Monday, August 11, 2014

From Sketch to Vector, Part 2

For the last week, I've been doing the 21 Day Drawing Challenge.  It's been difficult and fun and eye-opening.  I don't draw nearly enough anymore and really need to work on that.  Anyway, the reason I'm doing it is because I have a great deal of admiration for the artist teaching the course - Von Glitshcka.  I'm mentioning this because his approach to creating digital art (specifically, vector art in Illustrator) is one that I try to emulate: draw, draw, draw some more, and then digitize it in the most efficient way possible.  If you're looking for inspiration or education about Adobe Illustrator, he's a fantastic resource.

And now, to continue my vector art journey....

Today I'm continuing on the toddler/baby vector doll that I started last week.  I've been looking at it for the last few days and something about the mouth just did not look right.  I played around with it some and finally settled on something I think I like! And we'll add the body today, too.  I tend to tweak things as I work, so it'll be a while before we get to the final form.

Here's the updated face and my sketch.  I left the head on one layer and I'll add the body on another layer.  Once everything is finalized, I'll move it all together.

Like we did before, get out your pen tool and start creating shapes for the body.  Color is irrelevant at this stage.  I like to use high-contrast, easy to see colors.

I've roughed in the shape of the arm.  I like to created a whole shape then adjust the points & curves afterwards.  I place points wherever I expect there to be a curve and I can add or subtract points as needed to smooth out the shape.

Using the anchor point tool (it's the one that looks like an open triangle in the pen menu), I started creating curves.  This is a young child.  Kids are round and soft and squishy.  There are going to be a lot of curve and few corners or straight lines.  I'll need to keep this in mind as I create the shapes.

The vector and the sketch.  To adjust the curves of the vector arm, I turned off the sketch layer.  That may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but I find it helps me build a better vector shape.  Looking at the sketch can be both a help and a hindrance.  Use the direct select (white arrow) and anchor point tool to adjust shapes as needed.

I want this image to be almost symmetrical, much like the male & female fashion dolls.  They are essentially symmetrical, but not perfectly so.  I didn't want a mannequin.  I wanted an image that had some life to it!  With this new doll, I'll do the same thing.  Which comes in handy, because all I need to do now is replicate & reflect the arm I just created!

My vector lines.  There are some things to adjust and I need to add clothing.  Looking at it, it just doesn't seem quite right.  Something is off...

...So I found some reference material.  I discovered that a toddler should be about 4 heads tall.  I can easily copy & stack my head to see how close I come to that proportion.  My reference image from is below.

(Total tangent: if you ever get a chance to take a drawing class from a sculptor, DO IT!  Best thing I ever did, artistically.  There was a sculptor at UNH who taught some of the early level drawing classes.  I had been drawing for years and still learned an immense amount.)

My proportions aren't too bad.  My doll is slightly more than 4 heads tall.  It's always better to discover something like this early! And, with Illustrator, it's an easy fix.  I made each section its own shape or group.  I do this for two reasons: first, it's easier to manipulate in the early stages of creation (like here), and, secondly, I can copy & paste these and manipulate them into outfits fairly easily.

And the adjusted doll.  I used the select tool (the black arrow) to manipulate the shapes individually.  I also moved the arms around a little bit.  The pose is a little awkward partly because I wanted an open body shape.  I find having the arms separated from the body allows more space for tabs and more mix & match outfit possibilities.  I try to think about playability.

So that's the doll.  Next week we'll look at colors and shadows, as well as adjusting the doll to fit the proportions of the fashion dolls.


  1. I really love the new face. The old face, I have to confess, kinda creeped me out a little, but I think the new face is so happy and cute. You're very brave for taking on drawing children... children are on my list with men of things that I am too scared to try to draw, along with tutus and all animals.

    1. The new face is definitely better. It's so helpful to walk away & come back to a project! Kids and men are super tough but I love s challenge! We'll see where this doll ends up.