Monday, November 19, 2012

Tracing a Doll in Illustrator

Today we're going to continue with Illustrator.  It's a complex program that takes time to master, and every time I use it I learn something new.  What we'll be doing today is tracing out the doll.  I may get to tracing the outfits too, but that might wait til next week.  And remember, starting December 1st I'm going to try something a little different for the month: a daily doll post.  More on that to come.

One more note, most of this lesson would work with any vector program.  I use Adobe Illustrator CS4.

Open Illustrator.  Open File>Place and choose the image you want to trace.  I have the doll and clothes all in one file.  The clothing is not to scale and doesn't fit the doll yet.

This is my setup.  I have a the doll and all the clothing laid out randomly.  The image sizes and art board size are irrelevant.  Make sure any and all of these template images are on the same layer.  I named my layer "templates" and I'm going to lock that layer and make a new one.

In Illustrator, every shape or object is its own sub-layer.  This can be a bit confusing and we'll look at some examples of this.  To start, get the pen tool and start tracing the doll.  I create a rough outline using a stroke with no fill and straight lines.  Start with large areas first.

The lines in red are my rough trace.  I chose red so it would show up against the black lines of the template.  I placed a point at natural intersections: elbow, neck, waist, etc.  This is a 1pt line thickness with mitered joins.  What that means is that the places where points turn (like the fingertips here), the line forms a sharp angle.  I'm not a fan of that, so I typically change my strokes to a rounded cap/rounded join combination.  I also prefer a thinner line while tracing.  In the stroke panel (the bottom panel in this image), change the stroke thickness and select the two center selections for the type of stroke: rounded cap and rounded join.  Make sure your art is selected when you do this.

Next up, grab the convert anchor tool from the pen menu.  We're going to start changing those points and straight lines into curves.

Here are two close-ups showing the line.  I clicked on a point with the convert anchor tool (looks like an open arrow) and dragged my mouse to pull the point out.  There are handles and grabbing those handles will continue to change the look of the curve.  That's what is happening in the bottom image.  Do this all around the rough outline.

This is my outline.  I like to draw the body and head individually.  In this case, I've outlined the body.  I need to outline the background fingers and head next.

 Here is the outline when filled with white.  I also drew the fingers here.  As I mentioned before, each shape is a sub-layer and that becomes obvious here.

Each shape is drawn on top of the previous shape.  These fingers need to be repositioned under the hand.  This can be done using the Object>Arrange>Send Backward menu, or you can use the shortcut (Command or Control - Bracket.  It's the left bracket for bring forward and right bracket for send backward), or you can rearrange the sub-layers in the layers menu.

This final picture shows the outlined doll.  In the next lesson, we'll color the doll and add the base.  I need to add some details to the hair and outfit as well.

Hopefully next time we'll have a chance to go over some of the other tools in Illustrator, such as brushes, patterns, gradients, etc.  Next week will be the last lesson until January.  I want to dig deeper into some topics.  I'd also love suggestions, but we'll talk more about that next time.  Til then, practice with Illustrator.  Have a great Thanksgiving!

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I am trying to learn to draw paper dolls in Illustrator. I am brand new to the software, and stumbled upon your website! :) I would like to follow your tutorials, but I have no idea where I can find a doll to trace? I appreciate any help!