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Paint Brush and DynamicSketch – The Differences

In today's article you'll learn the difference between the Paint Brush and DynamicSketch functions. Although both of these tools are used for the same purpose, DynamicSketch has many convenient and intelligent functions that Paint Brush doesn’t.

Tool settings

To draw with Paint Brush, you need to set up a brush in a dialog box (double click on the brush icon in the Brushes panel). Within the dialog box you can amend settings such as the stroke limits for width and the relationship of the width to the pressure of the Wacom Pen.

Calligraphic Brush Options



If you want to set the smoothness of the path, you will have to open another dialog box by double clicking the tool icon in the tools panel and then selecting Paint Brush Tool Options.

Paintbrush Tool Options



In the case of the DynamicSketch tool, all the commonly used options are located in the same panel which means, they are more accessible because the panel is at hand during the whole drawing process.

Dynamic sketch Tool



There are many options for fine tuning the tool in the DynamicSketch Preference box, which can be opened by double clicking on the tool icon or pressing the Return/Enter key.

Calligraphic Brush Options




The stroke width preview of the Paint Brush always displays the color of the stroke.

Stroke Width Preview



You can change the stroke width preview color by pressing the 'C' key while drawing with DynamicSketch (Note: The preview color in DynamicSketch does not represent the actual color swatch selected with which you are drawing.)

Stroke Width Preview 2




Drawing with Paint Brush is available directly with the cursor. DynamicSketch has a Pulled Cursor that lets you connect a virtual string of a user-defined length between the cursor and the drawing point, allowing you to draw smoother curves as if drawing with a soft tip brush. You can set the string length in the DynamicSketch panel or use 'Up' and 'Down' arrow keys whilst drawing to increase/decrease the string length.

Pulled Cursor




The ‘Repeat Sketch Traces’ mode in DynamicSketch allows you to get the average trajectory of the path as a result of several attempts at drawing the desired shape, paint brush does not have this function.

Trace Mode



You can choose one of 7 impact options on the stroke settings whilst drawing with Paint Brush: Fixed, Random, Pressure, Stylus Wheel, Tilt, Bearing and Rotation.

Impact Options



You can find the same options in the DynamicSketch panel, but the rarely used ‘Random’ option has been replaced with sketching Speed, which allows you to get the variable width path without using a graphic tablet, but simply by controlling the mouse speed.

Sketch Speed



In addition, you can change the linear distribution of the width of the path, creating new points and dragging them, or use one of the presets, which can be selected in the panel menu.

Linear Distribution



So, for example, the sloping graph shown in the picture above helps to create a smooth transition between a narrow and wide section at the beginning and end of the path. Intelligent Path Joining mode of DynamicSketch allows you to automatically connect paths intersecting in the drawing process.

Intelligent Path Joining



For the above action you will require another tool – Join Tool, which appeared recently in the latest releases of Adobe Illustrator CC. The Paint Brush does not allow you to draw straight-line segments located at an arbitrary angle, this can however be done with DynamicSketch by holding Opt / Alt key while drawing.

Straight Line Segments



If you draw 3-5 circles with the DynamicSketch tool you will get an instant circle. You will only get a true circle if "Smooth towards Circular" preference is enabled and the smoothness is set to 100%.

Smooth Towards Circular



This is another trick that cannot be replicated with Paint Brush.


You can manually edit the trajectory of the path using Paint Brush, but you cannot change the stroke width. DynamicSketch allows you to edit both the direction and the stroke width (to do this, turn on Edit mode in the panel).

Trajectory Path



The paths drawn with DynamicSketch are dynamic, that means that their parameters can be changed after creation. It is possible to change the drawing mode, change the graph and alter the maximum / minimum width in the panel.  This will instantly affect the existing variable width paths.

Changing Parameters



Accuracy and smoothness of paths are also changed dynamically.

Accuracy and Smoothness



You cannot delete parts of the intersecting paths with the Paint Brush, but you can easily do this with DynamicSketch. Pressing 'Shift' or using a Wacom eraser enters the 'trim' mode. The drawn stroke will always act as a trim and the paths will auto-join by default (this can be changed in the preferences).

Trim Mode



The Gesture Trimming mode in the DynamicSketch panel can be used for the same purpose.

As already mentioned above, the paths created by DynamicSketch are variable width paths. This allows you to edit them using the native Width Tool, you will have even more opportunities with the tools of WidthScribe plug-in such as Width Gradient, Width Brush and Width Selector.

Width Gradient



Learn more about DynamicSketch

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