Artist at Work: From Sketch to Finished Vector Illustration
Illustration by John Hersey

Artist at Work: From Sketch to Finished Vector Illustration

with Von Glitschka

Video: Adding finishing touches

So, this shadow is just another free-form shadow. And let me zoom out so I can see it in full context.

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Watch the Online Video Course Artist at Work: From Sketch to Finished Vector Illustration
1h 18m Intermediate Feb 18, 2014

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Von Glitschka is known for his witty, colorful illustrations, logos, and design work. But how do his drawings make it from refined sketches to polished pieces? This installment of Artist at Work enables you to follow along with Von's coloring and shading process, as he transforms this vector-based graphic in Adobe Illustrator. He starts with a scanned sketch and builds out the basic vector shapes. He then adds shading, highlights, and color—the finishing details that make his illustrations so extraordinary. Von's methods are simple to follow and will help create a new level of depth and richness in your own vector creations.

Von Glitschka

Adding finishing touches

So, this shadow is just another free-form shadow. Now, the tricky part here is, actually I think I'll do it with a gradient because I want it dark at one end but light at the other end, otherwise it just kind of fuses all together and I don't want that, so. I think that's what we're going to do and I want to knock it back just a little bit too, so. We're going to do this. And let me zoom out so I can see it in full context.

Boy now, now I'm getting nervous because I know everybody's watching me and I'm really exploring here cause I have no clue how to handle this. I'm just, just doing hit and miss. Trying, oh, you know what, I think one of the problems is I might just be using too dark of a color for the shadow. So, let's try a lighter color. Oh, I like that better. And I'm going to go ahead and, shift this down a little bit.

Actually I'm going to do this, bring the whole thing down. Then I'm going to, I'm spinning my wheels now folks. So this is the real world, real world illustration here. And this is what I do. I'll like, really dwell on little details like this and I figured out what the problem is. Okay so I said earlier if something doesn't feel right, don't ignore it. And I really mean that because something doesn't feel right here, and I could have ignored it and just moved on.

Well the problem is, is I didn't have my base color right, and that's the problem. The problem wasn't necessarily the gradient. It was my base color was wrong, so, you know, just pay attention to those things. I think one thing I'm going to do on this one though is, right now this color's this, I'm going to go in and create a slightly new color. I'm going to make this 20. And I'm going to increase this up to like, eight. Just to create a slightly darker iteration of this color, and you can see what looks here as it's interacting. And then, I'm going to take this color, drag it down, double-click it, make sure it's a global color, and then save it.

So, now I have that applied, and the whole reason I did that is because, I think part of the reason I was struggling is because the hue of that color just wasn't dark enough to, to do what I want to do. Now, the problem with doing that is this color shift has changed and that's not working well, so we'll want to adjust that color, I think that looks good. Okay. I like the back color of the dog now. I'm just not so sure we even need that gradient. You know what, I'm going to toss it.

going to make him audible. I don't think we need it. Oh! You know what, not only, well I'll do the eye first and then I do see one more thing and then I think we're done. So, we're going to clone the eye, change this. And we'll clone it again, command c, command f. We'll select this anchor point, we're going to, you know what we're just going to toss that anchor point. going to live on the edge. And adjust these beziers now I'm going to make sure this one is on top, this one's on bottom.

Punch that out and now we have this little sliver shape. What we're going to do with that is we'll color it the base color. Get rid of the stroke. Now that it's colored the base color and it's global, we're going to change the, it to a tint. So we're going to make it like, a 60% tint. So it's acting like a little highlight on his lid and I think that adds more emotion to the art, so that's why I wanted to do that. Now the very last thing I can see that we need to do is I want to add just a tad bit more dimension to his head.

And we're just going to do that through a simple little gradient like we did on the bottom with the leg and once again I'm going to create the shape that we'll use to accomplish this and I think that'll work. Select the base, command c, command f, to clone it and then we'll use the path finder and this gives us the shape we want. So once we have that shape we can colorize it with a little gradient. I'm going to select, let's zoom out so we can see everything.

Select that. And I think that does it. I think this is the final piece of colored art for this dog. And this is a relatively simplized illustration. But to do it well, you have to pay attention to details, you know. This one doesn't have a whole lot of shading in it but I did balance the colors for this specific dog. And you saw how we used colors, and I explored and I messed up and I changed things and changed my mind and tried different things.

That's all part of the process. It's not pretty sometimes, and even on a more complex illustration, I can get hung up for hours and I'll sit there and I'll have to literally walk away, come back, look at it and then go, oh, that's what I need to do and figure it out. Now I want to show you one other thing before you go and that is I created a bunch of other dogs in the same manner as this one and I just wanted to show you those really quickly because I like how, how they came up.

So these are those four dogs. The top right is a bulldog, you have a pug, you have another golden lab, long-haired golden retriever, maybe, and he's running. And then you have the greyhound. So, anyway, that's my creative process from building a vector illustration from beginning to end. You know, vector artwork isn't always as concise as this illustration was. Most often it takes many, many, many more hours to finalize my art. That said I hope you enjoyed observing how I work.

And I tried my best to make it as authentic as I could and that includes mistakes and all. So I encourage you to keep drawing. And keep working on your vector skills so your illustrations can continue to improve over time.

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