Does Using BRUSH SMOOTHING Hold You Back?

– Hello there and thanks for joining me. I’m digital artist, Aaron Rutten and in this video I’m
gonna answer a question from one of my viewers, and that is: Does using brush
stabilization hold you back? Well, it depends on how
and why you’re using it. For those of you who have
not heard of smoothing, I’ll show you really quickly
how you can turn it on. In Corel Painter, if it’s not available up in the properties bar at the top, then you can look under
the General Settings. It’s a very similar
process over in Photoshop with the brush tool selected. I can get to smoothing from the properties bar up at the top. Although Photoshop offers
some additional modes that Corel Painter and many
art applications do not. If you’re using something other than Corel Painter or Photoshop, it’s likely that your application has a smoothing setting as well, if you look around for it. So what is brush stabilization? Stabilization, or smoothing
as I like to call it, is a brush property
that simulates friction and provides some
resistance to the movement of your pen within the
software that you’re using. It does this by making
your brush stroke lag behind the tip of your pen, it also keeps the stroke stable. Its primary use is to
help drawing on a tablet feel more like drawing
with traditional media. Stabilization can also be used to smooth out wobbly pen strokes. For example, a small
amount of stabilization can be necessary due to the nature of how a tablet senses a pen. The tablet uses a grid of
sensors to detect the pen, so you might find that
without any stabilization, the pen creates kind of a stair
pattern when you’re drawing. My guess is this happens
either because the software is not averaging the
location of the pen tip, so the line jumps to the
nearest sensor on the grid. Or the sensors are just too sensitive and it’s picking up more of
your movement than you’d like. It could also be a combination of the two. Nevertheless, you may at least want to use a low smoothing setting if you’re getting wobbly
lines no matter what you do. Even if your tablet has
a very high resolution, or a lot of sensors, you
may find that drawing on a tablet surface
feels a little more slick than it would if you were drawing with a pencil on heavy-grain paper. A paper and pencil would
offer some resistance and that friction would,
of course, provide a degree of stabilization
to the lines drawn. Same goes for a bristle brush loaded with paint dragging across a canvas. The friction, the drag of the bristles and the thickness of the paint would all cause the brush strokes to be smoother and more stable. So smoothing is just digital friction. It can help your digital art tools feel more like their
physical counterparts. So what are some other
ways to use stabilization? Digital artists who use a mouse, find it nearly impossible to use for freehand drawing clean lines. So a high smoothing setting can make drawing with a
mouse much more accurate. The most recent version of Photoshop has some great smoothing
options that work well for drawing clean, stable
lines with a mouse. All artists are different. Some of us have steady
hands and some of us do not. So for some folks, smoothing is essential to enjoying drawing
and painting digitally. And the last use of smoothing
deals with digital brushes that are not based on real-life tools. Particle Brushes for
example, use smoothing to regulate the movement of particles within each brush stroke. So how do smoothing
settings affect brushes? A low smoothing setting will provide enough stabilization to ensure that your strokes look natural while retaining most
of the stroke fidelity. A medium smoothing setting will give your strokes a little more stabilization, but it will begin to slow
down the strokes as well. Because of this lag, if you
make very quick brush strokes, they may not match the exact movement that you made with your hand, causing the stroke to be a bit
inaccurate or over-averaged. In a sense, your stroke
lost some information or detail by becoming smoother. So in some cases, you
may not want smoothing because it could actually
make drawing more difficult. A high smoothing setting will slow down your strokes even more
and it’ll keep the stroke from jittering side to
side while you’re drawing. This makes it really easy to
create nice smooth ink lines, but again, this is going
to feel very unnatural if you try to use it with
quick gestures while sketching. And finally, an extreme smoothing setting can even force your strokes
to be absolutely perfect. It works great for drawing smooth curves and straight lines and circles, but it would be impossible to use for quick, loose sketching. So why is it so important to be able to sketch and paint loosely? Well, being able to create
quick, spontaneous marks is the key to getting natural and expressive freehand drawings. If there’s too much
resistance in your marks, it can subtract from the detail and character of your drawing. For example, I’ll draw some
hair without smoothing, and you can see that
without so much smoothing I get a little more movement in the hair. It looks a little more natural. Whereas if I over-smooth the
brush and paint the hair, it might give me a smoother look and that might be the effect that I want, but if I want more expressive lines, it’s better to have the
smoothing off or very low. Here’s another example of
drawing a rugged tree trunk. If I have no smoothing or a
very low smoothing setting, I get a lot more little bumps
and movements in the bark because I’m moving my hand and
jittering it a little more. Whereas if my smoothing is set too high, all those little bumps get smoothed out. And so even though I’m
moving my hand a lot more, it’s not picking up those fine motions. Another place where smoothing
can do more harm than good is when you’re drawing sharp
corners like claws and spikes. When I draw the corner of
the spike without smoothing, it’s nice and sharp but if
I add too much smoothing it rounds it off and it makes it hard to draw nice, sharp points. And now the question you’ve
all been waiting for. Do I use stabilization? Yes. But the amount I use is
tailored to each brush. If the brush does not
benefit from smoothing, then I turn it off. I’ve also learned how
to draw smooth curves, stable lines, ellipses and straight lines without having to rely on smoothing. So for me, smoothing is not a crutch, it’s just a way to save time or make the digital drawing
experience feel more natural. If you work on improving your
drawing technique as I have, you won’t need to use smoothing as often. And it’s not difficult to learn and I even have some tips
that I’ll link to you in the description of this video. And I know you’re probably wondering, should I feel like I’m cheating
if I’m using stabilization? No. As I mentioned earlier, stabilization is just digital friction and friction is a property
that is widely used by artists. There is no right or wrong in art. If the tools are available,
use them if you want to. Smoothing is just a tool. However, you should be honest if people ask you how you
draw such perfect lines if you’re always using a
maximum smoothing setting while you’re drawing. So I have a few general
tips for using smoothing. If you’re trying to
sketch or paint loosely, keep your smoothing either off or at a very, very low setting. That way you can draw and
paint more spontaneously. Especially if the
linework that you’re doing has a lot of fine points
and little sharp corners and things like that. If you’re just trying to
simulate brush friction, choose a medium smoothing setting, or maybe tweak it and make
it a little bit stronger or a little bit weaker
depending on the kind of brush that you’re using and the amount
of friction that you want. If you’re trying to draw very
clean, very smooth ink lines, then choose a heavy smoothing setting. And if you’re drawing with a mouse or you’re trying to draw
absolutely perfect lines, then you can use a
maximum smoothing setting. So, will smoothing hold you back and keep you from getting
better at drawing? Well, that all depends on how you use it. If used correctly, it’s no different than using the natural friction of a traditional art tool to
achieve stroke stabilization. However, if you use it incorrectly, it might keep you from being able to draw accurately which will get very frustrating very quickly. Or even worse, it might even limit the amount of detail,
character and expressiveness in your art by making the
lines a bit too perfect. After all, imperfection
is what makes art art. And it’s the amount of
imperfection in a piece that helps to define an artist’s style. Use smoothing, but use it wisely. If you found this information helpful, take a quick second to like this video. And if you’re new to my channel, I’d love to have you subscribe. I have a lot more videos for
digital artists like you. Thanks for watching and
I’ll see you next time.

16 Replies to “Does Using BRUSH SMOOTHING Hold You Back?”

  1. Very informative, Aaron. You hit all the questions I had on brush smoothing. I feel like I can better utilize this setting in my art. Thank you!

  2. Brush smoothing is a must I reckon.

    When you a make a stroke with a pencil on physical paper it isn't represented in the same manner as when it's done digitally.
    The screens that we draw on must be picking up every little movement as a change of direction or something because it's the only way to explain that the lines being drawn are so squiggly.

    So when I was practicing to draw, I always have smoothing on as it wrecks my head when I see it all squiggling like the way it does.

  3. I really needed this video. I discovered smoothing a few days ago and was thrilled by how it could help me with my lineart, but was worried that it would be a crutch or be considered 'cheating.' Thank you for making this. 🙂

  4. Thanks Aaron for another informative video… you brought out some good points that I never really considered, though I rarely use smoothing at all when I paint/draw. I use Clip Studio a lot and and their inking brushes are by far the best and I usually achieve what I want without the extra settings. Thanks again.

  5. Smoothing is the only way I ever could have made the switch to digital art. For years and years, fully digital comics always looked obviously digital because of how the technology worked, and how hit affected people's strokes. With the advancements in programs along with advancements in smoothing, you can finally get natural looking drawings on tablets.

  6. i gave up on digital art bc i didn't know about smoothing. i would have thought it was impossible to do digital if it wasn't for a comment in a youtube video.

  7. Mouse … LoL … Gods but that brought back bad memories of trying to use the paint program in my very first computer. Good one. 😉 … Thanks for explaining so well.

  8. How doe you feel about Brush Smoothing? Comment below.
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  9. One of my first hacks to a tablet was sticking a piece of paper on it. My tips last much longer and i also got a more paper feel now to it.

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