Better/Best sketching program

I'm not super happy with the results I get in Photoshop. Before I go off and buy a new chunk of hardware I'd like to give some other packages a try. I seem to remember a few coming up in posts a little while back but I can't find them. What are some of the better sketch programs out there?

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  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 11
    Art Rage! Plus it's free.
    I heard Alias Sketchbook (is that the right name?) is pretty good too.

    What is it in particular that you don't like about sketching in Photoshop?
  • Weiser_Cain
    I had a hell of a time just getting a consistent line down instead of sputter, still an issue because photoshop likes to chuck out my settings on the occasion. General wonkieness. Swapping back and forth between pen and mouse had an issue in that the mouse wouldn't work until I drew a bit with the pen on startup after using the pen during my last session. Lines never looked as smooth as I thought they should, the whole thing felt so sterile and unsuited to what I was trying to do. The cursor would occasionally disappear at the worst possible time. Never could figure out how to keep the line from looking pixilated.
  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 11
    Line looking pixelated? Try a higher-res image, maybe? I've never had that problem.
    As for lines not looking as smooth as you think they should, try checking the "Smoothing" option in the Brushes palette, that usually helps.
    As for all of the other issues you mentioned, I've never come across them, so I'd be tempted to say it's your tablet/mouse drivers that are screwing up somehow, not Photoshop.

    Give Art Rage a try.
  • Steve Schulze
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    Steve Schulze polycounter lvl 11
    The more recent versions of Photoshop have a smoothing setting you can add to your brush strokes to avoid those aliasing issues. Failing that you could perhaps try softening the brush (shift-square bracket) one level which should still give you a reasonably sharp line while cutting back on aliasing.

    I have the opposite problem on starting photshop, or even if I leave it alone for a while. The tablet won't work until I tap the pen, move the mouse then return to the pen. Its not really a big issue.

    As for other options, Alias sketchbook is quite nice but then so is Photoshop...
  • Weiser_Cain
    Is there a way to get art rage to ignore what area of the tablet I'm drawing on or at least accurately show where I am on the canvas?
  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 11
    ...not quite sure what you mean there. The brush tool should accurately show where you are on the canvas?
  • Weiser_Cain
    Basically I like the program but prefer to work in mouse mode. The arrow is where I’m drawing (that point matches where my pen was on the tablet) the cursor in the circle is where I wanted to scribble.
    Scribble.jpg
  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 11
  • Weiser_Cain
    Hahaha, I don't know what to say to that!
  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 11
    Well, I'm not entirely sure why you'd want to use your pen in mouse mode. To me that's just confusing and counter-intuitive. If the program doesn't seem to like that, it's probably because they're expecting most people to use their pen in pen mode!
  • thomasp
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    thomasp polycounter lvl 11
    photoshop for sketching sucks, yep, especially the newer releases. the smoothing option makes it a performance eater, with the brush trying to catch up on occasion. has interpolation issues as well when you're doing quick strokes or change directions fast, it seems.

    art rage has always been choppy on my boxes; nice brushes, good for a play, but not quite my taste of program for an everyday app. too annoying a brush behaviour to stand it more than a few minutes - digital painting should not be about simulating the shortcomings of traditional methods imho.

    sketchbook has a very nice painterly feeling to it. i like that program but i don't do enough sketching to be able to justify the expense. you should check it out, though. it's like a trimmed-down version of studiopaint, a god among paint programs wink.gif

    an incredibly talented fella and ex-coworker of mine swears by a software called open canvas for most of his sketching/painting needs. never tried that one personally.
  • StrangeFate
    i second ArtRage for sketching and quick painting!
  • Asthane
    Personally, openCanvas is my choice and well worth the price, but I don't do as much sketching as I wish I did. It's got some good features though, the rotatable canvas is priceless tongue.gif I worry that people will judge it by the WarPaint application in the oC thread though, I can't use that thing myself >.> oC has come a long way since the free version (1)
  • danr
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    danr polycounter lvl 11
    yes, opencanvas was nice in the brief experience i had with it. Although, i still don't think you can beat photoshop 5 and a wacom tablet with a worn nib and big gouges down the plastic overlay.
  • James Edwards
    I prefer Sketchbook myself - nice simple and focused UI. ArtRage 2 feels more sluggish than the original - though I do like the extra features they added. Sketchbook is snappy with the feedback by comparison.

    I also like open canvas. Great cheap program with good brushes - though still feels closer to photoshop in terms of UI and workflow, which could be a good thing.
  • Snowfly
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    Snowfly polycounter lvl 11
    My vote goes to Sketchbook Pro. Nice crisp pencil, blotty markers, and a fluid pen. Artrage 2 didn't feel as calibrated with the Wacom's pen pressure as Sketchbook Pro does. It is on the expensive side for what it does...since you've got already got Photoshop, play around with the brush settings and save your own presets.

    I'll try to post by sketching brush library.
  • arshlevon
    i love artrage, i have never used sketchbook, but a free copy came with a maya fundamentals book i bought,i just never used it. so if you have any interest in learning maya, you can get a copy of sketchbook pro for free.
  • Tulkamir
    What book was this? And was it any good?

    Thanks. smile.gif
  • Snowfly
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    Snowfly polycounter lvl 11
    i have a hunch that you get a 30-day, and not a license for sketchbook pro. one thing i forgot to add about the program: WORST PAINTBRUSH EVER!
  • Gmanx
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    Gmanx sublime tool
    I would add my vote for Open Canvas, very simple and intuitive. Plus it has the event recorder for learning/teaching technique.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp polycounter lvl 11
    gwot: agreed. art rage 2 was supposed to be faster, though it seems even more choppy than the first one here, too.

    danr: turn the overlay surface of the wacom around. looks stupid, but feels smooth as silk again wink.gif
  • Steve Schulze
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    Steve Schulze polycounter lvl 11
    [ QUOTE ]
    photoshop for sketching sucks, yep, especially the newer releases. the smoothing option makes it a performance eater, with the brush trying to catch up on occasion. has interpolation issues as well when you're doing quick strokes or change directions fast, it seems.


    [/ QUOTE ]I've never had these problems, and I usually have Photoshop going with Maya, Zbrush and a bunch of other crap running in the background. How ancient is the machine you're trying to run this on?
  • Daz
    [ QUOTE ]
    I've never had these problems, and I usually have Photoshop going with Maya, Zbrush and a bunch of other crap running in the background. How ancient is the machine you're trying to run this on?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Now that is odd, since on my 3.0ghz P4 witrh 2 gig of ram, nothing else open, quick strokes in Photoshop always come out like this for me:

    ps.jpg

    I gave up trying to figure out what the hell my issue was and got OpenCanvas with no similiar issues. Feels nice, and I love the rotating canvas.
  • Slum
    Daz: What tablet do you use? I know with the Graphire line there is a significant latency in it's sampling, so quick strokes always end up choppy. It's not an issue in some programs, I suppose because of the way they handle the input. Flash and Photoshop have always done that for me, but OpenCanvas or ArtRage are spiffy.
  • Daz
    Intuos 2. I couldn't find any options in the tablet driver software, nor Photoshop, to improve the latency, but If you know of any Im all ears.
  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 11
    Daz, is that with the "Smoothing" option checked in the Brush palette? Looks to me like it's turned off.

    Here's a quick scribble I did on my Intuos2 in PS on my P4 3.0ghz with 1gb ram, 3dsmax, Zbrush, XNview and Firefox open tongue.gif

    sketch.jpg
  • arshlevon
    [ QUOTE ]
    i have a hunch that you get a 30-day, and not a license for sketchbook pro. one thing i forgot to add about the program: WORST PAINTBRUSH EVER!

    [/ QUOTE ]

    nope snowfly its a full version righ on the cover "FREE SOFTWARE ALIAS SKETCHBOOK PRO US $199.99 VALUE"
    it was this book see look full version..
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1894893...5Fencoding=UTF8

    1894893743.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg
  • Daz
    Im on an ancient version, 6.0. I don't see smoothing as an available option.
  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 11
    Weird, Daz, I remember using PS 5.5 with my old Graphire and only had that problem when drawing really huge strokes really quickly... most of the time it was fine.
    Maybe try checking for brush spacing options or something?
  • Mongrelman
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    Mongrelman polycounter lvl 11
    I don't really sketch much (and haven't used any programs for it), but the zbrush sketchpad plugin is pretty cool.

    http://206.145.80.239/zbc/showthread.php?t=029621
  • Hollowmind
    I'd like to throw in my vote for Open Canvas. I've been playing with it over the last couple days. It's very nice for doing quick, loose sketches. I love it. Kills a lot of boredom at work. I need to find someone to do sessions with and post in the P&P thread.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp polycounter lvl 11
    ancient system? athlon's/pentiums 1,6 - 3 ghz. my own ps5.5, which offers no smoothing, is much more responsive, even on far slower systems below the 800mhz mark. it was so bad that i sold off my then brand new photoshop cs and it seems cs2 has only made it worse.
    the question should maybe be if you only tested performance on zoomed-in postal stamp sized images without more than one layer, layer effects and so on wink.gif

    btw. i tested ps7 on a 1.5 ghz G4 mac, cpuwise comparable to an athlon xp2000. total joke. not only was painting choppy, but the second you used the smudge tool, it was coffee time. i'd rather go pack to dpaint on the amiga than using this.

    photoshop is a zombie for me, it's dead but still does the job. i want no f**king "upgrades" of that dinosaur anymore. bring on the competition and i'll keep my 5.5 in the meantime. smile.gif
  • MightyPea
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    MightyPea quad damage
    Turn the spacing on the smudge-brush off, and the smudge-tool becomes usable.
    It actually becomes MUCH better than the standard smudgetool this way
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