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Anatomy illustrated

Pen and ink, or line art, goes back to Renaissance literary and scientific books, which were printed using woodcuts to produce illustrations of black lines on white paper. This tutorial continues the evolution of line art, by explaining how to create it using Illustrator CS2.

Line art has advantages over continuous tone or colour artwork, including quick production, lower reproduction costs and accurate visual representation. It is composed of organised patterns created by high-contrast marks, generally black marks on a white medium. By varying the density, direction, and width of those marks it is possible to simulate the three-dimensional form. Effective line art displays distinct patterns that differentiate textures, lighting and content, employs visual cues to focus the content, and will always reproduce well.

Here you'll do away with traditional pen and ink and use Illustrator and a graphics tablet to produce digital line art that looks and feels like traditional line art. You can use Illustrator 8 right through to CS2, because the tools used have changed very little. To control the lines you'll need a graphics tablet with at least 512 levels of pressure sensitivity. Then you'll use the Paintbrush tool to create the illustration.

The goal here is to produce an illustration that doesn't look like it was created using a computer, so draw naturally and resist the temptation to use Illustrator to make your image too perfect.

Click here to download the support files ( 1MB)

Click here to download the tutorial for free

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