VectorScribe is our Product of the Month with 20% OFF until the end of the month so we're asked one of our favourite designers Sean Ferguson to share what he loves abut VectorScribe and why for him it's a 'must have' plug-in. Visit the VectorScribe page to learn more about the endless functionality and gain the discount!
It’s my favorite time of the season. It’s the time when I get to contribute another blog post about how much I love these plug-ins and gush like an unapologetic schoolboy. Today I’m going to show you a couple of specific features in VectorScribe2 that I absolutely cannot live without.
First up! When Astute updated VectorScribe, they added some sweet, sweeeeeeeet new features. One of those was Corner Recognition. Many times, I finish an illustration and put it away for a couple days to clear my eyeballs for a fresh look. In these situations, Corner Recognition is so helpful. Here, I have a rounded corner that feels too “soft” to me. So I’m going to fix it.
The green highlight tells me this is a corner I can convert into a Dynamic Corner and reshape to some degree. In this case, I tightened it up to my satisfaction and voila!
In the same illustration, I used several textured strokes to add some tactile elements. I usually don’t expand these right away because VectorScribe2 also added in another feature called the Path Extend Tool. This is the secret weapon when it comes to refining your paths quickly and efficiently.
See that black, textured stroke? I’d really like to wrap it around that curve of the shadow. I could drag the point over there, and fiddle with the bezier handles until it looks correct to me … or I could use the Path Extend Tool!
It retains the applied effect no matter if you shrink or extend the path. There are multiple options you can choose from to dictate how your path will extend. But it’s not just for little one-off operations like this. I often use it back to back when refining line art.
For instance, the image above is a picture of a hand on a knee, but I accidentally left out part of the knee. I could draw it in with the Pen Tool fairly quickly, but I want that line to continue on the same curve. I could move the end point and adjust the handles again. But that takes longer than I’d like and I have so many other things to fix. Instead, I’m going to extend the path, use DynamicSketch to trim the excess, and use the Path Extend Tool a second time to hide the gap where my tapered stroke meets the mono-weight stroke.
In just a few seconds, I’m done and free to move on to the next area that needs my attention.
In addition to live corners and extending paths, VectorScribe2 also allows you to place and remove points an a path in typical Astute fashion. That is to say, “perfectly.” In the following screens, I’d like to simplify my curve and have one point instead of two. You can do this in Adobe Illustrator natively, but it’s just not as easy or fast.
First, I’m going to select the PathScribe tool within VectorScribe2. Holding Option, I mouseover the path to reveal my tangents, indicated by magenta dots. If I click on the magenta dot while holding Option, PathScribe will place a point at that location.
Once my sleek new point is in place, I can select both the old points and use the PathScribe panel to Smart Remove them. When I do this, the shape of the path is unaffected. Which makes me happy.
That’s a feature I use HOURLY in my workflow. It’s useful and fast and pretty clever. Sometimes though, you need to remove more than a couple of points. You need to remove hundreds.
I saved the best for last. This last feature I want to show you is the most glorious part of VectorScribe2 for me. It completely changed my entire approach to vector artwork. VS2 truly unlocked the power of my Cintiq in a big, BIG way. I now ink almost entirely in Illustrator because of this Smart Remove Brush Tool. Below is a screenshot of a piece I did for Astute previously. I’m using this, because the detailing on the samurai outfit is perfect for this technique.
I’m going to expand that effect, which is currently created with WidthScribe2. When I do, it’s going to create a series of tapered strokes. I outline the strokes and unite them together and end up with a super messy shape.
Look at those points in the final picture above. All of them. SO MANY POINTS. This type of disgusting bird’s nest of a path is what kept me away from outlining my strokes for several years. However, with the Smart Remove Brush Tool, I just brush them away. I can even hold down Option to brush them away and ignore the threshold I’ve set. In less than 60 seconds, I went from that mess to the path you see below.
That’s the secret sauce, boss. If I could only have ONE plug-in, VectorScribe2 would be it. I encourage you to download the free 14-day trial and take it for a test-drive. Kick the tires. Really get under the hood and push the limits. I think you’ll like what you see.
As always, it’s been a pleasure. Hit me up on Twitter on @inkstatic or stop by my website, www.inkstatic.com and drop me a line. I’m always happy to meet new folks or to help with any Illustrator questions you might have!