One of the things I am guilty of is looking at other people’s work so much that I neglect my own. I get sucked into perusing all of twitters inspiration collections, especially those from Abduzeedo.com. I look and review and start to feel inadequate as a designer since I am not producing work as beautiful as everyone featured.
And then I realized, it’s not that I am inadequate, it’s that I am not producing.
If I were to track my time, the time spent on perusing other people’s work/blogs/etc. would drastically overshadow the time I spend working on my own art. I had originally chalked the perusing up to research and my attempts to stay with the trends. But at some point, the research needs to stop so that I can contribute my own artistic perspective to the world. And maybe someday land in that inspiration list.
In lieu of that, I decided to try out my own vector art. It’s a technique that definitely has its place and can be used in dynamite designs. I had never really tried this before in Illustrator, and it’s one of those techniques I bookmark tutorials on, thinking that I need to try it. So, I decided to try it and see if it was something I could work on and add to my list of skills.
Ironically enough, I didn’t even sift through my Delicious account to find a tutorial. I just went for it, in hopes of utilizing the knowledge I had seen, and integrating my own personal style.
Because I also want to work on my sketching skills, I decided to sketch an image from J. Michael Straczynski’s “Midnight Nation” (a brilliant graphic novel, I must say). I grabbed my pencil and my Harry Potter sketchbook (yes, that’s right, a near empty sketchbook I had received as a gift after the first one came out, years ago). And I did just a line drawing. This in itself was odd for me, as I love to shade. But because I wanted to do vector art, I was forced out of my safe zone into line drawing. Here is the initial sketch:
I scanned the image in and opened it in Illustrator. I locked the layer it was on, made it 10% opacity, and started to color on the layers below it. Because I had seen so many examples of vector art, I knew that the gradual shade technique I love wasn’t an appropriate approach for the result I wanted. I tried to imagine the lighting and where my lights and darks would be, adjusting the shapes of the lines in hopes of making it actually look like the sketch I began with. And honestly, I just went for it. I hoped that my heuristic approach would work, and that my intuition would kick in and I would come up with something successful.
I don’t think I did too badly:
My next step is to try to put this vector art within a context, or just do some really cool design-y stuff around it that I see in my perusing. I don’t want this process to stop here. I am intrigued by so many different styles, it’s time to put them together and develop my own.
Here is a list of things to remember if you are a new designer, or really any designer that may be stuck.
- Inspiration is good, but know when to stop
- Know what the end result you want is, and just go for it
- Trust your intuition…tutorials are there to teach you techniques, you need to apply them as yourself
- The process is on-going, always keep learning and trying
I’m sure there are a ton of ideas that can be added to the list, but these are the ones that struck me as I was trying new vector art.
There’s a quote from Nickelodeons series, “Avatar, the Last Airbender” that seems appropriate to end with. This is not verbatim, but it goes something like this:
“You are going to fail a lot before things work out…even though you will probably fail over and over and over again…you still have to try every time. You can’t quit because you might fail.”