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Ruler or no ruler - that is the question
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JFD



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:32 am    Post subject: Ruler or no ruler - that is the question Reply with quote

Hello fellow comickers. Through that bad Hamlet reference, I actually have a real question.

I suck at straight lines and circles. I just can't do them right. My significant other who also turns out to serve as my editor was commenting on how some of my lines and shapes were uneven (one good example is Eyldram's new shield in the bottom-left frame of my last page compared to the same shield on the next frame where I did use the ellipse tool.

Now it was probably a bad decision to use both techniques on the same page but it's at least good for comparison.

In art class back in high school, I was always told never to use a ruler, compass or other tool in drawing because the perfection of the line is detrimental to the art (even though I do cheat at times).

What do you people think? Is it preferable to use tools to draw even lines or shapes, or should the power of the hand be your only tool? Smile
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wendyw
The Bomb-diggity


Joined: 10 Jul 2008
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Location: North-East England

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think when art teachers tell you never to use a ruler ("There's no such thing as an actual straight line in nature") they're usually talking rubbish (My 59p plastic ruler is somehow more straight than a window frame?).

If you're drawing what would in real life be a pretty straight line then why not use a ruler (or the digital alternative) to draw it?
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 309

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh. I remember doing a project in high school where everybody used rulers. It was a perspective thing, and we were drawing bedrooms.

I really don't like anytime someone says "don't use X tool." I feel that anyone who says something along those lines has just seen them used incorrectly a lot and/or doesn't know how to use them correctly themself. (I have made a lot of rants against people saying not to use the Fill Tool in digital art.)

I agree with Wendy. I know there isn't "straight lines in nature," but the shield he's holding is man-made. We have tools and techniques to get things pretty damn straight, round, or whatever we need. There aren't shields in nature either. And yeah, there are going to be imperfections in things people make, so you could end up with a shield with some rough edges. But looking at my door pane from across the room right now, it looks pretty damn straight. Maybe if I got about a foot away from it, I could see some minor cracks or indents, but does it matter if I'm going to draw the door pane?

As far as things looking consistent goes, it's not a big deal. No one is going to expect you to draw perfectly. I have a handful of pages with dome-shaped energy catcher things. Sometimes they're round, sometimes they're kind of egg-shaped. It's not a big deal as long as they're recognizable and not wildly different. Personally, I'd be more concerned if the shield suddenly looked like it were a foot longer/shorter between the two panels than whether the lines are crooked or not.

I usually only use shape tools for panels because I like being able to give a more natural line weight to what I draw, and using shapes makes it even the whole way through. For straight lines, I use Manga Studio's "correction" feature, which auto-straightens my lines. It won't do it completely, so I can still get some curves out of it; since I usually work with a grid layer on, I tend to get near-perfect straight lines with the line weight I want.

Personally, I think the eclipse-tool shield looks better, because it's a man-made (or whatever race made it) item. As a reader, I don't care which way you make it. The tool is there to be used. Use it if you want, don't if you don't. But if you think you suck at it and want to get better, maybe draw more straight lines and circles as practice. But don't let it get you down if you don't get it perfect, because you probably won't, lol. That's why we have rulers. Very Happy
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Casual Notice
Spambot Extraordinaire


Joined: 18 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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vulpeslibertas
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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Location: Here and there...mostly there. Sometimes kinda in between.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, there are two sides to it:

Side 1: Do not use a ruler
Well, there is some concern about consistency. What people notice is contrast. If your entire comic is squiggly hand-drawn lines, and you have one object with super-straight ruler lines, that object will stand out like some kind of other-worldly box. How straight your lines are is irrelevant, that they all look like they were drawn by the same hand is relevant.

Practice makes perfect. If you want to learn to draw straighter lines and rounder circles, then the more the merrier. You'll never get the hang of it if you always use a guide.

Side 2: Use a ruler
The ultimate goal is the effect of your art. However you achieve that is immaterial. Why are rulers cheating? Is it cheating to build a house with power tools? Is it cheating to be trained and informed about whatever task you're doing? This It-isn't-good-unless-it's-hand-made crap is a bunch of nonsense. Look at examples of your own drawing with and without a ruler. Whichever example you like best will tell you which technique to use.
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Sylvia



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also don't like it when people are like "you should never do this in art" but I'm going to talk about what I think looks good. I prefer comics that look more organic, so it doesn't LOOK like there were rulers used for the art itself. I read Questionable Content and it bothers me how straight the lines are in the background. However, those lines are drawn digitally and there's not even any line width variation that you would get from using a pen with a ruler. I think when it comes to getting straight lines that still look organic, the best method would be to rule pencil lines and ink over them freehand.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
I use a ruler for everything.


And that was *not* a Hamlet reference. ^_^

~~~~~~

A ruler is a tool, just like all the other gadgets we have: it can be used to create some nifty effects you can't get any other way, but it can also be overused to the point where it becomes a crutch. Used judiciously, it's super!

For instance, I got this hard-ruled look by using Photoshop's Polygonal Lasso Tool over scanned pencil lines:




I think there are maybe two main keys to getting better at drawing straight lines freehand--which certainly *is* a valuable skill when it comes to making art. The main one is just practice, practice, practice--I don't mean just sitting there trying to draw a straight line on its own, but just the practice you'll naturally get by drawing a lot.

And the other thing is the tool and/or materials you're using for drawing. I never got very far trying to draw straight lines freehand with a mouse, they aren't really built with that kind of control in mind I think. A drawing tablet is worlds better, but those can also be kind of slick, which at least for me tended to result in a slightly curved line as my arm just whipped too easily over the surface and was free to follow its own natural inclination to rotate its joints as it moved. Since I moved to drawing on paper, and then to drawing with a softer pencil, and then on to softer, more heavily textured paper, I've been finding straight lines much easier to draw, I guess because the friction involved slows things down and makes the pencil easier to control.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sylvia wrote:
I prefer comics that look more organic, so it doesn't LOOK like there were rulers used for the art itself. I read Questionable Content and it bothers me how straight the lines are in the background.

That's a good point, QC bugs the crap out of me for that (and a lot of other reasons).

Sylvia wrote:
However, those lines are drawn digitally and there's not even any line width variation that you would get from using a pen with a ruler. I think when it comes to getting straight lines that still look organic, the best method would be to rule pencil lines and ink over them freehand.

You can get varying line widths with digital inking, it just depends on your tools. There's tons of programs that allow you to modify your line width based on vector points and similar tech (say Manga Studio, Paint Tool SAI... and those aren't even programs that are advertised as vector software). Combine that with a pressure-sensitive tablet pen and you can get a ton of digital variation with natural effort.
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wendyw
The Bomb-diggity


Joined: 10 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
I use a ruler for everything.


I was waiting for someone to say that.
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Lindemannade



Joined: 18 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally I tend to also get that feeling that I shouldn't be using a ruler to keep things more natural, but dear Lord it makes things so much easier and I'd much rather not be wasting time worrying about trying to get a straight line right when I could be drawing something fun!

If you do hand-draw your comics on paper to start with (as I do) I tend to use the ruler with pencil and then go ruler-free when I ink over the top - keeps it mostly straight with a hint of natural artsy-ness.
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JFD



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies guys Smile This is good food for thought.

Quote:

If you do hand-draw your comics on paper to start with (as I do) I tend to use the ruler with pencil and then go ruler-free when I ink over the top - keeps it mostly straight with a hint of natural artsy-ness.


I do the entire comic digitally in Manga Studio with an Intuos 5 graphic tablet. This is part of why it's so hard to do straight lines - I have to look at the monitor while I draw on the tablet. My pencil drawings are a bit better in that respect

If I had money for a Cintiq (that has a built-in monitor you draw directly on), it would make things easier, but 1k$+ is a bit much. If my comic grows where it justifies the investment, I might fork it, but not now.

I need to explore Manga Studio's tools though. I do know about the guides and rules features, but nothing about a straightening tool. Unless you mean the stabilizing tool, but that just makes the line less shaky.
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mcmasters



Joined: 28 Jun 2012
Posts: 436

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a ruler for pencil art and then ink over it freehand.

---

www.mcmasterscomics.com
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JFD wrote:
I do the entire comic digitally in Manga Studio with an Intuos 5 graphic tablet. This is part of why it's so hard to do straight lines - I have to look at the monitor while I draw on the tablet. My pencil drawings are a bit better in that respect

Some people never get used to the disconnect. I got my pen when I was 12, so it was a fairly easy skill for me to pick up. But I've heard some people say they've had pens like these for years and never get used to it.

I did find my pen is more difficult for me to use if I just straight plug it in versus downloading the correct drivers. (I wasn't using the drivers for a while because I'd bought a new computer and thought Wacom didn't support drivers for the old pen in Windows 7.) If you just straight plug the pen in, it works just like a USB mouse. If you get the drivers, the tablet area maps to the screen, and I find this much easier to use.

JFD wrote:
I need to explore Manga Studio's tools though. I do know about the guides and rules features, but nothing about a straightening tool. Unless you mean the stabilizing tool, but that just makes the line less shaky.

I'm using version 4 EX, so if you're using 5 or 5 EX, this may look different for you. This is what I'm talking about:


Twenty is the highest it'll go. It'll never do completely perfect lines, but the auto-adjustment value is strong enough that if your hand is fairly steady, you can get very nice straight lines while also taking advantage of your pen's pressure sensitivity. I normally don't use Correction unless I'm drawing a straight line.

But if you're using Manga Studio with a tablet pen, then I have to ask: what tool are you using for your linework? I had the impression you were using a mouse because of how even and skinny your line width is.

Also, if you need a rundown on Manga Studio, Smith Micro's website has a ton of video tutorials that make it easy. Also just looking around on YouTube helps, since I found (at least for MS4Ex) that there are some tools/settings the guy doesn't go over in the videos which I prefer.
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Lindemannade



Joined: 18 Feb 2014
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JFD wrote:
I do the entire comic digitally in Manga Studio with an Intuos 5 graphic tablet. This is part of why it's so hard to do straight lines - I have to look at the monitor while I draw on the tablet. My pencil drawings are a bit better in that respect


Ah I can see the difficulty there, I hadn't thought of ruler-issues with graphic tablets as I haven't entered the 21st century yet in that regard. Wink Despite the fact my advice to anyone seriously interested in webcomics would be to invest in a graphics tablet ASAP, I'm a sucker for having a folder of paper originals.

Anyhoo I hope someone else's advice who's more versed in digital art has helped!
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JFD



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MindChimera wrote:

I'm using version 4 EX, so if you're using 5 or 5 EX, this may look different for you. This is what I'm talking about


Yeah I think that's the same tool as "Stabilizing" in Manga Studio 5. It is useful to straighten a line if you have shaky hands, but now that you mention it I never actually tried using it to draw a long straight line.

I usually leave it at 4 or 5 just so my line art is smooth even if my hand shakes a bit. I'll try raising the value when I have to draw a long straight line (like a sword) and see if it works Smile

Thanks for the advices XD
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