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8 Tips On How To Create Smooth Lines with your graphics tablet (or pen display)

Are You Having Difficulty Drawing Smooth Lines Digitally? Here Are Some Tips For You

You have probably been working digitally for some time now, or maybe you started just lately. You may have seen artists on Youtube or real life draw smooth & precise lines easily. And so you wanted to be able to do the same. This is one issue I struggled with when I started with digital art. So I hope I am able to help fellow artists with it using the tips below, which I collected a bunch from experience over the years.

Draw Slowly (For Some Lines)

This is a useful way to get the tricky lines right. Drawing them in one slow stroke, or multiple smaller ones can help you end up with the line you want to have.

Warning:- Some Wacom drivers may have an issue where you get wobbly lines whenever you draw slowly, this happens quite randomly. This is one of the reasons I don’t use their tablets much these days. Trying different driver versions can help you avoid this issue.

Draw Fast

This is quite the opposite of the previous tip. Drawing faster can easily make some good & crisp lines, but it’s harder to pull, specially with tricky lines (the ones I told you to draw slowly), but that’s one of the best ways to draw the simpler lines. In many cases, you may have to try drawing the same lines multiple of times for that purpose.

One way to make this easier is to set one of the pen buttons, or the hot keys to undo your last stroke, so that you could undo the last line quickly then try again. Quickly sketching your artwork, then drawing over it on another layer is another way to do this more easily.

Is Your Graphics Tablet Big Enough?

Graphics tablets different sizes comparison featured

If you’re using a small graphics tablet, and particularly if your screen is big, then you will likely find it hard to draw accurately. So upgrading to a medium-sized graphics tablet can help you draw better.

That’s why, for most artists, I tend to recommend medium-sized tablets. Large tablets, like the large Intuos Pro I used for a long time, could be even better for drawing precise lines, but it’s not for everyone. Because:-

    • It requires a lot of arm movement to achieve the same result, which can be tiring for some artists.
    • They are more expansive.

Of course, if you are really happy with your small graphics tablet, you can continue drawing with it.

Make Sure Pressure Sensitivity Is On

One common mistake is to draw without making sure that pressure sensitivity is working correctly. Pressure sensitivity is enabled by default in most drawing programs, and it allows you to create different strokes by pressing the pen lightly or strongly, like this:-

In case pressure isn’t working, then you need to find a good to fix that issue, by reinstalling the tablet driver, or to try another version of it.

In case you’re using Photoshop, make sure you select a brush preset that supports pressure, like the “Hard Round Pressure Size”, then try drawing with it, it can make a huge difference.

Draw With A High Resolution Canvas

It’s common mistake for digital art beginners to draw on a low resolution canvas. It doesn’t make things better that art programs create a small canvas by default, which beginners go for, since they are eager to start drawing right away.

Drawing on a high resolution gives you a room for making mistakes, which are numerous for digital artists. Since these mistakes won’t appear as easily, especially when you color the artwork, or if you resized the canvas down later on (you still need to fix the very obvious mistakes, but that’s better than having to fix every single small mistake you make).

Another advantage for high resolution canvas is that it makes it much easier to add details for your artworks, which could set your artwork apart from many others.

Of course, this advice doesn’t necessarily matter much if you work on pixel art, where low-resolution may actually be a good thing.

In case you’re wondering what’s the minimum resolution to use, I think you should use no less than 1500 X 1500 pixels, approximately. Go much higher if your computer allows you to.

Use The Right Cursor Shape

This is a new trick I discovered lately on my own, mainly because I never saw anyone talk about it. Neither in Youtube, nor in any of the digital art communities I visited.

Basically, some art programs allows you to change the cursor shape to appear like a cross(see the picture above), and it stays that way no matter how big the brush size you draw with. This is useful when you draw with a high-result ion canvas, which requires you to draw with a larger brush, and so having the cursor look that way makes it much easier to align your strokes.

In Photoshop:- You can change the cursor to cross by pressing the Caps Lock key on your keyboard. Press the key again to return the cursor to its original shape.

Remember! Drawing With Digital Media Is Never The Same As Drawing With Pencils

While drawing digitally looks somewhat close to drawing on paper. It’s much better to treat it as a new medium altogether. Many of the tips that applies to digital art never applies to traditional art. Since you can’t do things like making the cursor shape look like a cross, zooming in or to draw on a high-resolution canvas can’t be applies on a real life canvas.

Also, many of the issues you have to face, like parallax, or having to get used to draw on a glass surface, are nonexistent in traditional art, and you have to learn to deal with them when you draw digitally.

After all, there’s a reason why many artists are better at traditional art than digital.

How About Line Smoothing?

Many drawing programs support line smoothing, which is a good way to compensate for the accuracy of your hand movement. Specially if the art style you draw requires that.

I don’t see a big issue in using line smoothing, but I totally don’t think you should go with it if you’re starting out. Since it may make it harder for you to get used to draw naturally with graphics tablets. If you used it right away, you will grow dependent on it, which is not how it’s supposed to be. Line smoothing should be a helper tool that makes your draw faster once you get good at it, nothing more. :>

If You Haven’t Drawn For Some Time, You Get Rusty

There are times where I had to stop drawing digitally for some time, either because I got busy with other stuff or for some other reasons. Every time I came back from such hiatus, it took me some time to get used to digital art again, as my lines feel rusty. In one of these cases, I even asked myself “how did I use to draw with this tablet?”. Drawing for some time quickly helped me regain my footing. So it’s a good idea to keep that in mind every time you get back to digital art.

And Finally

Trying to draw smooth lines can be easily frustrating if you’re new to digital art. Even if you have been doing it for some time, you may find it hard to get your lines right easily. For that reason, I hope these tips have helped you draw all sorts of lines. If you have a question, feel free to drop it in the comments section, and I will try my best to answer it.

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I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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