November 17, 2014

Lazy Nezumi Pro (or the thing you may not know about but really need to have)

Earlier this year, I came across a nifty little program called Lazy Nezumi Pro.  Although still in it's infancy at the time, I could see a lot of potential for it.

Where to even begin with what this program does and how cool it is?  You know what, I'm just going to quote directly from the site since I don't know if I could word it any better:
Lazy Nezumi Pro is a Windows app that helps you draw smooth, beautiful lines, with your mouse or pen tablet.
It works with many of your favorite art programs, including Photoshop and Flash.
I might also add it works great with Adobe Illustrator too.  I've even tested it in Windows Paint and Irfanview!
Why do [you] need it?
  • Clean line-art taking forever?
  • Forced to make fast strokes to avoid seeing any jitters?
  • Pressing really hard to use the full pressure range of your tablet?
  • Uneven pressure in your strokes?
  • Art software leaving ugly artifacts at the end of your lines?
  • Hand shaking when you draw?
  • App cursor getting in the way when drawing details?
  • Switching software in the middle of your work because your main art program doesn't support input smoothing?
But that's not all!  In the last several months, some really cool things have been happening and the developer has been able to implement some additional features such as an interactive perspective drawing guide, an ellipse drawing guide, and a curve drawing guide!  If you've been aching to have these features in Photoshop, please, please go try this right now!  Save yourself the pain!  This thing has been well worth the price I've paid and it's exciting to see what else is done with it!

I create a few small gifs and grabbed (with permission) a bunch more from the Lazy Nezumi Pro site to share and comment on.

Scroll down for the fun!

Lazy Nezumi Pro started off as a way to create smooth lines as seen in the image below.

Along with smoother lines, came a 'pulled string' feature to add even more control when drawing lines.

Then, some fun things started to happen such as anchored constraints.  The following is a constraint that creates an anchor at the last cursor down location.  The next line will be constrained to draw to that location.

This one constrains all line to a point you define.

I suggested making a way to make those constrained line have a curve to them.

This is probably one of the coolest features.  An interactive way to draw ellipses!  Woohoo!

Then comes even more fun!  A fully interactive way to plot and draw things in perspective!  I might add that this feature can do 3 point, 2 point, and 1 point perspective.  There is also an orthographic mode.

There are tons more features to this little program and I can't give it enough praise!  Please go check it our for yourself.

November 4, 2014

Why You Should Participate in Inktober

My reason for deciding to participate in Inktober this year was one of personal improvement.   I recognized I needed to improve my drawing skills, and realized Inktober would be just the thing to do it with.  Having never participated before, I was a little apprehensive to whether I'd actually be able to create an inked drawing every day for 31 days. 

I have to be honest and say that not every day was easy, and some days I ended up with an inked drawing which was embarrassingly horrible.  But at least I had the satisfaction of getting the bad drawings out of my system, and was also pretty happy to have produced other drawings I'm quite proud of. 

There were a number of things I learned along the way.  I wanted to share and (hopefully) inspire you to join next year.


1.)  Increased ability to visualize what I want to draw before I put pencil/pen to paper.

The principles of Permanence and Commitment

In the digital realm, there is no drawing surface to wear out or damage by too much erasing or over-drawing.  There are also 'undo' features and practically endless layers to use to try out different strokes and lines.  As a consequence, I had become over-dependent on figuring out my problems externally in a digital program rather than internally in my mind.  My imagination, or ability to visualize what I wanted to draw or paint, had become soft and mushy.
Because I can only erase or make marks so many times on paper before ruining its surface, I had to learn to visualize and plan out what I was going to draw in my mind first, and couldn't rely on endlessly (and sometimes aimlessly) scribbling on the paper.  I recognized drawing on paper (because of its limitations) uses and strengthens my mind more than drawing in a digital program.

 Once I got into inking on paper, I had to learn to commit to my lines.  (Just as stated above, there is no safety net of 'undos' or unlimited layers for me to mess around on.)  When using a pencil, subtle details can be sometimes be fudged, but an ink line (or black area) is either there or not. Using ink forced me to really think about each line I was adding to a drawing, and where I wanted the black/white areas to be.  I had to think hard about each mark, and then commit to making it and living with my decision.

2.)  Greater hand/eye co-ordination.  Being able to visualize what I want only gets me so far.  It's also great to then be able to represent those mental visuals through accurate marks on the paper.  Just through drawing a lot hand/eye co-ordination is improved.

3.)  Greater sensitivity to mark-making. This improves how I handle a pencil to sketch, and later, how I use a pen (or brush pen if you're awesome) to finish it off.  The variety of marks I can make with an actual pencil or pen will always be thousands of times greater, and more expressive, than whatever I'll be able to get out of a digital program.  Sensitivity to this adds character and clarity to my drawings.

4.) More drawings means better drawing skills, period.  It also means getting those bad drawings out of my system quicker in the process. Since I normally gravitate towards painting over drawing, drawing allows me to move on to new challenges, new subject matter, new experimentation and practice, much faster.


1.)  Keep the first drawing simple

2.)  keep the second drawing simple

3.)  keep every drawing in between simple  ;)

I found it best to keep each daily drawing very simple from the start of Inktober to the finish.  This was not an easy thing for me to do, however.  I like challenges and found myself getting bored with simple subjects and ideas. However, I discovered myself getting into a bind when I tried to start outdoing what I'd been doing the previous day or week.  I imagine this is what causes many to drop out of Inktober before the month's over.  Keeping it simple throughout Inktober allowed me to keep a steady, manageable pace -which I found particularly useful due to the fact that not every day was the same schedule -especially weekends, which I sometimes found surprisingly to be the hardest days to produce an inked sketch.

4.)  Figure out all the details, and also where all the lights and darks will be, before you start inking.  It's much easier to figure this out with a pencil first.  If you try to figure that out when in the inking stage, you are guaranteed to run into some ugly situations.

5.)  Keep crosshatching to a minimum (unless you really know what you're doing) and try instead to stick to black against white shape-making.  Besides keeping your drawing really clean, this will help you really think about composition, and how you will be directing the viewers eye around in your image.

6.)  If you have a collection of 'precious' art supplies you just can't seem to get around to using,  this is an excellent exercise to break them in with.  Sure, you may make several bad drawing with them, (in fact, most drawings you make with them may be horrible at first) but I guarantee you will feel better about fumbling around and making a bunch of bad drawings with your 'special' art supplies, than having never using them at all.  Plus, after you've used up those 'special' art supplies, celebrate!  -Then go out and buy some more to make more drawings with!