CorelDraw X8 Basics: Working with line art Part 2

Continued from CorelDraw X8 Basics: Working with line art Part 1

Differences between the Artistic Media tool Presets, Pressure and the Calligraphic options

CorelDraw comes with several presets for the Artistic Media tool. You also have the option to switch to the Pressure or Calligraphic settings. Note that strokes created using the Artistic Media presets, Pressure, or Calligraphic tool don't work in the same way as drawn nodes. They are Closed Objects in themselves and the nodes behave differently during editing. Fills and pen outlines are applied based on your stroke, unlike node objects drawn from scratch using the Pen or Bezier tool.

The Surface Pen works with both the Artistic Media tool and Calligraphic tool very well, though you would still need a lot of node editing afterwards using the Shape tool to get the ideal curve or stroke. The Pressure tool has a slight advantage over the Calligraphic tool when used with the Surface Pen. If you're comfortable with the Surface Pen, then the Calligraphic or Pressure option provides a more predictable stroke than using any of the Artistic Media presets. It's more likely you will be using the combination of one or two of the two Artistic Media options, rather than just sticking to one.

My limited experience with the Surface Pen ended up with a disappointing initial rough with the Artistic Media tool.

Having no artistic talent, nor enough experience with the Surface Pen, I wasn't happy with my first attempt at drawing the "Moleman".  I decided to start over with a new workspace and flat line art using the Bezier and Pen tool.

The Shape, Pen, and Bezier tools

The Pen and Bezier tools in CorelDraw are well-designed, but choosing among the many options for node drawing is a matter of experience and preference. If you're starting out, the Pen tool might be preferable, though you would need to learn how to manipulate nodes and change node types for either of the tools. As with using the Artistic Media tool, you will still do plenty of node-editing, adding and deleting of nodes after you create a rough node drawing.

Selecting several objects using the Pick Tool, creating grouped objects (CTRL+G), and then making duplicates (CTRL+D) let you practice and try out different designs. Guidelines and rulers gives illustrators power when it comes to adjusting the position of drawing elements. Using the Align and Distribute options (Object > Align and Distribute) also help you control symmetry, an advantage somewhat absent in freehand drawing.

After my failed vector sketch using the Artistic Media tool and Surface Pen, I opted to just draw my subject using the Pen and Bezier tools and a wireless mouse. Many experienced illustrators and artists will agree that using traditional tools such as brushes, inks, and pencils is faster than using a vector-based application. This is somewhat true, especially if you aren't accustomed to node editing or CorelDraw. However, drawing using vectors is as rewarding as using traditional tools.

Note: You can think of node drawings as "breakdowns" which you can improve on afterwards using Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint, or Painter. Back in the 70s and 80s, Marvel Comics credited staff as Breakdowns, Finishers, and Embellishers in place of the standard Pencillers and Inkers. This was due to the hectic schedule of popular artists and the release cycle of books. Veteran artists such as Jack Kirby, Sal and John Buscema, and John Romita would provide rough panels and illustrations (Breakdowns) and another artist would complete the book (Finishers and Embellishers). John Romita Jr.'s early work in the 80s, for example, looks nothing like his later work because the excellent Jim Mooney "embellished" it during Romita Jr's run on The Amazing Spider-Man. This method had its drawback, however, as the approach partly contributed to the drop in quality of Marvel Comics in the early 90s during the well-known crash of the comic book industry.

Tom Palmer was Finisher for the breakdowns provided by the exceptional John Buscema in The Avengers #267 (1985).

Using various polygon and ellipse tools, you can build your illustration without having to always draw nodes from empty space. The "teardrop" on the mask, which was based on a Beijing opera mask design, was created by using the Spiral tool, editing the curves using the Shape tool, and applying the Contour tool.

Continued in CorelDraw X8 Basics: Working with line art Part 3


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