Learn how to simplify complexity and create iconic imagery.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. It's said that hands are one of the hardest things to draw. Personally, I find horses a lot harder in all honesty, but I digress. Some of you might get that reference. When it comes to creating iconic hands, I don't think it's that hard at all to create visuals that clearly communicate as hands. So in this movie we're gonna look at the process of taking a complex form, like a hand, and iconifying it into a more simplistic graphic.
So let's get started. This shows many hands I created in a set of hands with all different poses of those hands, all the various iterations, there's just six of 'em. And I've used this styling on a lot of branded work. So I'm gonna show you several of those. Here's Keep Louisiana Beautiful exploration. I also did another one where the hand's making kinda the letter L with this same kinda leaves on the finger type approach. I used this same styling on another campaign to feed the hungry, and this was to represent stop Impact Hunger, to communicate in a powerful way.
And I've also used different style of hands, graphic nonetheless for an event management company and actually a church. So there's many different usages where you can use hands. Now probably my best known one is this mark, and here in the United States there is an insurance company that's well known called Allstate Insurance, and their slogan says you're in good hands with Allstate. And this was me exploring their brand mark and improving upon it.
They ended up going in a different direction, but I like how this one came out. But the style we're gonna focus on is very geometric, very shape-driven in terms of geometry. And even though this looks very simplistic, it can kinda get complex when you're building it to pull off this style. You might be looking at this and go well that looks pretty simple, how is that hard? Well, there's certain things you have to keep in mind as you're building. In this respect, we have a stroke sittin' on top here. Then we have a shape underneath it.
We have these sittin' on top, then we have this shape which is just a fill and a fatter line. All compiled together, all layered correctly, gives us the aesthetic we want, but we'd still have to build this out clean so it's gonna be easy to use. And so that's the process I wanna take you through and simplify to help you understand how to use this styling to create an iconic hand, and it all comes down to reference. I took this picture with my iPhone, I needed a fist because the mark we're gonna create is gonna be a hand, but it's gonna represent a fight club that my friend Dicky Adams has started.
And not fight club like the movie where they're actually fighting, fight club in that every month in a little speakeasy at the basement of a coffee shop here in town they have a gaming event. Specifically a 1980s eight-bit gaming event. And people come in and we just digitally play Street Fighter and other old video arcade games of fighting, hence the name fight club, and that's what this mark is for.
I used this as the reference to draw out the brand mark, and once again I'm taking cues from the real but simplifying and deducing down into simple form. And we're gonna build this out now and it's not as hard as you may think, it just takes a specific discipline to figure out how to go about creating it, and I'm gonna show you that right now. So we're gonna zoom in on this, and we're gonna start with a simple shape. And even though I'm gonna be using a plugin to do my rounding, everything I'm gonna show you you can round using the corner widget inside of Illustrator.
I just choose not to use that, I prefer the dynamics corner tool here. So I can grab a shape like this and kinda bring it back to a square format. I'm gonna direct select these anchor points and I'm just gonna drag it up to create the length of the finger I want right here. I'll select this shape 'cause I want this to be angled kinda like that. And then once I have that I can just select this shape and go Command + C, Command + F, make a copy of it, drag it over, snap it, and then go Command + C, Command + D to duplicate it, Command + F to paste in place, Command + C, Command + D, Command + F to get that.
Now these fingers, we can close this now. These fingers over here tend to be a little taller than the one on the right, so we want to go ahead and select these anchor points at the top of this finger like this, and we wanna go ahead and just bump those up a little bit like that. And then, since fingers are never the same length this one's gonna be a little longer, so we'll direct select these and just drag these down.
This one's gonna be the longest one, so we'll drag this down a little longer like this. And this one a little longer than the original, so we'll just do somethin' like that. And I think that is gonna work. We'll go back to the rounding tool and we're just gonna round off this, I think that round will work, and we'll apply it to that corner. Now the nice thing I like about this plugin is once I have one applied, it's gonna assume I wanna use it again so I can just click on the other ones and it will automatically apply 'em.
That's why I love this plugin, I've been usin' it for years, it works really, really well and it makes building go a whole lot faster. Now, the illusion with this is we wanna have, let's go ahead and zoom in so I can show ya. Right now the illusion, this finger coming from this one works. But on this one, notice if we go to key line view, this is stopping short, it's not really tucking behind the other fingers, so I wanna adjust this. So I'm gonna just add an anchor point here, select both of these with direct select, slide it down and snap it to this anchor point.
Now I have smart guides turned on, Command + U on and off as you work is gonna make the process go a lot smoother. And so you can see how I've broughten that over like this. We can get rid of this extra anchor point now. Go back to preview mode, I'm gonna select this. I'm gonna clone it, Command + C, Command + F. Select this and you wanna make sure that the object you're gonna use to trim it is on top of this shape, so you can check by just giving it a fill, that's on top.
We'll select this shape and I'll trim it using pathfinder or minus front as it were. And this is how I will build all the fingers. I'd do the same thing on this one, but I'm not gonna go through the same methodology. So right now we need to just rotate these so they align with our drawing. So we'll select 'em, we'll go to rotate, and actually that looks good, 20.5 on rotation. And then I'll just simply drag these over and I'm gonna find a good location, right 'bout there probably, somethin' like that.
You can adjust it, but that's how I'd go about creating the fingers. And I'd use the same methodology as I do on the fingers with the thumb to keep the styling in check. I'd probably use this same round on the thumb right here as well. But I'd probably build this on a 90 degree orientation, then rotate it into place just to make building easier on the thumb. But that's the process I use for this. Now where this gets complex is you have all your shapes like this. You can see I have everything built.
The thumb is separate, I have this palm and part of the finger separate, that means I have a path here. So how do you separate these, how do you actually build the final art? Well what makes it easier, in this respect, is if I turn on this layer you can see I like to use separate layers. So let's go ahead and zoom in, just so you can see the top part of this hand a little clearer. And I'll show you the layers. Right now I have a layer here, and it's this blue with a white stroke, black with a white stroke, black with a white stroke, black with a white stroke and yellow with a white stroke.
The only thing without a stroke is the bottom part with the lightning bolt. That's fine, because I'm gonna use these to build clean art now. But the first thing I wanna do is I wanna select these fingers, I wanna select the palm and the thumb. I'm gonna clone these, Command + C, Command + F, and we're gonna go up to object, we're gonna go to path, we're gonna go to outline stroke and I'm gonna unite everything into one shape. Let's color it so you can see it. We'll color it a color we're not gonna use, which is this blue like this.
And we're gonna use this to punch out this shape right here. But before we do that, we're gonna select this one and we're gonna expand that by goin' path, outline stroke and then subtract shape from that to trim it to the way it should be. Then we can select this and punch it out of this shape. Now one thing I wanna do before I do that is I tend to drag these in so it's clearly cuttin' it off, because when two lines align it tends to add anchor points there and I don't like this.
This is gonna create a cleaner build. Now I'll just trim it with the pathfinder like that to get the base shape I need. These are still paths, so I'll want to go ahead and select these three, go to object, go to path, go to outline stroke and then I'll select each one and I'll use the pathfinder to clean it up like this to get the final shapes like this. And the only we have left is this. So we're gonna clone this first, Command + C, Command + F.
We're gonna go to object, we're gonna go to path, we're gonna go to outline stroke and unite all of these together. Let's color it so you can see it. Not an outline, but the actual fill, like this. And we're gonna make a copy of this, so I'll go Command + C, Command + F, so we've just made a duplicate of it. I'll select one of the fingers and I'll trim that off since it's going behind it. And I'll trim this one off, the other finger doesn't so we don't need to worry about it. And now all we have to do is build out this one by going object, path, outline stroke and using pathfinder.
So now if we go to key line view you can see. We can turn off our refine sketch, we have everything as paths here, and this is gonna work great. But what about the finger on the left? Well that's where using other layers are gonna come in. We're gonna go ahead and select these and I'm gonna unite these so it's one continuous path. If I go to appearance it's a group, so we wanna change that to composite. And then if I turn on the floating fingers you can see we saved this, and I did this so that we can get access to the bottom here so it rounds off nicely, and that's what we wanna get here with this path retaining it.
We don't actually need everything showing here, so all I'm gonna do is I'm gonna select these shapes and I'm gonna go ahead and convert these to paths. So these are shapes as well, we'll go ahead and unite 'em like this. And you wanna make sure it's a compound path. And then we have what are called throwaway shapes sittin' on top. All these are gonna do is they're gonna clean up what we have already.
Actually this one up here, if every place, let's actually turn that into outline, then you can see what's goin' on. I'm only isolating the areas of this expanded paths that cut into the shape where I need 'em. I don't need it to wrap up over this, and if I tried to use it it's gonna add extra anchor points there, which kinda messes up the art, we don't wanna do that. So I'm gonna select this and select this other one, both of these are compound shapes by the way.
So I'll select this, I'll select the stroke we expanded and I'm gonna go intersect. And this shows you what you end up with. Let's go ahead and color that the hot pink color. And this is gonna be a group, so turn it back into compound. I'll select this shape and then I'm gonna minus front using pathfinder, and that's how we get to our cleaned up artwork. If I select this, some of these areas might have extra anchor points, in which case you could go in and clean 'em up if it bugs you that much, but in this case I think it's very minor.
But it gives us the aesthetic look and feel we want for this, it's gonna work great. In this case the brand color isn't black, we actually made it red so this is what it looks like. And when he's doing these events, once again there's no name it's just fight club, it's just a symbol, kinda like Prince. And we created these MOO card, business cards. And this is how he invites people, he just gives 'em a date, time, location, and then he gives 'em a number because it's by invite only.
So he's handling it kinda like the movie which is kinda funny. But this is what he hands out, and we create a few promo graphics even though the number one rule of fight club is you don't talk about fight club, so we're not sayin' anything, we're just showing it. So we have the symbol, people playin' the video games. And if you wanna see the creation of this image with the half-tones you can check out the PSD file which I included in the exercise files. But it was a fun project to work on. So hand graphics don't need to intimidate you.
Take a photo of your own hand and try building an iconic version of it in vector form. Remember, keep the tolerance consistent in regards to the spacing of the negative space. And I think you're gonna enjoy the exercise. For more information regarding creation of iconic designs in artwork, check out my drawing vector graphics: iconography course where I go over a lot of different methodologies. So thank you for watching DVG Lab. Until next time, never stop drawing.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.