I’m thinking of offering to line people’s sketches (their own or commissioned ones) for around 7$, depending on complexity. Might make a more formal announcement, but message me if you’re interested?
Lined one of Yako's sketches. Less happy with this one, strong shadows and me were not meant to be.
Also posting this because I’m probably going to open lineart commissions in a bit. Feeling like it, and I think my lines have improved enough that I can actually offer to sell them.
Inseng was kind enough to lend me a sketch to line!
Sketch by my friend Inseng, lines by me.
I’m bored, have a floppy charmeleon.
Floppy charmander by Tortle here.
Feel free to use the lines, just show me when you’re done.
I might have just spent three hours redesigning Anti’s facial structure and mask. BUT now he has an actual, credible breathing mask, rather than a weird cross of a gas mask and idk what.
I hope those are not too cluttered.
Gift art for VinnyCrow, whom I met in Florida. His character Vinny.
Learning to love your lines
Lately, there’s been a lot of people around me who’ve complained about lineart, specifically, how time consuming and difficult it is. A lot of artists seem to think lineart is the most tedious part of art, because it requires you to be concentrated, precise, and to have an incredibly steady hand.
Every time someone tells me this, it pains me because none of this is true. You don’t need precision. You don’t need a steady hand. You don’t need to make perfect, 5px wide lines around your figure. In fact, that sounds like the lineart you’re going to end up with is going to be pretty bland and boring, probably just adding to your frustration.
So here is my humble attempt at showing you how much fun and how relaxing lineart can actually be, if you take the time to experiment around and pick the kind of lineart that fits you, specifically.
On a side note, please be aware that I am in no way a professional artist and that this is entirely based on my personal observations and the little knowledge I gathered over the years. It is not word from God. It is not an absolute rule to abide to. Thank you for keeping that in mind, and have a good read!
1. Types of lines
The first thing you need to know is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to do lineart. You don’t have to make perfect straight lines, you don’t have to use that specific brush, you don’t have to close your lines, you don’t even have to (gasp!) weight your lines.
In the following few paragraphs, I’m going to try and give explanations and illustrations to the different characteristics of lines and how they affect your art. Keep in mind those are general guidelines and not every type of art is going to conform to this. I will try to give varied examples.
a. Line width
Line width is just that: How thick or thin your lines are going to be. This mainly influences how much your lineart is going to stand out after you colour them, as well as change the way your art feels, either fragile and soft of bold and strong.
Thin lines: For more realistic art, or more ethereal feeling. Works best on soft, muted colours and/or little shading.
- 1. Very thin, very delicate lines, make for a very soft look. Used for soft, muted colours.
- 2. Thin, but less delicate line, used to show the texture and pattern of the items drawn. Strong colours but little to no shading.
- 3. Slightly weighted lines. Don’t stand out at all once coloured.
- 4. Same as 1., albeit not quite as delicate. Mostly swallowed once coloured (see here).
Bold lines: Usually for more cartoonish or stylised art. Can take really bright, neon colouring, patterns and textures, and still stand out. More
- 1. Used to empathise the cartoonish lined style. Strong colours and cell shading complete the look.
- 2. Bold and not very weighted. Make it nice for simple, strongly coloured flats (like this).
- 3. Not quite as bold but still a very broad brush compared to the overall art size. Again, makes for a more cartoonish or simplified look.
How “clean” your lines are is determined by how even or shaky your lines are, or whether you use a textured brush or a full one. A lot of artists seem to think that, in order to be good, lineart has to be perfectly balanced and even. Guess what. It doesn’t!
Sharp lines: What a lot of people usually try to achieve with their lines: sharp lines are clean, even, usually left black. They give your art a very clean, sometimes almost mechanical feeling. Vector lines are the perfect example for this. Unless you are actually using a vector tool, they require a very steady hand.
- 1. Very flowing and curvy. Works with clean, unshaded colours (here) but also with crazy textures (here). Makes for a technical or psychedelic look, depending on colouring.
- 2. Simple and mechanic, shows the shapes of the body. Sharp lineart to not distract from the simple shape.
- 3. Here, the sharpness empathises the bold, strong lines of the subject. More realistic, in proportions, but still nowhere near realistic art. Breathing, living creatures don’t have such precise count ours.
"Shaky" lines: What artists like to forget: you can draw lines that cross each other even when one is supposed to be behind the other, you can draw lines that are very uneven. “Shaky” (for lack of a better word) lines are just that. They usually have a much more organic and flowing feeling, and give your art more motion and dynamism.
- 1. Rushed, almost sketchy looking lines. Gives the art a lot of flow. Here, the movement just before the kiss (the big guy leaning in, the small one raising his head) is also captured in the lines.
- 2. Same artist. The lines are just loose brushstrokes, sometimes overlapping or crossing each other, but the movement (or stillness!) of the pose is easily readable. Also notice how the brush used is in fact slightly textured.
- 3. Lines that look a bit like they’ve been drawn with a paintbrush. Some lines are textured, some are wonky, some are cleaner. Still, the overall piece looks surprisingly clean and neat.
Textured lines: Another variant of the “shaky” lines, textured lines are drawn with a pencil or brush that is not clean. The effect obtained varies, but usually it also takes away from the usual boldness of lines and makes them melt into the colours better without disappearing like very thin lines tend to.
- 1. (by Harp) Soft, almost diluted brush, makes for a “painted” feeling without actually having to go lintless.
- 2. (see detail shots, glasses) Extremely scratchy lines, give a slightly aged or old effect. Also allows for sharp edges and ends without making the art look unnatural or stiff.
- 3. Same artist, more lines. The textured brush conveniently allows for much more loose, sketchy lines.
c. Line weight
Line weight is the difference in thickness between the lines of a same drawing. Weighted lines are commonly known to give a drawing more character/expression. But just adding weight at random will not do, and not every type of line actually needs to be weighted to look nice.
Unweighted lines: Usually don’t stand so well on their own, unweighted lines work with certain types of colouring. They are, generally, less intrusive/obvious and support a drawing rather than completely defining it.
- 1. Here, the thinness of the lines makes it so that strong weighting would make the lines look unnaturally clumped in places, and take away from the delicate look. Being (mostly) even makes them look more delicate.
- 2. Those lines are simple and straightforward. Weighting them would give them a more complex dimension that takes away from the basic shapes that define the character.
- 3. This artist would be my prime example of someone who knows how to work with unweighted lines. In this case, the lack of weight makes the fur look nicely chunky and blocks out the different parts of the body.
Weighted lines: Weighted lines make for bolder, more noticeable linearts and give different parts of the drawing different meanings and emphasis, depending on the weight of the lines. As a rule of thumb, the bolder the line, the more that part of the drawing stands out. Exception is made for lineart based shading (I’ll come back to that).
- 1. A perfect example of what line weight can do. Here, the lines are everything. They make up the life of the drawing. They make the suckers stand out and just barely hint at the reflections on the octopus’ body. They draw attention to the face by bolding the folds around it.
- 2. In this case, the shape of the lines is more of a support for the shape it represents. It gives the art more flow and movement, makes curves more curvy and edges more sharp.
- 3. Another type of weight. Here, there are thee types of lines with their own thickness, but one lines varies fairly little. Bold lines to define the contour, normal lines for the actual drawing, and very thin lines for the texture.
Shaded lines: Another type of weighted lines, where the shading becomes integral part of the lineart.
- 1. Lines making up the whole art. Shading is shown with more or less tight thin lines, giving the illusion of a darker area. Also, darker sides have thicker lines.
- 2. Line weight and frequency define both the shape and texture and the amount of light hitting certain areas.
d. Amount of detail
Fairly self explanatory, the amount of detail already drawn into the lines versus what will only be shown in the colouring, or not at all. The optioned result depends a lot on the kind of colouring used afterwards, but usually simpler lines will do for simple, easily readable art, and detailed lines for more detailed, intricate art.
Detailed: Lines that contain a lot of information, not only on shape but sometimes also on texture, light intensity, mood…
- 1. Every body part is clearly defined by a line. See, for example, the thin line under the suckers where they join with the body, different lines than the folds in them, yet again different to the ones around the actual sucker top.
- 2. Lines that not only show contours, but also pattern and texture.
- 3. Here the amount of detail in the lines is used to show the complexity of the harness and texture of the fur.
Minimal: Lines that show the bare minimum, either to make art that is simple and straightforward, or because the details only get touched on during the colouring process.
- 1. (I know, this one again. Well, it’s a good example.) The lines make up everything, but they’re few and to the point. Emphasis is on shape and readability, not detailing and complexity.
- 2. Here again, fairly few lines suffice to give an idea of what the subject is like.
2. Combining characteristics
Okay, now we know what kinds of lines we have, but what about mix and matching those characteristics? What do I want to achieve? What are my lines going to feel like? What do I do if I can’t draw a straight line to save my life?
Well, you either learn to use photoshop’s pen tool, or you stop trying to draw straight lines. Below are a few examples of the same sketch but lined differently, to show how lineart style affects a drawing. All of the linearts were drawn in photoshop and resized to 50%. Note that those were all drawn a little faster than I’d usually spend on lines, because they’re just for example’s sake.
a. Width: normal, Cleanliness: sharp, weighted: slightly, amount of detail: minimal.
Time taken: 30min.
Requirement: Knowing how to vector or a very steady hand.
Very clean, very sharp, but sort of boring. The lines don’t stand out very strongly, but they also don’t allow for a lot of detailing in the colouring, because they’re too clean. This is a pretty good example of what one would consider a technically good lineart but that doesn’t actually seem that impressive in practice.
b. Width: bold, Cleanliness: sharp, weighted: yes (shaded), amount of detail: minimal.
Time taken: 30min.
Requirement: A relatively steady hand or a lot of patience.
Bold, sharp, and strong. This lineart stands out a lot, enough to not actually require colouring. It is a lot more expressive than the last one, and gives the bird the weight it deserves. Also, the different characters of each head stand out a lot more, simply by the way the weight is distributed around the eyes and shapes of the beaks and shadows.
c. Width: thin, Cleanliness: average, weighted: no, amount of detail: high.
Time taken: 50min to 1hr
Delicate and subtle, those lines are also much more detailed than the previous ones. The feathers are drawn, the chunks of fur are lined. I could’ve probably drawn more scales around the neck but I got tired of it. Interestingly, this style requires much less of a steady hand than one would expect, because the lines are so thin and flowy, and jags in them get lost on the resize. You still need a bit of balance though. This style works well for more realistic lines, but tend to get drowned out if you use bold colours.
d. Width: bold, Cleanliness: shaky (textured brush), weight: no, amount of details: average.
Time taken: 10min?
Requirements: Finding a nice brush? Try around.
Okay I admit I might’ve gotten bored with it, so here's a better example of this specific brush. The nice thing with using textured brushes is that you have to pay way less attention to being careful, and the final result looks very rough and scratchy, making for a nice lineart to paint in. It also takes kindly to bold colours and crazy lighting.
e. Width: normal, Cleanliness: very shaky, weight: some, Amount of detail: high.
Time taken: 20min
Requirements: Daring to fuck the rules.
This is, with b), my favourite lineart of the lot. Amusingly, it’s the lineart that doesn’t contain a single straight line. I had to purposely will my hands to shake to manage to draw this scribbly. But it looks nice, who’d have thought? It has a lot of character, makes the bird look shabbier and angrier. Each face’s character stands out clearly, and each part of the body is also easily recognisable as the texture it is supposed to have (i.e., feathers, fur/fluff, skin, scales…)
This is my attempt at showing people that you can actually do lines that are not at all “conventional” and still make them look really kick ass.
To finish off this wall of text, I just want to say: Don’t give up or declare lineart the bane of your existence just because that certain style doesn’t work for you. Try something else! I used to hate doing lineart myself because my hand was not steady enough and it always looked stiff and lifeless, and actually gave up on it entirely until years later I discovered vector art and could do perfect clean lines, and then tried to do not so perfect ones. There is never one right or wrong way to do something when it comes to art, you just have to find what works for you.
And if you don’t like it… just try something else!
I found out about Great Danes not so long ago and holly fuck those dogs are gorgeous. Have some appreciative lineart that doubles as a shading test.
On other news, I was wondering: Would anyone be interested in adoptables of this? It would probably be a recolour of this lineart and cost maybe 8$ for premades, and 12$ for custom colours, or something. If I get enough interest I might do other races.
So would you be interested? (If not please do tell me too!)
(Will reblog later, and signal boosts are appreciated)?
Art trade with my friend Harper!
They got the owls as bonus ‘cause I didn’t color the lineart. Bonus owls are always good.