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I like this style of line art:

enter image description here

It looks fairly straightforward to make in Illustrator, but I notice that the lines have a subtle imperfection that makes it look more natural. They aren't uniform in width (especially visible in the trees), and there's some texture to them.

Is this a brush or is it some kind of effect applied afterwards?

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  • Is the textures in the trees caused by the technique, or is it a print/scan/compression artifact? Do you have any other, similar images? Do you know who the author is? As is, I am not sure this question can be decisively answered, since it can be any number of things from paint and markers to digital or any combination.
    – J.E
    Jul 8 '20 at 9:19
  • 1
    Looks to me like a scan of a print, possibly made using a rubber stamp, or linocut. It's hard to say how it was done for sure.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 8 '20 at 10:27
  • It does have that Illustrator auto trace feel. Pretty much all rounded corners, even in places where you wouldn't necessarily normally do that, like where the clouds meet the mountains. They sort of morph in with the mountain. So I would say ink pen on paper, then scan it or take a photo, auto trace in AI and you should get something pretty close to that.
    – Joonas
    Jul 8 '20 at 12:01
  • This fella does a lot of this kind of work: dribbble.com/LiamAshurst Jul 8 '20 at 19:43
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It's difficult to tell how this was actually created. It could for example be a scan of a print made with a rubber stamp or even a linocut. It has what I'd call a hand made print look to it.

Anyway, here's one method using Illustrator to create something similar for the trees, as an example.

  1. Create your drawing from some thick manual strokes using the Pen Tool, set rounded corners and caps in the Strokes panel. Don't make it too perfect, slight variations will aid that hand-made look later.

  2. Select the tree branches and apply Width Profile 1

  3. Select all and Expand Appearance, then Expand again to turn everything into outlines.

  4. In the Path Finder, hit Union

  5. Simplify the path, and use the Rounded Corner Widgets to round all the corners

  6. Find a raster image of a rolled ink texture, or perhaps a blackboard (chalkboard) texture, and use the path as a clipping mask on the texture image.

enter image description here

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This seems easy to achieve with raster graphics. Let's start with the following image: enter image description here

Regarding the "not uniform in width" part, lines are wider where they are closer to other dark things. To achieve this:

  • Gaussian blur enter image description here
  • Boost contrast to the max enter image description here

Regarding the "texture" part, the dark areas are darker near their edges. To achieve this:

without noise: enter image description here

with noise: enter image description here

Sorry, my sharpen filter has too small a radius. You can play around with settings of all said filters.

Then you can convert it to vector graphics.

When working directly with vector graphics instead, the first step would be to "smoothen" the contours, see for example https://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/24827/smoothing-polygons-in-contour-map

Also note:

  • The aforementioned filters can be part of physical image acquisition or default scanner software
  • From a scientific point of view, the aforementioned filters can be analyzed from the point of view of differential equations, and that can yield information about how the level sets evolve, i.e. how to smoothen the contours to achieve the same (up to numerical imprecisions) result.

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