Introduction: How to Create Groovy Vector Art

Picture of How to Create Groovy Vector Art

This tutorial is brought to you my good friend at
I thought I'd share this crash course in creating amazingly hot vector artwork.

Step 1: Required

Picture of Required

High level of confidence using Flash and Photoshop CS
Problems: jamieroy[at]

Alright, well, lets get down to business. A lot of people have been asking me to write a tutorial on how to make crazy vector artwork.

Step 2: What We Are Working For

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Step 3: Making the Rifles

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Alright, so, we need an image to start with. For the purposes of this tutorial, we are going to start off with a rifle.

Now, we don't really want any of the details of the rifle... just the basic shape, so using Photoshop, open the image and go to Brightness/Contrast and set the contrast to 70%. Anything higher gives jagged edges.

Note: Depending on your image, (If you are using the same one I'm using) You may have to do other things to get the basic shape of your image. I usually fiddle around with Brightness/Contrast and tthe Cutout Filter (Filters>Artistic>Cutour). But for this image it was surprisingly easy.

Step 4: Colour Range

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Under the menu bar, go to Select>Color Range to bring up the color range dialoge box. Set fuzziness to 0 and Check 'Inverse' and click anywhere that is white in the thumbnail image within the Color Range dialogue box.

Hit 'ok'
With the rifle now selected for you, cut and paste it into any sized document you want.

Step 5: Arranging the Weaponry

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Depending on your mood, you can arrange your rifles any way you want... it's up to you, but I did it like so:

I did this by rotating the first rifle with the transform tool, and then I copied and pasted the rifle and hit CTRL-SHIFT-T to apply the transform to the copy. Do this a couple times to rotate each gun the same amount so you get the best results.

Save your image at full size, AS A PNG.

Step 6: Tentacles!

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Alright, so we're going to switch into Flash.... err... Illustrator if you've got it. I don't own Illustrator so I do my vector work all in Flash, and so, these instructions reflect that. I would imagine the processes I use in Flash are relatively the same in Illustrator.

Go to File>Import>Import To Stage and locate your rifle image, and import it. Resize the page to fit your freshly opened image.

We are going to create those groovy tentacles. Create a new layer and lock the first layer, and grab the line tool and make a zig zag pattern like so:

Using the arrow tool, push and pull the centers of each section of the line to make a wave like so:

It takes a lot of practice to get the flow right... so don't give up.

Copy and Past-In-Place (CTRL-SHIFT-V) and then select your free transform tool and put the pivot point to the top right hand corner (Red Arrow), and rotate it slightly using the bottom left corner (Blue Arrow).

Now you have something like this:

Close off the opening with the line tool and fill it with whatever colour you desire, for me it was #FF9900, and then delete the lines so you just have the fill left over.

Step 7: Give 'em Some Colour!

Picture of Give 'em Some Colour!

Create as many tentacles as you want, and put each tentacle on a new layer, and vary the hue of the colour your using, ie, light and dark orange, with some white tentacles thrown in for good measure. We are going to be fiddling with the colour in Photoshop to make it glow, and it makes the colours you use brighter, so don't worry if they look sort of lame at this point.

Step 8: Now for the Twist!

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Alright, let's intertwine those tentacles. If you look closely at one of the example images above you'll see that the tentacles appear to wrap around each other, or the tree's branches in the second example. To do this, create a layer at the bottom of all the other layers, I added a background layer and applied a gradient to it, if you have done the same, don't put this new layer behind the background layer. Now, unlock one of the tentacle layers and select a small chunk of the tentacle and cut and paste it in place on the new layer.

Number one shows the chunk I have selected, and number two shows the section pasted in the layer beneath everything.

Do this for everything, I made it so that there is a lot of interaction with the rifles, its up to you.

As you can see, I chose to have a tentacle go through the trigger hole, AND through the sight of another one.

Now, lets make some clouds.

Step 9: Clouds Are Pretty..

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Grab the elipse tool, and set your fill colour to white, and click the red x for the line colour because we don't want lines in this case. Start drawing some clouds on a new layer!

To make these nifty flat bottomed clouds, just draw the cloud and then using the arrow tool, select a square area and chop off the bottom of the clouds

Step 10: Stars and Stuff

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Add any other bits and pieces you want, I added some stars, and to do that, take a look at the picture below, set something similar up to it and then position it in the bottom left corner and drag stars to the tips of the lines.

In this last image you can see that I rotated the stars so that they fit the curve. My own preference, you don't have to do that if yu don't want to.

Step 11: Add a Background and Drips!

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Export your image as a png, with a TRANSPARENT background, no fill whatsoever, and open that image in Photoshop.

I added a #333333 to #666666 gradient in the background.

I'm going to add some drips to the clouds, because I like doing that, using a hard edged brush, and using [ and ] keys to vary brush size, click THEN press shift and draw a line down, release shift. this draws perfectly straight lines.

When you want to add a second drip, click and THEN press shift, if you press shift and then click Photoshop will connect your previous line with the one you are about to draw. I used these brush settings:

Step 12: A Smooth Glow to Finish Her Off!

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By now, you must be getting the hang of it, add whatever you feel it needs, but add whatever you are to a new layer. To get the glow effect, I duplicated the image outputted from flash, and Gaussian Blurred it by 3px, and then set the layer blending mode to Hard Light.

Step 13: Tada!!

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Alright, well, as you may have noticed, this tutorial is pretty much a walk through of the tools and techniques I use when making something like this.

Its 99% up to you and your ability, creativity and inspiration to make what you want. Take a look at the two pink example images I have above, there's nothing new and exciting in those, its just knowing what tools to use and how to use them.

The integrity of the image you make is entirely dependent on your experience with Photoshop and Flash, so just keep working at it! Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial made by "fasterthanlight" hopefully there will be more to come.
I plan to get some out on basic animation.



Xthinker (author)2012-08-03

Raven is a free Vector program by Aviary. I haven't used it but I've used other image editing softwares by them. Heres the link:


OhSnapZ0rz (author)2010-01-16

While this is a well done tutorial and cool craft this is not vector art.  You didn't touch a vector program.  The difference between this pixel art and vector is pretty big just so you know.  Great job regardless =D

pyroboy212 (author)OhSnapZ0rz2011-02-02

Vector art is a style. it doesn't need to actually be created using illustrator or ink-scape.

gtoal (author)pyroboy2122012-06-22

I kind of agree but I see where OhSnapZ0rz is coming from. In the video gane world there have been wars over whether a raster emulated video game such as Battlezone is still a vector game :-)

However for me this was a disappointment because I was looking for vector art that I could send to a vinyl cutter as vectors! (Actually my vinyl cutter is really a scratchboard cutter at the moment, but thats by the bye...)

It might not be a bad idea to add some info to this about how to convert the final image to SVG with something like GNU Autotrace and Inkscape.



Musicman41 (author)gtoal2012-07-25

I think the biggest determinate of vector art is it's infinite scalability. If you substantially expand a raster, you will get a pixalated picture. If you expand a vector to any size, you have the same level of sharpness you had before.

It could take a little more time but this tutorial can easily be done entirely in PS and be 100% vector.

Use the pen tool with the Shape layers option enabled to create each element. To create the guns and other difficult shapes, you can simply trace them and I would recommend turning your layer's Fill option to 0% so that you are able to see what you're tracing. Also, to make the tentacles appear to overlap, you can do this;
create two tentacles, duplicate the bottom layer tentacle, make the duplicate the top layer and from the top layer move the parts of the tentacle that are near the second tentacle such that one appears to go beneath the other.

90mp11 (author)OhSnapZ0rz2010-09-06

Doesn't flash create scalable vector files as standard...or am i being naive?

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)90mp112012-07-25

Some flash stuff is vectored and some Photoshop stuff is (vector drawing tools) however all Illustrator stuff is. If you want true vector drawings (infinitely scalable) I would recommend Illustrator, plus it's still an Adobe program so it works vary similar to this tutorial.

tomato99 (author)2007-07-15

I made my one in tree hours:


Chrono86 (author)2008-07-08

There's gray pixels around the edges of the gun image, so when you try to wrap the tentacles behind the guns you see the gray pixels in between the tentacle and the gun. It's really messy looking. How did you make the transition look so smooth?

You could either use the blur/smudge tool or a option from the top that trims a little off the sides of the whole image, I can't remember were it is located but you could search for how to remove green screen reflections and you should find it. Hope that helps.

pyro-jim (author)2009-07-09

I'm really struggling with twisting the tentacles. You say to select a segment but how? I've tried every tool and it will not just select what I tell it to select, it always selects to some anchor points. I am using Illustrator by the way. Please will someone help.

Illustrator's pen tool works differently (in my opinion better). The way I make tentacles is to make a triangular brush and then apply it to lines draw with the pen tool. Make a triangle then select it and press the new brush button, select art brush and then change the settings so that it works the way you want it. The first picture is creating the brush, the second is an example of the tentacles I made with this method (+ a glow effect) the third is a collection of images I drew with the pen tool.

alexw2150 (author)2010-10-25

This is brilliant, I did it on Kolourpaint on linux but it still worked

wardyboyo (author)2007-10-22

heres my try...

thing944 (author)wardyboyo2010-08-30


12Hippos (author)wardyboyo2009-01-07

The color scheme could have been better (no offence I can see you put a LOT of work into it). For example, green does not look good with blue, blue looks much better with red. If I were to make that, I would use black, white, lime green, and grey.

foxtrot4697 (author)12Hippos2009-12-30

green is amazing with blue

sharkstun97 (author)foxtrot46972010-02-21

 however not bright green with that blue

foxtrot4697 (author)sharkstun972010-02-22

ok yeah, good point

StarshipMcGee (author)wardyboyo2008-12-23

woo hoo arctic monkeys

KentonLee25 (author)2010-08-29

i've had a couple attempts

tomce544 (author)2010-07-15

make ttriangle and when warp it

qwertyman10 (author)2010-02-03

Any idea if gimp has similar tools for doing the same thing? I tried to make one on my own. Bad idea.

blagh (author)qwertyman102010-02-09

Most of what's here you can also do in the GIMP - for the vector-based stuff (like the tentacles), you can try Inkscape (also free and open source). 

Kidz_Creator (author)2009-07-21

Very cool. I wish i had photoshop so i could do this...Which version of photoshop did you use, or does it not matter?

Rishnai (author)Kidz_Creator2009-09-25

Try Inkscape. It's an open-source vector image program with the same functionalities as Photoshop.

computer_guy (author)2009-09-09

Eww. I dont like mac that much. Well, I guess I'll make an exception since you're doing a really good job =D

bloke2022 (author)2009-08-16

its not as nice as Kruton's, but this is what i came up with after only having photoshop 3 days.

Kruton (author)2008-07-28

pretty cool I just installed Adobe Illustrator on my computer and used it with Photoshop Elements. Here's what I got so far:

Zansion (author)Kruton2009-07-30

nice :D how long did it take you to make that? i love photoshop, and alas i too only have elements. but, just some positive feedback, i would try moving the skull, and the speakers below, or getting rid of them altogether. they seem a little crowding. and, they look like a noob made them, but the background is amazing.

volquete (author)Kruton2009-06-08

thats freaking awesome! looks like a CD cover!

Wants2belink (author)Kruton2008-09-18

WOW! Amazing man! Man, I wish I could at the very least think of something >_>

Neo_999 (author)2009-07-21

Pretty cool Instructable, I've tried it, it's not hard an the final result is awesome. I've done everything, the image editing and the vectorial drawing, with macromedia fireworks 8. It is very complete, intuitive and easy to work with. Here's the final result: Sorry for the bad English Portuguese greetings to all ;)

ItsTheHobbs (author)2009-07-07

Here's mine in inkscape.

imbz (author)2008-09-24

cool!!! not familiar with adobe flash...can i make this purely in photoshop?

Awesome Possum (author)imbz2009-05-07

Try a free vector program. It makes things easier. Just google "Inkscape".

Moosterz (author)imbz2009-04-30

Yeah. You don't have to use a vector program. You just need to find the right brushes.

wordlogic (author)2009-05-01

sweet. its easy with windows "paint" too

Mr Giggles (author)2009-04-25

thanks i just got photoshop today and had to try this heres my go

shaneomacmcgee (author)2009-04-21

I like CorelDraw. Taught myself how to use it; very simple, but you can do very complex things with it. Free 30-day trial on their site.

Oblivitus (author)2008-09-20

I use GIMP a lot and I am going to try this. Heres some other stuff I've edited. The fourth one has taken hours so far and it's not even close to done.

Eggbertius (author)Oblivitus2009-01-13

Dude, love the vader picture.

Oblivitus (author)Eggbertius2009-01-14

Thanks, that one was pretty easy too.

Eggbertius (author)Oblivitus2009-01-15

I haven't got a CLUE how you did it...

robots199 (author)Eggbertius2009-01-21

me too

Chicken2209 (author)robots1992009-01-28

Insert Picture Filters -> Click as many as you can!

fwjs28 (author)Chicken22092009-04-15 is a cool end product tho..

Oblivitus (author)Chicken22092009-03-11

Yeah, the vader one was all just filters and adjustments.

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