Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login
Vector Vexel Portrait Theory 2 by ChewedKandi Vector Vexel Portrait Theory 2 by ChewedKandi
The Introduction

The purpose of this set of tutorials is to help expand on any vector/vexel knowledge you may have on working from reference images. Most advice will come from working on portraits using a reference, which is why I have named it as such.

These tutorials are going to be more to do with theory work behind using references, rather than showing you a step by step tutorial. In this way, I hope to teach you how to create your own work from reference in your own style.

As it is not program based (unless specified), this theory work can be applied to either vectors or vexel, or even digital painting... and any program you use.

This tutorial will feature stock from =mumbojumbo89's stock account and can be found here. Permission is granted from her to feature and talk about this image in the context of this tutorial.

At this point I'd like you to open this deviation example into a new tab/window as I will be referring to this during the tutorial. At present I am unable to set a preview image for it, hence being loaded into another deviation.

For the sake of saving my fingers from typing, vectoring/vexelling etc... will be referred to as rendering.

The Method

There are many methods of creating a vector from reference and there is no right or wrong way... regardless of my opinion in all of these tutorials, what I'm teaching you is my preferred method. It is neither right nor wrong. So with this I will give you a little insight on my methods and then explain more as I go along.

My personal method of choice is using 5 types of layer groups - in no particular order:

:bulletred: A background group - a set of shapes/paths which create a background effect - not always required.
:bulletyellow: Base layers - shapes/paths of 100% opacity which are used to block out any shading/detail which may overlap a layer to be visible on top
:bulletgreen: Shading layers - shapes/paths of less than 100% opacity - usually about 5-30% opacity, which are layered upon each other to give more depth
:bulletblue: Detailing layers - shapes/paths of varied opacity, including any line art shapes/paths, to add fine detail
:bulletpurple: Finishing layers - shapes/paths which could include vector textures, gradients, solid colour to modify the overall colour and/or look

Now don't worry too much about remembering these and what they do as I will go into more detail as I go along. In more simplified terms you could see it as a collection of low opacity shapes built up on base layers to produce an overall impression of the reference image.

The Colour Palette

Now before we start talking about layers and the methods, let us look at colour selection and putting together your palette.

One of the main reasons why you'd modify an image before working on it, is because the colours that you use throughout the rendering process, will be readily available to you straight away. All you have to do, is learn how to select those colours.

Looking at a regular stock image or say a photo of your favourite celebrity... is that it's not coloured like a render... it's made up of hundreds and thousands of colours.

Now you don't need to pick ALL of your colours for your palette straight away. In fact, I personally just pick up on colours as I go along. The beauty of using a palette is that it's there for your reference... it is the colours you want to use now... it is the colours that you have used... don't try to rush into the future and pick colours you might not even use. This is because maybe the style and colours of the render will change as you go along or even it might confuse you slightly.

Don't over complicate things. It does no one favours.

Now remembering the past tutorial about preparing the image... one of the options was to adjust the curves or smooth edge preserve or even what was suggested with Gimp. This was in order to try to make the hundreds and thousands of colours into a smaller amount... to make it easier to recognise the colours... and of course, to select them.

Where ever there is a colour in abundance in an area or throughout the reference image, this can be a colour you may want to keep in your palette to use.

The eye dropper tool is your friend... and remember not necessarily picking up the first colour is the best one. Scan around the image for colours. Why not draw the colours in shapes and compare them to each other... see how they compliment or contrast with each other.

The Base Layers

Here is a little exercise before we jump into explaining base layers.

Get 2 pieces of paper and layer them on top of each other but not entirely covering each other...

The top piece of paper will hide anything underneath it. The bottom piece of paper will only be visible if it is not overlapped. This is the concept of base layers.

Base layers are a collection of layers which are of 100% opacity. The colours of them are the most predominant colour or mid toned colour of an area or region of a reference image. They are a "base" for any shading you put on top of them and are used to make sure that no shading from the area directly underneath is shown.

So let's look at your reference image... or if you don't have one, the stock image in the example. What areas is there a large portion of?

Usually the key areas would be the hair, the face/neck area, any hair in the background, any visible clothing.

Ahhh I hear you say the eyes and lips... now it's interesting you bring these up and I will go more into these in future tutorials. However consider the lips as skin for now (as they are) and eyes merely as "detailing". Either elements are vast areas of the portrait and only take up a small portion.

So looking at the stock image, you need to look at it as if you're constructing it in pieces of paper. Which pieces of paper would be on top of the other:

The hair and the jumper are overlapping and hiding some of the face.
The face is overlapping and hiding some of the background.

So when you construct the base layers for the portrait, you'd put the hair in one layer group and the jumper in another layer group. These would be on top of the face layer group. And then all 3 of these would be on top of the background.

Let's try this with another stock example, just as practice - let's use this popular stock image by ~neebow-stock - open it in another window. Have a think about where you'd put the pieces of paper.

The hair is overlapping and hiding some of the face.
The face is overlapping and hiding some of the neck/shoulder area.
The neck/shoulder area is overlapping and hiding some of the background.

The Base Layer Colours

As previously mentioned, you colour the base layers in the mid toned or most predominant colour of an area. This is because the shapes/paths of colour you add on top of them are going to be either darker or lighter shading.

Looking at the example in this deviation, in the hair base layer... it's most predominant colour is not a mid tone. It's a dark colour with little lighter colours in it. So I'm going to select this colour.

For the skin, I'm going to select a mid tone colour. This is because the skin has a lot of shadow as well as a lot of highlighted areas. I typically get this colour from near the eye, nose or cheek... however this can vary from reference to reference. So use your eyedropper tool to find this colour from your own image.

And the jumper... now I'm going to render this image without the white in it... so I want it to mainly be a dark colour. So I've gone for a mid tone colour from the jumpers dark stripes.

The Conclusion & The Homework

This is the end of this portion of the tutorial which focuses on colour selection and base layers. If you'd like to follow along with me on this tutorial like ~nellies and other, then your second task/homework is to pick out a stock image... tell me the order of the base layers you can visualise. Or if you're feeling extra courageous, use your modified and prepped stock image from the first tutorial... and draw your base layers ready with the colours you wish to use and link me.

The next tutorial/theory work is going to be on shading. I hope you enjoyed this one and any feedback is appreciated.

The Vector/Vexel Portrait Theory Tutorials:

:bulletred: Lesson 1: Prepation
:bulletred: Lesson 2: Colour & Base Layers
:bulletred: Lesson 3: Shading & Shapes
Add a Comment:

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

Please sign up or login to post a critique.

CarlosMoralesBWs Featured By Owner Edited Feb 27, 2017  Professional General Artist
Hello, long ago to vexel, but did not know how, I stopped doing them, now I want to do them again and I saw your tutorials exelente my task is like this:
I made the order of layers
you see my profile

i sorry my english i speak
Spanish i usee google Traductor XD
elrainier86 Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2009
Definitely appreciate you taking the time and effort to create something like this. Hope to use these tutorials very soon.Thank you.
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
No problem - I do hope you're able to use them to produce something awesome :hug:
nellies Featured By Owner May 2, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
great tutorial! keep em coming ;p
I remember sending u my ai file and u gave it back to me with a grouped layers like these, I'm such a mess with layers :rofl: You're really great and I want you to know that all your help and teachings are appreciated :hug:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Awesome stuff - lessons start again this week \o/
nellies Featured By Owner May 5, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
really?! cool, I'm excited :D
fabulosity Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
this is amazing! i'm about to start on the homework.
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Awesome stuff - don't forget to link me so I can go see it :D
fabulosity Featured By Owner May 5, 2009
Most definately. I'm working it on now. I was going to upload it last night but it got late lol
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 7, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Awesome stuff - can't wait to see :D
MarkPancake Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
Awesome, nothing more I can say :o Your willingness to help people is just great ;)
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you :hug:
chiarafsc Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
Fantastic tutorial!! :D
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you :D
hashem-arafat Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
u r the best
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Add a Comment:


Submitted on
April 30, 2009
Image Size
9.9 KB


81 (who?)