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Vexels ???

Sun Jan 8, 2006, 4:54 PM
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.

-Russ

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:iconaxesent:
Axesent Featured By Owner May 28, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
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.
[link]

Hope all is well, Keep the awesome Cars and Bikes comming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cheers!
Reply
:iconsicklizard:
sicklizard Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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?
Reply
:iconyourlittleirs:
yourlittleirs Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2009
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?
Reply
:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
That's why there called Vexels.
Reply
:icononcebitten1:
Oncebitten1 Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2008
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.
Reply
:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Check out my Scraps gallery for some more-or-less step-by-step examples
Reply
:iconpluto-from-below:
Pluto-from-Below Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a nice definition! why isn't this featured or anything?
Reply
:iconwilian:
Wilian Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2007
I drew a car for my Horsepower ([link]) using the Photoshop´s pen tool. Is it a vexel so?
Reply
:iconaquarius1:
AQUARIUS1 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2006   Digital Artist
trully a master : D.
Reply
:icondr-gofast:
Dr-GoFast Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
vexel it is

(apart from the 3d modeling ...pretty mutch the same way i (should) work :P )
Reply
:iconflowisking:
FlowisKing Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
interesting....
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:iconagie:
agie Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2006
have any tutorial for coraldraw by editing on vektor?
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:iconatot806:
atot806 Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2006  Professional Interface Designer
hey mister, can you see my gallery please...!! what do you think about my gallery?? do youn think my art is vexel...!! =D
Reply
:iconfdlinda:
fdlinda Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2006
Hey Russ, check out [link] The word has been around for a while and was "created" by a guy named Seth :)
Reply
:iconz3speed4me:
z3speed4me Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
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!
Reply
:iconz3speed4me:
z3speed4me Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
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...
Reply
:iconzoomzoom:
zoomzoom Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Very detailed explanation and if you add pictures to support it.. It would be truly awesome, one of a kind tutorial...

How about it? ;)
Reply
:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Check my Scraps gallery there's a 13 piece step-by-step.
Reply
:iconigorshmigor:
igorshmigor Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2006
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?
Reply
:icons0-fresh:
S0-Fresh Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2006  Professional General Artist
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
Reply
:iconchrono1209:
Chrono1209 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2006
wait whoa whoa... so you trace? i thought you drew it freehand
Reply
:iconmobilesuitgio:
MobileSuitGio Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:worship: now it explains how those wheels are so damn good-lookin' :drool:
Reply
:iconinsaneindustries:
InsaneIndustries Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2006
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
Reply
:icondannychhang:
Dannychhang Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006
nice read...
Reply
:iconsand36cf:
sand36cf Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006
but isn't vexel a point in 3d space of 3ds max? That's what i am hearing in my classroom.
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:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
They're vertexes.
Reply
:iconsand36cf:
sand36cf Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2006
ah... damn my teacher :)
Reply
:iconusagisama:
Usagisama Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006
Thank you very much for posting this!! I have been really curious what the process was behind your vexel work for some time. I assumed it probably combined various digital mediums, but I wasn't exactly sure how much of each or at what stage of the process each element was used. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to enlighten! Great work too by the way :)
Reply
:iconikameka:
Ikameka Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Even though I have been following your vexel series and understand it, its still great to hear the whole process. Thanks man I really appreciate it! And like Sphinx1 said, it works and thats all that matters! So keep doin' it!
Reply
:iconsphinx1:
Sphinx1 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006  Professional Artist
you know what? it works and thats all that matters! So keep doin' it, just don't stop yuor 3D's. :P
Reply
:iconangered-icon:
Angered-Icon Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My word! That would take me a month to do! This is why you rock! ....... 120 layers...................... geez. My car took a week and isn't nearly as good lol. thanks for the info tho. =D
Reply
:iconbornghost:
bornghost Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
Very, very informative. Any recommendations on good source sites for automotive photographs?
Reply
:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Reply
:iconbornghost:
bornghost Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006
Nice. Thanks. :)
Reply
:iconcosmicbound:
cosmicbound Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
Well now, you've explained so well as to making this a real genre of art.. Now, it would be awesome if dA added a category for vexels! :D
Reply
:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Yes it would be neat. The Vector Art section is 90% non-vector work as it is. Just rename it to Vexels and start a new section for "real vectors"
Reply
:iconcosmicbound:
cosmicbound Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006
Haha, quite a good point, although that would really annoy those who have real vectores in that category.
Reply
:iconricepicker:
ricepicker Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
Love all of your stuff but im curious, why not just create an actual vector?
Reply
:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
No reason to. I'm not creating for print, so resizing's not an issue. I can greate the gradients and shades far easier in Photoshop. A true vector would take many, many times longer to create and I feel, look no better.
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:iconricepicker:
ricepicker Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006
Makes sense.
Reply
:iconpridef:
pridef Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
i figured u started your own style, was guessing it would be a piece of image with 3d/photoshop/others added to a master piece ;)
Reply
:iconkyomakino:
KyoMakino Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
Very nice. I think it's great you've created your own style. Although I agree with Ymk, your 3D renders are really what I love, I can completely see why you don't do as many of them. The vexels really are nice to look at though and you pull them off so nicely in such a short time. Keep up the good work.
Reply
:iconcentercore:
Centercore Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
Didnt know there was so much to it.
Reply
:iconairdrian:
Airdrian Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
Now it all makes sense to me!
Reply
:iconymk:
Ymk Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
They're certainly fun to look at, but I just can't help but feel less than impressed when comparing them with your full 3D models. This is purely a personal opinion, and isn't meant to belittle the involving process that is vectors as well as vexels, but they always feel so "traced." Your fully 3D work is what really blows me away consistently. Whereas the vexels are more just pleasing to the eye.
Reply
:icondangeruss:
dangeruss Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
I'm sure you're right. A typical 3D model takes three weeks to several months to create, and much of that is hair pulling frustration. Conversely a Vexel takes a day or two, and is nearly as evocative to look at. There are a lot more fun to create and the feedback is much more immediate than when working with 3D. I've got a monsterous folder of 3D projects I've run out of enthusiasm for. The Vexels are simply more fun to do and since I'm chiefly doing this for fun...
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:iconopax:
Opax Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2006
HAH! i thought i was a weird-one-of-a-kind-outkast-with-a-problem..... i thought i was the only one that just couldnt finish off projects. they require so much inspiration that lasts more than just the setting up of the 3d....

im relief'd to heard that im not alone.
Reply
:iconjoshcxa:
joshcxa Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2006
Yeah I have a lot of unfinished 3d works :(
perhaps i should try this vexel art

any time for step by step tutorials on something simple?
Reply
:iconballashoes:
Ballashoes Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
I still wanna see a sweet chevelle :).
Reply
:iconymk:
Ymk Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2006
I wholeheartedly agree. My digital paintings run into the months as far as how long they take. I haven't really developed a quick and dirty method to creating colored digital work quickly though like you have, but I'm sure the satisfaction of finishing a 3 month piece is much much greater than that of a quick piece. Still, it's amazing that you can create these so quickly and have them still seem flawlessl and jaw-dropping like they are. I'd just be wary not to over-saturate your gallery with vexels. I'd personally love to see the vexel look in the background as well as the car, or maybe you could take on multiple cars?

And I know you get plenty, but this ones alittle different.... maybe a Formula One racecar vexel? All those wings and intakes would be sweet in toon.
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