fill doodles/cheap illustrator puppetry

Now and then I go through the Adobe Illustrator subreddit and answer some questions nobody else has had a good answer to. Usually this means I am procrastinating.

One person wanted to know how to draw a thing and kinda do puppetry with it.

I usually do stuff like this this way:

  1. Draw your limb.
  2. Select it and drag it into the brush panel. Make an art brush.
  3. Choose “scale proportionately” under the brush scale options.
  4. Draw some lines with this art brush. Maybe hit the “options” button in the brush pane and turn on “flip across” if needed.

If one part ends up way off-center as a brush, try this:

  1. drag the brush to an empty part of the artboard (do not drag it over a shape, if you do AI will try to apply it to that shape, even if it’s on a locked layer)
  2. view>outline
  3. notice the big invisible rectangle around your shape? Drag it out (using shift to constrain the drag) until its center is pretty much on the center of your shape.
  4. select all the stuff that makes up the copy of the brush you just dragged out, including the invisible rectangle, and alt-drag it over the brush in the brush palette. (Mostly I don’t draw limbs with this to be honest – I use this for a lot of repeated details in my comics like tattoos or logos on clothing.)

With everything selected, you can see that the arms and legs on those two dudes at the bottom are just simple lines, quickly drawn with the pencil tool. I grabbed the point at right elbow of the running dude and moved it around until the elbow roughly aligned; originally the big elbow bump was very definitely not on the joint.

(Also this way of drawing elbows is totally based off of the way Fred Hembeck draws knees. Because it made me laugh, and whenever I do images to explain or work out something asked on a forum, I always try to make them funny.)

You could easily do full-color art for your puppet parts; I didn’t feel like bothering. Also there is the new Puppet Warp to fool with; this way is a lot easier if you’re gonna do a lot of re-use. I don’t use it for puppet parts, but I do use it for repeated stuff in my comics – logos on clothing, tattoos, whatever.


And then here is some abuse of pattern fills.

“use pattern fills full of whatever” was one of two and a half ways I gave someone who wanted to duplicate an image that was made of two colors: white, and a big bunch of smeary painterly color swirls.

  1. Draw your thing in B&W
  2. On a new layer, make a bunch of multicolor stuff that more than covers it. Probably just draw some semi-transparent shapes with gaussian blurs applied. Or whatever.
  3. Select all that stuff from step 2 and drag it into the Swatches palette to make a pattern fill.
  4. Turn off that layer.
  5. Select all your black stuff (select>Same will help here). Apply your new pattern swatch.
  6. With everything still selected, hold down the `/~ key while using the Selection, Direct Selection, Scale, or Rotate tools. This will affect only the fill pattern’s location. (The Free Transform tool will not do this. Use the older, separate tools.)

(The half a way was to use a global swatch to draw your stuff, then alt-drag the pattern swatch OVER the original swatch. And the other way involved putting your B&W art in a layer’s transparency mask, then drawing a bunch of colorful stuff on the layer. I’m sure I go into that in more detail somewhere in the Illustrator posts on here.)

I didn’t save the source of the puppetry piece but here’s the fill pattern’s source.

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