iPad Pro Illustration: Drawing Vectors That Don't Look Wonky | Christine Nishiyama | Skillshare

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iPad Pro Illustration: Drawing Vectors That Don't Look Wonky

teacher avatar Christine Nishiyama, Artist at Might Could Studios

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Step 1: Choose and Sketch


    • 3.

      Step 2: Resize + Add Typography


    • 4.

      Step 3: Ink


    • 5.

      Step 4: Vectorize


    • 6.

      Step 5: Refine Vectors


    • 7.

      Step 7: Presentation


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About This Class

For this class, were going to be designing a set of hand drawn vector illustrations on the iPad Pro.

Vector illustrations are awesome because they are based on math (rather than pixels) and can be infinitely resized without losing quality! Vector artwork is also editable because it is not a flattened image like a JPG, so the colors, line width, etc can always be changed!


Many of my clients request artwork in vector, but I always cringe when they do because my vector illustrations always end up looking wonky, plus… I haaaaate the pen tool. But in this class I’m going to show you my NEW process for making vector illustrations that don’t look wonky!


Recently I created a set of Foodie Icons and I figured out how to make vector illustrations that are hand drawn and that actually still LOOK hand drawn when vectorized. And best of all, we won’t touch the pen tool at all! We'll go step by step through my process of making this series of foodie illustrations: from sketching to resizing to typography to inking to vectorizing to refining and finally presenting!

If you don’t have an iPad, there will be a short instructional process page in the Project Guide to help you translate this process to a traditional pen and paper medium!


P.S. The illustrations I created for this class were created as icons that are now for sale on Creative Market if you're interested in using them in any of your commercial or personal projects! You can see all the icon sets here: https://creativemarket.com/might_could

Now let’s jump in and start drawing!



Check out my other Skillshare classes here!

You can also see more about me and my work on my website: might-could.com.

And you can sign up for my email list for weekly essays on creativity and artmaking!

Thanks so much! <3


Meet Your Teacher

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Christine Nishiyama

Artist at Might Could Studios

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Hallo! I'm Christine Nishiyama, artist + founder of Might Could Studios.

I make books and comics, and I draw a whoooole lot. I teach aspiring and established artists, helping them explore their art, gain more confidence, and discover their unique artistic styles.

My core belief is that art is good and we should all make more of it. 

Instagram: Yeewhoo, I quit all social media! 

Books: Check out my books here, including a graphic novel series with Scholastic!

Subscribe to my Substack newsletter: Join over 10,000 artists and get my weekly essays on creativity and artmaking, weekly art prompts, and behind-the-scenes process work of my current picture book. Subscribe here!

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Hey guys. I'm Christine Nishiyama, Illustrator in Might Could Studios. For this class, we'll be designing a set of hand-drawn vector illustrations on the iPad Pro. Vector illustrations are really awesome because they are based on math rather than pixels, and can be infinitely resized without losing any quality. Vectors are also editable, because it's not a flattened image like a JPEG. So the colors and line width can always be changed in the future. Many of my clients request artwork and vector, but I always cringe when they do because my vector illustrations always end up looking wonky. Plus I hate the Pen tool. But in this class, I'm going to show you my new process for making vector illustrations that don't look wonky. Recently, I created a set of foodie icons and I figured out how to make vector illustrations that are hand-drawn and then actually still look hand-drawn after being vectorized, and best of all, we won't touch the Pen tool ones. For our class project, we're going to use this process to make a set of vector food illustrations. I chose international cuisines as my subject, and we'll go step-by-step through my process of making the series of foodie illustrations. We'll go through sketching, resizing, topography, inking, vectorizing, refining, and finally presenting. If you don't have an iPad, there will be a short instructional process page in the project guide, to help you translate this process to traditional pen and paper medium. Either way, let's jump in and start drawing. 2. Step 1: Choose and Sketch: Step 1, choose and sketch. Together we're going to be creating a set of hand-drawn illustrations. But first, what are we going to draw? I'm suggesting the overarching topic of food, but within that, you can choose whatever you'd like. You could choose to draw a series of vegetables, fruit, your favorite snack, different types of coffee, whatever excites you most. I love trying different international cuisines and learning what makes those cuisines different from others. For my illustration sets, I've chosen six different international cuisines to draw: Asian, French, Italian, Latin American, American, and Indian. I also added in a series of cooking illustrations, and spices and herbs just for fun. So once you've decided on your more specific concept, it's time to start drawing. For this class, I'll be drawing on my iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil using the drawing app, procreate. I love drawing on the iPad because it lets you revise and edit things super easily, and you can move back and forth between the computer and the iPad super quickly. But if you don't have an iPad, you can totally use a pencil and paper to do this project. Just head over to the project guide to see instructions and completing this project with pen and paper. So let's get started. First, I'm going to boot up the procreate app on my iPad and go into my icons folder for this class. Then I'll make a new document. I'll just keep these at full screen size as we're going to be vectorizing these, so the final size isn't all that important right now. Then if you'd like, you can download and use my template in the project guide. This template will give you some guidelines to help you keep your illustrations roughly the same size while you're sketching. Just import it into your iPad and set it to a low opacity and then create a new layer on top and start drawing. While you're drawing, remember, try not to filter or throw out any of your ideas. At this stage, we just want to draw everything that comes into our mind, you never know it might turn out nice. We want to keep these sketches simple since we are going to be drawing a lot of them and we are still in the ideation phase, but you can decide how much drawing you want to include yourself. So I'm just going to keep drawing until I fill up all these pages. 3. Step 2: Resize + Add Typography: Step 2, resize and add typography. Now that we've gotten all our sketches drawn, we need to clean them up a little bit before we can continue on. If you use the guideline template, your sketches should be roughly the same size. But if you're like me, then you probably didn't get it all exactly sized correctly or centered. Fixing these issues now before we ink, will save you time later on and will make your final illustrations more consistent. So first, turn off your guideline layer, export your artwork as a JPEG and send it to your computer. I like to use Dropbox to move back and forth between my iPad and computer, but you could just email it if you prefer. Now we'll open up our sketches in Photoshop. Here you can download the next template in the project guide, which is a bit simpler and will help us align the illustrations and add typography later. Here I've placed my sketches on top of the new template and I'm going to go through and resize each illustration to fit within and center with either the square or the circle. I just use the selection tool to select the illustration and then "Command T" to transform the selection and resize and move it around as necessary. So I'll go through and do that to each illustration now. This step is optional, but if you'd like to add a hand-drawn labeled to your illustration, I like to type out the text first here in Photoshop, before I ink later on. I don't trace the type exactly when I ink, but I like to have the letters typed out so I keep them all aligned and spaced out correctly. So you can just go through and type out your labels on the recommended guidelines and whatever font you prefer, and it should end up looking a little something like this. 4. Step 3: Ink: Step three, ink. Now we're going to ink our final drawn illustrations. First, we're going to turn off the template layer, and export our new sketches as JPEGs. We're going to import our JPEG into procreate and set it at a low capacity. Then create a new layer on top, and choose which tool you're going to ink with. I like the pen tool and I've adjusted the settings tab to get just the right amount of grit while still having a clean line. I also like to set the size to a fixed weight so it doesn't get thicker or thinner depending on my pen pressure, as I want these illustrations to be consistent and have a fixed line weight. You can experiment with different tools, sizes, and settings to find what you like best. Keep in mind when you're inking that teeny tiny spaces and openings may not translate well into a vectorized illustration. There's only so much tiny detail that can be vectorized before Illustrator will just begin filling in the spaces and shapes now just go through and ink all my foods. 5. Step 4: Vectorize: Step 4, vectorize. Now onto the vector magic. First we're going to export our inked illustrations as layered Photoshop files, and send that to your computer. This will allow us to keep the resolution high, and select just the inked lines and no background. On your computer, open up the Photoshop file, select the illustration layer, and select the ink drawings. Then open a new document and Adobe Illustrator place your food illustrations. Then go back to Photoshop, grabbed the topography layers, and placed those in Illustrator. This may seem a little complicated, but I like to keep the illustrations and topography separate, because it allows me to vectorize them separately, and get the settings just right on each. Now we've got all our inked illustrations in Illustrator. I'm going to pull out one label to show you the process and go through the settings. I'm going to use this one, so we have some good curves, and small shapes to work with. We're just going to select the image, and then go up here and click image trace. You can also find this under object in the top menu. Basically what image trace does is convert the pixel based image that we drew into a vector. But it looks pretty wonky. Let's go through the settings so we can refine this and make it look more like our hand-drawn original version. Before we go through all the settings, please keep in mind that the settings I choose here may not be the exact right ones for your project. The correct settings for your project, will depend a lot on how big or small and detailed your image is. But these settings should get you pretty close, and then you can fiddle around a little bit from there. Let's click this button here and that will open up our image trace panel. Here in the panel we have all of our settings. Make sure you have the preview checked at the bottom so you can see the changes we're making along the way. First, we can choose a preset that will help us get a little closer to what we want. For these illustrations, I chose the sketched art, which looks a little bit more hand-drawn and smooth. But we've still got some closed spaces and weird printed angles, so let's keep going. Then we have threshold. This tool lets you choose a value for creating the black and white tracing of your original image. So as you move the dial along with track, all pixels lighter than the value chosen are converted to white, and all pixels darker than the values are converted to black. For this project, I found 25 to be my sweet spot. Next, under the advanced tab, we have paths.This controls how tight the paths we're creating fit together. A lower path value will have tighter paths, and a higher value will have looser paths. The default is 50, but here's what it looks like, really high and really low. My sweet spot, here's 95. Now onto corners. This setting lets you pick how many corners we will have in our vector image. A higher value has more corners, and a lower value has less corners. Were going for that smooth hand-drawn look, so I'm going to set the corners at zero. Next we have noise. This setting chooses which areas of pixels are ignored when traced. A higher value has less noise, meaning more will be ignored, and a lower value has more noise, meaning less is ignored. I want to catch a lot of fine details, so I'm going to set this at one pixel. Under method, we want to stick with the first option caught a budding, which will create cutout separate paths or shapes. Then under create, we want to have fills checked, so that we're creating filled regions, aka shapes, and not just stroked paths aka lines. Now that we've got all our settings how we like them, we'll just click "Choice." You can see that our artwork still appears to be a flat image. To really get the vector lines, we have to go up here and click "Expand." Now you can see all the individual paths, but you'll notice the Illustrator has grouped everything together, so we'll just right-click on the image, and click "Ungroup." You'll have to do that a few times until everything is actually ungrouped and all the shapes are individual. Now you can see that everything is individual and not grouped. This will allow us to group the shapes how we like, instead of having them all grouped together as one piece of artwork. Now let's move on and make the final adjustments to refine our vectors. 6. Step 5: Refine Vectors: Step five, refined vectors, small adjustments. Now it's time to make our final adjustments to our lovely vectors. First off, let's zoom in on this little pizza. You can see that everything here is a shape, even the things that aren't filled with a color and that we don't ever want it to be filled with a color, like the inside of the a and p in my pizza label. So if I highlight our pizza label here and I decide I want to fill it with the new color, which is one of the huge benefits of having a vector rather than a pixel image, this is what happens, and we don't want that. That means we have to go through and delete the shapes we don't want to ever be filled. Now that I've done that, if we select the Label and choose a new color, viola. Another little thing I noticed that's off here is the dot on the i. It's way too tiny. It doesn't match the rest of the lines and it won't be legible at a small size. So let's go find another dot from another i that will do a better job. This one's better so I'm going to select this dot and hit Command C to copy it, and then head back over to my pizza. Now, I'll hit Command V to paste, place it on top of the original dot, and then delete the bottom dot. Now that I've made all my adjustments and I'm happy with this label, I'm going to select the whole thing and group it together. That way I can select or move it as one piece and not lose any parts of it. I can also still recolor it when it's grouped together like this. Now I'm going to go through all my typography labels and make these adjustments, deleting the inside shapes I don't want, and replacing the small dots with a bigger dot. I'm also going to do a little fiddling with the spacing between letters, making sure everything looks nice and legible. Plus there's a few dots on the food illustrations that I'm also going to replace with the bigger dot to have consistency. Then at the end, I'm going to group all the shapes in each illustration together and all the shapes I need to label together, just like I did with the pizza. That's it. Here I go to do all that. 7. Step 7: Presentation: Step 6, present. Now we've got our full hand-drawn illustrated vector foodie series. From here you can make presentation images to showcase your series like these. I ended up making my illustrations into a set of icons, so I made these presentation images to show the details and specification of the product. Thanks so much for joining this class, and I hope you decide to make your own hand-drawn foodie illustration sets. Hope to see you in the next class and happy drawing.