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Vector help

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OddBerryCreations

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I know that each artist has their own preferred method and mine is vector. The problem is I'm stuck. I am absolutely in love with vector art but I've been told that my sketches and drawings look better than my finished vector work. This is what I don't want to happen. How do I prevent this? I sketch, sketch and sketch. I outline the final image I want, scan into my computer and then trace with the pen tool. Anyone that knows the Adobe Illustrator program knows that the pen tool is a tough task to master but I'm a good bit in. however, my line art doesn't work out right and my final digital image looks like crap compared to my final sketch/drawing. And I don't want to even talk about coloring...if the lines aren't right, the coloring is going to look horrible. I've looked and looked for vector art groups and just can't seem to find any that are devoted to nothing but vector.

I love the look of art done in Photoshop but it just doesn't seem to grab me like vector does...if only I could figure out what it is I'm doing wrong. I have so many sketches I want to get colored and put up on my website...but they just don't look right.  :eyeballs:
#1 - May 16, 2013, 09:35 AM

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I love to draw in vector, too. I use a mouse and Adobe Illustrator and I prefer to work with a LARGE monitor (as opposed to on my laptop.

I work the same way you do, drawing a sketch and then moving to the computer. I've encountered a few glitches and tips over the years--and maybe you're dealing with the same things... I'll share what I've learned and maybe it'll help you, too. If not, no worries.

I've run into issues when my scan isn't high enough resolution I can't see my pencil lines well enough to replicate them exactly in vector (the width of the lines and the precise shape help me capture the energy of the original drawing). Scanning the drawings at 200% helps me here. Then I create my vector image larger as well... it just gives me more space to manipulate the handles/points. Plus, brushes in Illustrator are pretty coarse, so working bigger (then expanding the appearance) and then going smaller helps me.

When I taught at RIT and Boise State, my new students often didn't have very good control of the vector line. Their lines looked lumpy, had extra points, had short handles, one handle (instead of two), didn't create closed shapes, and, in general, had lots of issues. I learned from my students to pay attention to every point. After I've done my basic vector piece, I zoom in and cross-examine my points and handles. Plus, this step is a must for submitting art to sell on some stock art sites.

I am tempted to copy and paste items in my drawings... and sometimes it works, but sometimes it make my vector art look like I'm in a hurry. Yes, both eyeballs need to match, but they look eerie to me when they are copied and pasted.

I used to hire an amazing illustrator at my last job... and he'd deliver his drawings in vector (so I got to get a good look at them.) I learned from him not to make all my lines black. He'd sometimes use a darker shade of red to outline an apple, or a contrasting color such as brown to make a bluebird pop. Some of his lines even had gradients in them (and he always used lines of slightly varying widths... so technically they were varying vector shapes--just very narrow ones.)

I'm also a huge fan of transparency > multiply for making vector "shadows" for my shapes.

Good luck with your drawings!

Sarah

My portfolio is here if it helps to have a visual:
http://www.istockphoto.com/search/portfolio/334217/?facets={%2225%22:%226%22}#1af90e87
#2 - May 16, 2013, 11:51 AM
LOVE AND LEFTOVERS and FAN ART
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Simple answer. Stop sketching on paper and sketch in Illustrator. Don't use the pen tool, use the brush tool. There are many brushes you can use and you can even create your own. My own art is a combinations of Illustrator, watercolor and photoshop.
#3 - May 17, 2013, 05:55 AM
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Animal Totem Mandala 2016
The Story Circle 2016 (Piñata)
Color and Conjure 2017 (Llewellyn)

OddBerryCreations

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Hmmmmm ive never used the brush tool to create shapes.  When i sketch things out how would i make them solid for coloring? :flower
#4 - May 17, 2013, 11:29 AM

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I don't know how Lyon works, but I sketch/paint with the brush tools then turn the results into shapes with "Expand" and "Expand Appearance" then combine multiple shapes with the pathfinder "merge."

I did my B IS FOR BOSTON TERRIER book this way. http://www.amazon.com/B-Boston-Terrier-Sarah-Tregay/dp/1456568744/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368935789&sr=8-1&keywords=b+is+for+boston+terrier

Maybe find some Illustrator tutorials so you can see some of the techniques in action. Lynda.com is one such resource, or just search YouTube.

Good luck!

Sarah
#5 - May 18, 2013, 09:17 PM
LOVE AND LEFTOVERS and FAN ART
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins
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 :motorhome

The brush tool used instead of the pen tool still draws a rule or a shape, it is just more organic than the pen tool. What ever you do in the pen tool to make solid shapes, you can do with the brush tool.

I suggest you pick it up and experiment until you find something that works for your style.

I also use the blob brush to fill large areas. You can fiddle with transparency to get many different effects.

The second image with the fox on the jackalope was created completely in illustrator. http://www.wendymartinillustration.com/wendy-martin-illustration/color-illustration/#gallery3-link
#6 - May 20, 2013, 07:04 AM
« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 01:20 PM by Lyon »
patreon.com/wendymartin
Animal Totem Mandala 2016
The Story Circle 2016 (Piñata)
Color and Conjure 2017 (Llewellyn)

I find that with my own stuff I lose a lot in the qulaity of line through working with vector stuff. I have dabbled with illustrator but lean more towards to photoshop. I sketch by hand in pen, take a photo of the drawing/scan it into the computer, and then delete the white from the picture. It takes a lot of experimenting, but for me it keeps more of the line quality (not all) that I would lose if I changed it to vector. Of course this does mean that you don't have the advantages of scaling that vector offers, and I only vaguely know what I'm talking about, so take this with a pinch of salt!
#7 - May 20, 2013, 09:15 AM

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I've also had people tell me my sketches look better than my finishes-it really is tough to just let your work seem loose because making it look "finished" is so ingrained in us as artists.

you could try different things with Illustrator-maybe taking your sketches and Live Tracing them? just experiment with all the tools at your disposal because no one is going to come out of the blue and say "here! this is exactly what you need to do to get this look you're trying to get"

Even if you say you love the look of Vector art you can also emulate that style easily in Photoshop. Here's an artist I LOVE. I always thought he worked vectors in Illustrator but surprisingly he works mostly in Photoshop!
http://tiagoamerico.com/

Maybe try sketching how you normally would in Illustrator using the brush/freeform pen tool/pencil and see what happens!





#8 - May 26, 2013, 05:19 PM

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An artist/animator I follow just did an illustrator "doodling" livestream that might be helpful to watch:

http://www.livestream.com/lindsayandalex/video?clipId=pla_12392de8-3850-4f60-a29f-c7aad1e0ba88&utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-thumb
#9 - May 27, 2013, 06:38 AM

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I would use live trace feature if you are having a tough time making images look like drawing. I use illustrator and know that it can be tough to trace each line of a scanned sketch.
#10 - June 24, 2013, 07:35 PM

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I too have found that sometimes my sketches look nicer than my vectors at first. Why? I think it might have to do with shading...automatically when sketching, I know that I personally tend to lay into some light shades/varied line widths/roughness/etc. into a piece that monotonous wiggly black vector lines can't compete with! However, about mid-way through a piece, my final version starts to look better than the sketch.

So what are some basic things to improve a vector? In my opinion...

1.) Tutorials: There are great vector tutorials all over the internet. I think I did a few of the free http://vector.tutsplus.com/ tutorials starting out, though you could probably find dozens more elsewhere. Typically, I wouldn't recommend solely following tutorials. But, especially when getting used to all the linework/gradients/copy&paste techniques, etc. of vector, I think it's really useful to do just a few so you're more familiar with all the possibilities and techniques that a vector medium might provide.

2.) Finding the right tools for you: I personally use the pen tool with trackpad a lot, and most artists would die when they hear that. But it works for me! The question is, what works best for you? I think it's great that you're learning the pen tool, but have you looked into possibly getting a tablet? Using the pen tool means that you have to be really comfortable with how the points, handles, etc. work, and it often requires a lot of patience. When starting out, I would sit for hours on end just getting little bits to look right! With a tablet, it would mimic natural pencil use more (from what I've heard), and could probably give you nice, varied width lines in a good program like illustrator. Having these varied line widths goes a long way in adding a more dynamic feeling to a piece, and doing varied widths by hand with a pen tool takes a lot longer (trust me, I've tried.) And, most programs that work with tablets will have nice smoothing options/settings that can be set to automatically straighten out wiggly lines! As a vector artist, you're never going to get away from the pen tool, but if you're really struggling with making your lines look right, maybe its something to look into.

3.) Coloring: You say that if the lines don't look right, the coloring won't, but that's not at all true! In fact, I often try to rely on coloring that pops to draw away from line/anatomy issues (sh...don't tell anybody) Obviously it's not a solution, and it won't really fix your other problems; there's no substitute for practice and learning to do things the right way. But there's something to be said about the coloring, highlights, and shades you use. For example, one of the earlier vector pieces I did looked like this: http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/232/b/b/glowing_orb_by_jas7229-d5bu5nm.png
It was a rather lazy piece, since you'll notice that the main attraction is an "orb" made using only a circle tool, no pen even involved! The little blue "flames" were all duplicated, stretched and squished, and fit into place so that I didn't have to redraw each of them. And speaking of drawing, as far as things go they're pretty lumpy and not very smooth, if you actually look at the edges themselves. But, I personally think that the piece is still rather eyecatching and pleasing (well...that's my opinion. I did draw it afterall, you're more than free to disagree!).

 And I think the main reason why is the colors. Look at those bright colors! And the shiny glowyness. It can be a simple as creating a gradient circle and copy-pasting it into different parts of the piece that need a little extra sparkle. Plus, you'll notice that I actually decided to go lineless. Having dark black lines outlining every single shape can be really distracting, and can draw extra attention to those lines you didn't quite straighten out. If you make the decision to do lineless art, it means having to pay a little more attention to coloring (the right shading to define the shapes you're using), but I think it can be worth it in the right circumstances. Coloring is definitely an important part of a piece, so don't ignore it!

4.) Style: You've already stated that you like vector style, but what does that mean?  Sometimes I find I have problems when I try to take on a concept in vector that really shouldn't be in vector. Vector is fantastic for simple designs, for illustrations that let the silhouettes and colors speak for themselves, for clean crisp artwork, and for illustrations where multiple objects might be repeated often in a way you can use copy-paste /without/ it being obvious. If what you're trying to create has more details, sure you can do it, but it might take a significantly greater amount of time and effort for it to look good. Think about ways to simplify and reduce while still getting the message across. Could you use just circles of the eyes (without eyelid, pupil, etc. detail) and include a simple lined eyebrow to reflect expressions? What about a "chibi" kind of style for people so there's less detail? Vector is not just a medium; it lends itself well to particular styles and designs, so it helps a lot to know what can and can't be done in a vector style.

Hmm...hope I haven't just written a long, unreadable block of mumbo jumbo on vector, but that's probably what I did xD
Still, I hope at least some small part of it can be helpful to you. The most important part of any craft is dedication and determination, so just keep at it! (:
#11 - August 05, 2013, 01:52 AM

Double W Illustrations
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Can you possibly put up examples of your sketches and finished work so we can compare?
#12 - August 10, 2013, 11:54 AM

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