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Vector Basic Training. Pearson

Vector Basic Training. Pearson

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FROM THEDEPARTMENT OF ILLUSTRATIVE DESIGN

A Systematic Creative Process for Building Precision Vector Artwork

DEVELOPED & WRITTEN BY 

VON GLITSCHKA



Praise for Vector Basic Training
“ The problem with vector images today is that I hate most of them! Mainly
because something dies between the drawing and the precision vector
graphic version. Perhaps it’s the illustration’s soul lost in the transition? Most
vector images today contain too many cyber-slick gradations, they are too
mathematically perfect, like many of the billions of images populating millions
of microstock sites that lack anything real and human. If Von’s book can help
improve a designer’s ability to create better vector images, I’m all for it. And
remember: Just because you can make everything a gradation doesn’t mean
you should make everything a gradation.”
— Charles Anderson, CSA Design
“ With Vector Basic Training, Von Glitschka shames me. And I thank him for it.
He reminds me that I am walking a tightrope of forsaking my first love: drawing.
Von approaches the process with an honor and reverence that emerges
from a tradition rooted in art as much as design. His depth of thought, trained
hand, and ability to art direct himself has produced a stunning body of work
and he brings it all home in VBT to share with the reader. That’s the thing with
Von—not only is he a powerful talent, he’s gracious enough to share it all. I’ll
be keeping my copy of VBT next to my Mac and, yes, my sketchpad.”
— Terry Marks, TMARKS Design
“ Von’s experience as an award-winning ‘illustrative designer’ enables him to
provide a valuable methodology for creating vector artwork guaranteed to
produce results for every designer.”
— Earl Gee, Creative Director, Gee + Chung Design
“ As president of the School of Advertising Art (saa), I would like to thank Von
for writing this book. Young designers need to understand the power of the
drawing process, and they need to know that time spent sketching before
jumping to the computer is time well spent on any project. Von clearly demonstrates
this philosophy throughout the book by incorporating interesting
visual examples of his work. I am excited to share Vector Basic Training with SAA students.”
— Jessica Graves, President, School of Advertising Art, Kettering, Ohio

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Vector Basic Training
A Systematic Creative Process for
Building Precision Vector Artwork


About the Author
Von Glitschka is principal of Glitschka Studios and has worked in the
communication arts industry for over 23 years. His work reflects the
symbiotic relationship between design and illustration. This duality of
skills within his own creative arsenal inspired him to coin the phrase and
title “Illustrative Designer.”

In 2002, Glitschka founded Glitschka Studios, a multi-disciplinary creative
firm. The studio shines as a hired gun for ad agencies, medium-tolarge
design firms, and in-house corporate art departments working on a
diverse range of illustrative design projects.

His exuberant graphics have garnered numerous design and illustration
awards and have appeared in such publications as Communication Arts,
Print, HOW, Society of Illustrators annuals, Graphis, American Illustration
books, and LogoLounge II, III, IV, V, and VI.

Glitschka has spoken nationally at the HOW Design Conference, Adobe
MAX Conference, The Illustration Conference (ICON), AIGA chapter
events, ADFED groups, design schools, in-house art departments, and
marketing groups.

His mix of humor, inspiration, great design, and solid creative methodology
are all part of his presentation productions, which always draw a large following.

Glitschka works out of his home studio in the
Pacific Northwest (Land of Bigfoot) and can usually
be found spending an unhealthy amount of time
on Twitter conversing in all manner of witty banter
and sarcasm. Follow him at @vonster or visit his
website at www.vonglitschka.com.

Acknowledgements
The first and foremost person I need to thank is my lovely wife Rebecca. Her understanding
and support for my work over the years is a living demonstration of caring patience and
wisdom. I’ve spent many months writing this book and numerous late-night creative sessions compiling its content, and she graciously supported me every step of the way. 
Love you, Becky!
When I was first approached by Peachpit acquisitions editor Nikki “The Whip” McDonald
to write a book, I wasn’t sure if the project was a good fit for me, or for Peachpit. After wrestling with the idea, I initially turned it down. But Nikki, being a relentless and gentle persuader, encouraged me to reconsider. She also listened to my concerns and provided both answers and a shared vision. I couldn’t be happier with the end result. Thanks, Nikki.
There is only one person who has shown me more about English than Cathy “Soothsayer”
Fishel-Lane, and that would be my high school English teacher Mr. Parsons. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time drawing in his class. So I’m very thankful to have a rock star editor like Cathy performing textual plastic surgery on my bad grammar and improper use of industry nomenclature. Thanks for making me read smarter than I sound in real life, Cathy.
When it comes to the technical aspects of video production, I’m about as informed as a
small neck clam. The guidance and coaching I received from Mary “Zapruder” Sweeney made the work as painless as possible, so thank you for your dedication and help. 
I appreciate it.
A big techno thank you also goes to colleague Jean-Claude “Van Damme” Tremblay, whose
expert tech-editing and suggestions improved the accuracy of what you’ll be reading. Thanks, Jean-Claude.
To everyone else on the Peachpit team, including design manager Charlene
Will, production editor Tracey Croom, and designer Kim Scott:
You have a well-thought-out process that made working with you not only easy, but precise. My OCD tendencies thank you. And knowing that Peachpit prints the vast majority of its books, including this one, here in the United States, is just icing on the publishing cake.
To my fellow design friends with whom I shared as I created this book (you know who you are): Thank you for your willing feedback and suggestions at critical times. It helped me break through mental walls and keep moving forward on this project.
To all of you who follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or who subscribe to my blog: You’ve
read my numerous laments and rants over the years about all manner of industry-related
issues. Thank you for understanding, agreeing, sharing in return, laughing with me, laughing at me, unfollowing me, RT’ing me, forwarding my link to your friends, or posting snarky retorts telling me to chill out. This book is for you. So
stop reading this stuff and dive into the content already. Sheesh.



Introduction

Vector Basic Training
The one question I get asked most by other creatives is, “How do you
get your vector artwork to look so nice?” When people ask me this,
they’re not talking about any specific art project or illustration, but
rather how I go about building my artwork in vector format so precisely.

Truth is that many designers, whether they are students or seasoned
professionals, struggle with building precise vector shapes. I have wrestled
with it myself. There are times I have to access old art files from my
personal archive, and when I open them, I cringe, thinking, “Why did I
build it that way?” or “That could have been done a lot better.”
The point is: We all have room for improvement.

Vector Basic Training exhaustively documents my own creative process
and approach to building vector artwork. The methods I’ll cover in this
book (with exception to the plug-ins covered in chapter 2) are what I’d
call application-agnostic. No specific software is required because you’ll
be able to take these methods and use them within the vector drawing
application of your choice. For sake of demonstration, I’ll be using
Adobe Illustrator, which is the drawing application of my choice.

This book isn’t your typical software-oriented technical manual or a
how-to for using the latest tools and pull-down menu effects. It assumes
you have a general understanding of vector drawing applications already
and want to improve your skills so you can build precise vector artwork.

My creative process is systematic in its approach. You may not agree
with everything I have to say, but you can’t argue with the end results
you’ll be able to produce over time if you apply the methods to your
own creative endeavors.

Why Designers Should Draw
Yes, this is a book about vector build methods, but its creative foundation
is firmly established on core drawing skills—something I stress
repeatedly throughout this book because I feel so strongly about its
importance to the creative process.
We all drew pictures when we were children, freely and joyfully with
arms and legs protruding madly from the heads of our very first crudely
rendered self-portraits. Many of you continued to draw as you grew
older and that creative passion is probably one of the main reasons
you’re a designer today.

Some of you, however, didn’t stick with drawing and have evolved
into the type of designer who can’t, or simply doesn’t, draw. 
This is unacceptable.

If you drew every day, in five years you certainly would not say to
yourself, “I wish I never would have started drawing again. I am a worse
designer now.” Your creative skills will only improve by integrating drawing
into your creative process. The practical benefits from drawing will
be self-evident and a lot of fun.

I should point out that when I say “drawing” I don’t mean that everyone
needs to become a full-fledged illustrator. Being able to draw allows you
to take the ethereal concept in your mind and formulate it visually. The
more you draw, the better you’re able to capture and leverage ideas and
expand your creative potential. Combine improved drawing skills with
the vector build methods in this book, and you will definitely execute
better artwork with more precision.
When it’s all said and done, you’ll be what I like to call a “drawsigner.”

Digital vs. Analog
Even though our industry may be digitally driven, ideas are still best
developed in analog form. You should always work out your ideas by
drawing out your visual explorations on paper before you ever jump
onto a computer. Failure to do so is the primary cause of many designers’
problems when building vector artwork. If you can’t draw accurately
on paper, you won’t be able to draw accurately on a computer either.
Building vector artwork before you know exactly what to build is an
exercise in design futility. In this book, I’ll show you how to utilize both
analog and digital methods throughout the entire creative process. You’ll
learn how to go back and forth between the two realms to create effective
and precise vector artwork.

As part of the creative process that I’ll teach you in this book, I’ll ask you
to start by drawing out your ideas as thumbnail sketches using good oldfashioned
pencil, pen, and paper. After refining your sketchwork, we’ll
scan it into a drawing application and begin our vector build process.
I have several tried-and-true methods and build processes, which I’ll
explain throughout this book, that will give you a firm understanding of
how to place just the right amount of points in just the right places for
any design. The end result? Precision vector graphics nearly every time.

Process Makes Perfect
You’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” But I’d argue that
when building vector art, your process must be precise from the start.
A flawed or sloppy creative process will handicap your design potential.
Worse, repeated over time, it will make you a consistent builder of
marginal vector artwork.

I think a more accurate saying for our purposes would be, “Process
makes perfect.” This book will help you establish a successful creative
process that you can use on any project type and that, over time, will
improve your creative abilities so that you can design well-crafted artwork consistently.

Direct to DVD
The build methods and plug-ins showcased in this book are also thoroughly
documented in action through more than four hours of screencasts,
which are included on the DVD. You’ll also find helpful resource
files so you can test drive these methods yourself and deconstruct art
shown in the book so that you can better understand how it was built.
When you see the DVD camera icon anywhere in the book, it means the
content provided on that page has a video on the DVD that is associated with it.

When you see the Resource Ai icon appear in the book, it means the
content being discussed on that page has a vector source file associated
with it that is provided on the DVD. Again, these are yours to play with and study.

Don’t be a Design-O-Saur
Nothing hangs me up more in my workflow than an unforeseen software
bug or computer problem. I’ve often thought what it would be like
if other industries had to deal with the types of problems we face all the time.

Imagine, for example, if a construction worker backed his truck over his
tool belt and broke his hammer in half, forcing him to head to the local
hardware store and buy a new hammer. The man returns to the work site
to finish the job, but when tries to use the new hammer to drive in some
nails, the hammer shifts to the right, causing the construction worker to
hit the board instead of the nail. Uh-oh—looks like his new hammer isn’t
compatible with his older version nails.

I know this is silly, but it’s the type of reality we designers have to deal
with every day.
Our industry, more than most, is in constant flux due to the ever-growing
and changing technologies we have to work with on a daily basis. It can
get overwhelming at times keeping up to speed with everything, but
it’s essential in order to stay creatively relevant with the larger design community.

A creative process should be flexible enough to accommodate
new technology, methods, and tools that will improve
its efficiency without compromising its effectiveness.
Vector Basic Training won’t cover every possible tool for
building vector art, but it will introduce you to a systematic
creative process that you can use to create high-quality
design work, regardless of which vector drawing program you use.

Along the way, I’ll touch on additional tools and techniques
that make certain vector build methods easier to
accomplish. The methodology I cover may stretch your
creative comfort zone, but unless you adapt to new methods
and constantly strive to improve your design skills,
you risk becoming a dreaded design-o-saur, and your once
forward-looking design work will start to resemble a thing of the past.


Table of Contents
Introduction xi
chapter 1 Bézier Curves : A Brief History 1
Fear of Math .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 2
Who Created Bézier Curves? .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 3
What Is a Bézier Curve? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Design Drills: Behind the Vector Curtain . . . . . . . . . 11
chapter 2 Your Creative Armament  15
A Love-Hate Relationship .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  16
Core Tools for Vector Building . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Customize Your Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Stop Re-creating the Wheel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Design Drills: Deconstructing Design .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 35
chapter 3 Analog Methods in a Digital Age   41
Don’t Be a Tooler .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 42
I Get Paid to Draw .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 43
Concepts and Ideas .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 44
Analog Tools .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 45
The Lost Art of Thumbnailing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Refine Your Drawing .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 49
Systematic and Creative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Design Drills: Essential Nonsense .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 63
chapter 4 Getting to the Points   71
The Good Anchor Point and Path .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  72
The Bad Anchor Point and Path .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  74
The Ugly Anchor Point and Path .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  75
A Scrutinizing Eye .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  76
A Good Example .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 80
Design Drills: Vector Skeletons .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 83
chapter 5 Shape Surveillance  87
The Clockwork Method .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 88
Prime Point Placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
Deconstructing the Vector Monster . . . . . . . . . . . 108
Progressive Improvements .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 112
Design Drills: Spotting Clocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
chapter 6 Vector Build Methods 117
Point-by-Point Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
Shape-Building Method .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 126
BetterHandles Plug-in .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 134
E Pluribus Buildum .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 136
Symmetry Is Your Friend .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 139
A Healthy Creative Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
Design Drills: Fast and Easy .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 147
chapter 7 Style Appropriate 151
Design Chameleons .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 152
Design Drills: Use It or Lose It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
chapter 8 Art Directing Yourself  181
Fresh Eyes Effect .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 182
Your Inner Art Director .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 185
Avoid Visual Tension .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 189
Full-Tilt Creative Boogie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
Design Drills: Hop to It .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 195
chapter 9 Good Creative Habits 201
Doodle Binders .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  203
Layers Are Your Friend .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  205
Colors and File Naming .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 219
Last, But Not Least .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 221
Design Drills: Top-Eight List .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  223
inde x .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 231


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Product details
 Price
 Pages
 254 p
 File Size
 34,867 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 ISBN-13
 ISBN-10
 978-0-321-74959-8
 0-321-74959-6
 Copyright
 2011 by Glitschka Studios 
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