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SketchBook Designer

Tips & Workflows

Scope This document covers some typical workflows possible in SketchBook Designer 2012. This document is not intended to describe all tools and workflows available in SketchBook Designer 2012. •

Please refer to the Tour Guide for an initial overview of the general UI and tools.


Refer to the help document for an in-depth description of all the functionality and options available.

Tips on General Performance Performance can be affected by...

Minimum system requirement Ensure to compare your system with the minimum system requirement, if experiencing problems at start up. For best performance, check the recommended system requirements.

Dual monitors Ensure that the application does not stretch inadvertently over both monitors. The application needs to be contained within one monitor or performance will be affected. Resizing the document window can fix this issue.

High resolution monitor For a display larger than 1920 x 1200 or if running dual displays, it is highly recommended that your graphic card have at least 512 MB of dedicated memory. If encountering performance or redraw issues when using a high resolution display, lowering the screen resolution will address the issue. This is a function of your graphic card’s capability and the resolution selected.

Multiple documents Close unnecessary opened documents to reduce memory usage. In the menu bar, select Windows to switch between opened documents.

File size File size can affect memory usage and performance. File size is a function of: •

the pixel size of the canvas

the number of layers

the area of the canvas covered by each layer

the number of vector objects

So, working with a smaller canvas (e.g., the default size of 1600 x 1200 pixels) will enable you to work with more layers than if working with a significantly larger canvas. A canvas twice as large contains 4 times more pixels. The more layers you use, the longer it takes to update the final image every time you draw or make a change. Think about separating your elements across layers in a way that still lets you access them, while keeping layers to a minimum.

Layers A drawing in SBD can be created using a combination of raster and vector layers. The type of layer that is active determines whether the raster or vector tools are exposed in the Toolbar.

Vector layers For vector layers, editable curves are created for each brush strokes. Curves and fill regions can be selected and edited after creation. Vector tools rely less on stylus and freehand interactions. They offer more manipulators and dynamic edit-ability. Use vector layers: •

when the creation of precise or smooth curves is required

when object edit-ability is important

for elements that are subsequently required as curves output

Raster layers The raster layers workflow more closely emulates the natural flow of drawing, where images are built up, using lines and color masses, as one would do on paper. Raster layers provide a lot of flexibility in how you describe complex volumes and lighting with paint brushes, edit brushes, and masking. As importantly, they enable the incorporation and editing of existing raster elements, such as photographs or other existing bitmaps.

Combining layer types Do not hesitate to combine vector and raster layers to create final images. Vector layers are useful; however, fast sketches and complex shading can often be achieved quicker, using raster layers. •

All layer attributes are shared between both types of layer. Folder assignment, visibility, opacity, layer blends, and symmetry can be applied equally to either.

While some tools are specific to a type of layer, all brushes and fills, basic or custom, can be used in either context.

Transformation tools can be applied simultaneously to both types of layers.

Vector layers can be converted into raster layers, but not vice versa.

When merging layers: •

merging vector layers results in a vector layer

merging vector and raster layers together results in a raster layer

Curves Creating curves In SBD, all curves are the same, regardless of how they were created or previously edited. There are numerous ways to create curves, such as drawing strokes and dropping control points. Regardless of how they are initially created, all curves can be subsequently edited or manipulated in the same way.

Default number of controls points The default numbers of control points that appear after stroking a curve can be set in the Attribute Editor of the Brushes tool. Set it to 0 if you want no points shown by default.

Curves Inserting a control point & dragging the curve Click between points to add a new one at that specific location.

Click on the curve, close to an existing point, to drag the entire curve around.

Changing the number of controls for existing curves Once curves have been stroked, the number of control points can still be dynamically changed within the edit tools. All selected curves can be edited together. Once satisfied with a new curve, it can be deselected and all its controls turned off by either: starting to stroke another curve, pressing the Enter key, or selecting a different tool.

Curves Shape recognition After having drawn an opened curve, use the cycle manip to cycle between a free curve, elliptical arc, arc, and straight line. After having drawn a closed curve, use the cycle manip to cycle between a free curve, circle, or ellipse. Shape recognition can be applied before or after stroking a curve. For example, holding the Shift key while stroking a curve automatically applies the closest shape to the curve. Shape recognition can be applied before or after stroking a curve. If the stroke is almost a circle, the Shift key will change it to a perfect circle.

Dragging the circle handle around the cycle manip smooths the entire curve. •

These controls can be use repeatedly and in any sequences.

All these controls can be accessed repeatedly by simply re-selecting the curve with the Select curve tool.

Some users prefer turning off the cycle manip in the Preferences. The cycle manip can still be momentary displayed for the active curve(s) by holding Shift+Ctrl.

Curves Start loose, then tighten up as you refine your design It is easier to initially create loose curves and over extending them like when roughing in a hand drawing. Extra segments can be easily selected, using the Select segments or Select tails tool, and then deleted.

To change the curve strokes to a constant thickness after trimming them, change the brush type to Pen Felt Tip. Turning off the “Show Stroke� option let you hide the stroke to create vector fills without visible outlines.

Curves Building up curves Curves do not need to be created within a single stroke. As when drawing by hands, you can build up a line, by creating simpler successive stroke passes. After doing so, use the Combine tool to merge these distinct curves into a single curve.

Combining curves The initial point you select on each curve also indicates which portion of the curves will be preserved, and which combined. You can dynamically drag control points to adjust affected regions. Drag the inner point to affect the new shape of the newly combined portion. Click the check mark to complete the operation. The new single curve inherits the brush attributes and color of the first selected curve. When creating fillet-like transitions, the best practice is to ensure the curves are as desired before combining. It is usually easier to edit the shape of the initial basic curves, than the subsequently merged one. Also, the smoother the original curves, the smoother the combining result will be (see Smoothing curves below).


When needing to fillet a curve with multiple intersecting curves, delete extra segments, first. Then, combine the separate pieces.

Cutting a portion of a curve Creating new curves is fast. Don’t hesitate to cut off parts of existing curves and combine them with new ones. To cut part of an existing curve, draw a small intersecting curve at the desired location. Then, use the Select segment tool to delete the unwanted portion.

Curves Smoothing a portion of a curve Using the cycle manip, you can dynamically smooth an entire curve. Using the Smooth tool, you can dynamically smooth any given portion of a curve. The Smooth tool interaction works exactly like that of the Combine tool, with the exception that it acts on single curves. When needing to fillet a curve with multiple intersecting curves, delete extra segments, first. Then, combine the separate pieces together.

Straightening a portion of a curve The Straighten curve tools works like the Smooth tool, except that it straightens the inner portion of a curve, instead of the whole thing. Drag the circular manipulators to dynamically resize the transition area between the straightened portion and the original.

Curves Extending a curve To extent a curve, select the Shift tool, then click the end of the curve you wish to extend. Drag the end point. By dragging the slider that adjusts the fixed portion of the curve, you can dynamically set the transition area between the old and new portion of the curve. Also, use the Shift tool to drag an inner portion of the curve. Unlike the Smooth tool, it preserves the original shape of the curve.

Snapping You can snap control point to along other curves or to their end points. The intersecting control points of selected curves move together. Curves selected together will be affected together. An individually selected curve will be the only one affected. To avoid inadvertently snapping to other curves in the vicinity, zoom into the area for increased snapping accuracy. To create concentric circles or ellipses, draw some reference lines at the center, then snap the center of the circles to them.

Transform Transform Use the Transform tool to change the proportions of objects, modify their shape, or add perspective to them. Folder, raster, and vectors layers can be transformed together. Multi-select different layers in the Layer Editor, using Shift or Control. Once the curves have been transformed, they still can be edited as before, using all the same tools and workflows.

With the Warp or Fill tool, click along the boundary box to add points and mold it to complex shapes. When creating a sense of perspective, drag the bias manip to offset the inner portion of the object to further control the effect of foreshortening.

Shading The following section looks at using precise curves created on a vector layer to draw volumes, using various rasters tools and imported images. While building shapes, use vector layers to quickly select and subsequent edit various fill object. Use raster layers for more flexibility. With paint brushes, edit brushes, and masking, describe complex volumes and lighting. Equally as important is the ability to incorporate and edit existing raster elements, such as images and photographs.

Shading Selecting regions from curves Turning vector layers into an easily selectable raster layer From your vector curves, create a raster layer that can subsequently be used to select the different portions of the drawing. First, duplicate the layer using the marking menu.

In the “Layer” menu, select “Convert to Paint Layer” to rasterized the layer. Keep the vector layer, in case you need to making subsequent edits to the curves.

As these layers will only be used to select regions, it is a good idea to lock a layer when finished with it, so it isn’t accidentally erased or painted on.

Sample all layers Raster fill different basis shapes into separated layers, representing the basic volumes If you want your selection to be based solely on the content of the active layer, ensure “Sample all layers” is disabled. Otherwise, the selection will be based on all visible layers.

If “Sample all layers” is enabled in the Attribute Editor, content from other layers will interfere with the selection region of the active layer.

With “Sample all layers” disabled, only selected content on the active layer is taken into consideration.

Shading Selecting multiple areas Adding and removing areas to the current selection Portions of a drawing that do not touch one another sometimes need to be shaded together, as they may share volume or color.

Use the “Shift” key to add multiples area to the current selection. If you don’t like using the keyboard with a stylus, select this mode from the Attribute Editor.

Use the “Alt” key to remove areas from the current selection. To speed up the process with frequently needed selections, convert them to mask layers (see the Mask section).

Filling basic volumes Raster fill different basis shapes on separated layers that represent basic volumes If you want to fill multiple areas at once, select them first. The raster fill tools will always respect any active selections made prior to entering the tool.

With linear and radial fills, click the center lines to add more colors chips along the ramp. With raster fills, color chips can only be edited, moved, or deleted while still in the tool.

Click the fill boundary box to add control points to warp a fill and express volume and lighting.

Shading Lock Transparency Lock transparency to quickly use brushes to further develop basic fill areas into complex volumes Lock transparency acts as an automatic mask, by preventing paint from going outside the existing layer. It locks the alpha value of existing pixels, so paint is only added where it was previously.

This enabled you to use broad strokes to described volumes without the worry of over spraying. In this mode, the brush can only affect the color of the existing content.

Use large brushes to describe large volumes, and small brushes for small ones. Use the airbrush to keep the intensity low, while slowly and smoothly building up volume.

Planning your layers for efficiently using Lock Transparency Lock transparency will Keep distinct volumes on separate layers, so they can be easily isolated from one another, when using lock transparency.

This enable you to avoid over spraying across different shapes, even while using larger brushes.

Try to keep shapes with similar values on the same layers, so they can be shaded at once. Too many layers can be hard to manage and slow system performance.

Shading Mask layers can be used to prevent brushes from affecting an area on the active layer Use a mask as an alternative or complement to Lock Transparency Mask layers can be stored, created, and edited like other layers. Masks can be vector or raster layers, but only affect raster layers. It can be easier to create a mask by simply converting the current selection into one.

A mask layer lives in the mask section at the top the Layer Editor. Dragging a mask onto the regular layer section duplicates and converts it into a regular layer, and vice versa.

Click the check mark to enabled the mask layer for the active layer. Only one mask can be enabled at a time. Click the mask’s eye to hide its display. Click the mask to edit its content.

Using layer blending modes to describe different materials on a common volume With raster fills, keep areas you will later want to edit on different layers When needing to describe different materials used on a single volume, it is often easier to simply paint them as one, as if made from a single material.

Create a new layer where you can create the shape and describe the second material as a simple fill, without having to consider the shading of the volume itself.

Then, set the blend mode of that layer to visually blend both layers so the color differentiation can be perceived, while preserving the feel of the common volume.

Shading Rendering shut lines and grooves by offsetting contrasting curves Easily create these by offsetting an identical set of black and white lines From the original vector layer, select the curves that describe the shut lines, and copy/paste them into a new vector layer. When pasted into the different layer, the copied curves maintain their original position.

Create a layer which contains a copy of the curves in black and in white. If the curves are vectors, you can simply change their color attribute. If they are rasters, use “Lock Transparency”.

Use the Transform tool to offset the lighter layer from the darker one.

Select curves on the original layer, and temporarily change their brush type to “guide curve”. If you frequently work like this, try duplicating the entire vector layer and changing all its curves to guide curves.

By selecting the offset snap mode, you can snap to either side of the curve and draw lighter on one side, and darker on the other to replicate a shut line or groove.

Rendering the shut lines using snapping You can snap a raster brush along vector guide curves Alternatively, you can use snapping to trace a brush strokes along existing vector curves. You can snap raster brushes along either side of a vector curve, or down its center, while preserving pressure sensitivity.

Shading Rendering the curves as creases, feature lines, or fillets Reuse the content of the original curve layer with Lock Transparency Duplicate the original layer containing the original vector outline. Select the new curves and change their size in the Attribute Editor, changing their width accordingly. Rasterize the layer.

Use an airbrush brush with “Lock Transparency� enabled to render the curves into boundaries - or edges - between the various volumes.

Lock Transparency can be used equally to quickly build up volumes, edges, and grooves for simple lines and fills.

Painting simple reflections It is preferable to add reflections onto separate layers from base matte shading This enables you to easily tweak the layers separately, as well as insert subsequent layers in between, for example, to add a hue.

You can use mask layers created from the curves layer to isolate different volumes.

To draw a reflection, use the half airbrush to create strokes, which have a hard edge and opposing soft edge along the stroke.

Shading Adding hue to create color variations Add hue, using color blend modes

Create a new layer containing a fill encompassing the entire volume to use a particular base color.

Place the layer below the reflection layers, as not to affect the reflections.

Simply set a layer blend mode to mix the color of this layer with layers below. Different modes will provide different effects, depending on the saturation and luminance of the colors used.

Using lock transparency, you can create variations in the color on the base layer.

These variations will show though the layer blending modes. Use variations in hue and saturation across the volume to play off highlights and shadows. This method can also be used to express color trim variations.

Create such a layer for each item to be colorized. You can place the edges and shut line layers below the colorizing layers, or change their colors manually, using Lock Transparency.

Shading Incorporating images and photographs Images can be used to create backgrounds, reflections, ambient lighting, materials, textures, etc. Import multiple images at once by dragging and dropping them into the canvas. A new layer is created for each image.

Transform, edit, and erase part of the image to fit your scene.

Use a color blending mode to blend the various layers together.

Symmetry Creating an object with multiple axes of symmetry Different axes of symmetry can be applied to a folder and the layers (or sub folders) they contain Create some visual reference where the center of symmetry will be.

Create a separate layer containing elements for the first axis of symmetry. Enable the symmetry effect in the layer flyout.

If multiple layers are needed to described the first elements, place them in a folder and apply symmetry to the folder, instead.

Create multiple axes of symmetry by placing the first element in a new folder, then applying a new symmetry effect to that folder.

With the symmetry manipulator, set and edit the number of repetitions, as well as the origin and orientation of the original section.

Creating symmetrical objects with asymmetric shading Creating curves and fill together symmetrically does not always make sense, as lighting is rarely symmetrical This requires going over the symmetrical shading, using regular or edit brushes, such as Dodge and Burn.

Turn the symmetry effect into actual pixels or curves with Layer > Bake Symmetry. Folders can be merged into a single raster image, containing all the symmetry.

It is possible to use symmetry to create only symmetrical curves, then use those curves to create a selection or mask to apply as overall shading.

Copyrights and Trademarks Autodesk SketchBook Designer 2012 Š2011

Autodesk, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Except as otherwise permitted by Autodesk, Inc., this publication, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form, by any method, for any purpose. Certain materials included in this publication are reprinted with the permission of the copyright holder.

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