Graphics Tablet Beginner Challenge - Doodle String, Spring Words, Shape Scatter (due 4/1)

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Graphics Tablet Beginner Challenge - Doodle String, Spring Words, Shape Scatter (due 4/1)

We've got several people here who mentioned they want to work on learning to use their graphics tablets, so this is the first challenge in a planned series. You can participate with a mouse if you want, but I find it VERY difficult to draw freehand with a mouse, especially if I'm trying to make something look smoothly drawn. (We'll be doing a Pen tool challenge next week that will be MUCH easier to do with a mouse.) I usually just open up a new document and draw each individual item on its own new layer so that I can easily save the layer off as a PNG. Since you'll be working with a brush tip, you WILL have some edges that are jagged or some that are blurred; that's unavoidable at this early stage, and you should consider these practice drills more than trying to create usable elements out of them right now.

For this challenge, I'd like you to create the following things, using a basic round brush with a hard edge:

  • 3 doodled strings--the focus here is on smooth motion, and it will probably take you a few dozen tries to get 3 that look pretty
  • 3 spring-related words--your choice of words, use your normal handwriting or printing, just to get used to writing on the tablet
  • 3 doodled scatters--pick a shape and doodle it repeatedly in a hand-drawn scatter; triangles, circles, squares, stars, X's work well for beginner ones

Your biggest challenge right now is to get used to moving your stylus on the tablet while looking at the screen, and that's a tough challenge for a lot of people; unless you were taught to take lecture notes while only looking at the speaker, it takes a while to learn. Once you develop that skill, though, you can doodle on the tablet almost as easily as on paper, with the added advantage of being able to undo it if you don't like how a given stroke turned out. If you can find 15-20 minutes each day to practice these basics, you'll probably develop that skill in a few weeks.

I don't expect you to share your finished items, but please post an image with your final doodles.

Mine's rougher than I'd like, but I've been fighting a thumb injury since early February, so I'm good with it given my recent lack of ability to even hold a pencil for the first 3 weeks. Even though these doodles aren't as pretty as I've done in the past, they're still well within the acceptable range for elements in an art-journal style kit.

I know I'm quite comfortable with my tablet, but I thought I'd do the challenge too and share my results. smiley

The nice thing about a tablet is if you play with your settings and practice, you can get quite comfortable with the pressure settings and get some nice results. If you work large enough with the right brush settings, you should have an end result that's good enough to use as-is (or with minimal fuss), but if you drew something you really liked at a smaller size and want to make it a vector, Illustrator has a "Live Trace" function that can turn a raster image into a vector (you'll need to play around with settings). InkScape (a free vector program) has a similar feature, but I don't know how to use that (my husband does, though, and confirmed said feature exists).

I don't normally do doodle scatters, and when I do (or doodle patterns), I usually draw a bunch of the pieces first and then manipulate them to reposition, replicate, and rotate them as needed. I tried to do less of that this time around, in the spirit of the challenge, and only repositioned parts of the tuft scatter.

Love it, Amanda! I especially like your flower and leaf scatter; it's got such a sweet, cheerful vibe to it.

I love these. I hope this will be a regular challenge. smiley

That's my plan, Gina. There's a new one up to draw a flower, leaf, and bird, and then add color layers to the doodle. I'm still working on mine, but it's coming along.