The point-by-point method
Video: The point-by-point methodWhen it comes to vector building, there's nothing more fundamental than building your shapes one anchor point at a time; hence the name point-by-point. It simply defines the most common method designers use to create vector art. In this movie, we'll go over a four-step method that will help you optimize point-by-point building, and help you create your drawn design more precisely. Here's one of the skull directions I'll be presenting.
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Join illustrative designer Von Glitschka as he deconstructs the creative process to teach you how to develop and create precise vector graphics. The course begins with an overview of his methodology for design and drawing—analog methods that are vital to digital workflows. Next, discover how to prepare yourself and your client for the project by defining the scope and expectations early on. With the creative brief ready and ideation explored, Von jumps into sketching, refining, and creating vector graphics through simple build methods. He continues to art direct the work and conducts digital and physical presentations of the final designs. The last chapter includes some workflow enhancements designed to save you time and conserve your creative energy for future projects.
- What is illustrative design?
- Establishing a creative brief
- Defining client expectations
- Exploring creative thinking exercises
- Art directing your drawing
- Selecting an appropriate style for each project
- Drawing and thumbnail sketching
- Discerning anchor point placement
- Building vector drawings with shapes
- Presenting your illustrations
The point-by-point method
When it comes to vector building, there's nothing more fundamental than building your shapes one anchor point at a time; hence the name point-by-point. It simply defines the most common method designers use to create vector art. In this movie, we'll go over a four-step method that will help you optimize point-by-point building, and help you create your drawn design more precisely. Here's one of the skull directions I'll be presenting.
Remember, creating vector art is like molding clay. You'll shape it at each stage until you form the shape needed. We're going to start specifically on this design with the left-hand side of the skull, for all you skeletal nuts out there this the zygomatic bone. So, a little extra trivia. The first stage is what I call rough building. And you're not so much worried about getting the exact form that you need, it's all about discerning where to place your anchor points.
And as we covered in a previous movie, we are going to use the Clockwork method now to discern where to place our anchor points in creating the shape. To start with, we are just going to start laying down our points. Once again, wherever your art comes to a point, it will get a point. Those are easy to discern. You don't have to do much thinking to determine the placement of those. But, now when your art comes to a curve, this is where you can picture the clock in your head, and discern that we're going to place the point here at a three 3 o'clock position.
Swing around over here. This will be a 9 o'clock. Once again, don't worry about pulling your Bezier curve handles out all the way at this point. We'll go back and do that at a later stage. Then, anywhere where your art comes to a point, it will get a point. And what we're doing now is we're dissecting our design into more manageable shapes. I'll touch on that a little later in the next video to explain that a little more.
You don't have to try to build your art with one complete vector path. It's just unrealistic. So, we're going to do that in a more manageable way. So, as we're coming down the left-hand side of the shape, we'll want to discern our next anchor point location, and I think 3 o'clock position right here would work. This is such a subtle curve. We are not going to need an anchor point here. We can go right to the point here, then here, and this if you imagine a clock that squished or flattened, and kind of rotated counterclockwise, you can picture where to place your next anchor point here.
The top curve is shallow enough that we can get away with just one 3 o'clock position here, once again, point gets a point, and then we'll finish out our shape here. So, this essentially what rough building is all about. This is the first stage of a four stage process in order to shape your vector art exactly the way you need it. So, as you can see, it's not aligning to our underlying drawing exactly, that's okay.
We're going to now begin to shape our vector paths in the next stage. And by doing that, we want to zoom in to make sure we can audit all of our anchor point locations to make sure they're in the correct position, and then we'll use the Convert Anchor Point tool to now start pulling out the Bezier handles on these various anchor points in order to continue shaping our art, so it aligns with our underlying drawing.
Now, like I said in a previous movie for the Clockwork method, this might be a little methodical and it does take a little bit of time, but the more you work this way, the faster you're going to get. So, here's where we'll probably adjust the prime point location by sliding this down a little bit, and continuing to adjust our Bezier curve handles until we get the shape we want.
I should point out as we're shaping our art right now, there is technically a faster way to do this, but it isn't native to Adobe Illustrator. We are showing you how to do this natively inside Adobe Illustrator with just the tools that come with Illustrator. So if you just downloaded Adobe and you're going to create your vector art, you're going to be able to do so using just the tools that exist with Adobe Illustrator right when you buy it.
But, if you wanted to do this easier, you could use a plugin by Astute Graphics and that plugin is called VectorScribe Studio. And it allows you to grab anywhere on a path, and you can literally pull that path into shape, thereby kind of bypassing the whole Bezier curve handles that you see me manipulating here. It creates Bezier curve handles. It just allows you to do so without ever having to touch the anchor point locations, which is kind of nice, and it does speed up the whole process.
So, you might want to check that out, and choose to use those plugins. I just wanted to make sure to show you how to do it directly out of Illustrator. So, anybody could create precise vector art that they need without the use of any plugins. So, we're almost done. This is going to be one of the last anchor points we're going to manipulate here.
So, let me zoom out. And you can see, this is what our shape looks like right now. And what we've gone and done in the third step is now to select any anchor point that should be a smooth, that is, it transitions from one side to the next smoothly. And we're just going to double-check all of those. In this case, we only have four anchor points that should be smooth. With those four anchor points selected, we'll just go up to the Menu bar at the top of the screen and there's this button called Convert Selected Anchor Points to smooth, and we are going to click that.
And that's just to ensure that those remains smooth anchor points. Now, all we have to do, and this is just continually art directing yourself, the fourth step is just to go back, and I usually start at one end, go all the way to the other side of the vector shape, and just reanalyze all my anchor points to make sure they look the way they should. It's good to kind of critique yourself. And in this case, I don't really see a whole lot we need to change.
I might adjust this one just a little bit. Other than that, I think we are looking pretty good. So, that's how you can use Point-by-point method, keeping the Clockwork method in mind to create and form your vector shapes. Vector building is a progressive process. So, you really need to scrutinize your vector art as you build it. Look for any areas in your design that don't look right, and refine them until they do.
This process may seem methodical, but it's a great way to hold yourself creatively accountable and ensure a higher level of craftsmanship in your work.
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