From sketch to screen

In his first tutorial, TechVector's Reggie Gilbert shows you a quick and simple way to create a stylised spray-can illustration from a simple sketch or photograph using a range of tools in Illustrator.

One of the great things about working digitally is the flexibility it affords you. There are so many options to undo and redo parts and layers that it's easy to knock out quick variations to appease a demanding client. The trouble for many of us is that it's still quicker to do the thinking on paper.

Have you ever wondered how to create vector images from something you doodled in a sketchbook? If you have, then you only need a pencil (or camera), your computer, and a little patience to convert any photo or drawing into vector art in Illustrator. Even the most novice user will be well on the way to creating stylised images from illustrations or photographs in no time.

This tutorial will show you a simple and fast way to create a basic technical illustration using a sketch as a guide. You'll find that this way of working is not only quicker than working from a blank canvas, but will also make you think carefully about using Illustrator's tools, helping you to choose the most suitable one for the job. And because this is Illustrator you'll be creating an image that can be re-factored easily, so the colours and scale can be changed at your discretion.

In this example I've chosen to use an image of a spray can. However, you can use a similar process to convert any image into stylised vector art. The basic principles will be the same, but you can draw your own lines and choose your own subject matter and colour palette.

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