PE:How To Achieve Smooth and Clean Lines

20 min read

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Astralseed's avatar

Digital Art

Hello everyone,
Since it's something many people struggle with while working digitally, today I will be discussing how you can achieve smooth and clean lines using digital mediums.

SAI Stabilizer Tool

Paint Tool SAI offers my favorite method of creating smooth lines with its easy to use Stabilizer tool that works with absolute ease and no need for complicated setting adjustments. It doesn't matter how shaky your hands might be, the stabilizer tool will still be capable of creating beautifully smooth lines for you.

SAIStabilizer by Astralseed

As you can see, the stabilizer tool is easily accessed, and you can quickly and easily adjust the level of stabilization you desire. The lower the number selected, the least amount of stabilization is utilized, the higher the more. I generally leave the stabilizer tool set to the highest setting (as seen above), though I've found that sometimes if you're working with smaller brush sizes reducing the stabilizer can be beneficial. Don't be afraid to play around with it some to find the setting you feel most comfortable with.

Pen Tool

I believe these days most if not all digital art programs have a pen tool included and if you're one of those artists who works with a mouse, the pen tool will probably be your best friend when it comes to creating smooth lines since they are easily achieved with the pen tool, even if you don't have a fancy tablet and pressure sensitivity available to you.

The pen tool works by creating points linked as a path, which can either be stroked or filled, depending on the type of line you wish to create. Some programs such as Illustrator have several other tools available to help enhance your pen 'strokes' with tools like the smooth tool, or the ability to add or remove anchor points easily, and even change the weight of your lines.

Brush Settings

Editing your brush settings can give some nice benefits as well when trying to achieve smooth lines, let's have a look at some of the different settings that can help you create smoother lines.

This setting doesn't really allow for any adjustments in Photoshop, however, simply turning this setting on will help create an overall smoothness with your lines and strokes, so it is worth having it turned on.

Smoothing by Astralseed

Shape Dynamics
Shape dynamics are exactly as the name implies, a setting which gives more dynamics to your strokes.
When you turn on the setting you'll notice the tapered ends. The big thing with this setting is the pressure sensitivity aspect that will allow you to create lines that vary in width.

Shapedynamics by AstralseedShapedynamics2 by Astralseed

You can adjust pen pressure sensitivity, tilt etc for your shape dynamics and I suggest you play around with these settings to find what will work best for you.


Different brushes will have different effects and overall react differently with how you use them etc. There are a number of brushes that are wonderful for working on line art

Above are just a few examples of brushes that can help you create smoother, cleaner lines. I recommend browsing the Stock & Resource gallery under the appropriate application (program) you plan to use, for more brushes that can help you create beautiful line work.

© 2015 - 2021 Astralseed
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extrin6's avatar
thanks for the informations
Astralseed's avatar
Hejbrush's avatar
Hej, I've created a global pen smoothing app for mac OS X. Check it out - Hej Stylus!
BlueSolitaire's avatar
I've tried using the Pen Tool on both Photoshop and Corel Painter. No dice. I just can't get it to work. So hand-drawn lines scanned it will have to be. :|
Astralseed's avatar
The pen tool can be a bit of a challenge to get used to at first for sure, but if you keep trying it and keep practicing, it will come like second nature in no time :) 
Teepy-teep's avatar
Wonderful! I noticed my work looked much more professional when I was able to achieve smooth lines.

Recently in Illustrator CC they have added the curvature tool which acts a lot like the sai stabilizing tool. Its so much easier than learning the pen tool as there are no anchors and handles to deal with.
Astralseed's avatar
Smooth lines definitely make a world of difference!  
I don't use Illustrator all that often, but I'll need to check that out next time I use it :D 
Andorada's avatar
Mahogi's avatar
Thank you for mentioning my work in your helpful list :)
Astralseed's avatar
Tianera's avatar
Line art is indeed a big topic - thank you for that compilation! I'm using the S-2 in SAI currently, but kinda.. well, now I'm gonna try more of them. Shaky hand sucks Llama Emoji-10 (Shy) [V1] 
Astralseed's avatar
Yeah, I definitely like the higher ones, they make much nicer lines :D
bearcare's avatar
Awesome tutorial! And thanks for the tips to everyone in the comments! For a photoshop beginner, I've found tutorials here much easier to grasp than official books or courses online. 
Astralseed's avatar
Yeah, DA has some really great tutorials :D 
PinkPonyFarts's avatar
Something to add!
For Photoshop users there's a plugin called Lazy Nezumi. The plugin creates a delay in your strokes so you can plan out your curves slowly. It also does a huge amount of other things, but this is about smooth lines :giggle: It is a paid plugin though, 30 day trial then around $35 for the paid version. 
Astralseed's avatar
Does it work pretty well?  How much lag does it create?  I am not a huge fan of laggy brushes because it interrupts my work flow, but if it's only very minor lag that wouldn't be so bad if it helped stabilize lines more. 
alexpeanut's avatar
Lazy Nezumi has literally saved my workflow. You can customize the amount of smoothing on a scale of 1-100. I sit at about 15 and experience almost no lag, others choose to go much higher for a smoother finish. You can also keybind turning it off/on so you can turn it on for long flowy lines and off when you want sharper lines. 

Also, if you're a student (or want to pretend to be one) you can buy it for $20 instead of $35. There's also a free trial to test it out for 30 days c: 

I would give it a 9 1/2 out of 10, and my only complaint is it's for PCs only so I can't put it on my work computer, which is a mac |D
OpalSkye's avatar
Just to echo the other peeps; LN is amazing for PS users. I went with the trial and then outright bought the plugin because it's so good. The customisability and power of the thing is staggering, alexpeanut first alerted me to it and I'm forever grateful to her for sharing it because it's phenomenal and has increased my confidence in digital work tenfold. :heart:
alexpeanut's avatar
So worth it, right? |D
OpalSkye's avatar
PinkPonyFarts's avatar
The lag is customisable so it's up to you how long the distance between your brush and your stroke is, and if the stroke catches up to the brush or not.
batalap's avatar
I do think that it's well worth the money, though I did buy it when it was $10 off aha. For me (I'm using Photoshop CC on a laptop) and it doesn't lag at all when I draw.
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