Rulers! Let’s talk about them. Rulers are probably what I miss most about analog drawing. A T-square and a triangle were all I needed to quickly create environments. Unlike drawing people, which are composed of organic shapes, it was easier to get things to look right when drawing a man-made environment because of rulers and understanding how perspective works.
When I made the switch to digital-only drawing, I found myself unable to recreate the ease at which I could whip up environments. I knew Manga Studio had a robust ruler function, but whenever I tried to use it I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. The parallel ruler function was easy enough to figure out, but the perspective rulers felt really intimidating to me. Those lines! And those cross sections. WHY DO THEY SPAN THE WHOLE PAGE WHEN I JUST WANT A PANEL. The instructions in the guide were no help either — they pretty much consisted of “1.) Add ruler 2.) ??? 3.) You did it good job”
It didn’t explain the properties of the special rulers or how to properly manipulate them. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out some basic things:
- Create a new layer JUST for the ruler. It will stay on that layer and won’t carry over to others.
- Don’t try to sketch an environment and try to match the perspective rulers up to it. Just use the rulers right off the bat.
- You can toggle on an array of lines stemming from the perspective point to eliminate guessing.
- You can disable the snap function from the properties
Once I played around with it, I found that it is a lot faster to use a pen tool + the snap-to function of the special ruler vs. using the line tools. Now that I’m more comfortable with it, this is what I would suggest for a process when starting out:
- Create a new layer and add the perspective ruler to it (MS4 has 1-point, 2-point and 3-point options.)
- Right-click on one of the points on the ruler to pull up its properties. Toggle on the option to display the auxiliary lines around the points.
- Move the horizon line (the horizontal blue line) to wherever you need it. Keep an eye on those auxiliary lines to get a feel for how the objects will look when you draw them.
- Use the pencil tool to sketch out the environment. If you’re drawing a bunch of objects that are supposed to be lined up, just draw all the way through them for accuracy. Then erase between the lines later.
- When you’re done with the sketch, make the layer a non-photo blue (or whatever color you have it set to) and create a new layer for inking on top. Use the line tool to trace over the complete environment.
Once you are comfortable enough, I would even go so far as to suggest you eliminate sketching and go straight to inking the environment. Just create the environment and toggle off the snap-to function to erase. Obviously for more complex environments it’s better to have the sketch, otherwise the erasing will get messy. I haven’t found a way to have multiple layers share the same ruler, but for now this is what I’ve found that works.
I am still feeling my way through these rulers but I’m happy to have this basic understanding, which has eluded me for so long. They still don’t replace my beloved T-square and triangle, but I can deal! In the meantime, why don’t you share your tips/thoughts on the special rulers? Leave a comment or email me!