Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 327–337 | Cite as

Adding depth to line artwork by digital stippling—a step-by-step guide to the method

  • Simon Bober
  • Torben Riehl
Methods and Applications


Vector-based software has revolutionized scientific illustrating and is well established in taxonomy. However, simple line drawings lack depth information. Shading techniques, such as stippling—the application of dots to generate shade—are the methods of choice for simulating shade, structure, shape, and texture. In this paper, a step-by-step guide for digital stippling is presented. Manual stippling offers great flexibility to achieve highly realistic results. A round brush is applied to the line art by tapping. To drastically reduce time consumption and generate homogeneous tinges, a semiautomation was developed: the smallest units of symmetric stippling patterns are stored in a brush library. Using macroinstructions (macros), such stored raw patterns are converted into symmetric repetitive patterns. This way, stippling can be applied quickly and evenly across large areas of the underlying line drawing. These methods come with all the advantages of vector illustrations, such as high scalability, reproducibility and easy correction of strokes that have turned out imperfect.


Systematics Stippling Shading Digital inking Illustration 



The authors are thankful for the support of A. Brandt and the helpful and friendly working environment at the Zoological Museum Hamburg. N. Heitland practically tested the methods described in this paper. J. Ruch kindly provided comments on an earlier version which improved this paper. This paper benefitted from discussions about the topic with G.D.F. Wilson. During preparation of this manuscript, TR received funding from the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). Two anonymous reviewers are thanked for their efforts to critically improve this paper.

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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biocenter Grindel and Zoological MuseumUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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