Digitizing Mandala Drawings

Today is Sticker Wednesday and unfortunately I have no sticker to show for myself, only a first digital mandala about 60% done (See below). The digital learning curve has most definitely made itself felt today. I am coming to terms with the fact that getting up to speed with my digital skills to pursue my creative goals is going to take me some time.

I’m quite pleased with this concept though I remain so frustrated about the fact that I haven’t found how to break this thing down so I can work on each shape as I wish without constantly seeing the entire mandala selected.It seems that no amount of Expand and Ungroup does the job. I’ll have to uncover the truth behind what happens when we trace an image in Adobe using the various tracing options because there is definitely something unusual going that makes selecting the elements of the mandala somewhat tricky.

I am also not sure I’m 100% happy with this color scheme. Today left me no brain space to worry much about color palette I’m afraid. All my attention went into how to work with this mandala without wasting time and effort doing things the hard way (manually).

Finally, I got a major disappointment when I stopped today because that’s when I realized the right side is wrong (outer edge). Lesson learnt (compass).

Starting out as an artist surely isn’t always a smooth sea to sail but I like to believe there will be a light at the end of this tunnel 🙂

So, today I learnt a few things when it gets to digitizing mandalas. I thought I’d share them here just in case someone finds them invaluable. It also serves as a reference for myself. So, here is the list:

1.Drawing matters …a lot. The most spick and span the drawing, the most lovely the digitized version will be.

2.Pen nibs need to be bigger than 05 (forget about 02, at least as of today I feel this way).

3.Paper size matters too. I started out on A5 to find it’s not good because it doesn’t bring up details well to the human eye, not as well as A4 paper. The better the eye notices the details, the easier it is to focus on getting lines right while drawing.

4.Everything about your line matters, the start, the end, the thickness, the confidence the line is drawn with. Shaky lines won’t look as pretty as confidently drawn lines when digitized I found. As for end and start of lines, I found I reap the best rewards when joining my lines nicely without putting too much excessive weight or ink where they meet or it ends up ruining that part of the line a bit when digitized.

5.Time dear, take all the time in the world to draw the mandala as that’s, if you are a beginner at this, how you can achieve a good quality drawing with quality lines. In two words, don’t rush it and don’t be carefree. Care is what this type of job is all about I’m discovering. I say this because it’s so easy to draw fast and carefree. Doodling can easily happen carefree and that’s not a bad thing. But if the goal is to produce a pretty digitized mandala, then extreme care is needed.

6.Use a compass for every “layer”, from the most inner one to the most outer one. OK, maybe the most inner one needs to be drawn using something else as it can be rather small to make using a compass practical but use it for the rest. This will ensure the mandala builds up with the right proportions.

7. Know your goal so you know what tracing options to pick to make you happy. It seems that Black and White Logo and Sketch for instance produce 2 totally different outcomes. The former makes coloring inside the mandala and its elements easy. The latter is line art, so the inside is literally …empty. I found that it is important upfront to know which one you’re shooting for because if you’re going for line art, then it’s important to use a big pen nib to ensure when digitized the mandala looks nice. Unless, naturally, you deliberately want your line work to appear very thin. That’s what I had today and I wasn’t keen on that.

That’s it for today’s adventures into the world of digitizing mandalas in Illustrator. More on this later. Keep tuned!

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