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The clockwork method

From: Drawing Vector Graphics

Video: The clockwork method

The first vector build method we'll discuss is the Clockwork method. When you first learn Illustrator, no one teaches you how to determine where to place your anchor points. Most just learn by trial and error. And this is how bad vector building habits are formed. The Clockwork method is a simple mental trick to help you look at any drawn shape, then figure out where to place the anchor points in order to form the vector shape accurately. Look at your drawn design.

The clockwork method

The first vector build method we'll discuss is the Clockwork method. When you first learn Illustrator, no one teaches you how to determine where to place your anchor points. Most just learn by trial and error. And this is how bad vector building habits are formed. The Clockwork method is a simple mental trick to help you look at any drawn shape, then figure out where to place the anchor points in order to form the vector shape accurately. Look at your drawn design.

Then, associate a clock with the curves in your sketch. Orient the clock as needed to align with your drawing. Then, look at the 12 o'clock, the 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and the 9 o'clock positions to help you discern the location to place your anchor points. Let's see how this works out in real life. We're now back, using our character design as the file we're going to now build using the Clockwork method.

And last time, we used this guy to demonstrate how our refined sketch is going to be our road map. We're now going to use him in the same way. But, I'm going to explain with a little more clarity the Clockwork method. Once again, anywhere in your design, that comes to a point, gets a point. Those are easy ones to discern. You don't have to think too hard about where to place the anchor points. They go right at the tip of wherever your art comes to a point, such as the back part of his hat. Now, as you start looking at a curve in your art, just picture a clock in your mind.

So, for example, this one would be a 3 o'clock position. And don't worry about pulling your Bezier curve handlebars out really far, you don't need to, just make them available. Then, the next one once again, wherever it comes to point, gets a point. We don't need to place an anchor point here, because our curve is so shallow, we can pull that off by pulling out our handlebars later. So, once again, wherever it comes to point, gets a point. We'll use a 3 o'clock position here, 12 o'clock, 9 o'clock, wherever your art comes to a point gets a point.

Once again, this is such a shallow curve on this one. You could put a point midway, but you really don't need to, and you'll see that when I adjust the Bezier handles. So, we'll put one where the art comes to a point here. Down here, you'll associate this curve. If you tilted your clock to the side, it might still be a 6 o'clock, but if you tilt it really far, it might be a 9 o'clock. Either one, this is where you're going to place your next anchor point.

Point comes to a point. Once again, your curve comes down here. This will be a 6 o'clock position. Now, this is where using the Clockwork method is kind of key to discerning your anchor point placement. The bill of his cap here, think of the clock being squished and rotated counterclockwise, so your 3 o'clock would be here, your 12 o'clock would be around this position, and your 9 o'clock would be here.

Now, we can pull off this in curve with the Bezier handles. So we'll just go directly to the point. And this is our initial rough build. We're going to come back on this now using the Convert Anchor Point tool to pull out the necessary Bezier handles we need to form the art, and so in this case, we're going to pull these out so that we can get access to those handles, and start adjusting our path to form it more accurately to the underlying sketch.

So, you can see how that happens. One thing I'll point out is when vector art, in this case, the back part of his hat, this little stub, which represents the adjustable part of the cap when you wear it, I never like leaving my art with perfect straight lines. It's said that nothing in nature is absolutely perfect, and I like using that rule when it comes to vector art. Nothing should be absolutely perfect unless you're drawing a ruler. It's okay to have a little bend in a straight line.

It just adds character, and since we're creating a character, kind of makes sense. So, you can see how I'm just adjusting the Bezier handles to pull off the exact look and feel I want. And there's nothing super fast about this process, it just takes time, and don't rush it. Just really be picky about how your vectors are being created.

So, you can see on this bill that the Bezier handles I'm pulling out is doing most of the heavy lifting in terms of shaping and forming the underneath path. So here, we'll go back to our placement here. And when we pull out that handle, you can see how it aligns with our underlying drawing. We'll now adjust this one. We'll go back to this, pull out our handle, and that's where we pay attention to how it aligns with our underlying drawing.

And now the last part will just be this last anchor point. It doesn't matter with the path over here, because that's going to be consumed once we fuse all of our final shapes together. And this is the last Bezier handle we'll manipulate, and this one. Now I'm not going to worry about identically aligning everything. There are a few refinements we could make to this art, but we're going to do that in the next movie when we talk about prime point placement.

If you find yourself struggling to form a vector shape accurately, use the Clockwork method to analyze your anchor point placements and improve your final design results. Like anything new, the Clockwork method will take some time to get used to. But eventually, your discernment on anchor point placements will improve. That said, don't assume that every anchor point you place when using the Clockwork method is going to be perfect every time because it won't. Think of it this way; the Clockwork method will get you within the correct neighborhood but might not be the exact street address. And that's okay at this stage of the process.

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This video is part of

Image for Drawing Vector Graphics
Drawing Vector Graphics

41 video lessons · 49276 viewers

Von Glitschka
Author

 
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  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 26s
    2. Exercise files
      1m 5s
  2. 18m 36s
    1. What is illustrative design?
      54s
    2. A systematic creative process
      1m 26s
    3. Exploring analog tools
      2m 39s
    4. Exploring digital tools
      13m 37s
  3. 18m 31s
    1. Creative preparation
      1m 13s
    2. The creative brief
      2m 25s
    3. Creative thinking methods
      1m 2s
    4. Word associations
      1m 55s
    5. Mind mapping
      1m 55s
    6. Before. During. After.
      1m 26s
    7. I think, therefore I design
      2m 46s
    8. Selecting the appropriate style
      2m 57s
    9. Using reference material
      2m 52s
  4. 8m 50s
    1. Solid creative foundation
      53s
    2. Anyone can draw
      2m 17s
    3. Thumbnail sketching
      2m 34s
    4. Refining your drawn ideas
      3m 6s
  5. 44m 40s
    1. Workflow enhancements
      57s
    2. Keyboard shortcuts and recording actions
      2m 25s
    3. Keyboard shortcuts and recording actions: Demo
      13m 15s
    4. Using custom scripts
      6m 44s
    5. Graphic styles and custom color palettes
      8m 19s
    6. Using layers
      7m 15s
    7. Toggling Smart Guides on and off
      5m 45s
  6. 38m 59s
    1. Building your vector shapes
      1m 0s
    2. A roadmap for vector building
      4m 40s
    3. The clockwork method
      7m 4s
    4. Prime point placement
      3m 40s
    5. The point-by-point method
      8m 22s
    6. The shape-building method
      6m 46s
    7. Symmetry is your friend
      6m 1s
    8. Art directing yourself
      1m 26s
  7. 19m 54s
    1. Presenting your designs
      1m 4s
    2. Presentation formats
      5m 50s
    3. Revealing your designs
      1m 36s
    4. Writing a design rationale
      1m 56s
    5. Responding to client revisions
      3m 46s
    6. Renewable creative energy
      5m 42s
  8. 49s
    1. Next steps
      49s

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