How to … Serif DrawPlus X4

Digital imaging
How to …
draw a freehand outline in Serif DrawPlus X4
One useful application of freeform drawing tools is to trace around the outline of an imported photo to
create drawn elements for your graphic.
Warm up exercise
Open DrawPlus X4 and from the Startup
Wizard click on Start New Drawing and then
select your paper size e.g. A4 portrait. Click
The three main freeform drawing tools in
DrawPlus are the Pencil Tool, the
Paintbrush Tool and the Pen Tool.
Make marks with these three tools on the new
drawing page to get the feel of how to handle them.
The Pencil Tool is designed to sketch curved lines and shapes.
The Paintbrush Tool lets you paint with a selection of preset brushes.
The Pen Tool creates connected line segments using a series of "connect the dots" mouse
clicks. Open a new drawing page and try out these three tools. Select some of the lines you have
drawn and edit their properties such as thickness and colour.
The Smoothness command will
smooth out your lines.
The Context Toolbar changes to
reflect which tool is selected and offers
a menu of refinements that you can
experiment with.
Three practical new tools for editing vector drawings have been introduced. These
are the Freeform Paint Tool, which allows you to paint freeform strokes at variable nib widths
with line/fill properties just like shapes; the Erase Tool, which enables you to delete part of an
object; and the Knife Tool, for splitting an object into fragments.
The Fill-on-Create feature on the Context toolbar allows unclosed vector
shapes to be filled.
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Start a drawing
From the Insert menu choose Picture > From file or click on the Insert Picture button
and navigate to a photo you have saved. Click and drag on the page to size the picture.
To make the image
more transparent, so
that it is easier to
trace, select it, and
on the Colour tab
drag the Opacity
slider down to about
If the tab is not visible, toggle it on from the View> Studio
Tabs menu.
Zoom in for greater accuracy.
Add a new layer. This will keep all your drawing
elements separate from the source image. For a
complex drawing make a new layer for each
Hard edged curved lines can be drawn using the Pen Tool with Smooth joins selected on
the Pen Context menu.
Trace around the object/person/character in the photo by clicking so as to set nodes. Before you
release the mouse button, drag slightly left or right, up or down to adjust the control handles that
determine the curve of the line. This takes a lot of practice, but mistakes can easily be fixed with the
Undo button. Save your work.
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DrawPlus has a range of Brush Effects - expressive mark-making
vector tools that create the appearance of
pastel, charcoal, paint and watercolour on
screen. They are located on the Brushes tab in
the Studio area. These brushes are especially
effective when used with a pressure-sensitive
graphics pad, but can also be applied
successfully with a mouse. Select the
Paintbrush Tool and draw the outline of the object – the example uses the Charcoal 01 brush at
different widths. Colour is built up on another layer with a mixture of Pastel, Dry Paint and Medium
Paint brushes. Save your work regularly.
The shape can be tweaked and perfected later by selecting the
Node tool, clicking on a node or a segment and choosing one of the
buttons on the context toolbar to make an adjustment – Straighten
Line, Sharp Corner, Smooth Corner, Symmetric Corner or Smart Corner.
An enclosed shape can be created by connecting the end node to the
first point in the drawing. Click on the Close Curve button. The shape
can now be filled with colour and the line removed if preferred. In
DrawPlus X4 even unclosed shapes can now be filled by selecting the Fill-on-Create button, as
the examples show.
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Select a fill colour on the Colour tab by clicking on the Fill
icon to bring it forward. Bring the Line icon forward to select
a line colour. For no fill or line click on the No Fill swatch in
the same group. Line size and style can be modified either
on the Line tab, or on the Context Toolbar.
When your drawing is finished, click on the original photo with the Pointer tool to
select it, and then press the Delete key. Or simply delete the layer.
Your finished drawing can be saved to the My Designs folder in the
Gallery, from where it can be pulled out whenever needed and
further edited: just drag the drawing onto the folder window, and
give it a name in the pop up dialog box.
Finished drawings can also be exported in universal file formats such as GIF, JPEG and PDF. From the
File menu choose Export or Publish as PDF and follow the step-by-step wizards.
Examples of other drawings created in this way:
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