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TUTORIAL: DIGITIZING A HAND DRAWN OUTLINE



I often use outlines that I drew in my sketch book by hand.  Once I've drawn them and inked in the 
outline.  I won't be covering anything dealing with pictures that have already been colored or 
shaded in in this tutorial, but outlines without any color are something I often prefer to create 
the old fashioned way in the real paper sketch book.  You can do this with any outline that is 
very simple even just a stick figure if that's what you want.

You will need:

a hand drawn outline that you want to put to use in your digital artwork

digital camera or scanner

graphics software (I use gimp)

computer

your own creativity


1. scan or digitally the hand drawn outline and save it on your computer

2. open a new file and paste the outline into it, then create a pasted layer

3. the next step assuming there are the outline is ready to use as it is and 
   doesn't need a flaw corrected is to use threshold function (under the color menu) 
   which will reduce all the shades of black and white on the page to only black and 
   white (nothing in-between) tweak the settings until you are satisfied with the result

4. use the select by color tool, select the white spaces, and use the cut function to 
   get rid of them 

5. if there are any little black spots that you don't want to keep still in the picture 
   use the eraser to erase them

6. What you do with the picture after this is up to you, so whatever you decide to do 
   remember to have fun with what you are doing, and enjoy your artwork once you finish 
   it

Compensating for flaws:
Sometime the picture has flaw that need correcting, when that happens are some tips that might help: In some cases the outline it's self is perfect but there is a lighting issue (this happens a lot when I use the digital camera to input the outline into the computer rather than the scanner (despite this I use the digital camera more often than the scanner)) for a lighting issue you can alter the brightness and contrast before using the. Do this between steps 2 and 3. Sometimes your outline might be perfect for paper on paper but not on computer. This can happen in many ways, the outline has a break in the line either because it was not noticed while you were hand drawing it or inking it in, sometimes information is lost in the process of digitizing the picture. Sometimes you don't get the outline right and really wish you could erase part of what you've inked it. Sometimes no matter how you adjust the brightness or contrast you can't use the threshold function losing the outline. I've had all of these happen. So here is what you can do about it. Step one and 2 are still valid, follow them and then instead of following through on the rest of the steps above do the following: A. Open an new layer above the existing picture B. use either the paint brush or pencil tool (for this I recommend avoiding the air brush tool, and I also like to use a tablet and stylus) next trace the outline, make sure you trace the whole outline, make sure that you don't leave parts of the outline broken inadvertently doing this cause problems when you select or try to fill parts of the outline later, and in the process feel free to not trace flaws that you wish were not part of the picture, think of it as your chance to edit the picture. C. When the outline has been traced make the layer with outline you were tracing from invisible or delete this (I personally don't delete them but you are free to)
Before you do this there are some other pieces of information that for you:
- This tutorial doesn't cover what to do with the outline once the outline is ready for use. At this point there are a large number of options, so have fun. - I recommend keeping the outline on a layer separate from anything else you add to the picture at this point (including outlines of backgrounds), doing this allows you to use this outline in more than one picture with a wide verity of colors - Another tip for I can give you right now, I always try to avoid merging layers, and always keep the outlines separate from the layers of colors or effects doing this as part of my standard creative process to to create a library of reusable component pictures for any of my future artwork without any extra effort on my part. - While some may suggest this is not a valid method I say it is an artists way of working smart rather than hard. Besides even if I were to create a new picture using a composite of exclusively older component pictures it would still be a new picture. - So with all of this in mind, have fun putting this information to use. Using hand drawn outlines is a technique I put into use on regular basis, and absolutely love using. I spent most of my life drawing on paper before I ever touched the subject of computer graphics, so today it only makes sense that I would draw upon my full skill set, and my full resources a great deal of which exist on paper rather than digitally...It only makes sense that anyone would do the same. Sometimes doing the outline on paper can simply feel more natural than doing it on the computer, some people say that there is something about the using hand drawn components will add quality.
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