Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a single-weight illustration, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. Not everything I create is client-driven. I try to show examples of real-world projects when I can, but some of my most favorite artwork is personal projects. I love reading, and have been enjoying the work of author C. J. Box recently. In one of his novels, he talks about a group of men who were stealing and selling minerals from Yellowstone Park, and he referred to them as the Pirates of Yellowstone.
This story inspired the design I want to walk you through now. And sometimes that's all it takes, is something that makes me smile, something I enjoy, and I decide "Hey, I'm going to create something "based off of that, because I think it's fun." And so this shows my thumbnail sketch to encapsulate kind of the idea of what I wanted to create for this design. I wanted to keep this very simple, a very thin line type of illustration, but kind of have fun with it, and treat it almost as if I was creating a t-shirt graphic, if you will.
So this is where it started, this is my rough sketch. I didn't get a whole lot more tight when I moved to a refined drawing. I wanted to just capture the essence of what I needed to create in a simple fashion within the context of Illustrator. And so this is where I started. Very symmetric, what's going to be used on the left of the face, for example, for the most part, is going to be used on the right, with the exception of his eye, but everything else tends to be symmetric in terms of how it's reflected. That said, I wanted his horns to be distinctly different on both sides, and have the illusion of symmetry, but still break that symmetry where it makes sense.
And so that's where I started with this project. Now as I'm working on a project like this, it's not just about capturing things in a realistic sense. This obviously isn't real. But when I build, a lot of people ask me "Well, where do you start?" Well, I don't know. Sometimes I start with the nose, sometimes I start with the eye. In this case, I decided to start with the beard. And the reason why I'm showing you this is because this is literally how I move forward and I start building on something like this.
So I'll just start with simple shapes. Once again, anything I can build with simple shapes is going to save me time. I don't need to overthink it. And in this case, simple rectangles, where I'm adjusting some of the anchor points, but then I'm also using simple circular shapes to pull off the curves on his hair, or in this case, his beard. And so I'll take a rectangle shape, once again, I have Smart Guides turned on, Command + U, and I'll go until I hit this anchor point. Then I'm just going to draw a box, and this is going to make up this part, so I can select this, I can select this circle, I can fuse that together, that's going to give me everything needed for that part of the beard.
I can select these two shapes, I can fuse those two shapes together, I can select this shape that I first did, clone it, Command + C, Command + F, that gives me a shape that I can then trim off using Pathfinder on this shape, and this is as easy as it gets in terms of vector building. So I'll take the rectangular shape, I'll go in here, then I'll combine it, or unite it, with Pathfinder to create this shape, make sure it's on top. If you're not sure something's on top, go to Arrange, Bring to Front.
I have F5 set up to do that, so I never go to that menu. And then punch out of there to get that shape, and then we can clone this shape, Command + C, Command + F, select this shape, and punch it out of there to get that shape. So that's how I'll approach simple shape-building to create the elements of my design. It doesn't get any more complicated than that. Now there's some cleanup we're going to do later, because we're going to end up turning these to paths, but this is where the genesis starts, this is where everything starts.
So we will turn that off, and I'm going to focus on another one, because this one isn't so straightforward, but it still utilizes the same methodology, although this has all the appearance of being kind of convoluted, and dirty, if you will. And that's okay, if it works, it works. It doesn't matter if the process is dirty. If the end result works, then who cares? And so I'll take a shape like this, I'll clone it, Command + C, Command + F, I'll take this side, which is going to be the side of his hat.
He's actually wearing one of those trapper hats that look really dorky, and have the flap that goes up on the front, and the long flaps that go down the side. Well, that's essentially what we're creating here, and this is where I'll use the Rounding tool, Dynamic Corner tool, 'cause I'll take a shape like this shape, on this part of his hat, and I'll select the tool, and I'm just going to round it, like this, to get that element I need on that shape, or the roundness I need, that is, on that shape. And that's going to serve me, as you're going to see here in just a second.
I'll go ahead and select this shape. Sometimes I'll do throwaway shapes, where I'll create a shape for no other reason than to edit another shape. So I'm going to create that, select the circular shape, and then I'm going to punch that out, because I don't need the section that's going to be right here. And then I'll take this shape, and I'll take this shape. On this one, once again, I don't need all of this, 'cause I have the shape I created for his mouth, so let's go ahead and trim this.
Once again, the process isn't always distinctly clean, as long as it ends up clean, as you're going to see. So once again, I'm creating a shape for no other reason than to to edit the other shape. I'll select all of these elements necessary to make up this part of his mustache, then we'll fuse 'em all together. And you can see how quickly it kind of comes together, and it kind of makes sense. Then I'll select this shape, clone it, Command + C, Command +F, and then that will punch out of this shape to create everything in that mustache.
Once I have this shape, I can clone this shape, and just so you can see what I'm doing, let's color this blue, and we'll make a couple more clones, Command + C, Command + F a few more times, and then I'll select a shape, and then I can start trimming this bottom beard shapes that are going behind it, like this, and I'm just using it to trim off the top. So you can see this is how I'll go about creating all the shapes necessary for this artwork, like this.
So that's the process I use. Once again, not distinctly clean, or it may seem a little sloppy, but as long as you're paying attention, it's going to work relatively well. So what I want to do now is I'll take shapes like this, this is how I created all the horns, and then I'll just go back in with the Rounding tool, and I'll just add in all these little rounds, like this. Some of these have the same diameter, such as this, so I can just click it again.
And this is all I'll do, is just add these kind of rounds to those shapes, and it's not complicated. So anything that makes the process faster, and go faster, without compromising quality, is always a good thing. Now when it comes to some of the content, let's take a look at this one, this is the little fish, is it started off with just circles. And then using Pathfinder, I fused those circles together, and then I wanted 'em to be no higher than the tip of the wave here, so once again, I'm creating another shape for no other reason than to trim this shape.
Then I can go to my Scissors tool and just get rid... Actually, let's do that over again, because I probably should've handled that a little differently, like this. Like that. Then I can trim that like that, then that way all I have to do is make two edits on this shape and get rid of that line we don't need.
So that's how I'd go about creating this. Now the one thing about this is I don't want it to be a straight line. Actually, I want this line, I believe it's 2.5 is what we're going to make this into, so I'll create this, I'll turn on Rounding, and then, but once again, I don't want it to be a straight line. I want this to actually be a dotted line. So to create a dotted line in Illustrator, just click on Dashed Line on this one. We're going to put the first, the dash is actually going to be a zero.
Then we're going to go over here and we're going to put in, let's try four, and that doesn't look good. And what we need to turn on now is Caps. We need to turn on this round like this, and you can see it's creating a circular shape. Actually, let's punch in four again, and there you go, that's how you can get a roundness. Now you want to make sure to have this correction turned on over here. I just don't know why, by default, they just have this, and just get rid of this. I don't see any usefulness to this one on the left whatsoever.
But that's how I'd create the effect for water there. Or that's how you create the effect for a dotted line, which represents water in this case. And then, here's another one where I take one line, once I have one line, I can use the Reflect tool and reflect it to the other side there. I can select both of these, and then hit Command + J to fuse this path that connected these two points. Then once I have that, I can just close the path like this.
All these shapes, once again, once we have the closed shape, we can take the Scissors tool and just trim the parts that we don't want on this, like this, get rid of that. All of these will be the same thickness. Actually, on this stroke, this will be 2.5, like this, and it'll have round caps to match the aesthetic, but even though this is 2.5, notice how it looks thinner in this line? This is actually going to look better if we increase the size.
It'll aesthetically match this. That looks correct, even though this technically is larger. It's kind of a visual trick. So we're going to use another free plugin called PathScribe, and that's where I will create my little fins, that's showing here. Actually, we don't want those lines to be dotted, so we can turn that off. And then we'll go like this, and I'll create that like this.
We'll select both, we'll go Intersect, on, let's see, on Pathfinder here. Then we can clone our fish shape. Actually, we don't need to do that. We'll just select this, and we'll just trim off what we don't need, bonk, bonk, like this. And yes, you have to make that sound when you use that tool. Here's this fin, Command + C, Command + F, find a central point, and we rotate it. So that's how I'll build all the little elements in this design, in this case the fish.
So here's all my base vector artwork. And then all the elements that play a part in it, here's all the little characters we created. And at this point I was looking at it and decided it needs to be more hairy. He has a lot of hair. These guys are mountain men, they have a lot of hair, so it needed to be a little more hairy, so I added a little more hair detail in there. And then I decided the story was distinctly somewhat comical in terms of these guys being, yes, they were criminals, but they were kind of goofy criminals, making really dumb decisions, so I added a little comedy into it by just adding this arrow going through the head.
Anybody familiar with Steve Martin will understand that. And a reference to the outdoors, the mountain men, and sun, outdoors, that kind of stuff. So this gives me all my base vector art. And once you have your base vector art, it comes down to being able to turn it into actual shapes. Now all this is accurate in terms of it being keyline. If we go to Keyline View, you can see it's all strokes, that is. But we need to turn it into actual shapes.
So I just want to show you how I do that, because sometimes I just skip over that thinking people kind of get it. And at times it can be confusing. So we're going to select everything here that's this pink, and we'll go to Object, we'll go to Path, and we'll go to Outline Strokes. So now you can see that those are now shapes, whereas the blue ones are still strokes, as showing here. So I did that because this is how I'll build it. I make sure not to have round caps, so it'll disappear into the other shapes.
So I can select all these shapes, like this, and where it ends up being his claws, and we can go Object, we can go Outline Stroke, and create those shapes. Then I can select everything, and fuse it all together by uniting it, and this creates one simple, clean piece of artwork that has the appearance of a stroke, but it's actually made up of paths. Once again, you can try this yourself using any of these artwork on this layer, on the skull.
This is the same approach we had worked with on creating the base art for the skull as well. But what you end up with is you end up with really clean base vector artwork. Now when I clean up this art in order to convert to paths, if I pull this out, you can see I have elements here where I've separated it into lines. So I don't have it overlapping one shape to another, otherwise it'll add too many anchor points. And this allows me to be able to select my art and go to Object, go to Path, go to Outline Stroke, and fuse it together, and it goes really quickly, and it creates clean, precise artwork.
So I'll do that on everything, so I end up with my final base artwork. If I go to Keyline View, you can see all of this is shapes, even though it has the appearance of having a path. And so this comes down to coloring now. I've added some fun text that goes with the theme of the artwork, and we're going to select our artwork now. I'm going to go ahead and color this brown initially, I think that looks really good, but one thing I want to do is let's go ahead and zoom in on an area of this. We'll clone this, Command + C, Command + F.
I'm going to turn on this light tan color here, and what I want to do with this is I want to go to Color, and I'm going to make this hue about 35% tint, and I'm just going to nudge it, using the Nudge keys, two points down, so one, two, and then over two points, one, two. And then we'll cut it, select our artwork, and Command + B to paste behind, and it just creates a really nice subtle drop shadow shift that works really well with this style in my opinion.
And I think on this style even changing this brown from a brown to even a green is going to look great. So it's a very flexible style to work with, easy to change colors, and the nice thing is it also works on a dark background equally as well, so a really fun style to work in. Inspiration can come from anywhere. When I was originally reading the story, it painted such a rich picture in my mind's eye, I had to document it in a fun way, and this seemed like an appropriate way to do just that.
Thank you for watching DVG Lab. And until next time, remember, as always, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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