Friday, April 13, 2012

Tutorial 4: Saltygirl's Vector Pinup

Hey there!  saltygirl here with an exciting tutorial on my way of doing vector art.

I love animation of all forms. 2D, stop motion, rotoscope, cgi.  I've always been fascinated by how an inanimate picture or object becomes animated.  Traditional 2D cel animation is my favorite.  My vector style art is heavily influenced by the look of a cel, with the defined outlines and wide washes of solid colors.

I spent my early childhood growing up on an air force base in Okinawa, Japan.  There was one English speaking channel run by the base which ran from 7am - midnight.  After that, you got to stare at a boring test pattern.  The rest of the stations were straight Japanese gold.  It was here that I became aquainted with what is now known as anime.  After dinner, my little sister and I would take our baths and wind down for the evening.  One of the shows we watched before bed was "Urusei Yatsura," but we didn't speak a lick of Japanese, so we just called it the cartoon with the green-haired girl.  It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I found out the actual name of the show and the green-haired girl.  Her name was Lum.

What was it about Lum that I loved?  She was pretty, and what girl doesn't idolize a pretty character?  I mean, Disney makes a killing on little girls looking up to pretty princesses, right?  Lum had so much confidence, she'd walk around in a friggin tiger-stripped bikini and go-go boots.  Oh yeah, and she could fly and shoot lightning from her fingers.  Hell yeah.

So you can see why I chose lum as the subject of this tutorial. anime = animation = cel art = vectors. And Lum = tiger-stripped bikini = pinups.  See the connections?  Great!  Well ok, here we go!

Step 1...I do a quick sketch of what it is I want to render.  I even add swipes of tones and shading.  Scan it  and take the sketch into Adobe Illustrator and keep it locked on the bottom most layer.
Lum sketchy sketch.

Step 2...I start breaking up the image into shapes and use the pen tool to create the shapes' outlines.  Everything is a shape.  The hair, the body, even the little horns and the pupils of her eyes.  I arrange the shapes in separate layers, stacked one on top of the next, according to what shape appears at the forefront. fFr instance, Lum's body is one whole shape, and her boots are shapes themselves that go on top of her body.  You gotta think of it kind of like a paper doll with different outfits or hairstyles you can place on top of a template body.  It's kind of tricky to do, but once you start thinking of things as shapes and layers, you begin to get the hang of it. **I was lazy so I used brush strokes for the tiger stripes.

Now you don't want too many layers because that can the file too big to work on, so it might be easier to tackle one thing at a time. Like rendering her eyes on separate layers (the blue eyeshadow, the whites of the eye, the green iris, the black pupil, the black eyeliner and eyelashes). Once you've got that done you can group these objects together and keep them on a single layer
Outlines, outlines, and oh yeah, outlines.

sSep 3...Add in the shading. remember, even the shading can be seen as shapes.  You can either fill the shade with black and lower the opacity or pick a darker shade of the base tone.
Shading outlines done.

Step 4...Pick your palette to fill your shapes and color your outlines.
Yay, colorz!
I know this was a VERY simplified tutorial.  And I know you probably still have TONS of questions on how to do a vector piece.  I wanted to give an overview of how I render.  I'll be going into more detail with the different Adobe Illustrator tools I use, how to use them, complete with screenshots and all.  Stay tuned...

~~Janet 'saltygirl' Stone Wade

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