Is there a filter, script or effect to create a smudge design like this:

enter image description here

Would this be possible to create this effect programmatically or is this not in the scope of Illustrator/Photoshop?

How would you start with an effect like this?

  • This example looks kinda like it was hand drawn... That is a place where you could start. Then you could convert it to vectors with Illustrator (or what ever) or if it doesn't have to be vector, then just otherwise clean it up in Photoshop (or what ever).
    – Joonas
    Sep 28 '17 at 11:28

This is not as hard as it seems to do, in either Illustrator or Photoshop. I would prefer illustrator as i would get all vector. This is what you do:

  1. Rotate the image (for easier drawing), to the orientation of your lines)
  2. Draw out form edges with the warp tool.

    Tip: holding shift constrains movement to horizontal or vertical

  3. Drag some secondary ripples
  4. Cut out a gap with a square (or do it before step 2)
  5. Wrap some splashes form a oval etc.
  6. Repeat 2-5 until your satisfied
  7. Add splatter
  8. Rotate back.

enter image description here

Image 1: Resulting smudge, you can do different sizes and styles if you want (mine is thinner than the demo but essentially similar)

Could it be done programmatically? Yes no problem, a program is after all using the same process as manually doing it. But yes it would take some time to implement (as there is no good suitable high level Bézier library), nothing fancy mind you.

Thinking out loud (how would one do this algorithmically)

How would we make a algorithmic attack? Well we could try cutting the object by lines and make some vectors along those lines that oscillate on the surface. Lets draw this manually:

enter image description here

Insert points on the original curve at point of oscillation vector and move it onto top of the curve.

enter image description here

Then delete the vectors drawn (I did do this manually, so i can check the plausibility of an algorithm) and connect the edges.

enter image description here

Now one could perturb things a bit more too and add some noise and variation and it would be quite good... Again just no good high level Bézier library to do these kinds of things so i wont spend my time on this.

  • Wow, thank you for your detailed answer with the manual tutorial and the steps for an algorithmic approach! Sep 28 '17 at 18:14

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