Introduction: Turning a Sketch Into Vector Artwork

As a graphic artist, it has always been my goal to take sketches and turn them into artwork that I can use within editing programs like Adobe Illustrator to create fun vector illustrations.

When I first started using Adobe Illustrator to turn my sketched artwork into vector artwork, I had a hard time finding the most efficient way to make it happen. I tried scanning my sketches in, taking photos of my sketches and importing them into the file, image tracing, hand tracing within Illustrator, and so many other techniques to get my hand-drawn art into Illustrator. It was horribly frustrating, and I was about ready to give up transferring my artwork and instead just keep my sketches on paper and my vectors on the computer.

Cue Adobe Capture.

When I learned about Adobe Capture, I was skeptical about how this portable Adobe Creative Cloud App could be used to make life easier for artists like me who want to be able to transfer their artwork into Illustrator without too much hassle. But after using Adobe Capture for various different projects, I am convinced! Adobe Capture is a simple and easy way to transfer artwork into illustrator.

So, in this Instructable, I plan to introduce you to the basics of using Adobe Capture to simply turn a hand-drawn sketch into vector artwork that can then be used within Adobe Illustrator to create awesome vector artwork. I will not, however, be delving into the other wonderful functions that the Adobe Capture app has. I will save that for another day, and another Instructable if anyone is interested.

So without further ado, let's jump right in!



Sketching Implements: Pencils, Pens, Markers

Black Marker

Smart Phone or Tablet with Adobe Capture Downloaded

Adobe Illustrator

Step 1: Adobe Capture

The most important place to being is making sure that you have Adobe Capture downloaded onto your device. I use Adobe Capture on my iPhone, and so far I have had no trouble with the app.Adobe Capture is also available for Android on the Google Play store.

All of the following devices should work with Adobe Capture: iPhone, iPad, iPad Pro, Android phones, Android tablets, and Chromebooks.

Step 2: Complete Your Sketch

In order to turn a hand-drawn image into a vector illustration, you must first have a sketch. For this example, I began with a sketch of a moose silhouette, but you can draw or trace whatever image you would like. In the past, other sketches I have done include a bear, a mountain, cheese, jingle bells, and many more. So just choose whatever you would like to sketch.

After finishing your sketch, make sure that you go over anywhere that you had lighter lines to make them darker. This is essential for helping Adobe Capture to capture the full image. If you do not have dark enough lines for the camera to find, there is a chance that your drawing will end up transferring with some missing spots. I will go over this more at a later step.

Step 3: Finding Your Sketch in Adobe Capture

Once you have your sketch, you are going to go ahead and launch the Adobe Capture app. You should see a screen that resembles the photo above.

There are several option types listed along the bar right above the Camera button along the bottom edge of the screen. For our purposes, make sure that the SHAPES option is highlighted in blue and along the center. For help with this, check the notes attached to the image.

After making sure that you have the correct type selected, it is time to capture your image. As you move your device camera around, you will notice that the image that you are viewing in the app may change. As the light hits the image differently, it highlights different parts of the drawing. To help capture more of the drawing at once, use the slide bar that is located directly above the Camera button. Sliding the bar all the way to the right hand side allows for more of your image to appear. The app always shows the dominant trace lines, so using the slider allows you to adjust the shape to obtain the optimum results.

Once you are pleased with how your image appears, you may hit the Camera button located in the bottom, center of the screen. This will create a picture of the image, which will also be shared to your gallery.

Step 4: Refining Your Captured Selection

Once you have hit the Camera button, you are taken to an edit screen. Here there are several options for editing your image: Refine, Crop, and Smooth.

In this example, there isn't anything that I feel needs to be refined. However, that may not be the case for your sketch. If your drawing needs some editing, the Refine option allows you to draw on and erase from the captured image. This can be particularly helpful if there are sections missing that you want to fill in, or if there is a little too much somewhere that you want to edit out. And, of course, if you make any mistakes there is always an undo button to help you go back a couple steps.

In this example, I found that there was too much white space remaining around the edges of the moose. In order to make the moose more centered, I went ahead and cropped my image. The crop function allows you to simply slide your finger while holding the edge of the box to decide what part of the image you want to keep. You can also slide the image itself within the box to crop as well.

The last option that Adobe Capture has for editing is the Smooth option. As the name suggests, the Smooth option takes your image and rounds out any rough edges.This can sometimes be useful, but other times it will erase details that you want. So choosing whether to Smooth your image or not is entirely up to your personal preferences.

Once you are happy with you selection, you can go ahead and hit Save in the upper right hand side of the screen.

Congratulations! You now have a fully editable, vector version of you sketch! Keep following along to learn how to find and use your new shape within Adobe illustrator.

Step 5: Taking Your Design Into Adobe Illustrator

In order to use your new image, you must first open a document in Adobe Illustrator. If you want to import your image into a specific document that you already have started, you can open that document directly. Otherwise, go ahead and start a new document.

Once you have your document open, you should have a plain white artboard in front of you (unless of course you have chosen to open an existing document, in which case you should see your previous work).

Go to the upper right hand side of your screen, and choose the Libraries panel to open the Library window. Within the Library panel you should see everything that is saved to your Adobe Library. Scroll to the bottom and you should find your newest image that you just saved in Adobe Capture.

If your image is not there, sync your Adobe Library to update it.

Once you find your image, drag and drop it onto your artboard. From there, you will be able to move, transform, resize, and edit your image to the way that you like it.

If Illustrator is not your program of choice, your shape can also be used in Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects, Animate, Illustrator Draw, and Comp.

Step 6: Your Finished Vector Artwork

Congratulations! You have now taken your sketch and turned it into an editable, vector illustration!

Now you can use your completed vector to create awesome graphic illustrations. From T-Shirt design to social media posts, your sketch can become anything that you like now!

Art Skills Challenge

Participated in the
Art Skills Challenge