Customize Your Work Surface

You are probably eager to jump right in and start trying out all the tools, but before you do that you may find it useful to think about how you want to set up your work surface to make access to the tools you will be using easier and faster. Typically, you will want to keep some of the floating tool windows open for that purpose. Below is a list and a brief description of the tools that open floating windows. (Detailed instructions for how to use each tool can be found in the Toolbar section of this tutorial.) Notice that in the illustration I have grouped all the windows to the right of the drawing canvas. Because I am right-handed I find it easier to access them there. Experiment with moving them around to see what works best for you. Once you have opened, repositioned and then closed a floating window during a drawing session, if you reopen it, it will appear in the last spot it occupied.

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  1. Pressure Sensitivity Sliders: You will only open this box (by clicking on the "P" in the upper right-hand corner of the canvas window) if you have downloaded the JTablet and use a tablet/stylus for drawing. I keep it open all the time.
  2. Color Picker/Mask Window: Open this window by clicking on this icon Color Picker Icon in Box Five of the Toolbar. This is the easiest way to select a color while you are drawing. (Once you have picked a color and drawn with it, you can reselect that color simply by right clicking on it in your drawing.) This is also the tool for toggling Mask and Reverse Mask. (For more about using masks see Box Seven in the Toolbar section of this tutorial.) I keep the color picker/mask window open all the time.
  3. Toolbar: Is permanently visible on your work surface. The boxes in the toolbar contain all the tools you will use to make your drawing. Most of the boxes contain more than one tool. You can view all the options within a box by cycle clicking through them or click/hold/slide your pointer/cursor on them until a drop-down menu appears. It is not possible to remove the toolbar from your work surface but you can reposition and resize it.
  4. Font: Open this window by clicking on this icon Color Picker Icon in Box Five of the Toolbar. It is only necessary to open this window when you are formatting text. I close it as soon as I've finished that task.
  5. Layers: Open this window by clicking on the bottom box of the toolbar. The Layers Window shows you the order in which you have stacked your layers, what opacity you have set any particular layer, which layers are active and all the options on the Layers Menu. If you use layers you will want to keep this window open most of the time. It can be repositioned and resized.
  6. Keep: Open this window by clicking on this icon Color Picker Icon in Box Five of the Toolbar. 12 separate tool settings/color changes you make while you are drawing can be saved by right clicking in one of the Keep boxes. To return to a previous tool setting and color just left click on the box where you stored it. Since, at this time, there is no label for the boxes in the keep I would find it frustrating to try to remember what has been stored in which box. It does display the stored color so, if you have a good memory, it could be quite useful.
  7. Texture: Open this window by clicking on this icon Color Picker Icon in Box Five of the Toolbar. This window displays all the options you have for adding different textures to your drawing by first clicking on a drawing tool and then picking one of the Texture boxes. I keep it open most of the time because it can be repositioned and resized to a very small area.

Many artists prefer to use a photograph or other image for reference when they are drawing. It is possible to make up to half your monitor screen available for a reference picture by doing a click/hold on the right side of the Float page and then dragging the side of the page as far to the left as it will go. As an alternative, right-clicking on your desktop toolbar and choosing "Tile Windows Vertically" when you only have two windows open, will automatically divide your screen equally between them. You may want to reposition and resize the floating windows for your tools in a manner similar to what you see in the following example. Remember: you can resize the floating windows by doing a click/hold on a corner and then dragging to the desired size.

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