Vector Art Tutorial [PTGigi]

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Vector Art Tutorial [PTGigi]

Post by Lonin on Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:38 am

Created by PTGigi

Hey guys! :3 I was kindly asked to make such a tutorial, so I shall! XD

For those who have no idea what vector art is...Google has the answer! Very Happy

Vector art is a unique digital file format used by designers, animators, web developers and artists. Unlike raster based graphics that use pixels to make up an image, vectors (as they are commonly referred to) are comprised of mathematical shapes, angles, points, lines and color values.
So something like this:

Just a bunch of colorful shapes X3 Vector art can be simpler, or more complicated than that. :3

The beauty of vector art that it can be resized and never lose quality! Very Happy

Table of Contents (use CTRL/COMMAND + F to jump down :3)

1.01 -- Programs
1.02 -- Tools
1.03 -- Windows

2.01 -- Getting Started

3.01 -- Finishing

1.01 -- Programs:

[s]Sadly I don't know of any free or online vector programs ;-;[/s] The only vector programs I know of are Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Flash (yep, Flash is vector Wink). Adobe Illustrator is a more art geared program though, so that's what I'll be using. (although a quick Google search showed me which I recall a former art teacher mentioning, I haven't tried it but I think if a former art teacher of mine recommended it as a free vector program it's gotta be pretty good XD)

1.02 -- Tools:

I don't know about you, but the first time I stared at Illustrator I was scared out of my mind o-o It's a bit complicated with everything, but thankfully we won't be using too much, so it should be easier after a bit of explanation of some of the tools. :3

Out of all the programs listed here, the only ones I use are highlighted. You can feel free to ue more, but personally I'm fine with just those listed XD

Selection Tools (top two): Now you may be wondering, why are there two selection tools? Isn't one enough?
The first one (black) is for selecting shapes. (left) While the second one (white) is for selecting points (right):

You'll notice on the second one the points, excluding the selected one, are not filled in completely.

By dragging with your mouse you can move the shape or points (depending on the tool selected Wink) to a new location. You can also change the angle of points with the white selection tool (via the lines you see coming off of the points in the second image)

Anchor Point Tools: If you hold down on the third highlighted icon (fifth icon total) you'll find four tools hidden underneath! I don't quite know what the first and the last of these tools do, but I do know what the middle two do! XD

Anchor Points are the points I was referring to above, as seen in the second "Selection Tool" image. The Anchor Point Tools can add or delete anchor points. Simple as that. :3 I don't use it a lot, but for a few times it can be quite handy XD

Shape Tools: (fourth highlighted, 8th tool) These are just simply predefined shapes. I personally find the circle to be the most useful (especially for heads). Hold shift while making a shape to make a perfect circle, square, etc.

Brush: (fifth highlighted, 9th tool) THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL. This is how you draw XD I'll be going over more later in this tutorial, but remember these lines are different from lines in Photoshop or other art programs. Two different lines are NOT connected, you CANNOT use a fill tool to fill in the space in the middle, you MUST make the lines over the ENTIRE area you want your shape. D:

Gradient Tool: (6th highlighted, 18th tool) The gradient tool merely changes the direction of the gradient. There's a separate window for actually choosing the colors of the gradient.

Eyedropper: (7th highlighted, 19th tool) Lets you select the color (or gradient!) of a shape and make it your current selected color. The bottom part with the two colors is where this goes (this copies the body color of the shape AND the stroke color (outline))

Knife: (8th highlighted, 24th tool) Cutting stuff is fun Very Happy The knife tool cuts up shapes into smaller shapes. If you do not have any shapes selected when using this tool it will cut all shapes it encounters. If you have a shape or two selected it will ONLY cut those shapes Wink

Zoom: (9th highlighted, 26th tool) For zooming in and out |D

Colors~: And lastly this is your color selection, while not really a tool I'll just mention some things.

The part on the left is the base color of the shape, as you can see I have a gradient Very Happy The right side is the stroke or outline of the shape, I don't tend to use outlines while making adoptables, but maybe you might? :3 As you can see, my outline is shown as a white with a slash, this means I have no outline coloring.

The double arrow above-right of these colors lets you flip the outline and fill colors Very Happy The three boxes underneath are pretty fun too :3 The first one is a solid color, usually the color of the shape you've selected (or in the case of a gradient, the first color of the gradient); the second one is a gradient, either the default (black/white), a gradient you've set, or the gradient the shape is; the last one is nothing Razz You can easily click on any of these to instantly change your color Very Happy Fun right? :3

1.03 -- Windows: Along the edges of Illustrator (usually right side) are various windows. If these windows aren't open, you can go to Windows>Window Name and click to open it :3 I'll just describe the few I tend to use:

Swatches: This window is really just a bunch of preset colors XD Fancy right? :3

Color: I find this to be an annoying color selector compared to the one if you double click on the color icon on the main tool bar, but sadly gradients are only compatible with this color selector Sad

Gradients: So much hate and love. Personally, I feel that programs like Photoshop and Flash have a much better gradient system than this but you gotta work with what you got D: To change the color, double click on one of the little color tabs. To add a new tab either click on an area of the gradient with no tab OR click and drag your selected color over to the gradient bar to add that color in. I dislike this because you cannot easily take two colors you've already made and make a gradient of the two. D:

Paths: While not needed all the time, the Paths window lets you merge two shapes. Helpful if you want to...merge two shapes |D Just select the two or more shapes you want to merge, hit the far left button under shapes, then hit expand and they'll be one shape Very Happy

2.01 Getting Started: Horaay! Wall of text I wouldn't be shocked if some people skipped that XD So let's try to cut down on the wall of text and get to some art making! :3

Open a new document via File>New. Honestly I never edit the setting, document size doesn't matter either. So yes, I am making 150px adoptables on a page the size of a piece of paper XD

Preplanning: I don't know about you but I tend not to use sketches. This is a very bad habit but it is my habit nonetheless. If you want to bring a sketch you've made over into Illustrator you can either literally drag it over, or copy and paste it from another art program. :3

Once your sketch is over, select it and from the properties bar. There should be something that'll let you adjust the opacity. Change this to a low number (20%).

Another thing to keep in mind is that vectors are simple. How simple is up to you. That being said you'll notice my vectors have little to no shading. Yet again this is up to you. The styles of shading I'd suggest are via gradients (look at my first example) or cell-shading (like Pokemon sprites or whatnot).

For this tutorial I'll be making a fuzzy, moth-y, lizard thing. IDK I just drew it randomly one day on my school papers XD Sadly I don't have the sketches scanned so I'll just post the finished product XD

The first piece:
I tend to start with the head. Why? I don't know XD

Since my fuzzy guy (he needs a name, how about Mel? My friend gave him that name :3) had a pretty simple head (teardrop shaped) we'll grab the circle tool so I can show you how I'll work with that. Razz

Oh look a circle. To shape, I select the white arrow and grab the lower point of the circle. By moving the angle-ray things (lol fail name) I make the bottom of the circle curve much more sharply.

Now I like this Very Happy But I don't like the angle. So I'm going to select the black arrow, move just outside the boundary lines of my shape, and rotate it to where I like it :3

I was also displeased with the location of the nose, so I dragged it right (with the white arrow) to a much better position :3
Now he needs his funtastic antenna/horns Very Happy I'm going to go over to my color selection tool and pick out a nice red :3 This time I've opted to use the brush tool and draw Mel's antenna.

Now you should see two things. 1) My drawn shape is only an outline! D: and 2) I did not connect the points! D: Fear not! Both can be solved by doing one simple thing! If I go to the selected colors on my tool bar, and hit the double arrows I can flip the colors turning that into...

...that! Very Happy You can't even see the break anymore! That's the beauty and one of the hardest things to get over when starting to use vectors. As I said above lines cannot interact with one another like in other art programs. Each line is it's own shape Wink Quickly I'll throw in another antenna.

Uh-oh! A new problem! I want the second antenna behind Mel's head! But Illustrator makes any new shapes right on top of new shapes. To reposition stuff, right click, hover over "Arrange" and choose one fo the four options: Send to Front, Send Forward, Send Backward, Send to Back. In this case I'd either hit "Send Back" twice or "Send to Back".

Fuzzy time! Very Happy Using the brush tool again, I'll draw some spazztic head fluff :3

Time for a sneaky lesson! Razz Now you might be able to draw your whole shape in one go, but sometimes that's hard D: So instead make several shapes and fuse them. The next picture shows my two shapes alongside the path-finder window, with the buttons we'll use for this highlighted. (I also darkened his face a tad)

To fuse the shapes, select them, then press the far left button and then the "Expand" button. And tadaa! :3 They're now one shape Very Happy I'm going to add in some more fluff while I'm at it. I now have 3 extra fluffs: body, leg1, leg2. The difference between the body and the legs is a bit jarring, so we'll fix that with Gradients Very Happy (note: I made the body slightly darker to differentiation between the neck and body)

Now for gradients o-o I do hope those of you who are using something other than Adobe Illustrator CS3 have a nicer way of doing this |D (or you have AI CS3 and you know something I don't :U)
We're going to make a soft gradient between the front leg and body, so there's no sharp difference (unless stylistically you want that difference). Open up the Gradient window (show below, left), click on the shape you're going to add the gradient to, and drag the main color of your critter from the color selection (below, right). AI automatically adds this gradient to your selected shape.

Now drag the white out of the window, it'll disappear. Move the orange a bit right if it's too close to the left, click to the left of the orange and a new orange should appear, now drag the black out and you should have orange-on-orange.

Since we want to match the body we need to do this next step, if you're making a gradient and NOT trying to match another color, ignore this step and just double click on one of your oranges and adjust the color via the color adjusting window.
Select your body, the gradient window should still have your gradient, now drag the body color over to the gradient window, and remove one of the uneeded oranges. You should now have the colors you want, but not on the shape you want D: To fix this, select the leg, select the eyedropper, and click on the body to copy the gradient over to the leg. Now you can remove the gradient from the body either by using the orange-on-orange step, or click on the far left icon under the color selection (if it's your original dark-orange, mine was white for some reason). You should get to this step either way (left).
Use the gradient TOOL (not window) to change the angle of your gradient to a nice one, sadly the gradient is hard to see in the screenshot I took D: (right).

No screenshot really needed, but I changed the color of the far leg to a darker orange than the body and the legs. But now I want to add a second gradient to the legs. This gradient will go at a different angle from my body-to-leg coloring so I need to cut up the leg. Grab the Knife tool for this (if you can't see it, hold down on the eraser and it should appear).
Selecting the shape I want to cut, I make a slice at what I hope is a nice area, dividing the shape into two:

(your gradient will fill in the new shape, we can ignore this for now)
Since I already went through the gradient steps I won't go through it again XD But basically I just added the head-grey to the lower-leg gradient:

And the rest of it just involves everything I've already gone over for this tutorial. So I'll just finish it up until I get to the wings:

(yay shapes with colors and gradients XD Yes, I make the eyes last o3o)
Wing time! Since they're insect wings I'll be making them slightly transparent. Which is quite easy. First I'm going to draw my wings:

Then I select all my wings (just three Wink) then go to the properties window (actually AI seems to call this the "control" window, but it looks something like this:)

(I tried to compact this^ if it still strectches people's screens let me know and I can just link it)
Hey look! "Opacity"! Just move that closer to zero to hide it. I often use nice numbers (like 50%, 25%, 15%, 75% out of habit but you can use 34% if you want or whatnot :3)
And then the wings will look like this (I finally added eyes XD):

3.01 Finishing Up

Now this part can be skipped if you have your own way of doing it, but I was taught to do it this way so I will!
(no image because I -hope- it's simple enough?)
Select your entire creature (black arrow) and open up a program like Photoshop. Make a new document in your newly opened program and drag your critter over to it. Resize him until you get the size you want (quality won't be ruined Wink) and save.

Is there a way to save in Illustrator? Probably. But the ways I know of are more for printing jobs, not [logo/etc] art.

And that's it! :3 Need anymore help? Ask! I may be able to help! :3
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