How to bon a wolf herring

The Beginner's Guide to SketchBook Pro

For a long time, I was a huge fan of Photoshop for digital art. Sure, it's photo-editing software, but it has brushes and paints so you can easily use them to paint. It wasn't until I tried a few other programs that I realized how clunky Photoshop is compared to many cheaper alternatives made specifically for digital art.

Autodesk SketchBook Pro is one of them. With a user interface designed for tablet use (you can work without a keyboard!), With an excellent brush engine, a nice, clean workspace, and plenty of drawing assistance tools, it's the perfect choice for both beginners and professionals. In this tutorial I am going to introduce you to the basics of the program in its desktop version.

1. The basic interface of SketchBook Pro

When you open SketchBook Pro, you are greeted by a user interface with the basic displays that already exist. You can move them around and change their size. These panels are:

  1. Toolbar
  2. Brush palette
  3. lagoon
  4. Brush puck
  5. Color puck

There are also two other areas that you may find useful. Open them by going to Window> Layer Editor (6) and Window> Color Editor (7).

You can find everything you need to draw / paint in these areas. Let me explain them all one by one.

2. The brush palette

As the name suggests, this window gives you quick access to the selected brushes. By default, it's filled with basic brushes / tools that you might find useful:


Perfect for sketching - it's thin and medium soft.


Works exactly as expected - gently adds color and makes it more intense the more color you add.


If you're used to drawing with markers, you'll find this tool perfect for you. As in real life, you can't draw light over dark!

Chisel point

Something for fans of calligraphy and unusual strokes.


You can use it as a more distinctive pencil.


A very simple brush; You can use it to add large swatches of color that will later merge with something else.

Felt pen

It works like a soft pencil.

Ink pen

My favorite tool for everything: sketching, coloring in, even coloring. It's 100% hard.


There are also special "Customize" brushes in the palette. smear works like the wipe tool known from Photoshop.


This tool does exactly what it says it does: smudges the lines you touch with it.


This tool sharpens the hub that you touch with it.

Hard eraser

Pretty self-explanatory: Works like the inking pen, but erases instead of drawing.

Soft eraser

This eraser works like an airbrush and erases in a gentle way.

3. The brush library

However, these are just the basic tools, nothing special. To find other brushes go toBrush library.

Here you will find other standard sets with more complex variations of the basic tools: textured pens, different brush shapes, advanced wiping brushes ... all the brush sets you downloaded will also be placed here. To download free brush sets, just go to Window> Sketchbook Extras.

You can manage brush sets by holding the dotted circle in the upper right corner.

To create a new brush, just copy a brush and change the settings to your liking.

Finally, you can drag any brush into the brush palette. You can also remove the brushes you don't want there by dragging them outside of the panel.

4. Brush properties

Each brush can also be edited. Select a brush and go to Properties of the brush to do it.

Some brushes can only be edited in a simple way. You can change your brushes size and opacity.

However, most brushes give you access to Extended Properties. Feel free to experiment with anything you want - in case you screw something up, there is one Reset to default Button to get everything back to normal.

The advanced brushes can have theirs too Art Changed: You can switch the fill mode or turn a painting brush into an eraser or blending brush.

5. The brush puck

Once you've decided which brush to paint with, you can change its size or opacity. They can of course be changed in the Brush Properties area, but it would be a hassle to get there often. To change the size of a brush you can use the shortcuts [ and ]However, as per its no-keyboard policy, SketchBook offers something else: the Brush puck.

The white circle allows you to change the size and opacity simply by clicking and dragging. Drag left to reduce the size and right to enlarge it.

Drag down to decrease opacity and up to increase opacity. Either way, you don't have to pull too far away. Just release the mouse button, come back to the center, and drag again.

Thanks to the Brush Puck, you can easily paint with different brush sizes in different opacities without having to use the keyboard.

6. The layer editor

If you want the entire traditional experience, you can completely ignore the layer editor, but I think it would be a shame to ditch all of these possibilities. One layer for the sketch, one layer for coloring, one layer for colored digital art speeds up the creation process!

The Layer Editor in SketchBook always has at least two layers. The Background layer can be turned off if you want to save your picture without a background, but it can also be a good base for the picture. You can easily change the color by clicking the white circle.

You can manage layers with a few basic options:

  1. Add layer: adds a new layer above the selected layer.
  2. Add group: adds a folder that can contain multiple levels (or other groups!); Use it to keep things tidy.
  3. add a picture: place an outer picture in your file.
  4. clear: Remove the contents of the layer without removing the layer.
  5. Layer menu: You can find more options here.

The little padlock on the layer allows you to lock the pixels to only draw what has already been drawn. You can also change a level opacity by dragging the blue bar.

By doingLayer menu You have more specific options, but most of them are used when you want to edit multiple layers at once.

To edit a single layer, just press and hold to bring up a simple visual menu:

Every layer has one too Blending mode, just like in Photoshop! If you are new to it, a blending mode defines how the layer interacts with the layers below. For example, Multiply works like a dimming filter, so it's great for adding shadows. You can learn more about blend modes here:

7. The color editor

The color editor in SketchBook is pretty simple:

  1. Previous color / current color
  2. Color picker
  3. Shade ring
  4. Saturation / brightness square
  5. Toggle transparent color (turns the current brush into an eraser)
  6. Slider
  7. Swatches

As soon as you open that Slider In this window you can adjust the color in more detail, both in RGB and HSL Mode.

There is also a third mode, RandomizeThat's pretty cool - you can define a range of colors to paint, so each stroke picks a random color within the range.

You can create a new swatch by simply dragging it into the control panel.

SketchBook Pro also has another unique feature - a markup library from Copic. If you are used to real Copic markers, the transition to digital art will be very easy thanks to this feature. You can also use it to create digital graphics that are similar to real drawings made with the markers. You can find the panel under Window> Copic Library.

8. The color puck

However, if the color editor is so important, why doesn't it appear as the default window? That's because there is another way to choose colors in SketchBook. This option allows you to save extra space on the screenColor puck. It's a black circle that you can click and drag like with the Brush Puck. Click on it to see a mini color wheel showing where the puck is now. The wheel disappears by itself.

You can have a small swatch palette too!

If that's not enough, you can also drag the puck: left to decrease saturation and right to increase saturation.

... and up and down to influence the brightness.

9. The toolbar

Now let's take a look at the toolbar. This is where you can find all the extra tools that may not be required for drawing / painting, but which definitely make the process more convenient.

Repeat undo

Control-Z works normally in this program. However, if you want to remove a keyboardless bug, just click the arrow.

Zooming / rotating / moving the canvas

This tool is also useful if you've constantly assigned one of the keys on your pen, especially when you don't want to use the keyboard. As it is said, it leaves you zoom in / out, rotate the screen and Move along the canvas - just click and drag!


You can find all selection tools here: rectangle, oval, lasso, Polyline, and a Magic wand. You can also manage the behavior of multiple selections and reverse them if necessary.


Here you can manually crop the canvas or assign certain values.

Fast transformation

If you use any of the selection tools from here, you can instantly transform the selected item-change size it, rotate it or Move it.


This tool creates a bounding box for your selection so you can transform it by dragging the corners both symmetrically and asymmetrically.

Fill it up

It works just like the Paint Bucket Tool known from Photoshop ... simply better. You can fill the outline or a selection with a simple color or gradient. You can add more points by clicking the line and use color swatches by double-clicking one of the points.

Add a text layer

Of course, you can easily add text to the image using this tool.

A text layer is a different type of layer. If you want to edit the content, click and hold it to reveal the menu.

Ruler / ellipse / French curve

In traditional drawing, artists have access to a number of tools to help them. You can use them in SketchBook too! These tools create special guides that you can use to get the exact shape of the stroke.

Perspective instructions

In order to be able to draw correctly in perspective, you first need a perspective grid. But this tool does more than that - it actually guides your strokes along the grid you created! You have access to 1 point perspective, 2 point perspective, 3 point perspective, and evenFisheye perspective.


Do you need to draw exactly two halves of something? Use the Symmetry Tool to draw both halves at the same time.

Radial symmetry Also, you can draw beautiful mandalas in no time.

Even stroke

Drawing on a graphics tablet is not easy, even if you can only draw well on paper. Because of this, SketchBook has an option called a continuous wave. The program will help you draw a line to make sure it is smooth. You can adjust the strength of this support, from very subtle smoothing to strong line control.

Predictive stroke

This tool is a variation on the stationary stroke. When you draw something shaky, the program tries to predict what your intention was and corrects the result for you. It can be especially useful for drawing clean ovals without using shape guides.

Draw style

Speaking of which, SketchBook also has the guides on how to draw Lines, Rectangles, Ovals, and Polylines.

Fast window access

Finally, you can quickly show and hide four panels using the following buttons: Layers, brush palette, color editor, and Copic Library.

10. The lagoon

There is also a special toolbar in the corner of the lagoon. You get quick access to the most important functions ...

… to like Tools / Views

to brush

... basic colors ...

Edit tools

… and File tools.

You can hide the lagoon or move it to another convenient location.

11. FlipBook

There is also a "hidden" feature of SketchBook Pro-Flip books, the animation tool. You can use it by going to File> New FlipBook. The editor is pretty simple - you can use most of normal SketchBook functions to draw your animation frame by frame. The only limitation is the three default levels, which cannot be changed in any way.

12. Adjustments

Although SketchBook isn't photo editing software, it does include a few options that can be useful when you finish painting. Just go to Image> Adjust to stop thatBrightness contrast

Hue / saturation

… and Color balance. You can also turn the colors on Grayscale and turning back You.

The picture The menu also contains other options that you won't find on any toolbar, but which can still be very useful, such as: Mirror canvas or Mirror plane. If there's something you're looking to do and aren't sure SketchBook will allow it, the Image menu is definitely worth checking out!


While SketchBook Pro seems so simple, I found that it has everything you need to create beautiful artwork from scratch. You don't need magic adjustments and filters to draw - they can be useful when you're done, but most of the process doesn't require fancy tools.

If you are a beginner, you will love this program for its simplicity. If you're a pro, you might be surprised how good it feels to just draw without anything getting in your way.

This artwork was painted entirely in SketchBook Pro