First attempt @ Vector Art & 6 things I learned

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:

My line sketch for my vector graphic

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 First Vector Art

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.

  1. Inspiration is good, but know when to stop
  2. Know what the end result you want is, and just go for it
  3. Produce
  4. Produce
  5. Trust your intuition…tutorials are there to teach you techniques, you need to apply them as yourself
  6. 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.”

2 thoughts on “First attempt @ Vector Art & 6 things I learned

  1. and don’t forget the jasmine tea… so you’re saying you can over inspire?? not exactly sure what vector art is, but the color definitely brought the sketch to life!!!

    1. Yes. I think you can over inspire, as you put it: focus too much on what other people are doing, get too much inspiration where your own identity as an artist diminishes b/c you have too much of other people’s work in your head. And as I delineated, for me, I was looking at everyone’s work so much that I wasn’t producing my own.

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