How many times have you doodled something that turned out pretty cool and you wished you could build it all in beautiful vector? We'll show you the steps and get you comfortable with Pixelmator's vector tools so you can turn any sketch into a vector graphic.
Step 1 - Sketch, Ink, Scan
First dial in your sketch how you want and clean up your lines for inking. Sometimes sketches can be messy concepts of a cool idea buried underneath so sometimes I'll even cover the back of my doodles with graphite and transfer them on to a nicer piece of paper and trace out cleaner lines to work with. When you ink your sketch it does couple of things, one you have a beautiful analog version of your artwork and two it helps us have nice strong, clean lines as a guide for our pen tool to follow. I use Sakura Microns 05, 03 and 01 you can find these at your local (good) art supply store.
Next scan your inked drawing in at 300dpi, jpeg is fine. Send it to the desktop so you can easily find it.
Next create a new canvas in Pixelmator. I'm using an 8.5" x 8.5" 300dpi canvas for this one, that way if I ever want to print it out it will be sharp.
Drag and drop your scanned artwork right onto the canvas and we'll get started.
To warm up, we need to know where to set our anchor points along any line. For this we'll use Von Glitshka's Clockwork method. As you follow the line of this shape you'll see the optimal spot to place an anchor point is at the peak of any arch just like the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions on a clock. The trick is too use the least amount of anchor points possible and know how much one anchor point and it's bezier handles can accomplish for the smoothest curves and lines. For instance the one anchor point in white (selected) probably could be deleted. By pulling the bezier handles of the two on either side you could easily create the same curve. For sharp spiked or jagged lines you would want anchor points on the tips and on squares or rectangles, right in the corners. As we go along we'll show you different challenges you'll face along the way and how to "handle" them, so let's dive into our project!
Step 2 - Head Section
First we have to "think different" about our drawing when it comes to vectors by breaking it down into parts or sections. Since we are starting with the head I can see four main parts to build, the face, hair, hat, and the right ear. Then we'll add the little detail lines on top, like the eyes, nose mouth, sticker, etc.
Let's start with the regular Pen Tool.
You'll notice that most of our ear shape it going to be hidden by the hair and face so we only need to tweak the two anchor points that will be showing.
On any shape or line you want to be sure the Outline is set to "on". Click on the gear icon and choose Show Outline. This will allow us to be precise and see how smooth our lines really are. These are like the "bones" or framework of our structure.
We'll turn off the ear shape for now and next we'll draw the face shape, again using the regular Pen Tool.
First we'll start our line near the left ear and remembering the Clock method set anchor points as shown. We can produce a indented line by retracing our steps at the bottom of the ear.
Continue to follow the line of the face and set your anchor points. We'll come back later and smooth them out.
Bring your line around behind the hair and hat and close the path by connecting it to the last anchor point.
Once you close a path the shape will automatically switch to transform mode (which is slightly frustrating) To go back to edit the path either double click on the line or right click and choose "Make Editable".
Start by double clicking on the first three anchor points to change them to a curve and bring up the bezier handles. You'll notice the selected anchor point (white dot) has one of it's handles pulled out longer to produce the longer curve of the ear.
We can also select an anchor point and then use the keyboard arrow keys for a fine adjustment in any direction.
You may feel you want to add more anchor points than you need, but the two on either side can easily handle this curve.
Notice how the bezier handles of two anchor points work together to create a larger curve.
Once your satisfied with the curve check the fill option and use any skin tone color. Don't worry about specific colors yet we'll fine tune those at the very end.
Next we'll create the hair shape and get into some fancy handle splitting tricks.
Even though we have turned the face shape layer off for now, the pen tool is still aware that there is a shape there. Whenever you want to start a new shape on top of or inside the bounds of one below it you have to hold command to set the first anchor point. Your basically telling the Pen Tool to ignore that other shape and start a new one. Remember - "Hold Command to start a new shape on top of another".
First we can start to set our basic anchor point layout, making sure to add points to the tips of the jagged line.
Then continue to layout the rest of the hair and close or finish the path at where we started from.
Start double clicking on points and create your curves. To create a curve between the first tip and second tip we can turn the middle point into a curve and pull the handles to match our lines, but there is a more efficient way to do this without the need for the middle point.
A better way in this case is first to change the tip point into a curve.
Then by holding Command while moving the bezier handle upward we can "Split" the handles to work independently of each other.
Once you've split the handles the other handle will now move freely as well without the need for using Command. You can see how efficiently we can create the curves using just the the anchor points on the tips of the hair.
Since we don't need to make more work for ourselves, we've skipped the top tip and moved on to the next one and repeated the Split handle technique again.
As you go back thru and tweak your curves, look for anchor points you can get rid of.
By pulling the bezier handles of nearby anchor points you can achieve a smoother more efficient curve.
When your finished again check the fill option and choose the hair color you want.
Next we will create the hat shape.
Each bezier curve can only go so far. In the case of larger arches like this hat we'll need to spread out several anchor points along the path. We can also use our indented line trick again by moving the anchor point back over the existing path as shown.
Go back and smooth all of your points, removing ones you don't need. When your done fill with red and name the layer "Hat".
If we turn on our Hair and Face layers we can look over how the design is coming together, making sure everything is smooth and flowing.
Now let's finish up the details of the face. To make a simple eye, create a diamond shape with the Pen Tool using command to set the first anchor point because we are above an existing shape. Then change the top and bottom points to curves and adjust accordingly. Finally create a pupil by setting anchor points as shown and creating just one outside curve.
Go ahead and Duplicate both the Eye and Pupil layers one time. Here are the Layers you should have so far.
Move the copied Eye and Pupil layers in place. Hit Command > F to transform and rotate both layers at the same time. Make sure Constrain proportions is checked.
Sometimes you need just a simple line. After you place the last anchor point simply hit the space bar to end the path. Double click to make editable and adjust your points as needed.
For the Eyebrow we will create this triangle, change the bottom right anchor point to a curve and use our Split Handle technique to get the curves we want.
Duplicate the Eyebrow and go to Edit > Flip Horizontally, move it in place and finally with the Pen Tool selected you can hover your pointer over one of the transform corners and while holding command you can freely rotate the eyebrow shape. Finish the Face off by adding a mouth and use the Ellipse Tool to create a small oval for the ear and rotate in place.
Again use the Ellipse Tool to create the sticker shape, rotate in place and fill with a color of your choice.
Select all of the layers we have created so far in the layers panel, right click and choose Group. Name this group, "Head" and turn the group off for now. Next we'll get to know the Freeform Pen Tool, select it from the Tools panel.
Step 3 - The Hoodie
Now we will start this section with the hood and we'll get used to the Freeform Pen Tool. This tool works slightly different from the Regular Pen Tool. Instead of clicking to drop anchor points you just draw continuously and trace the line you need. Anchor points will be generated automatically depending on how fast or slow you draw and what kinds of curves you make. It takes a lot more control to use this and it's not always so precise, but it's good for real curvy shapes.
You still have to hold Command to start if your drawing over an existing shape. Draw your line as smooth as you can. As you can see there are some issues when you slow down or pause, especially when using a pen & tablet, it tends to place a lot of anchor points in certain areas and you must go in and delete these.
You can see the same issue near where you would complete the shape. Also many times I could not get the ends to connect even though the "Finish drawing" dialog would appear. Once you delete the unwanted anchor points at where the ends meet you'll have to double click on the end of one side and hover again to the other end point to close the shape. I usually switch to the Regular Pen Tool to do this.
Once you go thru and smooth all of your curved sections fill with a blue color.
Next shut off the hood layer and we'll create a curved black shape that will be the inside of the hood. Using the Freeform Pen Tool once again carefully and smoothly trace the shape.
Go back and remove the extra anchor points, smooth your curves and apply the Split handle technique to the center anchor point as shown below. When your done, fill this shape with black.
Turn on the other layers to check your design. These are the layers you should have.
Next we'll tackle a bigger shape, the main part of the hoodie.
Use the Freeform Pen Tool once again to get the feel of it. Remember to relax and don't worry if you don't trace it perfectly.
We've removed a lot of the extra anchor points and dialed our curves in. You can see I didn't follow the lines exactly in the two indicated areas. I wanted to get rid of some of the waviness so I smoothed these areas out.
We're looking great so far!
Next add these three lines with either the Pen Tool or Freeform Pen Tool. Remember to hold Command to start and hit spacebar to end a line over another shape.
Add a black shape as shown to both arms of the hoodie and a curved line just above it.
Finish the Hoodie by adding curved pocket lines and a couple of pull strings coming down from the hood. Finally select all of these layers and Group them as "Hoodie".