (top left).  I haven't used Copic markers, but they are known for being the professional standard in markers.  I like the swatches available in this app, and that's what I used to color this image.

Here are those swatches.  I love the options & variety.  It made selecting colors for my image very straightforward!

Now that I have my color, I need a brush.  SketchBook Pro has dozens of brushes built in, everything from basics like pencil and airbrush settings to texture brushes, and even some crazy image brushes!  Well worth exploring.  I selected one of the basic brushes and played around with size and opacity, both of which are available right in the menu.

And I started coloring!  SketchBook Pro supports multi-touch gestures.  To zoom, you use two figures and spread them.  To pan around the image, slide those same figures around.  It's the same gestures you would use on a smartphone or tablet, so, again, it's pretty intuitive.  I colored my skin tone on one layer, with the outlines above.

Next, I added another layer to place all of the other colors.  I tried to keep the files size down, so I limited the amount of layers I used.

Once the colors were blocked in, I went back and added texture to the hair using one of the built-in brushes.  Then I added another layer, selected a soft brush, and started adding some shading.  There isn't a selection tool and all of my cleanup had to be done with the eraser tool.

Here are four of my five layers.  I have (from the top): the outline layer set to Multiply, a shading layer for the colors, the color layer, and the skin tone layer.  The only layer not shown is the shading layer above the skin tone layer.

And here's an image with that additional layer.  I played with the opacity of that layer, and the layer shows a percentage in the corner indicating that.

Here's the circle menu I mentioned earlier.  Touch the circle and this quick menu pops up.  There is a menu of basic brushes on the left, a radial menu to change the brush and brush properties, and color swatches on the right.

SketchBook Pro saves your image to the built in gallery, but you can also export your image in several formats in several ways.  This app is also directly connected to deviantArt for those of you who keep a gallery there.

So that's a quick demo of SketchBook Pro for tablets.  I colored this doll in a couple of hours and it was lots of fun.  And now comes the list of pros and cons....

First the pros. This is an easy, intuitive program to use.  It has a lot of great features, including loads of brushes.  I like the responsiveness of the app as well.  It was easy to zoom in and adjust my brushes.  It's a fun, simple yet fully featured way to draw on the go.  There are some artists who do amazing things with this app (I am not one of them!!).  If you like the app, you can also get a desktop version for Windows and Mac, starting at about $60.  The desktop version has an amazing variety of tools and capabilities.  If you're looking for a Photoshop alternative for a reasonable price, this is worth looking at.  There's a free trial option so you can test it out before committing.

And the cons.... I wish this had palm rejection and I was surprised that it didn't.  Maybe there's a setting I need to tweak on my end.  I'll admit that this is my first start-to-finish image in the app and obviously there's a learning curve.  I wish there was a selection tool.  I can live without that as a a feature, but it would have been handy.  My biggest issue, though, is the export function.  I exported my image as a PSD file and couldn't open it in either Photoshop CS4 or Photoshop CC.  That alone will prevent me from using this more often.

I hope this was a fun little tour of mobile digital art.  I'm always looking for ways to create even when I can't sit on my studio.

I'll post another Kawaii Kids doll tomorrow and a fashion doll on Friday!

No comments:

Post a Comment