Vectorizing Anime

In this tutorial I will show you how to begin with vectors. The easiest way in my opinion is tracing anime/cartoons. I will trace Gogeta from Dragon Ball Z.

When you’re done with tutorial you will have something similar to below:

16.jpg

Note: Vectors take a lot of time and dedication, so be patient if you make one.
Step 1:

Find a good quality image of an anime character or use the one I used below:

1.jpg

Step 2:

Open this image and grab the Pen tool (P). Make sure your pen tool settings are as below:

2.jpg

First we’ll trace the skin. Use the eyedropper tool (I) to select the base color of the skin. Make a new layer and start tracing with the pen tool. If you did it correctly you will get something like this:

3.jpg

Note: Everytime you trace something, make everything but the background invisible, so you can trace it.

Step 3:

Now make a new layer underneath the skin layer and trace the hair. It will look like this:

4.jpg

Step 4:

Make a new layer underneath the hair and start tracing the orange things on his clothes.

You should get something like this:

5.jpg

Step 5:

Again make a new layer underneath the previous one and trace the black. Result:

6.jpg

Step 6:

Now it’s time to create the shadows. We’ll start with the skin. First make a new layer on top of the skin layer and create a clipping mask (Ctrl+Alt+G). Trace the darkest areas of the skin and fill it with black. Set the blending mode to Soft light with an opacity of 60%. You’ll have something like this:

7.jpg

Note: Everytime you trace a dark shading: Fill with back, set blending mode to Soft Light with 60% Opacity. With the light shadings: Fill with white and set blending mode to Soft Light with 60% opacity.

Step 7:

Now we’ll trace the other two lighter shadings of the skin. Do the same as before, only now fill the layers with white. Use the same blending options and opacity. First start with the darkest highlight. Make a new layer on top of the dark shading layer and make sure it’s got a clipping mask like the other layer. Result:

8.jpg

Now create a layer on top of the previous one and do the same things to get this:

9.jpg

Step 8:

Alright, let’s continue with the shading of the hair. Create a new layer on top of the hair layer and create a clipping mask again. Trace the dark area, you’ll get this:

11.jpg

Now trace the light shading. Result:

12.jpg

Step 9:

Now we’ll shade the orange clothing. NOTE: Don’t do the same as before, do it like this: First create a new layer on top of the orange clothing layer. Start tracing the darkest shading and fill it with black. Set the blending mode to soft like with 30% opacity. Now make a new layer on top of it and trace the other dark shading. Fill it with black, set blending mode to Soft light with 40% opacity.

Make a new layer on top of the others and trace the light areas. Fill this with white, set blending mode to Soft Light again with 60% opacity. You’ll get this if you did it correctly:

13.jpg

Starting to look cool, eh?

Step 10:

Now we’ll shade the last part of the clothing, the black part. Make a new layer on top of the black one and create a clipping mask. Trace the light areas, fill it with white and set blending mode to Soft Light with 60% opacity. You’ll barely see any difference, because the layers is black, but it doesn’t matter.

Step 11:

Let’s create the eyes. Make a new layer on top of everything and trace the white part. Fill it with white. Now pick the eye colour with the Eyedropper tool (I) and trace them. Make a new layer above the white layer and fill it with this color.

Pick the normal haircolour now, make a new layer above the previous one and trace the eyebrows. Fill it and you’ll have something like this:

14.jpg

Step 12:

Now we’ll make some lines in it. This is what makes me different than a lot of others. They just trace it and stroke it with an one pixel line. I don’t like this, so we’ll be doing something else.

Make everything invisible except the original image and make a new layer on top of everything. Pick a darkbrown colour (#603913) and start tracing the lines.

Trace the lines like you traced to shadows, etc. Trace all the black areas that are meant to be lines of the DBZ image.

This takes the most time of all, but it looks cooler than just a 1 pixel line. Be patient and don’t rush this. It can be a bit messy, but only a bit. We don’t want to make it look like a 5 minutes work.

Now if you did this correctly, you should have something like this:

15.jpg

Looks much better now, doesn’t it?

Step 13: (Optional)

You can blend the vector a bit by making the background invisible, so you only have your tracings visible, create a new layer and apply image. Set the blending mode to soft light with 50% opacity.

Step 14:

You can make a simple background by adding a gradient with some colours that fit.

You should now have something similar to this:

16.jpg

Voilà, you’re done. Keep practicing with this and you’ll soon be able to make a vector out of a person!

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