I will show you how to make a vector art wallpaper for your desktop.
Step 1: The Background
I will use Corel Paint Shop Pro X for my Instructable (this was about 100 times cheaper than Photoshop), but you can also use Adobe Photoshop or anything else ( I doubt that this works with MS Paint). Some knowledge about the program would be helpful.
Start with a new picture with the resolution of your background (1280 x 800 in my case).
Let's begin with the background. The color of it is very important, saturated colors look best, such as green, yellow or blue. Be sure that the color doesn't hurt your eyes. On the outside, the color has to be darker than in the center, so choose the same color, but a few tones brighter, for the middle. Create a color gradient that is either round and has the bright color in the middle (for pictures that have their focus in the middle) or straight, this looks better when it's a bit skew. Then fill the first layer with this gradient.
Step 2: The Pattern
This will make your picture seem a lot more interesting, even though it isn't recognized at the first glance. First you will have to create a new layer for it.
An approved pattern is for example the stripes that come out of the center (This doesn't look nice if your background looks like the blue one from step 1). To produce it, activate line selection, start in the upper left corner and drag a line to the lower right corner. Then move your cursor up a bit, click and move it to the other side again (This sound complicated, just take a look at the picture). Do this, until you reach the upper left corner again, and fill the selection with white. If you are annoyed by making this, just download the pattern under this text. When you are done, set the opacity of the layer to 10 - 20 % and change it to the "brightness"-mode.
Another pattern that looks pretty good are the dots that makes it look like pop art. Therefore, you create a black layer and paint a bit white in the middle with a very soft and low-opacity brush.I doesn't have to be accurate. Then use the effect that is called "Halbtonraster" in German, I couldn't find out the English name for it, I'm sorry. It is the effect that transforms your layer into black and white dots, like in the picture. You can also use the pattern under this text. Then you change the opacity to about 10 % and change the mode into "difference".
Another option is the third structure, here you make a few selections in shape of a circle and play around with the warp brush. Fill them with white color or a gradient from gray to white and set the opacity to 10 - 60 % and the mode to "brightness".
This are just a few suggestions, be creative or just leave the pattern out.
Step 3: The Main Object
Now you have to be creative. Think of a simple object and place it in the middle.
Here's the description in detail:
For the speech bubble, first create a new layer. Then you make a selection in shape of an ellipse and add a triangle on the bottom. To make it rounder, first make the selection 10px smaller and the again 10px bigger. This avoids sharp edges that don't fit into that kind of vector art. For the color, produce a straight gradient from white to gray and fill it. You can also use a round gradient, but this fits more to objects that are completely round.
Here comes the first style effect, the Windows-Vista-brilliance-edge. This makes the object look really professional. Choose the freehand line-selection-tool and select half of the roughly half of the object. Then you use the warp brush to add a wave-shape to the division-line, like in the picture.
Leave the selection like it is and change the brightness (and contrast if you want) to a lower level.
Then you add a border to the object, this should be about 10 - 15px thick, gray looks good (You can also use black or white). I don't mind how you do it, but I personally prefer to select the whole object, free the selection, make it 10px bigger, create a layer under the object layer and fill it with the border color.he result should look like in the picture.
Step 4: The Second Object
Your picture should contain at least one object that is made up of circles. Place it where you want, but it looks best when it covers a bit of the main object.
And this is what I've done:
First, create a new layer, don't forget this or you will get problems later. Then, make a selection in shape of a circle and add a few other circles, until you are satisfied with the shape. You can move it later, so don't worry about the position. Adding a few drops looks pretty nice, therefore you add a long rectangular selection under the object and a half circle under the rectangle (Or you simply use a rectangle with rounded edges). Fill it with the color-gradient you like, in general it looks better when the brighter color is on top. Then use the style effect from step 3 and add a border in the color of the border from the first object. Of course you can also use another style effect if you like it.
Step 5: The Third Object
Here's an object that is often used in vector art, a rainbow that links the existing objects.
This is how it is made:
New layer. Make a round selection where you want to have your rainbow and fill it with a round gradient that is white in the middle and colorful on the outside. Make your selection 20 - 30px smaller and move it a few pixels, so that the rainbow gets less static. Hit delete and create a new layer, then make the selection 1px bigger (This avoids that you can see the background through the rainbow).
Repeat this step with different rainbow-colors 3 - 5 times until you have a full rainbow. Move it where you need it, it looks best when it is placed under all the other layers (except background and pattern, of course).
Step 6: The Fourth Object
Until now, our objects are all opaque. So now, a more or less transparent object is added.
This is the transparent cloud. Add a new layer and make a selection made up of random circles, but they should build a cloud-like shape. Fill it with a gradient from white to transparent and adjust the layer's opacity (to about 20 - 60 %). Make the selection bigger to add a border (but this time it has to be thicker than the other borders). Create a new layer, place it under the cloud-layer and fill it with gray. Select the cloud again, free the selection and delete this part from the border-layer (or you would see the border under the cloud). Adjust the border's opacity to 30 - 60 %. Then you have to place the 2 layers under the other layers.
Step 7: The White Circles
Now the main objects are finished and small objects can be added.
I will begin with the popular white circles, they are very, very simple and look great. Create a layer between cloud and rainbow and start to draw small random circles as a selection. Fill them with white and deselect.
Then you select smaller circles in the white circles, they don't have to be exactly in the middle. Hit delete and do the same again, but this time you don't hit delete, but fill them with white again. Repeat this, until you have white rings in rings, like in the picture. You can make them a bit transparent if you like.
Step 8: Small Symbols
You can find small symbols in nearly every vector art, for example +. $, ?, !, arrows, hearts, whatever you like.
I chose arrows, which point on the speech bubble. You can either simply write them as a text-vector or build the shape yourself. The style effects don't look nice on them, because they are too small. It looks good, when they are in the color of the background, but a bit darker or brighter. What does look good, is when you go over a half of them with the darken-brighten-tool, so they look a bit 3D.
Step 9: The Text
Some vector art pictures have a text included.
The text I used is pretty random, because it fit in the speech bubble. The font is very important, DON'T use Comic Sans, that's a kind of digital eye cancer. I used Cheri, you can download it here for free: http://www.dafont.com/cheri.font
Other fonts can be downloaded here for example, the windows fonts aren't very appealing in my eyes. http://www.dafont.com/
My text consists of two parts, the "That's" is a bit smaller than the "it!". To make a new text layer for every line makes the text easier to adjust. You should choose a color that is darker than the other objects, with a vertical gradient from dark to bright.
So here's a very important style effect. Select the text, free the selection and make it 5 - 10px bigger. Create a layer under the text and fill it with a very dark gray (nearly black, or just use black). Now move the text-layer 1 - 3px away from the center of the picture, this gives the effect that it comes out of the picture, because the border is now thicker on the center-side. You can use this on every other object, of course. Making it a bit skew can't be wrong.
Step 10: The Eyes
Eyes give the picture a lot of charm.
Choose an object that deserves eyes and create a layer directly above it. Make one eye after another, start with the bigger one. Make an elliptical selection in the size of a big eye and fill it with a dark gray. Use the darken-lighten-tool to make the edge on one side a bit darker, so it looks like the eyes pop out. Then make 2 white circles with the normal brush, on top of the eye. One should be smaller than the other and they should be close together.
Repeat this for the other eye, but this time make everything 20 % smaller. Don't copy the eye, or it loses sharpness after resizing.
Step 11: The Signature
Now it's time to give it your signature.
In my case, it's nothing special, just "ddi7i4d" in the same font used in the bubble. Put it where you want it, but remember, when you use it as a wallpaper, the task bar could cover it. I personally like inconspicuous signature, so I made it nearly transparent and small.
Maybe your objects aren't where you want them right now, so first save your wallpaper and then merge all objects in the middle. Move them into the middle (But consider Vista's Sidebar, so when you have Vista, move it a bit more to the left).
Step 12: Other Style Effects
There's a good style effect you can use instead of the contrast-wave from step 3.
This one is capable for very shiny objects, big eyes for example, like in the picture. Therefore, select the area you want to be shiny and use the ellipse-selection-tool to deselect a third of it. Then make the selection 10 - 30px smaller, create a new layer and fill the selection with white. Adjust the opacity to 5 - 25 %.
If you want to make the surface look rough like rubber, just use the darken-brighten-tool to make the edges of the areas darker. Then it looks like the green guy down there.
Step 13: You're Done!
Save your picture as a bmp (pngs can't be used as wallpapers, they are converted into jpgs automatically) and set it as your wallpaper!
Tadaa, you're done :)
And then comment and post your work ;)