Digital Illustration: Advanced Vector Techniques in Fresco & Adobe Illustrator | Robert Generette III | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Digital Illustration: Advanced Vector Techniques in Fresco & Adobe Illustrator

teacher avatar Robert Generette III, Illustrator, Educator & Vector Art Monster

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Vector Trimming in Fresco

    • 3. Simplify Vector Layers in Fresco

    • 4. Clipping Masks in Fresco

    • 5. Phantasm for Illustrator (Plug In)

    • 6. Vector First Aid for Illustrator (Plug in)

    • 7. Final Thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Speed up your vector illustrations with educator, illustrator, and self-proclaimed "vector-art monster" Rob Generette III!

Join Rob as he shares his tried and true techniques for speeding up his illustrations in Fresco and Adobe Illustrator, so that you too can implement these key features in your digital illustrations. This class introduces and walks you through a mix of existing features and plugins that allow you to focus more on what really matters—your creation! 

Together with Rob, you will learn how to:

  • Move through line work more quickly with Vector Trimming in Fresco
  • Simplify vector layers in Fresco
  • Save time adding color to your Illustration with Clipping Masks in Fresco
  • Control color in Adobe Illustrator the way you could in Photoshop with Phantasm 
  • Clean up vector files with Vector First Aid in Adobe Illustrator 

Whether you’re an illustrator looking to meet deadlines with ease or a hobbyist interested in becoming more efficient, this class will show you how to work smarter, not harder on your vector illustrations. 


Rob’s class is designed for students with a working knowledge of Fresco and Adobe Illustrator. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Robert Generette III

Illustrator, Educator & Vector Art Monster


Robert Generette III is an award winning illustrator, educator and self-proclaimed "vector art monster" based in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Under the pseudonym Rob Zilla III, he uses an iPad Pro to create compelling sport illustrations and portraitures for clients ranging from Nike Baseball, NASCAR, NBA (Wizards & Warriors), Major League Soccer (L.A. Galaxy & D.C. United), Wacom and Adobe. Rob attributes his success to traditional art experiences, layer management and his willingness to try new things with mobile applications.

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Illustration is my passion. I've been drawing since the age of three. So there's a lot of trial and error in all those years. Hi, I'm Robert Generette III, also known as Robert Zilla. I'm an illustrator, educator, self-proclaimed vector art monster. What I would like to do and what I enjoy doing is sharing some of the things that I've learned along the way just to help someone else out who might be going through some of the same things I may have experienced. What I love about these programs is the flexibility. Using mobile was one of the best things that ever happened to me because I'm not stuck behind a desk the whole entire time when I need to create something. In today's class, I'm going to share some of my favorite features in Adobe Fresco, such as vector trimming, simplified vector layers, and clipping mask. Later, we'll move over to Illustrator, where I will share with you two plugins via astute graphics. One is Phantasm and Vector First Aid. I wanted to introduce you to these features that I love because I feel as though they can shorten your time on tasks, make your workflow a little more efficient, encourage you to work a little bit smarter instead of harder. Now let's go. 2. Vector Trimming in Fresco: One of my favorite features in Adobe Fresco is Vector Trimming. Vector Trimming allow me to go through my line work more fluid with less breaks and stops for a more natural stroke that's being created with my Apple Pencil. Let's dive right into Fresco here. If you notice one thing about my screen is that my UIs are in reverse, almost like it's in a mirror dimension. My tools on the right-hand side and my layers on the left, not to worry about. All I simply did was, I came up into the App settings in general and I set my Toolbar to the right. If you would like to set your Toolbar as well to the right, feel free to do so. Now, I have a blue line sketch here of a football player that I will be inking or adding outlines to. Outlines is one of the most critical parts of illustration. I like to tell folks that my line of work depends on tight line work. If you want to get that so-called, tight line work, Vector Trimming is the thing for you. Now, Vector Trimming only works on the Vector brush. That's the third brush down on the lower right-hand side. I already have mine selected. These are the different Vector brushes. All of these brushes contain the Vector Trimming feature. I have my brush selected, I have my size, this is my size, and I have my smoothing set to the settings that I would like to have my smoothing on for this. The higher the smoothing, the more the iPad does the work for you. The lower the smoothing, the more natural the handshaking motion of the line will have. I have my color selected, which is going to be ink black. Now, normally when you work on something like this, and outlines used to be a very grueling thing because we felt the need to start at a certain point, stop at a certain point, continue on, move to the next one, and do all these stop and go. No more, Check it. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to go ahead and start doing my strokes in the same fashion that you see me going in now. I'm overshooting these lines on purpose, because I have a safety net to fall on, and that safety net now is called Vector Trimming. This right here was a game changer because now, this line work stage could become more fluid. I don't have to overthink a particular line. I don't have to dwell on how that line ends. I just know that whenever I'm working like this, I still get the definition that I want to get in whatever shape that I'm creating, but with less of a stop and go motion of it to the wrist, to the thumb. Top portion of the form, bottom portion of the form, and where the bicep meets the form. Just that quick, it already came in and started inking these lines. But you're probably wondering to yourself, where does the Vector Trimming come into place? Let's say that this is the outline that I wanted to create and I am done. I later come in and it's just a mindless motion, it's almost like your car on cruise control. I triple tap the touch modifier. If you're curious as to what a touch modifier is, it's that circle that you see right here. You can move this touch modifier wherever you want. I always just keep mine in the lower left-hand corner, because if I'm going to use it and draw at the same time, then I use it with my non drawing hand and I'll draw with my drawing hand. Normally, you would touch on the touch modifier. If you could still see the small circle within the big, then you're using that small circle. If I drag out and that small circle disappears, then I'm using that outer circle. All this thing is, this touch modifier is, it's like the Shift key or your Command or Option key on your keyboard whenever you're doing something in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. That's all it is. It changes the nature of the tool that you're using. Since I'm in my Vector brush, I wanted to change the nature of this tool. By simply holding down and having the small circle, the nature of my tool has changed because now my drawing tool becomes my eraser. But that's not Vector Trimming. Let's go back. I hit the Undo button. I'm going to touch the touch modifier and drag my finger out and that activates the touch modifier. When I stroke through an unwanted piece of line that's there, it automatically trims it at the nearest intersection. Hence, giving a nice, smooth, polished, finished look without any of the old mistakes that were there. Now, your thumb can get pretty tired or your index finger can get pretty tired holding that down, not to worry. There's a lock feature, triple tap that circle. The outer circle is now in blue. The inner circle is white, which means the outer is activated, the inner is not activated. That locks that feature in place, and now I'm free to take my right hand or my drawing hand, and make quick work out of some of the lines that I have here already. Within those few short moments, I basically got one major part of this outline done using Vector Trimming. Now it's your turn. Play around with the Vector Trimming feature in Adobe Fresco. If you create a illustration using it, then I encourage you to use the project gallery to share your work. Or if you have any questions as far as Vector Trimming is concerned, simply leave a question or a comment in the discussion section below. Now, get to drawing. 3. Simplify Vector Layers in Fresco: In this lesson, simplify is going to be our keyword. It's always nice if we can just simply have things simple. In Fresco, there's now a feature in there that can make things so much simpler for you and the person that you're handing your vector files off to. Vector Simplify simply deletes and remove all the unnecessary points that are left by your vector strokes hence making your file smaller and easy to send from one place to the next without being bulky because of all the edit baggage. Let's jump right into Fresco. My Fresco document is ready to go. I have a blank canvas, and I already have my vector brush selected. There's only a few minor adjustments I would like to make to my vector brush. I wanted to increase the width of it, so I'll go right here. I can even dial in or I can simply move this lever. It gives me a preview in that little box right there. I think 52.5 is great for what we're trying to achieve here. Typically, when Fresco records these strokes that I make, it does it stroke by stroke. I will come in, I will draw a squiggly line just like that. Now, there's many Bezier points along this path that I just created. Now within this figure that I have here, the size of the file can be much smaller. If I was to simply go up here; to my settings, go to App settings and In Experimental; along the left-hand side, we now have what's known as Simplify vector stokes. When I click this on, the simplification process will be taking effect. On the first stroke that I have here, that's not the case. So I'll come here, I try to redraw that same stroke. Almost a carbon copy of the first one. Now, vector brushes inside a Fresco are no more than the blob brush inside of Illustrator, but with superpowers. If you think of it like that, then this just isn't a simple path that's right here, it's actually an outline of a path around the perimeter. Let's send this over to Illustrator, so we can get a outline view of the before vector points and the after vector points. To send it to Illustrator we go to our Share menu, and Send to Illustrator is our third option, we'll go ahead and we'll click on "Send to Illustrator". We allow Fresco to do its thing, and then we'll see it right over in Illustrator. That was quick. My files are over here ready to be imported into Adobe Illustrator. I know at the top it says Photoshop Import Options, but I'm still going to convert these layers as objects whenever I bring them in. So I'll click "Okay" for this. Automatically we have those same two strokes there that was created on a iPad a few seconds earlier. We have a stroke here, we have a stroke there. I'm going to select both of these strokes because what we want to do is, we want to get a peep behind the scenes of what make these strokes what they are. Inside of Illustrator, I'm going to come up to my View window and I'm going to select "Outline". I click on "Outline". Wow, look at that. You zoom in a little bit. Notice the difference in Bezier points on the one on the left, which was the first stroke without Simplify compare it to the one on the right with Simplify. Believe it or not, just that reduction in all of those points will make the final file that much small and this is just one stroke out of thousands if not millions. If you want to make your file smaller take up less space and make it easier for collaboration, then the Vector Simplify tool is one that you should be looking at inside of Adobe Fresco. Now, try out an illustration with the Vector Simplify activated. If you like the results of it, feel free to share it in the Project Gallery. If you have any questions about this feature, make sure you post it in the Discussion section below. Now go out there, and let's simplify everything. 4. Clipping Masks in Fresco: Adobe Fresco is more powerful than ever now that they added Clipping Mask to the mix. Clipping Mask are simply what they say if you break down to compound work. It's a mask that clips the layer desk below it. Anything on that layer below the Clipping Mask is the only thing that receives whatever you put in the Clipping Mask. If you were to color on this top layer, it would only show up in areas that is occupied by the layer below it. That's a game-changer if you think about it. Because now, you can render out something completely in black and white, but then add your color to it later. Imagine the time you save when all the guesswork is taken away when it comes time to add colors to your illustration. We're on an iPad. We have Fresco open. I have a project here that I did of the king himself, the king of Los Angeles, LeBron James. What I would like to do since I have these figures nicely rendered out in black and white or grayscale. I would like to start applying color, but I want to only stay limited to a certain number of colors. I want to stay within the range of five. When I want to do real quickly is I'm going to add a layer. I'm going to come over here to the side I'm going to select my vector brush, a vector brushes set at 52.5. That's a big enough dot that I'm going to make. Let's make it a little bit bigger, 118 pixels. In this, I want to have white, I want to have black, but the grays in-between, I want it to be from a range of come over here. I want them to be in arrange of a brown, a nice warm brown, a little bit oranger. That's a good one. I'm going to put that dot there. Let's go back to the Vector Tool. A little bit of shade on it brown. Let's put another dot right there. This is going to be my color swatch. I'm going to sample all my colors from here. I also want to have somewhere in the neighborhood of a Laker yellow. But I want to make it the classic Lakers. I'm going to deepen that yellow into a nice gold. Making a less dirty, That's good right there. Boom, I've got my yellow. Let's go to the opposite side of the spectrum of yellow. What we're going to do is we're going to pick up a little bit of purple. Get that in there. We have a brown, have our dark brown, we have our yellow, we have our purple. We have our black and the white of the paper is going to remain the white, so we have a five-color print going on here. I would like to assign these colors to all the different sections of the larger face. If you look at the larger face in my layers panel on the left, it's already set up in a layer group. I'm going to double-click that layer group to open it up just so I can get a look under the hood of what's in that layer group. I see here the larger area for the silhouette, and I want to start there. To create a Clipping Mask, what you do is you select the layer that you want to select. You then press the plus sign here to add a new layer. Right below the eyeball is the Clipping Mask icon. Right now, that layer with the little arrow pointing down is signifying that whatever eye color or fill in will take the shape of the layer below it, which is a silhouette. What we want to do is want to go ahead and set this silhouette with the lighter brown, the brown of his skin. I will get my eye Dropper Tool, grab that lighter brown, go over to my paint bucket. Anywhere on this layer, I simply just drop. Automatically, Fresco is going to ask me what I want to do with this. Do I want to make it vector or do I want to make it pixel? I'm the vector art monster, so let's go ahead and make this vector. We've got some nice warm skin happening right there. Next up, I'll come up to the shirt. I'll add the same steps plus arrow square. I want to assign that yellow. Grab my Paint Bucket Tool. Make it vector, boom. We have our Laker yellow there. Next up, I want to come into some of these shadow areas. In particular, up in this range here. I want to assign those darker areas to dark brown. What I'll do is I'll select my layer with those areas right there and repeat the same steps over here. A new layer, Clipping Mask. I drop a tool. We're going to grab that brown, pink bucket. Also, what we do is tap anywhere on here, yes to vector and those parts become a dark brown. Up in the hair portion of it, tap and new layer, Clipping Mask. I want that to be purple because I also want purple to flow through his hair and some of the lighter regions of his hair which is pretty cool in my book, vector. That purple starts to pick up in those areas, and I'm realizing something. I had those layers transparent or translucent before. I need to make these darker or more permanent. I'm going to come to the main layer. I'm going to adjust it so that is at full capacity in a nature of that changes. That yellow was off a little bit so I'm going to drop that black down because I liked the way that yellow was there. I'm going to keep that there. Just a few adjustments and we're starting to look at this whole entire thing a little bit different when it comes to Lebron and his Laker colors. Next, we'll come down to this section here. Add new layer, Clipping Mask. Grab some yellow, grab my paint bucket, tap it. We've got that Laker yellow that looks like fire, running close to those extreme highlights that we have there in his face. I'm going to work my way around this whole entire composition and even can apply the same colors when it comes to the full figure that's about to dunk on somebody. But in a nutshell, with just a few simple moves, I applied color to a black and white and can easily change those colors. Let's see to change real quick. Let's go to that purple at the top. Let's see. I wanted to make that purple a dark brown. Boom, tab. Now that purple, so dark brown. If I don't like it, I simply undo. Clipping Mask can be a very efficient, quick way of adding color comps to your grayscale images or illustrations. It simplifies the whole process so you don't want to spend a whole lot of time selecting color, drawing, selecting color, drawing, you just simply draw in your regular way in black and white and add those colors later. If you use a Clipping Mask feature on the illustration, I would love it if you would share it in the project gallery. Also, If there's any questions about Clipping Mask and Fresco, drop a comment below, and let's spend less time drawing complicated things and more time, drawing smartly. 5. Phantasm for Illustrator (Plug In): In this lesson, I'm going to show you one of Astute Graphics features inside of Phantasm that allow me to control color in Illustrator the same way I would if I was using Adobe Photoshop. Some of the things that most artists wish that Adobe would have thought of, they bring it to the forefront. Now I have all the layers that I would like selected inside of this LeBron illustration. We're going to do a few quick and simple adjustments using Phantasm. Now, normally, I have my Phantasm lock here. But in the menu, if you would like to find it, you simply go up to Windows, you go to Astute Graphics and from here, the drop-down menu on the side will have all the Astute plug-ins for Illustrator right here. I click on Phantasm and the Phantasm menu comes to life. I pop that menu out and let's look at some of the things that's on this menu. Of course here at the top, we've got levels, we've got curves, we also have Duotone, which I don't really want to use, so let me hit Cancel on that, and we could even work out colors into halftone effects. But what I want to do is, I want to look at some of the things that's happening below here. We have brightness, we have contrast, we have hue, saturation, and lightness, we have exposure, but the cool temperature features is what I want to use for this portion of the illustration. I'll grab this and I'll move it over to the warm side of things. Let's look for a morning sun blue. What I want to do with that blue also is, I want to increase the exposure of it. I'm going to jump out because I just did the main sky. What occurred was I lost a little bit of my stroke, but we can go in layer by layer and adjust that a little bit more. But what I like to do is select everything and bring one point to a certain point, and then bring all the other points to where they want to go. We come here, we select the hash marks here, just a little scribbly little things that I have there. What I want to do is, I want to darken the exposure of those. I'm going to drop down the exposure level, just to make those stand out, look like a nice shadow, but I also want to warm that up just a tad bit. So I'm going to adjust this level right here, warm it up, but as you can tell, I'm editing vectors using the same controls that you would inside of Photoshop. Now, for me to find these colors and just to pick the right thing based on sight, will take a lot of time to do. Next, I want to go ahead and select this layer where the throne is. What I want to do with the throne is, I want to change the throne color from a nice blue to a nice gold throne, just so I can brighten this up a little bit. I'll go to my Layers pane and I will go down right about here and select my throne. My throne is selected, I go up to Window, Astute Graphics, Phantasm. From here, I want to play around and manipulate the hue of that throne. I'll start to begin to move the slider to the outside, that throne throne green, hold up, we're starting to get into the gold. Let's drop the brightness down on it. Get a deeper gold tone in it, nice, and we need to make it a little more yellow. Let's bring that hue up a little bit, nice. Almost looks brass a little bit. The more yellowish gold we can make this thing the better. I'm liking that. Let's play with the contrast just a little bit. This is so dope. Let's go ahead and drop down the saturation. Pick it up, drop it down, just a little bit. Excellent. My next step is to go in here and attack these glares or what we refer to as rim lines. Now they're cool, but I want them to reflect a little bit of the warmth of the gold throne. It's almost like light that's hitting the throne. That light is bouncing off the surface of his skin, reflecting a little bit of goldness to it. I go to my Layer panel and what I'll do is, I'll select that rim light, which is right there. Those huge chunks that you see there. I will go to Phantasm and just like the throne, I'm going to adjust that hue and I'm going that hue over to the left. As I bring that hue over to the left, you'll start to see his skin warm up from those glares that's over there, right there, it's nice. Now, what I also did without jumping out of Phantasm, because necessarily you don't have to jump out, select, jump out. I automatically clicked on another section. The section that I clicked on was the sky. That top portion of the sky, I want to desaturate that a little bit, but let me double-check and make sure I have the proper thing selected, right here. There it is. Now, drop the saturation. We get that nice morning blue. With a few easy clicks, the difference of using Photoshop level color adjustments in Illustrator, the difference is from night to day. If you edit the illustration using Astute Graphics plug-in Phantasm, I would encourage you to share your results in the project gallery. Also, if there's any question as far as Phantasm is concerned, drop a comment in the discussion section below. 6. Vector First Aid for Illustrator (Plug in): Another one of my favorite plugins by Astute Graphic is Vector First Aid. Vector First Aid is a plugin for Adobe Illustrator that cleans up all the unwanted, unnecessary, bezier points, even some that are just empty points. A lot of times you create things in editing them or getting rid of, let's say a square here or a squared there. It leaves some unwanted residue around. That unwanted residue can make your files large. So we have an illustration here, of our favorite basketball player, Lebron James. Now, let's take a look under the hood at this illustration and find out how many points this illustration currently have. I had just exported this illustration from my iPad over to Illustrator. So let's check it out. We're going to select all of those, we want to come up to Windows, we're going to go to View. Let's get an Outline view of this. Let's take a look at the galaxy. So to speak, that's a lot of points. Believe it or not, these points take up a lot of space and it causes your computer to work a little bit hard. So with points like this popping up on your project, best believe that your fans are going to run a little bit louder. Now, what I want to do is I want to come up in here and I want to use Vector First Aid to get rid of all the unnecessary points that we see here. So we're going to go back to View. We're going to go back to Preview. So we have it back in Preview, we have everything selected. What I want to do is go up into Windows. Go to Astute Graphics and VectorFirstAid. Once we select that, then we can see everything that Astute Graphics has to offer as far as applying the first aid to a vector file. Now, right here we have the super smart remove points on path. We've got the rejoin paths and we got a couple of other things that relate to text. But what I want to do is, I want to check this selection. I want to get a check-up or prognosis on what my illustrator file has. So I'll click on Check Selection. Astute Graphics starts to analyze all the data. It's going to give me a report here. So I have 169 unneeded points over almost 2400 of that type 16. Look at these numbers, this is crazy. So I can have them show me each one of these individually. I can have it where it only fixed the selected ones that I have here or I can simply fix all of those problems. I want to go ahead and click fix all of those problems. What's occurring now it's Astute Graphics it's working, is that it's finding the best way to remove points but yet hold the integrity of the illustration in place. So they should be a very minimum amount of distortion to the illustration and see is finished, and we didn't see anything move or rearrange drastically. Let's remove the panel. Now, let's take a look under the hood and see how we're doing, in outline mode. Still a lot of points, but all the problematic ones that will give our file trouble have been removed. You start to see this path has more simple points in between each other, instead of being 1000 in between here and there. This results in a smaller file and lighter work on your CPU. Go back to preview mode. There was no distortion to that illustration at all. The integrity is intact. If you're satisfied with some of the results that you've seen by using Vector First Aid. Please share those illustration in the project gallery. If you have any questions as far as removing unwanted points and the lessen to work on your CPU, drop a comment in the discussion section below. 7. Final Thoughts: I want to thank you for joining me for this class. We've got to cover some of my very favorite features in both Adobe Fresco and two of my favorite plug-ins in Adobe Illustrator. I look forward to seeing the illustrations that you post in the project gallery, also answering all the questions that you posted in the discussion section below. Thanks again for watching.