Saturday, March 8, 2014

Picture Book Vectoring 101

Today I get to finally show you what I've been working on for the past month...

My very first vector illustration!

Back in January, I attended a neat (and free!) webinar hosted by illustrator, Wendy Martin.  (You can find it here:  It gave a brief introduction on the ins and outs of Adobe Illustrator, and was a sneak-peek to Martin's full online course on vectoring picture book art.  I've always found vector art intriguing since you can expand or shrink your image as much as you want, and it doesn't distort at all.  (Because seriously, who likes jenky, blurry pictures when you resize digital art?  NOT ME!)  But using vector programs has always been a bit baffling to me, so I jumped at the chance to learn about it from a pro.

Six weeks, a few headaches, and many happy-dances later, I have my first vector illustration complete!  We progressed through our pieces each week in class, from learning how to make our own custom inking brushes, to practicing how to achieve a soft, painterly look with shading.  (Which isn't easy since Illustrator doesn't have airbrushes and smudge tools like non-vector programs, such as my personal favorite, Photoshop.)  What I really loved, though, is how much meticulous editing you can do in the program--like moving a section of line work however you want with anchor points.  You can even move anchor points on blocks of color with the best tool ever created--the Blob Brush.  (My inner nit-picker may have gone just a little bit crazy with that feature!)

Each itty-bitty square is a movable anchor point.  Holy guacamole!

As for my illustration itself, you may have noticed this is the first bird piece I can add to my portfolio.  (It was time for a break from woodland critters!)  I knew I wanted to do something bright, happy, and fun for my piece, and these two little birds just popped into my head.  I'm not sure what's ruffled the feathers of the blue parrot, but clearly, the red fellow is not helping matters with his obnoxious grin and dancing.  And why are they wearing fruit hats?  Because fruit hats are awesome.  'Nuff said.  ;)

While I feel like I've barely scratched the surface on what Illustrator can do, I'm very happy that I now understand the fundamentals of the program, and I'm pleased with my progress over the past few weeks.  I still have a long way to go, but vector art definitely isn't so scary anymore.  I even have Martin's seal--er, raccoon--of approval to prove I survived my first vector experience!

If you're a digital artist interested in learning how to make vector illustrations, I highly recommend taking this course.  (The live class is over now, but they are going to offer the video replays as an additional course for anyone interested.  It's also available at  And if you want to see what you can really achieve with a vector program, head on over to Martin's website:  She works primarily in Illustrator, and it's amazing what she can do.

I hope you all like the newest, feathered addition to my portfolio!  I'm looking forward to spending more time with Illustrator--and that oh-so-awesome Blob Brush--in the future! 

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