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I'm looking for creative ways to add imperfections or flaws to my vector graphics in order to make them appear more like hand drawn sketches. I'm working with Inkscape so tips that work here are very welcome but I don't want to limit the question to it.

Here are options that I commonly use:

  • Actually drawing objects with freehand tools and simplify them to get rid of shaky hands effects when using a mouse to draw.
  • Add objects and blur them.
  • Use colour gradients or patterns.
  • Use textures.

Are there methods to methodically add imperfections? I'm especially looking for "not so straight lines" (freehand tools) and "not uniform colouration" (multiple gradients?) as may be the result of different pressure in real paintings.

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There's ways to do that, but, ideally, that's where you'd jump into a raster graphics tool. Adding texture and such is typically done via masking and is what products like PhotoShop excel at. –  DA01 Mar 11 '13 at 18:06
I don't use Inkscape, but "jitter" is a term often used to describe "programmatic imperfection." I see there is a "jitter nodes" effect for example. –  horatio Mar 13 '13 at 14:36

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted
  • Line vocabulary. General variation in width of any line. Easy with Illustrator's Width Tool
  • Line form. Non-precise curves or angles which lead to a more natural feel - far more natural with a drawing tablet than any mouse
  • Color variation - gradients, patterns, textures - often added as a secondary fill and blend space or transparency altered
  • Never use 100% of any color. In my experience, only ink and a tech pen lay down 100% color. You only get about 95% max color with any other traditional media.
  • Specific, planned, imperfections. Draw divots, bumps, holes, etc. Add moles to people or discoloration areas. Flat, steady, objects always lend to a "computer generated" impression. This is where Pixar and ILM are getting better. They've learned to add imperfections intentionally.
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Very useful tips, especially the one about colour saturation. –  Stockfisch Mar 11 '13 at 20:05

In Adobe Illustrator you can use Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen with some subtle settings to give a rougher, less clean edge to shapes/lines.

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True, but note the question is about Inkscape. –  DA01 Oct 14 '13 at 16:55
Granted, but the initial question did say "I'm working with Inkscape so tips that work here are very welcome but I don't want to limit the question to it." –  Jon Chubb Oct 15 '13 at 7:47

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