Poster Project Tutorial #1

Start With Your Ideas

Draw out some concepts, at this point don’t worry about drawing quality. Several ideas or more is good to have here. You can always create an amalgamation from all or several of your ideas to create your final product. If you have brainlock and cannot come up with ideas start small and maybe include a backstory to your characters. Think of someone you know or a character perhaps and think of how they would act in that small little slice of life, or how they would be feeling.

Small changes in your thought process may help you flesh out or expand the ideas you might be having. If you are lucky enough to have someone who will listen to you try brainstorming with another person, sometimes an outsiders perspective can be very enlightening.   I am finding these are all great “getting my brain going” drill. For example maybe the people in this drawing are a cute little couple that go out in the woods to share their hobby of stargazing or perhaps they are rounded headed aliens posing as people pointing at their distant home planet!

Hand Drawn Elements

Hand drawn elements give your project a unique feel and a great sense of ownership. If you choose to go this way remember your hand drawn elements do not need to be perfect to be included. The people I have in this project started as this…


and ended up like this…


So don’t be afraid if you original drawing looks a bit rough, keep and open mind and try to focus on the over all direction your project is going. Your original project will probably morph as you add to it, but don’t be quick to give up on it completely!

Photo Reference

I really like the idea of using multiple media sources in my projects. In this example I used some stock photography for the hill sides, you could also very easily use a hand drawn, scanned option as well. Using photography as reference allows me to do practice another art skill in my spare time… spare time surely you jest!? Optionally you can import your drawings or reference photos and use the pen tool to vectorize prior to, or as an alternate option to Image Tracing.


Image Trace Options <- This is a big one.

First of all what is Image Trace? Basically Image Trace can automatically turn scanned art into a vector graphic. Turns messy scribbly people lines into fancy computer math defined tidy lines!  It replaces the old Live Trace and produces cleaner paths and better color recognition in less time. I haven’t used this in previous versions of Illustrator, but word on the street says this is a drastic improvement from previous version.

If you think Image Trace will work for you and use it on your project I highly recommend that you get your original drawing dark dark dark! The reason for this is that Illustrator needs good contrast to determine where it is going to create the vectorized paths from. It does very well with white and black, not so good with grey.

The image above shows what happens when the your drawing is too light.

Dark Drawing = Happy vector

My general process for pencil or ink to vector is this: Draw, scan, (optional) greyscale, clean up, (rgb) , edit levels, save. You can also mess with image trace settings after you have the image placed in Illustrator. Here is a pretty good in-depth tutorial on Converting To Vector 

That is it for today, tomorrow I will cover some basic things that I learned about Illustrator!

Please support  Ryan Vatzlavick over @ for creating this great class!


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