Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a fat-line illustration, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(upbeat music) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory, in this movie, I want to go over creating a fat line illustration. A fat line illustration is just that, it's nothing but line, we're not using fills, we're not using gradients, or any other kind of vector effect. It's simply creating a fat line stroke to form the overall illustration, and it's a beautiful aesthetic, when done well, and for this specific design, I'm going to focus on another bird theme, I love birds, and this one's going to be a toucan.
Now when you're approaching something, it doesn't matter if you're doing something graphic, as you're going to see, my toucan drawing is very graphic, but I'm referring to the real thing, in order to capture the essence of what makes a toucan a toucan. If you look at his beak here, obviously the colors play a big part, but, in this case, we're using one color to pull of this design, not multiple colors, so we're not depending on the color, we're depending on the form and shape, and that's key here for this style, specifically.
I'm going to focus on the shape and form of his beak and how the top of his beak here, kind of flows into this shape, we're going to pick up on that same type of attribute. Now this guy did my reference for how I shaped and form his head, but the next photograph that I use, guide my reference to shape and form his body and the composition of him sitting on a branch, and what that ended up being is this refined sketch. We'll go ahead and kind of zoom in on this so you can see this a little better, and once I have this scanned in, I'll set the Opacity to 20%, and I'll lock that layer, and the first thing I start with is the easiest part, those are basic shapes using the Elliptical Tool over here to simply create those.
So those are easy, those aren't hard at all. The other shapes are more free forms, so I'll use the Pen Tool to form, such as this shape of his beak, and then all of these other shapes are going to make up the other segmented part of his beak. So I'm going to take this shape I have selected here, with this beak shape, and I'm going to go to Pathfinder, and I'm going to go and Remove From Shape, by clicking this, and it gives me my end up beak shape, as you see here. If I pull this out, you can see what that looks like, and now I'm going to take that, and I'm going to clone it, Cmd + C, Cmd + F, I'm going to take the other shape I have, and I'm going to intersect it with Pathfinder, so all we're doing here is simple shape building here.
We build the shapes we intially need using the Pen Tool, then we do shape building with the Pathfinder, it's makes the whole process go a lot faster. Then, what I'm going to do, is I'm going to take this eye, and I'm going to clone it, Cmd + C, Cmd + F, and then I'm going to take this body shape, and clone that, same, Cmd + C, Cmd + F, then I'll take these two shapes, and I'm going to unite them with the Pathfinder, and then I'm going to have what I need to edit the end, basically to trim off all these beak shapes.
So I'm going to take this, and I'm going to clone it again, so I have multiple copies of the same shape. I'll take the overall beak now, and I'll go ahead and trim that off, then I'm going to take this part, and I'll go ahead and trim, this one off, like that. And you can see we still have this part, which is the body, and that's okay, because we're going to end up eventually, taking this, and we'll clone this, and we have to make sure we're on the right layer here, and then once it's on the right layer, we can select this, and once again, Remove From Shape to get the shape we need.
So those are the simple ways you can start building using a combination of shape building, the Shape Tools, such as the square, or maybe your design has a rectangle in it, so on and so forth, you're going to use these elements to compose your base vector artwork. Now there's one tool I use, which doesn't come with Illustrator, but the good news is, if you go to AstuteGraphics.com, it's an absolutely free plugin called SubScribe. And I'm going to show you how I use that, and it guides my vector building.
Like, in terms of building this branch, how would I do it? Well you could take the Pen Tool, make sure we're on the right layer, and I could go like this, or go like this, and go like this, and then go back in and kind of play with these until I get it, and that would be perfectly fine, and you can do that. Or, one thing that I've been doing more and more, is I've been taking this tool here, and if I show you the name it's, Circle by Two or Three Points, kind of a long name, but here's how it works.
I can lay down my first anchor point, then I select the destination for the second one, and on this one, I want to snap it right here, and I'm going to click and pull. And you can see how it makes the arch, and I let go, when I want it aligned with my drawing, then I simply go to the Scissor Tool, and I cut it where I want. In this case, I want it right about there, and then I can get rid of the rest, so that goes really quick. I can use this same tool to do other type of buildings, such as these leaves, so I could click here, go over here, click here, pull it to get one side, then I could go back, click here, click here, pull it to get the other side, select these two shapes, go Intersect on Pathfinder to form my end leaf.
And so that's how quick this tool works, now if I wanted to build this leaf without that tool, I would probably have to do this, click, click, click, and then I'd have to take, either the PathScribe Tool that I use, or you could use the Anchor Point Tool in Illustrator, if you have CC and above, and pull these out to form it. But the problem with that, is I'd have go in and finesse these curves to get the curve looking really nice, and it just, I find it a lot faster, just to take the SubScribe, start with the first anchor point, second anchor point, done.
Then, I start with the first anchor point, and we'll put the second one right here, pull this out, and then I can select both of them, and go Intersect, to form the shape I need. So it goes really quick, now we're going to create the shape in the beak here, so I'm going to go ahead and select the first anchor point, and the second one I'm going to put right about here, and we'll go like this, and then I can select this shape, clone it, Cmd + C, Cmd + F, select this one, go Intersect to form the shape I need.
I also use this to do detailing, such as in his tail, so I could go like this, and I could form that shape. Then I could select his tail, clone it, Cmd + C, Cmd + F, select this one, Intersect it to create that shape. So that's how I would use this plugin, this tool, to build my base vector shapes, when it's all said and done, all my base shapes will look like this. And it's at this point that I can start thinking about how thick, how fat, that is, I want this stroke.
And the first thing I do, is I turn it to a black and white stroke, and now this is where determining the thickness is going to come into play. So I'm going to go to the Strokes Pallet, and right now, I believe, if I select all of these, it is 0.75 points. So I'm just going to just start clicking up, and I just want to make it nice and beefy, and chunky, and I really like 7 point, when I'm looking everywhere, but look at the eyes, we have a problem with the eyes.
I'm not liking that, that's not working too well. I also don't like how thick this black area is getting right here on the front of his beak. So as you start working out your weight on a style like this, you'll have to pay attention to areas like that, to make sure you're not adding visual tension. And in this case, I'm going to have to adjust some things. So I'm going to go back to my base art, and I always keep a copy of my base art on another layer so I can go back and make tweaks if I need to along the way. It's almost like vector insurance, I keep it on a layer called X.
Why? I don't know, I've been doing that literally for about the past 20 years, so, it's just a habit I've gotten into. But you can see I've created this sizing, instead of it bending down to right about here, I've increased the thickness where it goes off the end, and I simplified the eye. So if we look what we had previously, this is how the beak was, and the eye was, and I've simplified it and improved the spacing. So when I go to the fat line now, I can select all of these, go to Stroke, and we can go up to seven, which looks good, and it looks the way I want.
I think this looks really nice now, and so we can start moving forward on this. Now the first thing I want to do, is I want to turn these strokes, because if I go to Keyline View, you can see it's just merely a stroke. I want to go ahead, we can turn our Refine Sketch off, I want to go ahead and convert these to paths. And the way you're going to do that, is you'll just select your artwork, and then you'll go up to Object, you'll go up to Path, you'll go to Outline Stroke, and you'll select that.
And so what this does, is it turns everything into a path, once you have this, then you'll want to select your artwork, and fuse it all together by going Unite. But notice how on these, a little detailing aspect, if we zoom in on this branch, you can see how it's sticking out on the other side, because of the mitering on these paths, once they're turned to shapes. This is where I'll have to do a few throw away shapes, just to kind of clean things up and trim them up, so we're going to just do that right now.
So I'll create a shape like this, select this leaf, and trim that end off, and do the same on this, and I'll do the same on the others, just so we have a nice, clean art, as it's intended. And I'll do the same thing on these two, and once I have that done, I can just start selecting shapes, such as the shapes in the beak, and I can unite them, using the Pathfinder, and you'll notice how many anchor points it adds to this. And this is unfortunate, I should point out, that visually, it looks fine.
Will it print fine? It will print fine. It looks aesthetically fine, it doesn't distort the art, it just adds a whole lot of anchor points, so if you wanted to edit something after the fact, it's going to be virtually impossible. And unfortunately, Adobe still hasn't fixed this, I've been complaining about this for years, and their engineers haven't gotten around to fixing it. But there is a remedy, if you have the VectorScribe plugin from Astute Graphics, you can go down here and select Smart Remove, and all I have to do is drag it over these, and just look at how it magically cleans up the artwork.
And this tells me that mathematically, the code could be changed, so it would work just as you see here, after I run the brush over it. So that's how I resolve that, and that's why I use plugins, because there is no way in Illustrator to do that effectively. And that tool, which is called the Smart Remove Brush Tool, works brilliantly, in my opinion. So when it's all said and done, after you fuse everything together, you're going to get artwork that's one cohesive shape, as showing here, and this is where we can start applying some subtle rounds, or detailing into it.
Most of this is ready to go but, there's areas that I think need to be rounded, namely on some of these leaves, I want to go in and round them. And I don't use the Corner Widget in Illustrator, because if I go to select an anchor point at times, at certain zoom ratios, the Widget Tool gets in the way, and I accidentally round something. So I usually turn that off by default, by going to View, and turning off the Widget Tool here. And what I'm going to do now, is I'm going to use the Dynamic Corners Tool, part of the VectorScribe plugin by Astute Graphics, because I can just select the area I want, and I just round it, once I get one round, I can just click the next leaf, go over to this leaf, click this one, and click this one.
And at the end, I kind of like this one coming to a point, I'm not going to round that, but that's how quick it goes. So that's how I add subtle rounding. Once I have my base art, which is this right here in front of you, by the way, I should point out, this is a great candidate for using Live Painting, in Live Painting you can select an image like this, go to Object, go to Live Paint, and you can make it, and then this would allow you to simply just start dropping colors into these areas inside to color it.
Now we're not covering that in this video, but I will cover that specific style in a future movie, where I'll go over that feature, because it is a fun one to do. But now we're going to move to color, and I'm going simply do some coloring on this. Now I created a tonal family, where I'm going to select my toucan fat line art, I'm going to color it this dark brown, but then I thought it'd be cool if I colorize a texture. So I'm going to move this texture and place it over the top, but first, let's go ahead and colorize this, this color.
And I'll move that on top, like this, and I want to go ahead, let's see, we're going to go ahead and clone, Cmd + C, Cmd + F, this shape, and I'm going to go ahead and mask it, and mask, you go to Object, Clipping Mask, Make, and we mask that texture in there, but I don't want the tonal value that much, so we're going to decrease this quite a bit, to like 50%, and I think that looks pretty cool and I'm going to zoom in, just so you can see what's going on here.
You can see it just adds a nice subtle texture to it, I think that looks cool. Well the final design on this one looks like this with the brown one, and even though I really like this, I think, or I should point out that, my favorite use of this style is to use it in a one color style. I think it looks really impactful when you do that. So this style is a lot of fun to work in, you just want to keep in mind how fat you make the line, you could actually get more simple and get a lot fatter with the line as well.
So there's a lot flexibility with this style, if handled well, a fat line style can be very sophisticated, in it's final aesthetic, while remaining somewhat playful at the same time. My color pallet on this design was highly simplified to reflect the genre of the branding. But you could have colored the inside of the shapes, as I pointed out, using Live Paint, for this type of motif, and created a whole new look and feel as well. Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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