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EDIT - Dec 08, 2013 - This is OLD, like really, really OOOOOOLLLLD and outdated, and there are better methods out there. I don't even do vectors this way anymore. That said, it's still useful as a guide on how to use the pen tool to make shapes specifically for pony vectors in a manner where they're layered efficiently easily modifiable. Just felt the need to point this out as I am still getting messages from people who don't understand that this is old and that I know there are alternative methods. I thank you all for your input.

Before I say anything, if you're familiar with proper vectoring at all then once you've heard what I do you'll realize I'm not making "true" vectors with the process I use.  This might seem a bit odd because what  I do means that if I wanted to make a larger version of the image I would basically have to scale the paths I've made and re-"paint" the whole image, but I'm just doing these for fun so I make them large to begin with; the end result is plenty big for anything anyone who might use them for. For simplicity's sake, I will still refer to the image I am creating as a vector from hereon out.

(If you don't want to read my monilith o' text and just want to watch some movies, scroll down to the bottom)

I do traces as well as original art, but the "vectoring" process I utilize is exactly the same, so I'll just start off pretending I'm about to do a trace of a screencap from the show. Let's make Pinkie Pie being adorable. Here is a decent image of her taken from the show. Notice how it is tiny. I want this image to be HUGE. Let's make a vector of it!



I begin by tracing the body outlines with the pen tool. However, instead of using the shapes like you normally would for vector images, I just use the regular pen tool to create paths that I then use to make selections and fill in later. I completely outline the body and other details like the nostrils and mouth.



I then do the same for the mane and tail.




Now, you might be going "LOL what an idiot, why would he outline the strokes instead of just making a single path down the middle of the lines and using the Stroke option?"

NO. BAD. That is ugly, at least to me. Lines with the exact same width througout and with perfect, round ends are weird looking, especially for this style. I much rather emulate the exact look of the show with the imperfect lines and tapered ends.

I do the eyes last since they are a bit more work.



D'AWWW! O-O Once the entire image and all its details have basically been outlined with paths, I make the selections and fill them in with the appropriate colors. I do the strokes first. Here are the mane, tail and body stroke layers all turned on.



Now, I've done enough of these thing to the point where I've come up with an organized system of folders and layers that I can use on pretty much any image I decide to make so that individual layers stack with minimal editing after they've been filled. If everything is done correctly, the only thing I usually have to do is remove a bit of overlapping mane and/or body strokes around the ear and the neck, depending on the angle of the image and style of hair.


This is my basic folder structure below:



The PP folder you see in the above image is where everything for the vector is contained. the REF image is the reference image I am working from, obviously. I bet you can't guess what the BG layer is... ;)

The very first layer you see, COLOR REF, is my color reference layer (NO WAY). If possible, I use :iconkefkafloyd:'s color references that he has created. Unfortunately, he doesn't have these for every character, so sometimes this layer will just be the most correct-looking image I can find of the character I am working on, color-wise. Luckily, he has one of Pinkie Pie, so I used that. I highly suggest using his stuff, especially if you're making vector images like this.




Now I'll show you how I organize my folders and layers and continue to make sarcastic comments.




That image above is what's inside the PP folder. Amazing, is it not? (The "mane backfill" layer is simply a flattened copy of the mane I use as a gap-filler between the body and mane should any gaps be created once I've edited the stroke and fill layers of the mane so that they don't overlap the body stroke and fill where they aren't supposed to.



That image above is what you would find inside the folders. Again, incredible. You've probably never seen something so astounding. The "lines" layers are extra details in the mane and tail. I do that for a couple reasons that aren't worth explaining.

Now, once the lineart has been created, I use the magic wand to make appropriate selections with "sample all layers" turned on and expand the selection a bit so that it overlaps the lineart. I fill those selections with the proper color on the proper layer to create the fills.




There, finished! Wait...I'm forgetting something.



D'AWWW! O-O



EYEBALLS. She just needs some eyeballs. Just make all the outlines needed, make all the layers needed, make the selections needed and fill those suckers in. Apply a gradient to the iris layers for extra D'AWW effect and let it sit and cool for a few minutes while you go refill your drink. Come back, try and remember what it was you were working on, remember, and then double-check to make sure you've done everything right. Chances are you will forget something and will only notice right after you've uploaded it to DA or wherever and you'll rage. Luckily, you'll learn after doing this ten times in a row to KEEP  RUNNING until you've uploaded the image and made sure that you didn't miss any errors. This will save you precious seconds while you go back to correct your failures and prevent an aneurism. Possibly.




There we go, now it's done. And, just to show that my method isn't complete insanity and is actually quite modifiable, I created two variations:





Below, I present the idiot's beginner's guide to what all my layers are.

Folders are annotated with "-", capitalized, and bold, while the layers are italicized and underlined. If you are still confused as to which ones are the folders and which ones are the layers, well...can't help you there. I will add a note to anything that might require it.

-MANE
stroke
fill


-EYES
snout/cheek (if the image is at an angle where part of the eye is behind their nose, or if their eye is squinted so that a body-stroke-toned line is used, this will be part of the body stroke made to overlap it.)
eyeline (the black outlines usually used around the upper part of the eyes)
eye shine (the white higlight spots)
pupils
iris sheen (the two-tone "sheen" of the iris.)
irises (generally the only layer that I ever apply a gradient to on these types of images.)
whites
lashes

-CUTIE MARK
whatever layers it takes to create the cutie mark go in here. Sometimes I will place this folder inside the BODY folder under the stroke layer if it requires it.

-BODY
stroke
shadefill (if parts of the body (usually the farther legs) are in shadow, this layer is for that.)
fill

-TAIL
stroke
fill

And that is the folder structure I start off with every time. Sometimes the image will require more (or less) than that, and I add stuff as needed. Hopefully it will help you understand how I layer everything with little hassle.


NOW FOR SOME AWESOME MOVIES (not really that awesome, they are really boring and only useful if you want to actually see me making things.)


To help you understand all this,  I have two different videos below. These, combined with the above description, is the next best thing I can do short of physically coming to your house and showing you what I do in person, so I hope you understand everything I've said. I'm not very good at writing instructions and walkthroughs, I'm afraid. :P

this one starts out at normal speed to give viewers the chance to see what I'm doing but I bump the speed up to 4x I think somehere about halfway through it. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jEqBJ…

This one is just a really fast runthrough : www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIjQH4…


I hope I didn't forget anything. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. :)


Oh, and these usually take me aright around an hour each.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconkarmapony123:
KarmaPony123 Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i use freaking GIMP!!!! THERE IS NO FREAKING PEN TOOL IN GIMP DANGIT!!! me: wheres the pen tool? *looks up pen in help* theres no pen! :fliptable::angry: screw gimp  
if u use gimp plz reply "Yes"
Reply
:icontimelordflutterart:
TimelordFlutterart Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
lol that reaction just saying though
Reply
:iconkkooltteok:
KkoolTteok Featured By Owner May 24, 2014
Haven't used the GIMP in years, but I just searched and it seems that there is a Path Tool you can use. Same thing, different name.
Reply
:iconvixiponyartist:
VixiPonyArtist Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
so wait... when you make the paths you just go to the PATHS button, CREATE NEW PATH, but you don't fill it... intill you have all the lines done? you create a new path for every line right? GHHHHHAHAHAHAHAH I'm so confused!! PWEEEEEESSSSS HELPPPPP
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is a pretty old tutorial, and it's not even the method I use anymore. It is still useful for some people but if you're learning I'd recommend a better method than this one. :)

But to answer your question, using this particular method, yes - for lines like the outline of the body, where the color is the same, I'd typically group layers of paths together for ease of manipulating them later on.
Reply
:iconvixiponyartist:
VixiPonyArtist Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks!!!
Reply
:iconflamelauncher14:
flamelauncher14 Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013  Hobbyist Filmographer
I am so badass. I make all of my vectors/recolors with an HP Pro 3000. Pentium Processor @ 2.6 GHz, 2GB of RAM, Windows XP 32-bit.. hell yea! My other PC has an i7-4770k and 8GB of memory, but I'm too lazy to install Illustrator or Photoshop to it xP
Reply
:iconkkooltteok:
KkoolTteok Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
There are many ways to stroke paths. You don't have to use the default round brush. In Photoshop you can make a tapered brush and stroke a path with that, that will give the thick and thin lines you want. In the brushes window click Brush Dynamics, then set Size Jitter to Pen Pressure.

Just putting that out there.
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, I realize this. This guide was made to introduce people to the particular method I used at the time to make the vector-style rasters as everyone kept asking for me to produce a tutorial for them. Of course there are many ways to get the same result. I don't even use this method anymore.
Reply
:iconkkooltteok:
KkoolTteok Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013
Oh, sorry! I did not know you knew.

Well if you know then ok. As long as you know, I did not want you to do this the hard way. :iconcryforeverplz:
Reply
:icontherealcuddles:
TheRealCuddles Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013
"NO. BAD. That is ugly, at least to me. Lines with the exact same width througout and with perfect, round ends are weird looking, especially for this style. I much rather emulate the exact look of the show with the imperfect lines and tapered ends." I do it my way,you don't tell me. Also it's much more work,and I want easier work.
Reply
:iconopenskyline:
openskyline Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
"That is ugly, AT LEAST TO ME." It's an opinion, genius. 

You can do things the easy way, or you can take some advice and improve. Your choice. But if you don't want help, don't come reading tutorials.
Reply
:icongrimslime:
GrimSlime Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my god bro, you came here. Ain't nobody telling you what to do. Chill.
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Then do it your way, nobody is forcing you to use my guide. :)
Reply
:icontherealcuddles:
TheRealCuddles Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2013
You know not everyone has a so powerful computer that can't handle a lot of Photoshop layers,while running Windows 7(Which is Ultimate,damn why didn't I choose Home Premium at install?). So I only have a Core 2 to myself only WITH 2 GB Ram. And I never would upgrade my hardware because I'm lazy to buy it.
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, I know not everyone has a super computer. I don't really know what point your trying to make, though. You don't need a super computer to make a vector. For years, I used a shitty old HP desktop with 2GB of RAM, on-board graphics (ugh), a processor that made me wish I had a Core 2 Duo, and Windows Vista 32-bit with Photoshop 7. Sure, it helps to have a badass machine, but my point is that even with a crappy computer you can still do this stuff. Hell, half the stuff in my gallery on this account I made while only having a crappy laptop available to me that wasn't much better than that old HP.
Reply
:icontherealcuddles:
TheRealCuddles Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2013
I have Windows 7...But i'm lazy to make proper MLP vectors. ALLHAIL LAZYNESS.
Reply
:iconrebron-y:
Rebron-y Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I usually just use Paint.net, because it's alot simpler, though it does take much longer and it does not always look very professional. However, I do art as a pastime and not as a career path, so I do not have as much pressure to finish my projects. I eventually want to learn how to use this, though.
Reply
:iconstratosphereskies:
StratosphereSkies Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013
...........fuck.....this......
#Stratossucksatart
Reply
:icondjailuzha:
DjAiluzha Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Thanks, It helped me a lot doing vectors. :D
Reply
:icondragonesswing:
dragonesswing Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
oooooooooooooooooookay......................
Pinkie Pie is awesome
Reply
:iconthedemonofsloth:
TheDemonOfSloth Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Wow, lots of work.

I don't have photoshop :'(.I'll ask my dad for permission.
Reply
:iconeveon99:
Eveon99 Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
This is so helpful but one thing..how do you normally use the 'pen tool' to do it?^^;
Reply
:icondaniel10alien:
daniel10alien Featured By Owner May 21, 2013
When I make the selection, it doesn't select the overlapping parts of the paths and I can't find the setting to stop that. Can you help?
Reply
:icondaniel10alien:
daniel10alien Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
No wait, I got it! :lol:
Reply
:icondiscord-drocsid:
Discord-Drocsid Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013
now how would you go about turning them into pixelated icons
aka resizing them
Reply
:iconherobringirl:
herobringirl Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2013
oh thank you ,but i no have photoshop then I can create with gimp?
Reply
:iconchloroophyll:
chloroophyll Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Probably. That would be done with something similar like this: [link]
Reply
:iconlesik2008:
Lesik2008 Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Student Filmographer
Vectors are created with Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.
Reply
:iconumnity:
Umnity Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013
What do you mean "not making "true" vectors"? How is a proper vector different? :P
Reply
:icondaniel10alien:
daniel10alien Featured By Owner May 2, 2013
A real vector is when there are no pixels, so the image is made of actual shapes. You can use Xara for that :)
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is an old, outdated method and I make proper vectors now, but this method shown here makes raster images, not true vectors. Just google them to find out the difference, it's too complicated for me to explain easily.
Reply
:iconumnity:
Umnity Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
You should make a tutorial for the true vectors!
Reply
:iconsircxyrtyx:
SirCxyrtyx Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2013
You can find a large collection of vector tutorials for several programs here: [link]
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I would like to but I have no free time at all these days for pony art. :(
Reply
:iconmagicalpony5585:
magicalpony5585 Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
One question, now that I know how to trace, justy how DO you customize?
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I draw out my own custom stuff and make it the same way.
Reply
:iconmagicalpony5585:
magicalpony5585 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
yes, yes, but I mean as far as making that angry pinkamena look like she was right from the show without using a direct pose FROM the show. how do you make them that acurate without having a direct refference underneath?
Reply
:iconmoongazeponies:
MoongazePonies Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh, well in that case it's just me being familiar enough with the show style to "freehand" a lot of things that still looks show-accurate. I've done a ton of vectors and watched the show so much that it's not too hard to do.
Reply
:iconmagicalpony5585:
magicalpony5585 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh, well THAT makes more sense. I envy people like you.
Reply
:iconredfoxj:
redfoxj Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2013
Sick tuut mate! If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't have figured it out! I'm emulating the show's style for myself using Adobe Illustrator. If you want my advice, upload this to dA as a PDF so people can view and download it easier. Otherwise, it was a really good deal you made a tuut with links to your videos. It should help one to at least get a grip on mastering vector art.
Reply
:iconarmedbrony:
ArmedBrony Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Damn. If I had more money, I would hire you to teach me this shit. I recently got inkscape, thinking it would be easy to do, but I was dead wrong. So many buttons and other stuff, I don't even know where to begin, or if I should even begin at all. I have no artistic talent (save for tracing on paper - which in my mind is cheating), and I want to create artwork to express myself. Maybe I'll just stick to writing...
Reply
:iconaragnoth:
Aragnoth Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Student General Artist
what program would you advise to use for a beginner in making ´´vector ponies´´???
Reply
:iconchloroophyll:
chloroophyll Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
gimp
Reply
:iconarmedbrony:
ArmedBrony Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Many have told me to try Inkscape, but it's too damn confusing for me (even with tutorials). Others say use a drawing tablet with Inkscape and/or Flash, but I'm not made of money.
Reply
:iconyaoimeowmaster:
YaoiMeowmaster Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2013
Oh my goodness this technique of doing lineart is going to kill me, but this is DEAD helpful!! I was trying to make an original Apple Jack vector, but the straight same width lines bothered me Soooooooo much.

I'm probably going to scrap this project and try again with your method, it seems harder and yet easier at the same time. Thank you!
Reply
:iconstonerabbit123:
stonerabbit123 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012
Thank you!
Reply
:iconqueenmaybee:
QueenMaybee Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this! Makes it seem really simple! I've been wanting to try vectoring, so thanks very much!
Reply
:iconazure888:
Azure888 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012
This is a really great tutorial, but I think I'll stick to normal freehand stuff, this looks WAY too complicated for my tiny brain. I prefer the more traditional approach anyways.
Reply
:iconarmedbrony:
ArmedBrony Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I thought I'd try my hand at computer-based art, but even that is too hard for me too. Wishing I had natural talent...
Reply
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