This one has been in the works for a long time, ever since I installed Adobe Illustrator actually. One of the features that initially attracted me to Illustrator CS4 was the Live Trace feature. The idea that you could take a sketch, hit a button and get a vector graphic in a few steps was very enticing. So, I made sure that Illustrator was included among the Adobe CS4 programs.
When I first used the feature, I must confess, I was disappointed. Initially I scanned some of my pencil sketches, hit the Live Trace button and the results I got were not what I expected, or wanted. Sure, the feature is absolutely fabulous, but it doesn’t work THAT great with pencil scans. Now, I am no professional inker, so most of my drawings are in their original pencil stages (I tend to ruin the lines and the feel of the piece when I ink them) which means that every time I tried to vector a sketch I got the same poor result.
At this point I decided to leave it well enough alone and went over to Photoshop and perfect my skills with that program. But, in the back of my head, I still wanted to create vector graphics. I kept trying it, watching and reading many online tutorials. At first it was obvious, I had to ink my drawings with a felt pen so that the Illustrator could recognize the lines and create better looking vector graphics. So I tried that and I liked some of the results I got:
The Hug Your Snowman graphic was created by inking the original pencil drawing and using the Live Trace feature in Illustrator. I colored and applied textures and patterns in Photoshop. I was happy, but not overjoyed by the result. Anyway, long story short, I started playing with drawing in Illustrator, the results which you’ve seen in the previous posts (starting with Veda). The difference is that all those little cuties were created by manipulating different shapes. This new vector graphic was created using the Pen Tool in Illustrator.
The Pen Tool can be very intimidating. When you look for tutorials online you get this flood of high speed videos where the illustrator makes this incredible piece in five minutes and he/she doesn’t explain the process. Not very instructional. BUT it drives home the following message: open the program and play with the tool until you create something cool. SO- that’s just what I did. Here is the result (link takes you to her listing):
Just for fun I created the side-by-side comparison so you can appreciate where the graphic started and how it ended.
I’m really happy with the end result. She looks amazing AND she was completely created in Illustrator. Some of the gradients used on her came from Deziner Folio’s Web 2.0 Gradient Swatches. (Find them HERE)