Photoshop contains some excellent vector tools and features. But when it comes to creating artwork, experienced digital artists, illustrators, and designers rarely limit themselves to a single software application. It is no secret that when it comes to drawing with vectors, there is no better choice than Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator has been the industry-standard vector art tool for as long as I can remember.
I personally have been using it as an integral part of my digital tool set since 1991. The features and functions within Illustrator are unparalleled indeed, but what do you do when you want all the superb vector creation possibilities offered within Illustrator, yet you also want the superb paint tool features in Photoshop? The answer is simple: You combine the two applications.
And believe it or not, when it comes to creating a stunning Art Noveau masterpiece like the one you see here, you simply need to copy and paste. To put it simply: Photoshop and Illustrator play very well together. We will explore the advantages of bringing existing vector art from Illustrator into Photoshop and using it as vector building blocks to create the piece you see here.
More specifically, we will be pasting vector art into Photoshop, creating shape layers and paths as the Illustrator data makes its way into Photoshop. We will use paths to create selection borders, and We will duplicate and edit shape layers to suit a variety of purposes. Once the vectors are safely in place, we can employ Photoshop’s marvelous paint and composition tools, resulting in a nostalgic piece of art that is a combination of both sharp vectors and soft painted elements.
Generally, when I witness inexperienced users of Illustrator attempting to create artwork in a similar style, they rely on stroke attributes to create the outline in the image. An unfortunate result of this method is that there is little or no expressive quality in the line-work. What makes line-work expressive in the context of an illustration is the variation in thickness and the way the ends of each line taper, are sharp, or are rounded.
Granted, there are options within the Stroke palette that allow you to change the endpoints of the line; but again, like the uniform thickness of the stroke, those just aren’t expressive enough. The best way to achieve the desired expressive quality is to pay attention to the sketch. When we draw, something intuitive happens, and it becomes effortless or even a subconscious act to create expressive line-work. Within software it is a different story. We need to focus on preserving the innate, expressive quality of our drawing as we create the finished product.
This goal cannot be achieved by using stroke attributes but by creating each element manually with the Pen tool. However, there is more to it than simple mastery over the Pen tool. There is a logical method of construction, which involves creating an exterior shape first. The next step is to subtract an interior. This will give you your expressive outline. After that, details are created as closed shapes, and the result is unified. The Pathfinder palette plays a central role in this systematic drawing process.