1. 设界
  2. 品牌
  3. 版式
  4. 包装
  5. 字体
  6. 网商
  7. 界面
  8. 手绘
  1. 首页
  2. 图片处理
  3. 绘图


Creating Precision Character Design
Designing a character can apply to both personal and professional projects and the character can be a mascot that works in context of a multi-national brand or it can simply be inspired by a well-known character within pop culture. The later is usually referred to as "Fan Art" and that is what this tutorial covers.


The character "Mickey Rat" first appeared in the early 1970's as a subversive underground comic that I enjoyed as a kid. Many artists over the years have taken their own approach with the character and this session goes over my creation of this vectorized vermin.

01_Thumbnailing, 02_Isolating_A_Direction, 03_Rat_Reference, 04_Tight_Rough, 05_Head_Sketch_Detail: 

Even though our industry may be digitally driven, ideas are still best developed in analog form. Meaning, you should always work out your ideas by sketching out your visual explorations before you ever jump on a computer.
Good reference, is a must if you are creating a parody such as "Mickey Rat." But with my character I wanted to infuse him with my own personal aesthetic, gleaning attributes from my references that reinforce the subversive stereotype. With character design, universally recognizable visual stereotypes are a good thing.
When I use the term "Stereotype" I'm talking about the specific attributes that make something what it is. For example, if you were drawing an alley cat, the ears should be pointed rather than rounded and so forth.
It helps to roughly draw out your art using vellum or tracing paper. Combine that with a light table and it's far easier to make adjustments, redraw, erase until you get your over all composition nailed down.

Once you have your "Rough Sketch" done you'll need to draw it out more precisely. Think of this stage as laying a foundation for your vector building. What you are doing is drawing out exactly how you need to build your vector shapes in your drawing program.
This will let you see before you start building your vector shapes how your art is going to look. Doing this will save you time because you'll remove all the guess work when it comes to the build stage, you're simply creating what you've already pre-determined in your "Refined Sketch." This approach is a good general rule but like all rules there are exceptions, but normally this methodology will apply to your project despite the specific style you may be working in.
I usually try to draw my art out either larger than what I need or at 100%. I also draw my refined sketch out using a mechanical pencil so my line work is fine and sharp so when I go to use it as my template to build on top of in my drawing program it serves as my vector road map.
Notice how I draw my art out with "Shapes" in mind. That is important because when I go to build it I'll build using shapes, not strokes.


If you've drawn out your art precisely with your "Refined Sketch" than you simply scan it in, place it into your drawing program and lock it on it's own layer. From that point it's all about building the art in vectors following your precise drawing as a template for building your vector shapes.


Building vector artwork goes two ways. Either it's point by point or using shape tools like the ellipse as in this case. The more you can learn when and where to use these methods the faster your build time will go and the more precise it'll be. (More about this in the next few steps)

09_Not_Perfect1, 10_Not_Perfect2, 11_Not_Perfect3, 12_Not_Perfect4, 13_Not_Perfect5: 

If you do build using shapes there is nothing saying you have to keep it mathematically precise. Meaning for example on this characters nose I purposely distorted the perfectly shaped ellipse to not just match my drawing but make it less predictable. The more you can do this the less sterile your digital art will be, since vector art runs the risk of looking too good, too clean at times.

14_Circle_Building1, 15_Circle_Building2, 16_Circle_Building3, 17_Circle_Building4, 18_Circle_Building5, 19_Circle_Building6: 

Not all vector building has to be done with the pen tool. Another method for building vector shapes is called "Shape Building."
The vector art you see in the eyes, buttons, hole in the shoe, and ear ring have all been created with "Shape Building" methods. For example I created the tongue in this characters mouth using nothing but the "Ellipse Tool" and the "PathFinder Palette."

A. My refined sketch of the tongue.
B. Four basic ellipse shapes to form my drawing.
C. Select two of the ellipse shapes and "Minus Front" using the PathFinder Palette.
D. Select two ellipse shapes and "Unite" using the PathFinder Palette.
E. Select remaining two shapes and "Intersect" using the PathFinder Palette.
F. Final vector shape created by shape building.


It's smart to build your art using individual shapes. This makes the building go faster and it's more precise. You'll use the PathFinder palette to fuse them together later in the process.

21_Rough_Out1, 22_Rough_Out2: 

When I lay down my initial vector paths I do what I call "Rough Building." This first image shows how it looks when I've completed a rough built path. The key is to get the points in the right locations and not worry about the actual paths between the points.
I then go back and adjust the bezier handles to bend my paths into the correct position. It's important to note that I'm simply creating what I've already pre-determined in my drawing phase. There is no guess work, it's a precise shape following on top of a precise drawing. It does no good to draw something so loose it doesn't help you know where to place your points or shape your vectors paths. So get in the habit of drawing out your art before building your art.
This process is greatly accelerated using a plugin for Ai called "XTream Path" from CValley Software. 

23_Fluid_Beziers1, 24_Fluid_Beziers2, 25_Fluid_Beziers3, 26_Fluid_Beziers4: 

Fluid bezier curves start out roughly. The key is to place your anchor points in the prime locations in order to facilitate a graceful and fluid shape such as this wisp of smoke.
Once you have the rough path points placed down you'll bend out the paths using "XTream Path" and then fix any broken points so they are smoothed points. Keeping the bezier curve handles aligned with each other assures precise elegant curves.


This shows all core vector shapes needed to produce the final art. I always make a copy at this stage and save it just to be safe.

28_Shape_Building1, 29_Shape_Building2, 30_Shape_Building3, 31_Shape_Building4: 

Using the "Shape Building" method and the ellipse tool I create the eye of the character.

32_Pathfinder1, 33_Pathfinder2, 34_Pathfinder3, 35_Pathfinder4:

 Once you have all your core vector shapes you now will fuse them together using the PathFinder Palette. Select shapes and click "Unite" to fuse them into one compound path. Than fill with black and white.

36_Progress_Refinement1, 37_Progress_Refinement2, 38_Progress_Refinement3, 39_Fleshing_Out_Process, 40_B&W_Worked_Out, 41_Art_Directing_Self: 

Even though you draw out all your art before you build it there is still room to improve your art as you go through the entire creative process. So learn to scrutinize your art, become your own art director and look for areas that you can adjust and improve on.
I noticed the curves in the eye were kind of flat and the end tapered too much at the point. So I went in and adjusted the bezier curves to fix the vector shapes and improve the clarity. This is a good creative habit to get into.
Itemizing your build process like this allows you to notice areas needing improvement as you go through the creative process and will help you to art direct yourself more effectively.

42_Coloring_Begins, 43_Drawing_Out_Shading1, 44_Drawing_Out_Shading2, 45_Drawing_Out_Shading3, 46_Shader_Scanned: 

Once I have my base art done I figure out my color palette and start filling my vector shapes with color, creating blends to give depth and detail.
Even though I build my art digitally I still go back and forth between analog and digital methods throughout the creative process. I print my base vector art out and literally draw out the shading, and the highlights (shown in red), for my character art. This allows me to experiment with things easier and formulate a new foundation to build the next stage of vectors upon.
I'll then scan this back in and use it as my template to build out my vector shapes.

47_Building_Shading1, 48_Building_Shading2, 49_Building_Shading3, 50_Final_Character_Art:

Just like the core artwork I build the shading and highlight details based on my hand drawn scan.
I'm often asked how I determine colors and shading etc. On this character his skin is white and because he's a subversive character I avoided the common blue tones and kept them grey instead. For this style the coloring is basic and the shading and highlights tend to have a three step process. For example the shorts are:
- Base Color: Red (C0, M100, Y100, K3) 基本色:红
- Shading Color: Darker Red  (C5, M100, Y100, K25) 阴影:暗红
- Highlight Color: Red %60 Tint 高光:60%红

This illustration style is more simplistic like what you'd see on a t-shirt. On more complex illustrations the same principle applies but is aided by use of gradients, transparency, and blend mode settings to pull off a greater degree of detailing and effects.

51_Splatters, 52_Final_Art_Splattered, 53_Final_Artwork: 

Part the of the allure of subversive art like this is the shock value. Why would a lovable character be welding a bloody knife? Who knows, it just looked cool and fit with a dastardly vermin person.
I wanted to play off of that. So I created a nice splatter texture. A little black Tempera paint splattered on some cardboard in my garage sufficed. I then scanned it in and created a bitmap tiff I placed into my drawing program and colorized. I also experimented with other textures but ultimately didn't use them.
To off-set the character from the background a bit I copied the black silhouette shape of the character and pasted it to the back filling it with white and setting the stroke thick to create the white halo effect.


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