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Thread: Inkscape: realistic hand-drawn effect (or gimp)

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  1. #1

    Default Inkscape: realistic hand-drawn effect (or gimp)

    i have been looking for this for hours through google and various tutorial websites and cant find it.

    I am trying to create a map that has a realistic hand drawn feel. I would just use the paintbrush tool in GIMP and apply slight random jitters + pressure sensitive changes in size to make it really authentic, but I am not quite good enough with my tablet to control it well enough to do pen lines.

    I used to love doing line-art in photoshop using the pen tool and messing with the stroke effects but I can't figure out how to apply the effect I am looking for here in inkscape (or GIMP if you guys know an easier way to do this in gimp.) I like the precise control paths give me, but I don't want the clean look of the standard stroke.

    I want the map to look like it was drawn on a piece of paper, by hand. Or at least decently close to it. [THIS] is the WIP thread for the map I am working on.

    Any idea?

  2. #2
    Guild Expert Hai-Etlik's Avatar
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    May 2009
    48° 28′ N 123° 8′ W
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    This is pretty much what I've been trying to do (check my gallery to decide for yourself how well I've accomplished it)

    Some things you might want to look at are:

    The Tweak tool
    Stroke to Path
    Fractalize and some of the other Extensions.
    Path Effects
    Filter Effects

    I never quite finished this tutorial, but it covers some of this stuff in a cursory way:

  3. #3


    Coyotemax has a great quote in his sig:
    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."
    That said I know we've had this conversation a few times. I'm thinking it's been a year or so since the last but don't quote me on that.

    I use Gimp and Inkscape (Gimp mostly) and since I only have a mouse to work with I typically draw things I want drawn by hand on paper and scan them in. I did use a digital camera when I first started out but the scanner seems to do a better job. There are some effects you can use in Gimp to get rougher lines and stuff. For example the tutorial on creating realistic coastlines goes into making a non perfectly smooth line using filters. I think it unlikely that it would work for what you are trying to do but you might learn a few tricks about roughing up the lines.

    I have done some drawing with my mouse but that's like drawing with a rock which is pretty brutal.

    To be honest I think if the software was capable of making your image look authentically hand drawn you wouldn't see so many perfectly drawn maps all the time. Most folks hereabouts love the real thing. There's just something more organic about it.

    One thing I have been playing around with recently is the 'Path-trace bitmap' function in Inkscape. You might be satisfied with something like that.
    Last edited by Jaxilon; 02-13-2012 at 12:50 AM.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  4. #4


    I really wanted to find a vector way to do it so I could make one, semi-detailed map of the entire city and then just zoom in on specific parts of it, add a tad bit of detail, and have close up maps of different sectors of the city. This wouldn't be feasible with pen and paper (unless I had a HUGE piece of paper and a massive scanner) and raster programs can only zoom in so far. To get it high enough resolution to zoom in far enough may just threaten to kill my little laptop.

    I do not want to do pen and paper. I am no professional artist and make too many mistakes to not have an undo shortcut.

    If I can't find a way to make it look not completely perfect like a regular vector design I will just work hard at improving my accuracy with my tablet and 'draw' it in GIMP by tracing with a pen like brush. I still really want to have the flexibility and power of vectors, but if I need to I can give it up. I would rather have a more authentic look than have the flexibility.

  5. #5


    Or you can look up Redrobes on these forums and check out his software Viewingdale.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  6. #6
    Community Leader jfrazierjr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Apex, NC USA


    Another option(not sure if you want to spend money or not) might be to use Fractal Mapper. They don't have a lot of symbols, but what it DOES to well is zoom. It has this great feature where you can set zoom levels, so that as you zoom in or out, items you "tag" appear or disappear. So.. for example... if you are looking at a regional map, you would see a label for a town. As you zoom in, the label would of course get bigger right? Well, with Fractal Mapper, you could(if you wanted to do the work) make it so that after a certain zoom level, the "highest" level label would turn invisible and be replaced by a smaller one. Do this a few times with different elements, and you could have a city look like a dot on a map, and then you could zoom in down to the individual house level (as noted above, ViewingDale does something similar, but I don't know the details).

    Alternately, both Fractal Mapper and Campaign Cartographer offer map hot links. Basically you could define a section of the main map and when clicked upon, it would load the more detailed map of that area. And of course, these are recursive, so you could have City->Quarter->Street Block->House and then within the house if it had stairs, you could link the stairs to each other so that show the up/downstairs as appropriate.
    My Finished Maps
    Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
    My Tutorials:
    Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
    How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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