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Vectorating!

Vector panel based on Friday's comic
I don't think this is actually good enough to post as a finished work of art, or indeed as a stand-alone illustration at all, but I could use some advice from experienced vector artists here.
The drawing is a more elaborate version of the second panel from last Friday's ROCR comic, and was done in a vector drawing program I'm experimenting with: Microsoft Expression(*). After using it in the comic, I've changed the strokes so they looked more lively and organic, changed the outline colors and added shading and texture to parts of the image. At that point I started to get stuck a bit. The shading method I've used, creating translucent duplicates of paths and adding gradients to these, plus creating individual shadow shapes, is hideously time-consuming. Is there a better way to create shading? The textures included by default are not very subtle, but creating my own in a bitmap program looks like a lot of work, and I didn't get the tileability right when I tried to create a skin tone. How do other artists create these textures?

I'm also unsure whether I use the right tools (within the program) for the right things. I used the B-spline tool to create Kangra's torso, but maybe it would have been easier to draw it freehand and then manipulate it?

Here are some source files if you want to take a closer look and play with the image yourselves:
Expression file (500 KB) || Expression color palette (if needed)
|| Exported Illustrator 9 file (100 KB)

I have also experimented a bit with Inkscape, an open source vector tool forked from Sodipodi. I don't like being dependent on any one program for doing stuff. However, Inkscape does seem to be harder to use than Expression, and the Windows port isn't very mature yet.

(*)Do not fear the Microsoft brand. The program code was developed independently and bought by Microsoft, who don't appear to have tinkered with it much yet. It's stable and usable. However, the software is pretty bloated, and you need a Microsoft Passport (i.e. a working Hotmail or MSN account) to download it.

Comments (1)

Gosh... strange how the colors clash far harder in this version than they did in the comic. It must be because the black outlines separate the skin tones from the dark green of the background and the colored outlines do not.

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