Easy lineart in Adobe Illustrator

Finished lineart

Creating lineart in Adobe Illustrator is fairly easy but can be intimidating for someone that is not familiar with the environment. I know I stuck with Photoshop for years because I was intimidated by the pen tool. I didn’t know how to use it properly but that changed after I started using Illustrator more frequently. Along the way I picked up a couple of trick that don’t necessarily rely on the pen tool. Keep in mind that this is the way I do things and you can change it up any way you like.

First I sketch my illustration on paper and scan it. The sketch doesn’t need to be anything concrete since you’ll be deleting it later anyway. Place the sketch on your art board, lock the layer and create a new one. You don’t need to use a sketch since it’s just for refference. I just like to do it this way. You can also draw from scratch.

Select the brush tool and select the brush shape you want to use. If you are using a pen tablet you can also create a marker brush that is pressure sensitive and I find works great for me. To create a new brush navigate to window/brushes and click on the little arrow on the top right of the brushes window and select “new brush.” Below is the image with the settings for the new brush.

Making a caligraphic brush

Now simply start drawing over your sketch. The most important thing to remember here is to overshoot every line. We’ll delete those overshot lines later but for now just bare with me. This is important for coloring the lineart later. Also it’s important that all these lines are in the same layer.

Lines overshoot

When you’ve drawn all the lines navigate to select/all. This selects all the lines but not the sketch because the layer is locked. Now navigate to object/expand appearance. This will expand your brush lines (that are actually stroke lines) in to shapes.

Navigate to object/live paint/make. This enables you to use the live paint bucket tool but we won’t use it just yet. If you select any of the lines (that are now actually shapes) you’ll find that each line still functions individually but we want to divide the lines so we can delete the overshot portions. To do this navigate to object/live paint/expand.

Now the lines are divided in to sections. Select the direct selection tool and with it select, delete all the overshot lines and that’s basically it.

If you want to color in the lines navigate to select/all and then to object/live paint/make. Now you can use the live paint bucket tool to color your lineart.

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