DAaA- Unit 1: Vector Design

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Unico by Susanne Paschke
Paschke is a designer and Illustrator from Germany.
She aims to create photo-realistic illustrations with vectors.

Every artist was first an amateur. 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

How are Numbers Beautiful?


Adobe Illustrator (link)

For this unit, we will be learning and using Adobe Illustrator CS6. Adobe Illustrator is a graphic creation software used to create Vector-based works. It is used by professionals in a variety of industries and fields, and it isn’t the easiest piece of software. We’ll work through a few basic exercises to become familiarized with it first.

At the end of this unit, you’ll work toward creating a piece of art utilizing data, numbers, or other mathematical principles. We’ll talk more about this as we move through the six weeks.
PDF About Adobe Illustrator CS6
Videos about Illustrator CS6 from Lynda.com
Videos about New Features from Lynda.com
Learning Illustrator Videos on Adobe.tv

Vocab to know and use

Point: a dot, in Illustrator its location is recorded with x & y coordinates.

Line: a line connecting two points, which in illustrator is drawn by an equation.

Vector Graphics: graphics created by math concepts, such as points, lines, and shapes.

Elements of Art– parts or pieces of a work of art. These are the basic pieces of a work.

Line: An Element of Art– A mark with greater length than width. Can go in any direction, change directions, vary in thickness, and even be implied. Sometimes explained as a point moving across a surface (think the point of your pencil moving across paper). Want to learn more?

Shape: An Element of Art– A closed line, or a line that eventually returns to where it began. They can be geometric, like  square or circles, or organic, like free form or organic shapes. Shapes are 2d. Want to learn more?

Principles of Design– How the artist combines the elements of art in their work.

Repetition: A Principle of Design– When an object, color, shape, or other significant element is seen more than once in the work. Often associated with pattern, it can create a feeling of unity or movement. Want to learn more?

Pattern: A Principle of Design– The repeating of an object, or series of objects, many times throughout the work. This principle of design often pairs with repetition. Want to learn more?

Part 1

Today’s Work

Once you’ve created something, the second part of today is to start learning how the pen tool works. It’s a bit painful at first, but once you get the hang of it, its actually pretty fact and efficient. I find it most useful for going over pencil sketches. As we don’t have time today for every one to sketch something and scan it, for now, just find a photo to use.

While you could argue this being educational use grants fair use, were not just going to pull randomly from Google. We’ll practice abiding by copyright and proper digital etiquette, as that is part of all the new technology courses offered.

Only use images that are creative commons, public domain, or free stock imagery (if you’re familiar with these). We’ll discuss those more later. If you’re not familiar with these concepts, you will be by the end of the year. For now, if you don’t know how to access public domain or free stock imagery, just use creative commons. To put that more simply, only pull example images from sites like the Creative Commons section of Flickr or one of the other options for Image Sources on the Library Resources Page. You need to provide attribution (or credit) and a link to the page it’s from.

I’m going to use this one:

by sanfamedia.com

Once you have your image, open it in Illustrator. Depending on the size of your image, you might want to find a bigger one, or zoom in a bit. It’s also a bit easier on bigger photos, as the details are clearer, and you can work more intricately. Lets grab the pen tool and start figuring out how this works.

When your learning new things, I’ll try to introduce them fairly gently, but if you need to, you’re always welcome to look up other resources too, or ask for additional help. Some people may find this page on the Pen Tool from tuts+ or  this simpler page on the Pen Tool from WikiHow helpful. Adobe.TV has some useful videos from time to time as well, here’s their video on the Pen Tool. While you can often skim text faster than video, the clarity of actually seeing something used can often not be replicated with text alone. I recommend at least clicking few a few parts of the video.

Tip, when I tried using the pen tool to draw a second image, I dropped the opacity way of the background image. Opacity is the opposite of transparency, so if something has high opacity, you can’t see through it. If you click on the image you opened in Illustrator, in one of the bars near the top of illustrator, you should have the option to adjust the opacity.

First, decide where you’re going to put your first two points. Then pen is pretty good for making curves, once you get used to it. So, I decided I’d start with one point on one side of his head, and the next point on the other side of his head, with the intent of drawing the curve at the top of his head.

In the second image, on the right, you can see I’ve clicked both points, this will draw a straight line. However, if I hold down the mouse on the second click, I can begin to manipulate the line. Moving the mouse different ways will make the line bend in different ways. You can also modify these lines again later using the Direct Selection Tool (the little white arrow), clicking an Anchor (point on the line), and adjusting the handles (little lines that come out from the anchor).

You can see the line, now curved around the top of his head, on the left. Now, we just keep going with this technique, adding more and more lines. Tip; to end a pen stroke, click on any other tool. Sometimes its easier to end a pen stroke and start a new one, than to end up with a really complicated line with all sorts of extra curves and what not.

And finally, after a bit more and then deleting the original image so I have just my line work- I ended up with…

That’s actually not very pretty is it? … but that’s alright. I haven’t used illustrator or the pen tool in a few months, and it takes a bit of getting used to.

Maybe a different subject might be easier than a person…

I didn’t finish, but you can see the second attempt is going a lot better than the first. Oh, and the attribution for the flower in the background…

by Flower’s Lover

Post the results of your efforts and learning process on your blog. It’s ok if its not great, my surfer wasn’t so great either. Tell me how you feel about Illustrator so far, is it becoming a bit easier as you’re experimenting with it?

Elements & Principles Icons >>
The J. Paul Getty Museum. 2011
Isar Surfer 2 >>
Sanfamedia. 2008

Flower >>
Flower’s Lover. 2012

This entry was posted in DAaA.

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