How to turn a drawing into a vector

In this simple tutorial we will teach you how to turn a drawing into a vector image. But first. What is a vector?

A vector image is a digital image made by geometric objects (segments, polygons, arcs, points, etc.), each defined by mathematical attributes of shape, position, and so on. For example a circle of red color would be defined by the position of its center, its radius, line thickness and its color.

Sound complicated, but it is not. Basically, vector images are lines joining nodes. This image below is a vector.
Vector image or pixel image

This is the same shape, on vectors and pixels. Note the “pixelation” effect on the right one.
This is why pixel images are not good to be scaled. On the other hand, vector images can be scaled to any size.
vector vs pixel example

Let’s figure out how to turn a drawing into a vector image

Let’s do some simple steps to turn any image into a vector image. First of all, we need some tools. Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop are the big players in graphic design. So we will use Adobe Illustrator in this case to show you how to turn a drawing into vectors.

    1. Import your drawing

      We will trace the vectors over the image. So first of all, we need to place your drawing into your canvas.
      Placing pixel image

    2. Decide between geometrical shapes or free shapes

      Let’s say you want to turn it into a vector image for printing purposes. In a moment of inspiration, you sketch a panda. First of all, you need to think about the shapes. A panda it’s mainly composed by circles and ellipses. Then, start creating circles over the face, eyes, nose, etc, will be a good decision.

      How to turn a drawing into a vector shapes

      But, if your drawing is not composed by geometrical simple shapes, you’ll need to trace each line, carefully.How to turn a drawing into a vector lines

    3. Use pen tool and shapes tool

      Now it’s time to start doing the hard work. Try to follow the drawing’s shapes one by one. On Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop this can me made with the pen tool. On Inkscape, with the Control Point tool (the 2nd from your toolbar) drawing to vector linesYou are working with points and curves. Each point allows you to control the curves. Create a new point then extend de curve controls so you can match the drawing’s traces.drawing to vector contourOnce the contour is done, continue with details. In this case, eyes (you can to eyes with elipse tool) and tail. Note you can edit the lines and dots later. TIP: try to use a contrasting stroke color. Will be easier for you to see the shape you are creating.drawing to vector shapeNow it’s time to increase stroke weight, and to pick a color. On the other hand, some objects (eyeballs, tail) should be filled.drawing to vector colorsIf you wish, you can try to fill the shapes with colors. This will be the funniest part of the job. Keep in mind shapes (in this case, body, eyes and tail) has a stroke and a fill color. You can edit both separately for better results.a final touch of shadingIf you are happy with coloring, it’s time to add some shadings. Note the drawing has now some lighter and darker shapes over the body. In this case, we used a lighter brown color and a darker one to emphasize the shadows and lights. Take a look to the whole process in this animation below.drawing to vector process

Now it’s time to start trying by yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There’s always Ctrl-Z. If you need some advises or want a professional opinion about how to turn drawing into vector, just contact us here for a free revision of your drawing or vectorization or leave your comment below.

You can also check how we turned more than 4000 drawing into vector in our Recent Jobs section

Happy drawing 🙂
Logotypers Team

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