December 23, 2018

Vector portrait of a wolf

Okay, this is a somewhat incoherent blog entry. I started the vector portrait of a wolf a few days ago, then stopped because drawing with the Huion H610 Pro in Affinity Designer was extremely slow. When drawing a line, it took up to a minute before the lines appeared on the monitor screen - that was a real test for my patience and most likely for my computer as well. It is a first gen i7 machine with 16 GB slow DDR4 RAM and a crappy, aged Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

So I reluctantly decided to quit. But after a day or so, I just could not leave the portrait unfinished and continued in spite of the slow rendering. So below the ======= line is the original post and what you read and see above it was actually posted after resuming to draw.

It would probably have been a lot easier to draw this in pixels, but I have a deep rooted preference for vector drawing, since it has a lot of advantages like rescaling with out loss of quality. So I struggled a couple of days and squeezed out this portrait that contains zero pixels and 100% vectors. Below you see the progress sequence of this vector portrait.

Update April 30 2022 - recolouring

Update March 21 2019 - color change to see the effect

Update Dec 2018 - Completed for the time being;
I am basically tired of the slow rendering and may
one day next year add more detail and correct errors

Update Dec 28 2018

Update Dec 27 2018

Update Dec 26 2018

Update Dec 24 2018

Update Dec 23 2018

Dec 22 2018 - first set up


I am currently - December 23 2018 - working on a 100% vector portrait of a wolf, using the very affordable Huion H610 Pro digital drawing tablet and the very affordable vector drawing program Affinity Designer. It actually is a test to see how well Affinity Designer works with tablets. I may post the entire progress sequence once the portrait will be completed. One stage is placed below to give an impression of where I am going with this:

Resumed drawing anyway Dec 30 2018 - colour testing

Update December 25 2018

One thing I've noticed already (on December 24 and 25 2018) is that the rendering of the brush strokes are very, very slow. In addition uninterrupted hatching (scratching) renders faster than separate brush strokes. There is an experimental function in Affinity Designer in the beta version - High Precision Tablet Input (located under Preferences - Tools) - that seems to slightly improve performance, but not enough to create a situation in which efficient drawing is possible.

It can't be the file's size which currently is just over 10MB, so it must have to do with the way Affinity Designer handles the processing of the brush stroke input. For instance, the vector portrait of Vladimir Putin is 68.3 MB and that did not result in any problem; in this vector portrait the input was done entirely with the mouse while the number of (custom made) brush strokes was significantly less than that of the wolf portrait. Below is a screendump of the outline view in Affinity Designer which shows the enormous number of curves or brush strokes that exceed 20.000 even in this incomplete state.

The vector outlines at an earlier stage

In its current state Affinity Designer isn't really suited to do more than simple vector drawing, unless the artist has a sea of time, the patience of an angel and the concentration to exercice these characteristics while creating a complex brushed vector drawing with a digital drawing tablet. To put this experience in perspective - I haven't had any serious experience with Affinity Design's competition, since I refuse to work with the hideously overpriced Adobe Illustrator and the bug ridden CorelDRAW.

The open source program Inkscape however, is very responsive, once the rather concealed tablet input settings are figured out correctly. The undisputed best results were made with the free program Krita; not only was it very responsive, but its interpretation of the tablet's pen pressure levels was absolutely brilliant, but only with the Dynamic Brush Tool which is a pixel brush. Krita is photo-editing software that has a certain level of vector drawing capabilities, while Inkscape and Affinity Designer are vector drawing programs that have certain photo-editing features. Unfortunately there is no file format that allows interchanging between these programs that retains layer structure and vector functionality.

Project terminated for the time being

I discovered that this is a known issue on the Affinity forums, so what is left to do, is to wait for code updates that are in fact capable of handling complex tablet input. In addition, I would also like to consider the possibility that the Huion driver doesn't collaborate well with the Affinity Designer software. Or it could be a mix of these two assumptions. Affinity Photo - Serif's photo editing program - seems to have no problem with the input of the Huion tablet, so the culprit probably is the Affinity Designer software. Perhaps it requires a lot of processing power to calculate the tablet input and convert it into vector curves. Whatever is the case, I will not work on this portrait until the problem is solved and in the mean time, focus on making different types of vector art (without using the Huion Tablet in conjunction with Affinity Designer).

Update Dec 30 2018

I decided to continue anyway even if the drawing is frustrating. Sometimes the lines drawn appear on the screen a minute later, but I feel I've come too far to just abandon the project.