The Guide to Vector Design

Develop your edge as an artist and designer with CorelDRAW’s Guide to Vector Design. Learn the basics of vector graphics and design, and feel empowered to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

vector drawing of cat riding on back of a giant carp

Vector Drawing & Painting

Vector-based design is ideal for many types of digital art projects, especially designs that need to retain their quality when scaled up or down. Because vector design relies heavily on digital skills and software, you may wonder if traditional art forms like drawing and painting have a place within the world of vector art. There are many ways to use traditional art skills in your vector design projects.

While you may associate vector art with simple shapes and flat design, you can also use vector software to create highly detailed digital drawings and paintings. No matter how complex your design is, the vector format will ensure it’s always scalable and can be reproduced clearly at any size. This scalability is one of the key benefits of vector design.

You’ll need to learn some specific features and tools in your vector software to translate your traditional art-making skills into your vector projects. Continue reading for more information and techniques for using vector software to create detailed digital drawings and paintings.

How is vector art made?

As we’ve established previously, vector art is made up of many points, lines, and shapes. These different elements, or objects, can be organized within different layers in your vector file. You can create highly intricate designs by adjusting and overlapping vector lines and shapes on different layers. This includes designs with shading, delicate linework, and other fine details.

The most basic and fundamental vector shapes are also referred to as “geometric primitives.” These simple shapes are the foundation of more complex vector designs. You can create some stunning designs using a combination of geometric primitives, but sometimes images created this way start to take on a similar style.

Realistic vector art was a popular graphic design and illustration trend in the early 2010s, and many vector illustrations from that timeframe look similar. Vector portraits were particularly trendy, with the layers of vector shading taking on the look of a topographic map.

Try a few different digital drawing techniques to make unique and more natural-looking vector drawings and paintings to see which results best suit your style.

series of three posters designed with vectors graphics

What is vector drawing?

Vector drawing is a way to describe any type of vector art creation. Typically, vector drawing means creating points, lines, and shapes in vector software using your mouse or a drawing tablet and stylus.

It’s worth noting that the term “vector drawing” is also sometimes used to describe the process of rendering an existing piece of vector art within your software program. When loading a vector file, your computer “draws” the art based on the data stored in the file. For the purpose of this article, vector drawing refers to a digital artist using vector software to create art.

There are several ways to create a vector drawing using software like CorelDRAW. These methods include:

Manually Creating Lines and Shapes

As we’ve discussed, you can create vector art by layering and combining vector lines, curves, and shapes. Use tools like the rectangle and ellipse tools to form different shapes to make your design.

Vectorizing Artwork with PowerTRACE

Suppose you have previously created a piece of digital art in raster-based graphic design software. In that case, CorelDRAW’s PowerTRACE feature can help you convert that raster art into a vector format. After using this tool, you’ll have a fully editable vector version of your artwork that you can edit and scale to fit your needs.

Freehand Drawing with LiveSketch

Another CorelDRAW feature, LiveSketch, uses artificial intelligence to turn freehand sketching into vector lines and Bézier curves — in real-time. This tool is especially useful for artists looking to use their traditional drawing skills within a digital space. LiveSketch works with a mouse, or you can use an input device like a digital drawing tablet and stylus for a more natural sketching experience. Watch this demo of the LiveSketch feature to see it in action.

image of person designing with a drawing tablet on a desk

What about vector painting?

Like vector drawing, you can use your digital art skills and software to create vector paintings. Using your mouse or a drawing tablet, select the brush tool and begin to hand paint your designs. CorelDRAW will transform your work into vector brush strokes. You’ll be able to edit the resulting objects just like any other vector shape, altering the fill colors, adding outlines, and making other adjustments as needed.

CorelDRAW features a variety of brush styles and shapes so that you can give your digital painting a realistic texture and a natural look. Experiment with different options, and combine various techniques to create stunning, dynamic digital paintings.

Drawing Conclusions: Make Your Own Vector Paintings and Drawings

Although graphic design and digital illustration require software and computer skills, there are tools available to help you use your traditional drawing and painting skills in a digital space. Some of these tools have a bit of a learning curve, but you can always find guides and tutorials to help you along the way. You can master these skills and create beautiful, intricate digital drawings and paintings with practice.

In addition to your new digital drawing skills and knowledge of vector brush strokes, you’ll need a solid understanding of vector layers to create complex, detailed digital art. Read our next article in this series to learn more about working with layers in vector design.

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