Drawing Vector Graphics: Linear Line Illustration
Illustration by John Hersey

Symmetry and linears


Drawing Vector Graphics: Linear Line Illustration

with Von Glitschka

Video: Symmetry and linears

As you approach your, linear line composition and design for whatever The feathers on the chest and make sure everything is one shape.

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Watch the Online Video Course Drawing Vector Graphics: Linear Line Illustration
2h 3m Intermediate Jul 10, 2014

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Linear line illustration (LLI), or continuous line drawing, is an adaptable and fun style to work in, resulting in clean, clear designs that are suitable for print or animation. In this course Von takes you through the process of creating a linear line illustration using Adobe Illustrator. While showing how to build an LLI digitally, he explains the aesthetic rules, the tricks to getting more depth out of it, and tips for adding color, motion, and a sense of life to your drawings. Members will also be offered a challenge to get their feet wet.

Topics include:
  • Drawing freestyle and photo-based LLIs
  • Building simple and more complex illustrations
  • Shape building
  • Vector welding
  • Introducing color, symmetry, and motion in linear drawings
Von Glitschka

Symmetry and linears

As you approach your, linear line composition and design for whatever project you're working on, you might want to consider building it using symmetry. And when I say symmetry I mean, making sure that something will align from a center point outward. So, if you look at this design that I've drawn out in analog and scanned in, I've drawn it based off of this centered line here. And, I don't have to dry out the entire content.

I just have to dry out, half of it essentially, and then I could build that half digitally, and use the Reflection Tool in Illustrator, flipped it. And I'm going to show you that in just a second. But it all starts off in the drawn form, even in the, drawn stage I've determined that I basically only have to do half of the work. And once I have that drawn out, I just scanned it. And, I'll change the opacity so, it will tint it back. And I always lock the layers so, I don't move this as I build.

Now, it is just like building any other piece of vector artwork, point by point in this case. And once again, it's just a single stroke. Now, one thing I covered in one of the movies in this course is that. When you work on a linear line illustration, you might have what I consider non-linear pieces, meaning, the whole artwork for the most part, in this case, this eagle is made up of one continuous movement. It's just loops around itself, and creates the form of an eagle you see here.

But, I have this detailing of the feathers in his chest. Yes, they're linear in that it's just one line to form these three, feathers here and one line to form these two feathers below, but it doesn't tie in to the overall line. That's okay, those are the little. Non-linear aspects that are okay to do when you're working this style. So, yes in general, you want to have one continuous line but that type of detail was perfectly fine. So if I turn off my sketch, and show you how the final, one continuous stroke is a 2.5 point stroke.

I think this looks great. And, I could use this design as is. Actually, this would make, just a really cool T-Shirt just as it's showing right here. You could use it and print collateral. But, I really think we can bring some nice, overall flair to it by using, once again, the Width Tool to add some nice thick and thins. And give it a little more character than what it has now. I kind of like this. Very plain, almost Spartan type of design approach using linear as well, but, for this specific course I wanted to show you how to bolster this image by using thick and thin.

So if we go back, to our symmetric building of this specific art. Once again, it's just a one, stroke path. I'm just going to use the Width Tool. And, in this case, I'm going to zoom in so you can see this a little better. And we're going to zoom in on his wing. And, I'm just going to start, using the width tool to add more width to it, so, it has a nice flair where it goes from thick to thin. And this is a visual thing, this process of working with the Width Tool, it's all about, doing it on the fly.

I don't really, draw this out as a thick and thin. I drew it as a single weight stroke, to map out, my path and how it's going to flow and turn back on itself and create the artwork in this case the eagle and now, as I'm building I'm kind of, looking at visually and making these determinations on what's in, what's in as I build it. It's just easier to do it that way, if you wanted to, you could, kind of sketch that out. As a way of planning how you're going to build those thick and thins.

That would be perfectly fine, but in this case I find it, just as easy to do it as I build it because it's so flexible I can go back in. And these are dynamic tools. So, let's say, I've built this tip of this wing this way, in the morning, and then later in the afternoon I reopen the file and I'm looking at it and I go, you know what. I don't like how thick it is, I want to make it thinner. Well, this tools dynamic so I can go back and decide I'm going to bring that down and make it thinner. So it's very flexible.

So, that why I do it all as I build it. So I would go throughout this entire, composition right here of this eagle. And I would workout all my thicks and thins, using the width tool and just build it as I see. It should be in terms of, it's visual integrity. Now once I have that I'm going to end up, with my final art and if I go to Keyline View. You can see that this is just a stroke so I haven't expanded this yet, so you will have to expand it because we only have essentially half of the artwork.

Now the one part of this design that isn't truly symmetric, is the head of the eagle. And that's okay. It's nice to throw, something into a very symmetric design that is asymmetric. Like the admin L, we'll just make it more interesting if everything is absolutely reflected, it kind of ends up looking, replicated more than created. So, that's a good thing to have some non symmetric in your design. So, what we do to expand is we'll go to Object and we'll go, Expand Appearance.

Look at how many anchor points it adds to it. So, I encourage you to check out the Astute Graphics Plug Ins videos on lynda.com because. They have a smart Remove Tool and you can cleanup this artwork using that and it works really, really well and I use that all the time for this specific, type of reason. So once you have expanded it, all you have to do now is make sure you have Pathfinder open. So we're going to open that. And we'll unite these shapes because right now, if we go to Keyline View and I zoom in on the head of the bird you can see where it overlaps.

It's creating these odd shapes. And to get rid of those we'll just unite it. And now, everything's looking, as it should. So, if I zoom out, go back to preview mode, we can get rid of the Pathfinder. We now have the base art needed to create the final art. And if I show you this next layer you can see how. I've now, reflected that artwork. I should show you that right now first. So, I take this, I usually make a clone. Now, I have it set up like I show you in drawing vector graphics course as an F3 key.

So, if I hit F3, that clones my artwork, basically Cmd+C, Cmd+F and if I go to my swatches, let's do the file, colorize it blue, so now you can see the difference, we'll go over to the reflection tool, we'll select that, we'll use this guide as our orientation point to flip it. We'll click, there we go. And so I flip my artwork over, and reflected it, I call it flip but, it's called reflections so we just reflected what was on the right and is on the left.

Now obviously we don't want this head to be in here, it'll mess up our art if we try to combine two so. You'll have to do some vector editing and go in and lop off that extra head, and this is what you'll end up with. You'll end up with two distinct shapes, the original black, artwork and your reflected blue artwork, and if I zoom in, you can see how I just made sure that my anchor points align with each other. And so when I fuse them together using the Pathfinder, everything is going to work out okay.

So we'll go ahead and do that. We'll bring up the Pathfinder again. And I'll select both of these shapes. And we'll fuse them together as one unified shape. We're also going to select. The feathers on the chest and make sure everything is one shape. So now everything is considered one shape. We'll go ahead and re-colorize this black and now we have have the artwork we can use. Once you have it in this format there is all kinds of things to do. Now when I work with, linear line work like this I love to work with textures because it's a really nice contrast between, the silky smooth kind of free flowing.

Linear artwork and this is based off of a freestyle drawing, linear drawing. And so I decided to put this on the, texturing of an old barn panel. So, a nice thing to do, aesthetically speaking, is when you have artwork like this, I always like putting a drop shadow on it. So if I go to the Appearance Panel I already have a drop shadow applied to this, I just have it turned off right now. So we're going to go ahead. And, turn that on. And you can see what that does.

Now I'm going to toggle on and off the drop shadow so you can see how it affects, how the art pops off the background. You have to select artwork. If I turn it off, you can see it looks good. But, it looks a little flat. So if I select the artwork and I turn the drop shadowing back on, you can see how it really brings depth to it. So that's a great way to use the thick and thin in combination with symmetry to, create a very compelling, piece if artwork when it's all said and done.

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