Vexed over Vexels.

4 min read

Deviation Actions

Aeires's avatar
By Aeires
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A commission was given, create a vexel gallery.  I took this responsibility because it fell within my office's realm of responsibility.  Without knowing too much about vexels, I posted journals, news articles, and wrote about it in the AR Newsletter to get feedback on what the vexel artists wanted in their new gallery.  A lot of feedback was received but most of it was "cool,"  "about time," "glad to see this finally happening,"  etc....  Very little was said about the gallery description and what they wanted to see in it's writing.

I looked at, wikipedia,, and several other sites to get a good base of what a vexel exactly is.  I also read through an old vexel forum thread here and found a good bit of debate on the definition.  Many people pointed to, many disagreed with that definition because of it's limiting parameters in saying a vexel is a style of art.  In short, a conclusive definition of what a vexel is still remains much to debate as people are divided over this.

Taking all that into conclusion, a gallery description was written and put into place.  When the gallery was launched, in typical fashion, miscats occurred.  Some have blamed them on how the gallery description was written.  Ludicrous.  Every single gallery has miscats, regardless of how well the description is written.  On one hand I believe strongly in gallery descriptions, but they only work when people read them so the miscats will likely never be completely removed.  On the other hand, vexels are such a new medium that many people don't understand them regardless of the gallery descriptions.  To help reduce miscats to a minimal level, I have rewritten the gallery description to it's most base level, the new description is posted below:

Vexel Art

"Vexel images are:

  • 1. Vector-like images that contain non-vector (raster) elements used to enhance the artwork.
  • 2. Images created by digital tools such as the Photoshop pen tool, selection tool, or similar device that causes the image to have filled sections of colors next to each other to create the artwork.  This technique gives the image a posterized look, making it look more 2D in appearance much like what a vector image looks like.

Vexel images are not:
  • 1. Photographs that have been ran through a filtering process.
  • 2. Paintings, airbrushed images, and heavily filtered artwork.
  • 3. Pure vector artwork.  Please read the gallery descriptions for vector artwork if unsure.
  • 4. Any type of artwork that does not adhere to the rules above as to what a vexel is.

Note:  images that are predominately photographic in nature with little vector work should not be posted here.  Images such as those should be posted to the appropriate Digital > Misc gallery."

As you can see, it's as simplified as possible.  Another way to help the gallery is to promote art that actually is a vexel.  With that in mind, here is a good dose of some really great vexel images.

:thumb35585655: :thumb29647087: :thumb42141006: The Night Drive V by smev :thumb24885385: Color Smugglers by plasticgiantcatbear

*just a small sample randomly selected for the broad range

Some things to consider about the new gallery:

1.  There have been a huge amount of miscats moved but the gallery is taking shape nicely.  From what I have seen, the quality level is really starting to shine.

2.  In basest terms, if you do not know what a vexel is, you probably shouldn't be posting art to this gallery.  Vexel artists know what vexels are, there's no doubt to them.  If you think you might be doing this art but aren't sure, ask for assistance, we gallery directors like to help.

3.  In the future, regular vexel articles will be posted to help the gallery gain identity, stay tuned.

4.  Lastly, if you think there's still something that needs to be included in the gallery description, speak now or forever hold your peace.
© 2007 - 2021 Aeires
anonymous's avatar
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simoneyvette's avatar
I get what you describe as Vector and Vexel.

But I am new to this, and am wondering if you can tell me, if I use only the pen tool in Photoshop to create an image and there is no original pixel image (photo), then is it still vexel or has it become vector because everything within the image is made up of the pen tool's shapes?

Thanks - your answer will help me when I upload.

Cheers! :hug:
VAngelLJ's avatar
Hey there, I just discovered your comment here, figured I'd be able to help since I'm a Photoshop Vexel/Vector artist. This was copied from the 'did you know' box on my page, so you'll be able to find the info again if you need to.

The pen tool has two options, which are called "Shape layers" and "Paths". If you are using the shape layers setting, you are indeed making vector shapes, if you're using the paths setting, you are making raster layers, which are made out of pixels and do not have the vector qualities of scalability.

If you are unsure whether you're making vector shapes or layers, here are three simple ways to tell the difference while you're working:

1. Look at the pen tool setting - is it set to shapes, or is it set to paths? Hover over the selected icon to find out.
2. Resize your picture to about 50-100 pixels across - make it really small. Then resize it again back to its originial size. If the quality has been damaged in any way, you are not using vector shapes and your finished piece is classified as vexel since you are working with raster layers.
3. Start a new path. Does it automatically create a new shape layer or are you still working on the layer you previously had selected? If it is the latter, you are not working with vector shape layers, you are working with raster layers.

Lastly, if you merge any layers or add any Photoshop filters, your image will no longer be a vector, it will become vexel or mixed media. You can use layer effects such as 'gradient overlay' and 'stroke' which you find in the FX menu beneath your list of layers. These will scale along with the vector shapes, but filters (noise, lens flare, texture) will not.

I hope that helps.
simoneyvette's avatar
Oh that is absolutely brilliant!

My latest was indeed done with the pen tool set on "Shapes".

If we do not merge the layers, what do we save the final image as - what file type keeps it a vector?

I am so grateful for your info!

VAngelLJ's avatar
Well, unless you upload a .swf file (only accepted int he Flash gallery) then your final product that can upload for web will not be scaleable - in this case, it is the technique in which the vector was created that counts, so a .png or .jpg are fine for upload to dA, no one is that picky ;p

I'm glad I could help.
simoneyvette's avatar
Yep I mentioned you on my first ever vector: [link] as a thank you!

Thanks again!

VAngelLJ's avatar
Well thank you, I've actually just left a critique on that for you as a thanks for the faves!
simoneyvette's avatar
I just saw it.

You are invaluable.

Thanks hun!

VAngelLJ's avatar
I'm glad you think so XD :hug:
vixducis's avatar
In fact, the car is a vector, and not a vexel, am i right?
anaesthetic's avatar
So I am late but I wanted to say, I like this definition. It's hard to find a clear cut definition. I understand the techy definition (raster vs vector) but sometimes being able to see it in an image isn't easy so I had never really understood.

I think it's interesting that some people include, in their definitions, that you can clearly see the lines between colour/gradient blocks - IE it cannot blend.
crag-dolomite's avatar
It's a good thing we are beginning to understand the concept of "vexel". Maybe now we can tackle the concept of "voxel"
m3nt4l1st's avatar
Well for me, i have to say I'm glad this gallery was made. Vectors are good (and I use photoshop pen tool and warping ellipses etc) but it's always useful to be able to use raster images within it, because otherwise, i was never sure where i should post vexel art!

So thanks whoever suggested it, and thanks for making it!
smev's avatar
thanks for the vexel category ^^ took me a while to recategorise my old pictures =P thanks for the feature too ^^
Ceressa's avatar
i still confused,i really don't see too much diference
When we save our job made in illustrator in jpg format it's automatically converts to a raster image
so...what the point of this :P

P.S:my english is bad
Aeires's avatar
That's true, but when you save your file in Illustrator, it still looks like the original vector file. If you add raster elements to it, then it becomes vexel. Vexel is the combination of "vector" and "pixel" because it uses elements of both, but primarily vector. It's a vector-like image with additional raster parts added.

The new gallery was made for all the artists that add raster elements to their work. They are no longer true vectors but needed a place to post so we made the gallery. :)
MiSmAtChEd's avatar
Definitely better like this considering the previous description was incomplete and even in its assumed complete shape hopelessly uninformative about anything except the origin of the word itself. I think there will be an endless debate about what is and what is not vexel, that's not something that needs to clutter up the gallery description though, and this description at least attempts to be more informative.

Imho, it's a bit of an odd category,always was, and it will undoubtedly run with consistenly many miscats. I think the best rule for anyone is that if you don't know what vexel is, don't post there. Along the same lines, if you made a vector-like image but didn't use purely vector-tools/programs -> vexel, ne?
eldris's avatar
I still think that's incredibly unclear.

And, how come the pen tool doesnt count as vectors? Everyone's always told me its vectors.
Aeires's avatar
Because vexels are a combination of vector and pixel. Yes, the pen tool is used in vectors, so it's only makes sense the it can also be used in vexels because vexels are the combination of the two mediums.
eldris's avatar
So, if you only use the pen tool and nothing else, its still vectors? Sorry, i'm being totally thick ^^;
Aeires's avatar
Vectors can be created with the pen tool. Even in Photoshop the pen tool can be used and the image resized without quality loss so it's not just limited to vector programs like Illustrator. Check this out: [link]

One of the big reasons why a vexel gallery was created was that the vector gallery does not allow raster elements (non-vector parts). Vexels use both vector and raster elements in many works so they didn't fit in the vector galleries. Now they have their own place that allows the combination of the two. :)
lemontea's avatar
It does. That, apparently, was ambiguous wording. It can be a raster element. Why it is exclusively grouped in there with the selection tool, I don't know. Illustrator can be raster if you mesh a photo with it... but I don't see it there.

Basically it's just unclear, or outright wrong. The pen tool is a vector tool.
kalany's avatar
I agree with your little rants here. I think this has to be the most poorly-worded description ever, and as a result, folks have had stuff moved that was pure vectors made in Photoshop. Argh.
lemontea's avatar
The good news is that things have changed considerably since ^Ikue and I took over. Hopefully a change for the better in terms of accuracy.
brennennn's avatar
awesome stuff. :highfive:
anonymous's avatar
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