Adobe Illustrator Workshop Resources

Reasons for using Adobe Illustrator

  1. Teach the benefits of drawing with vectors (vs bitmaps i.e. Photoshop)
  2. Teach the benefits of working with layers
  3. Teach the art of typography (i.e. Quotes, Word Clouds, Typography Portraits)
  4. Ability to create multiple artboards (same size, different sizes)
  5. Used by designers, artists, illustrators, animators, publishers, film and video professionals

Resources for help

  1. Adobe Illustrator Blog -­--
  2. Von Glitschka Website -­‐-
  3. Adobe Ed Exchange -­‐-
  4. Adobe Help -­‐-


Painting a Water Color Style Portrait in Illustrator Using a Wacom Tablet

Before we get prepare your Illustrator document to take advantage of the Wacom’s pen features, it is useful to know the definition of Illustrator’s options associated with the pen.

Pressure: The amount of pressure applied to tablet by the pen.

Stylus Wheel: The location of pressure on the touch strip.

Tilt: The angle the pen is tilted.

Bearing: The direction the pen is tilted.

Rotation: The orientation of the pen around its long axis.

Step 1: Preparing your Image

  • Create your Illustrator document FIRST and then use the Place (File --> Place) command to put your image in your document, rename Layer 1 Photo Reference.
  • It is best to use a black and white image, select your image and choose Edit --> Edit Colors --> Adjust Colors (this will give you more control when converting the image to black and white or gray-scale)
  • In the Adjust Colors dialog box change the Color Mode to Grayscale, Check Convert and Check Preview, then adjust the Black slider so you can see detail in your image without making it too washed out and then click OK.
  • Create a new layer named Outlines, you will draw the lines of your artwork on this layer.

Step 2: Setting up your Brush

  • Before you get started, deselect New Art Has basic Appearance on the Appearance panel. This will ensure that each stroke that is created is not based on the previous stroke.
  • Double-click on the Paintbrush tool; be sure to have Keep Selected and Edit Selected Paths unchecked as they can inhibit a natural drawing process. Adjust Fidelity so it is on the second line from the right, this will create a smoother line with less anchor points.
  • Go to the Brushes panel, select a 1pt stroke, and double-click the 3 pt. Oval default brush.

        In the Calligraphic Brush Options dialog box make the following changes:

  • Name: Custom Brush
  • Angle: 40%, Tilt: 53%
  • Size: 4 pt, Pressure: 4 pt
  • Click OK, and doodle in a blank area to test the settings of your brush.
  • Open the Brushes panel and double-click on the Custom Brush if you wish to make changes.
  • You are now ready to start drawing the lines of your artwork.

Step 3: Coloring the Picture

  • Create a new layer below the Outlines layer, name it Color.
  • Double-click the Pencil tool in the Toolbar and adjust the settings as follows:
  • Check Fill new pencil strokes
  • Uncheck Keep Selected
  • Uncheck Edit Selected Paths
  • Adjust Fidelity to the second line from the right
  • Set the Fill color to a skin tone color and turn off the stroke color.
  • Adjust the transparency to between 15% and 20%.
  • You are now ready to start coloring your artwork. Notice when you draw over a previously drawn shape you are creating shading. You may want to experiment with the Pencil tool just a bit before you start to color your image. You may want to draw large color shapes and then go back over with varying smaller shapes to create various levels of shading.

Tracing Artwork with the Pencil tool and Wacom tablet


Although the Pencil tool does not have any settings specific to the Wacom tablet it is a great tool to draw with to take advantage of the Wacom tools natural feel of drawing with a pencil. Some students may find this an easier option then the Pen tool to create closed paths that they can than easily fill with color. Or, as with the sample to the left, Live Paint was used after drawing with the Pencil tool.


The Keep selected option keeps the path that has just been drawn selected when the Stylus is raised from the tablet (this also works with a mouse) if you also check the Edit selected paths option you can continue with the path when you begin drawing again making it very easy to create a closed path. The same cursor enhancements you see when using the Pen tool are seen with the Pencil Tool as long as you are within the designated number of pixels of the selected path.

Keep in mind, if you want to take advantage of shading with the Mesh tool options you will need to add color with Fill Colors not with Live Paint.


Software Tutorial from Wacom USA






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