How we make our vector illustrations

Hi there!

In this blog post we will show how we make our vector illustrations. The whole process of drawing, scanning and adjusting the image levels is quite simple. The level adjustment step is required only if you think that the image is not legible enough. In some cases, you may prefer just using an eraser to remove some extra lines, shadows or stains.

Here’s the hardware and software used:

  • Intel Core i5, 6GB, ATI video card with 512 MB
  • HP Multifunction LaserJet M1132 MFP
  • Wacom tablet Intuos 3
  • Operational system Linux Debian Squeeze 6 with Gnome 3
  • Simple Scan (for digitalizing the drawings)
  • GIMP 2.8
  • Inkscape 0.48


Well, there is no secret here. Just draw whatever comes into your mind. There are many tutorials showing the basics of drawing, and there are several different techniques. Sometimes it is useful to browse some websites (like DeviantArt) to look for inspiration for your work, or even watch a cartoon, read a comics or find some other source for creativity.

Here is the image we will vectorize.

[singlepic id=16 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Before you digitalize your drawing, you may want to clear using an eraser, or even use an ink pen to thicken the strokes (this will help you to vectorize your illustration later). In case you have a spare wooden table, or an old scanner, you can build a light table.

We have a light table built from an old scanner. Take a look on [1] and [2] at the Resources section. Usually the process is 1) quick draw several sketches, 2) choose the best one and 3) use the light table to polish the drawing. Then we are ready to digitalize it.

[nggallery id=3]

Digitalizing your drawing

Again, no secret here. We use a simple HP multifunction to digitalize our drawings. The only setting we change is the image resolution to 300 dpi (dots per inch). This increases the image quality and helps you to vectorize it later.

As said before, we use a light table, and usually we use an ink pen to thicken the strokes. If you pay attention to the drawing that we are using in this example, we used an eraser to remove the pencil strokes.


In the past you would have to use Illustrator, Freehand or some other commercial tool to vectorize your illustrations. But now GIMP and Inkscape are much more mature. GIMP 2.8 has a single window mode, if you are used to Photoshop, you will love it. And Inkscape’s curves and pens are much easier to use and handle.

So if you are not using Open Source for your illustrations, give it a try. It may take a while before you get used to the different shortcuts and tools, and if you are a Freehand fan (like me) you will find it easy to get used to Inkscape interface and tools.

For some tutorials on how to use Inkscape to vectorize, take a look on [3] at the Resources section. Below you can find some screen shots we took while vectorizing our drawing.

[nggallery id=2]

You don’t have to follow exactly what was in your drawing. You may find later while vectorizing that adding a shadow here, changing the angle or an arm, or even the hair of your character gives a better impression in your illustration. Let your creativity work.

Hope you enjoyed this short blog post. Send us your illustrations and have fun vectorizing your drawings :-)