Vexels ???

4 min read

Deviation Actions

dangeruss's avatar
By dangeruss
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What the heck is a vexel?

"Vexel" is a term that's been coined to describe the fusion of Vector and Pixel forms of illustration.  Vexels are not Vector - scalable - mathematically derived images based on paths and fills as one would produce in Illustrator or CorelDRAW or perhaps Flash. Nor are they pure painted images as one might create in Photoshop or Painter.

My Vexels include elements from 4 disciplines: Digital photography, Vector path definition, Digital Painting and 3D modeling.

A typical Vexel starts with a high resolution digital photo. Most often, in my case, of a car. I'll analyze the photo and determine what elements I want to add, modify or enhance. I typically begin by defining Photoshop vector paths that provide the basis for the line art that I use to add a stylized "toon look to the finished piece. These paths are stroked with Photoshop paintbrushes of various widths. I use many layers to assist with intersections and overlaps. I tend to merge these as I go, but the linework usually requires about 30 layers.

Once the basic line art is complete I throw in a few ellipses to indicate wheel positions or other details I want to create in 3D. I'll next bring the image into my 3D application as use it as a viewport background image.  I'll create the wheels and other details in 3D then create and apply appropriate materials. The real trick is matching the camera angle, rotation FOV and lens used in the original photo. Once everything is lined up and matches, I'll create lights that match the key and fill lighting of the original image as well.  Now I can render both a shaded render and a line art render. I use a third party plug-in to create the line art views.

Next I'll import those views into my Photoshop file and composite those elements and perform various editing techniques to enhance the toon look and blend it into my finished style. So now I have the basis of my Vexel; a lineart layer, and various 3D rendered layers for wheels and other details.

Body paint, headlights and other details are systematically added using vector based paths that I use as selection sets for painting those elements. Doing the body color highlights, shadows and reflections plus the various details like intercoolers, lights, grills interior details typically requires 120 layers or so - and not a few hours of patient work.

Decals are created by drawing master files in CorelDRAW and saved as Adobe Illustrator (.ai) files. These are then placed one-by-one in Photoshop and manipulated to match the perspective of the car. I'll lock the transparencey of that layer and paint in highlights and shadows where required, like when a decal falls across a highlight line. Figure a layer per decal here.

Once the car is complete, I'll create an appropriate background. Sometimes this is a simple gradient, a filtered photo, or a stylized painted background. Usually it's something simple that highlights the car rather than detracts from it.  I find that the more realistic the Vexel comes out, the more realistic a background it can support.

So there you have it. If you've persisted in reading this far, you've got a pretty good understanding of what a Vexel is and why I don't post them in the Vector Art section here.


© 2006 - 2021 dangeruss
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Axesent's avatar
An old update but, nevertheless relevant to now.
I also Get the "tracing comment", that's how I found this. LOL.
I just wrote a short piece on tracing.

Hope all is well, Keep the awesome Cars and Bikes comming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sicklizard's avatar
Very interesting explanation. Didn´t know what vexel means before. I only knew about voxel graphics.
Did you know that, besides pixel, vexel, vector and voxel, there are also texels existing?
yourlittleirs's avatar
awesome. but, if it's not scalable, then i don't see how the end result has anything to do with vector images. i don't know anything about vectors, but if the image is pixel-based, then it's not a vector, right?
dangeruss's avatar
That's why there called Vexels.
Oncebitten1's avatar
Hey have u ever considered a step by step image tutorial?
Would show exactly how much work you put into these images plus give aspiring artists who want to create there vector drawings a chance to learn how to composite etc.
dangeruss's avatar
Check out my Scraps gallery for some more-or-less step-by-step examples
Pluto-from-Below's avatar
This is a nice definition! why isn't this featured or anything?
Wilian's avatar
I drew a car for my Horsepower ([link]) using the Photoshop´s pen tool. Is it a vexel so?
AQUARIUS1's avatar
trully a master : D.
Dr-GoFast's avatar
vexel it is

(apart from the 3d modeling ...pretty mutch the same way i (should) work :P )
FlowisKing's avatar
agie's avatar
have any tutorial for coraldraw by editing on vektor?
atot806's avatar
hey mister, can you see my gallery please...!! what do you think about my gallery?? do youn think my art is vexel...!! =D
fdlinda's avatar
Hey Russ, check out [link] The word has been around for a while and was "created" by a guy named Seth :)
z3speed4me's avatar
or even the last gen m coupe...its a unique car that i feel is different from anything uve done so far... hell since i own one, id prob pay for you to do that car!
z3speed4me's avatar
i wish i could do half the things you do, but could i possibly make a request of the new z4 m coupe? i think it would look AMAZING...
zoomzoom's avatar
Very detailed explanation and if you add pictures to support it.. It would be truly awesome, one of a kind tutorial...

How about it? ;)
dangeruss's avatar
Check my Scraps gallery there's a 13 piece step-by-step.
igorshmigor's avatar
That was great. Thanks for sharing your creation process. You're so damn productive it's unbelievable. How long does it take you to finish a car in 3D or as a Vexel-illustration?
You seem to do this as a profession, do you? Who are all those 3D and 2D-cars and motorbikes for?
S0-Fresh's avatar
OOo0oOOOOOO0o I get it now, so i guess you dont hav eto answer that other one lol :)

I didnt know they came from 3d models thought, thats hot man props
Chrono1209's avatar
wait whoa whoa... so you trace? i thought you drew it freehand
MobileSuitGio's avatar
:worship: now it explains how those wheels are so damn good-lookin' :drool:
InsaneIndustries's avatar
Thats a cool explanation and all .. but there is still no chance in hell im'a do it ... thats why you are dangeruss ... and not me :P
Dannychhang's avatar
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