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Vector Vexel Portrait Theory 1 by ChewedKandi Vector Vexel Portrait Theory 1 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 is about choosing and preparing your reference photo... which 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 Reference Image

When starting a new portrait, half the battle is the reference image you use. So picking out a great stock image will help you a great deal. Not only will it make the final product look good, but also you'll enjoy rendering it much more.

For me personally, it can take anything up to 30-40 hours to create a portrait depending on details, so if you are going to spend a great deal of time on your work, render something you find pleasing to the eyes. Your taste might not be to everyone’s standard, but this is your art, not theirs.

A recent poll I ran resulted in over 70% of people noticing most the eyes on a portrait, so this might be something to take in consideration.

I'm not going to go into how to select a stock image and what tips, however you can find out more by reading an article I once did on stock tips and hints for new vexel/vector artists.

Now that you've selected your image, let's look at making it more personal to you and your portrait rendering experience.


The Modifications

Time after time you will see many portraits which have been produced as carbon copies of the original image. They have used the same colours, the same lighting effects and the same cropping as the original. Although this is fine for some, why not consider changing it?

The first piece of advice on this I would give is to try playing about with the contrast and curves of your stock image. Many standard photo processing programs such as Photoshop and Paintshop pro have these effects/filters to adjust the colouring of the image.

Try playing around with the settings and see if you can come up with a colouring/lighting set up you feel comfortable with, which you find visually appealing.

Maybe you want to focus on one element of the portrait more than others. For instance, when I look at the original image in the examples... I really do want to bring out the eyes... but I feel the whiteness of the jumper may distract from it. Others might think it adds to the image. But for me, what I'd want to do is turn those white bits black. So then I have dark hair and the face/eyes to work with.

Let your imagination go wild... maybe you want to add something to the reference image... maybe you want to put a flower in her hair? Maybe you imagine her with bolder make up? What if she had zombie eyes (ode to teh Thistle), or what about if her eyes and hair were of a different colour?

Modifying your image even before you put pen tool to canvas is good idea... you get to visualise better what you are wanting to achieve and you also get to experiment before you spend hours upon hours to later find it didn't go as planned. It's a time saver.

So get your creativity on!

Tip from *phig: "ok I love how you explained about modifying reference. but i think you are lack of how to make it more creative, i.e modifying curves with photoshop or else,
you can tell people to go crazy with that. just don't worry if they lost the essence of dark-midtone-highlight or even realistic color later, edit it with some color blending and curve tweaking with photoshop.
i don't care how crappy the edited reference's looks, i just imagining further more, that the best color in vector/vexel piece is pastel and muted color domination. (and also pink! LOL)

because sometime a good well-toned realistic ref. ain't become a good vector/vexel piece.
"

The Preparation

Now that you've played about with your stock image, let’s get preparing your reference for rendering.

I've got my issues with renders which are from posterized images - as can be seen in the example. This is when people have used a posterizing filter on the stock image and then have traced the lines and colours of the filter to produce their work. Although this is good for practicing with the pen tool, it's not something I would advise.

The main purpose of these tutorials is for you to use your eyes to work out the colours. By posterizing you have applied a "filter style" to the image... this doesn't give you your own style but a style created from a program. Think of it as a manufactured style. It's not personal to you.

If you've used a vector/vexel program before, you will know that the portrait is made up on layered shapes of colour... and when you're starting out, maybe recognising those colours are not as easy to do. So in order to "see" them more clearly, from experience, I'd recommend 1 of 2 methods.

The first is using curves - again a common tool within photo editing programs such as Photoshop and paintshop pro, usually found under the colour options. Change it so dark areas are darker and the light areas are lighter. This makes these areas more obvious and thus easy to draw your shapes.

The second method is one I picked up from paintshop pro - if there is a Photoshop/gimp etc... alternative, please tell me so I can add and credit you in this. This is the Edge Smooth Preserving filter. And what this does is it smoothes the colours into each other. I used to find this a lot easier to see big blocks of colour, but without showing you lines which happens with posterizing.

Tip from *rehael for Gimp users: "In GIMP we have Selective Gaussian Blur (SGB) - it "posterizes" nicely with low Max. delta value (about 20-30 is nice) and Blur radius od 10 to 20. The difference with Edge Preserving Filter is that SGB doesn't touch the little details, like the eyelashes - which I think is good."

The Conclusion & The Homework

This is the end of this portion of the tutorial which focuses on the prep stages of rendering from a portrait. If you'd like to follow along with me on this tutorial like ~nellies then take your first task/homework on this as picking out a stock image and preparing it. Add your creative elements (if any) and get it ready for a good hard rendering, upload it to your scraps and link me it so I can link you in this tutorial :)

The next tutorial/theory work is going to be colours and base layers. 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
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:iconbrigettemora:
BrigetteMora Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2014  Student Filmographer
I tried to follow your tutorial and created my first vector self portrait. www.furaffinity.net/view/12893… It could be so much better, but not bad I think for a first run. Thanks for this tutorial, I wouldn't have known where to begin otherwise. I'm still trying to learn AI after having used Flash for years, and it's killing me!
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:iconpazforward:
pazforward Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
i totally agree with the issue of posterized image. but since i am just starting i'll admit that i am using that method. :) but with your tutorial i know from now on i will learn a lot! being a vexel artist is quite hard technically.. but i know i have to learn how to decipher with my eyes :) and your gallery is sooooooo lovely.. :)
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I think posterize tracing is fine when you're starting out, but don't let it be the only way you work :)

Thanks for the compliments :love:
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:iconpazforward:
pazforward Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
your definitely right.. but as time goes by (i hope) i am learning now how to decipher colors without copying exactly the posterized photo.. i am reading all your tuts and it is very helpful :) and i love your gallery
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:iconlifeisatraipse:
lifeisatraipse Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2010
ah i havent read these yet, will do. tho i probably have gone past the first one and gone past a few steps. but ill definetly read everything and look everything over. :glomp: :)
thank you
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
No problem :salute:
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:iconjabala:
jabala Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2010
i really find it hard to do human vectors/vexel. thanks for your tuts, my vectoring would be easier somehow. keep it up!
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you :D did you check out the other ones?
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:iconjabala:
jabala Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2010
yup,i've gone through almost all of your tuts. LOL. :D
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:iconsumaiyar:
SumaiyaR Featured By Owner May 26, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I have been searching for good vector tutorials for a while. I find vector art really intriguing and this was very helpful. Thanks a lot :
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 26, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Good stuff - I have plenty vector tutorials in my gallery - I hope they are of help :D
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:iconlucifers-uke:
lucifers-uke Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2010
Minor Suggestion that didn't warrant a critique, simply because this is awesome...

but under the links to the stages of the tutorial, you spelled Link 1 Prepation, where I think you meant Preparation.

That was all I saw that I thought could use work, the rest is still a trial for me, seeing as I haven't gotten too far into trying this.
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you - I'll have to amend it :D

Did you find the tutorials helpful?
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:iconlucifers-uke:
lucifers-uke Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2010
Yes, I did, very. ^^
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:icongrannygeek:
grannygeek Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
Your tutorials are fantastic..I'm just learning how to do vectors/vexels..I have a lot of experience using the pen tool in PSCS2, so I'm at least at that point..Thanks for posting these tutorials.
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
No problem :)
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:icon02damage:
02damage Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2009
please review this image .. i am following ur tutorials
[link]
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
What exactly am I looking at?
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:iconvincet-360:
Vincet-360 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Videotutiral is + easy!
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
:o
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:iconvincet-360:
Vincet-360 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:D please! :(
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:iconnellies:
nellies Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Helpful Indeed. These answers a lot of question that I have for awhile now so really thank you! :D and made me find enough confidence to understand and apply it to my work. :hug: :heart: ya!
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I'm so glad they are helpful :hug:
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:iconfabulosity:
fabulosity Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009
Wow this is really great! It really gave me a lot of great tips. I'm going to most definitely follow along with this tutorial.
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I'm glad you took something from it :D

Can't wait to see what you produce from these tutorials :D
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:iconrehael:
rehael Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
In GIMP we have Selective Gaussian Blur (SGB) - it "posterizes" nicely with low Max. delta value (about 20-30 is nice) and Blur radius od 10 to 20. The difference with Edge Preserving Filter is that SGB doesn't touch the little details, like the eyelashes - which I think is good.

PS: Really nice tutorial! :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I've editted the tutorial to add your comment and creditted you - thank you for this :hug:
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:iconrehael:
rehael Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks and no problem! :w00t:
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:iconchiarafsc:
chiarafsc Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2009
Sorry to leave yet another comment, but I forgot to link you the image: [link]
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:iconchiarafsc:
chiarafsc Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2009
Actually I might do a Sylar vector..
Do you mind helping me out in one thing: I did a 'Smart Blur' in Photoshop, and when zoomed in, it kind of looks posterized.

Zoomed in at 100% - as seen here: [link] , it seems as if it is posterised- mostly around the nose area.

Would you say that this falls under the category of ';posterization'? :P

If I'm going to do this I want to do it right :D :P
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Good stock image, but I'd recommend trying something simple to start with so you grasp this better :)

Then try modifying the images colours etc... :)
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:iconchiarafsc:
chiarafsc Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009
True True.. I'll look for one soon :)
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:iconchiarafsc:
chiarafsc Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2009
I think I'll join you :D
Going to look for a stock image now! Well, I might redo my old vector with your method. Yes, I'll use that stock, and then I can compare them.
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Awesome stuff :D
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:iconjovdaripper:
JovDaRipper Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2009  Student Interface Designer
super great :) thanks
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
:hug:
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:iconuzi-muzi:
Uzi-Muzi Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2009  Professional General Artist
Great tut; especially cause you start out with the basics and also explain the 'why' instead of just jumping in there and talk about the how (i.e., the use tool X, click there).

Bet lots of ppls will appreciate this :)
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:iconchewedkandi:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I'm glad you liked it :)
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