A lesson in vectors
This vector is meant for people with some knowledge of photoshop. Please do not attempt if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
I’m not going to ask you to cut out your sitemodel or anything like that, in fact, for the sake of the tutorial I’m going to ask you not to start out with the intentions of cutting a bitch out and making it into a preppy. I want you to focus in on what I’m saying, and maybe, just maybe, by the end of this thing I will approve of your preppy signs.
More than likely, I still will not, but you will have a reference point to move forward with your vectors and perhaps they’ll even look nice.
What I want you to do first is open a blank canvas at size 350×466, since that’s the sign size I work with. For the sake of the tutorial, I want us all to agree on using a color scheme that has four colors and the images I will be showing are going to be a small section, obviously I’m not going to erratically stretch the page when preppies are just patterns. Got it? Great. Let’s move on.
Now in this blank canvas, I want you to fill it with a nice light gray color, such as #dadada. Why dadada? Because that’s one that I often use, but anything from the range of d_d_d_ will work.
This is the color scheme I want you to work with (at least for tutorials sake):
Notice how I named the colors with a-d. This is for your ease of reading/comprehension when we start getting into the nitty-gritty of the tutorial. As always, I’m going to advise you to do exactly as I say, exactly as I say it, and don’t question how/why I do things. You wanted a lesson in vectors? Here it is. I expect that everyones vectors will be A+ now.
It is also expected that when you are making a vector you will be listening to “In Da Club” by 50 cent, over and over until you finish it. Just sayin’.
Click onto your color “A” with your dropper tool, then on a new layer stamp–and by stamp I mean click your mouse to place down a brush–your vector brush onto the canvas in such a way that the center lines making a circle are as close to the center as you can possibly get them (see my premade vectors page for more reference). It does not matter what size or fatness the brush is, so long as it looks like the vectors referenced above.
At this point, I added a white stroke at 1px to my vector. You do NOT have to do this, I just do it because I think it looks nice and it’s easier to work with. Other vectors without the white stroke look just as nice.
Create three copies of this vector layer by either pressing control+J or right clicking and hitting duplicate layer three times. Hide those layers in the layers palette by clicking the eye next to the layer preview box (it’s on the very left). This always confuses people when I say this, but you’re going to take your eraser brush and start in the very top left corner. Pick a line and erase some of it.
Now, on the very next two lines on EITHER side, erase some of those two lines, like such:
Skip the very next line, and erase the next three lines after it. I went the other way (back towards my starting point) since there is only one line available on the right side.
Keep going around the vector in a pattern like this, only erasing PART of the line so when you get back to where you started (or damn close to it) you can see where you need to finish erasing more clearly.
Note: Not all vectors work perfectly with four-schemes. In such a case, leave the lines next to each other. There are ways we can fix this during the preppy sign process, but in terms of the vector, just ignore it.
Now, erase the full line down to the center so all you’re left with is the full lines of color A. Some tips for erasing would be: zoom in when you need to, and lower your eraser brush size as you get closer to the center of the lines, it’s easy to accidentally erase a tiny bit of a line you weren’t supposed to erase, and there is no way to fix it past a certain point, so just don’t do it. Be careful, go slow. Making a vector should be the longest process in the sign besides cutting out the bitch. You’ll be left with something like this at the very end.
Unhide the first layer on top of your erased vector layer and go to blending options. Set a color overlay, choosing color B from the scheme. READ THE NEXT PART CAREFULLY.
If you chose to do a white stroke like I did, your life is much simpler. Create a new layer and merge it with your freshly erased vector layer (Select both layers in the layers palette by holding control and hit CTRL+E). Then, in the layer preview part (in the layers palette, between the eye and the name of the layer) hold control and click that square. Now go up to your freshly unhidden layer and press backspace or delete, or CTRL+X. It should have deleted part of the vector, and revealed the spots where vector “A” is.
If you didn’t do the white stroke, you need to erase the spots where the color “A” was. Either way, you’ll end up with the same thing. One just takes infinitely longer (aka, THIS ONE).
So now you’re all erased up, and what you’re going to do is SKIP the color “B” that is directly to the right of the color “A,” but erase the following two lines of color “B.”
Continue with this same process until you have all the colors (“C” and “D”) showing in your vector. It will look something like this.
Merge all your vector layers together if you had not previously done so.
Make sure all the patterns I have provided for you have been defined. Now we’re going to add the scanlines, vector dots, and drop shadow, as well as an inner glow for ambiance. Right click on your vector layer and go to blending options. Stroke the vector at 1px with the scanlines, and add a dropshadow, changing the distance to zero. It’ll look like this now.
Go to inner glow and make your settings like this:
Change the color to white, and lower the opacity to 15%. Under elements, change the Technique to precise and the source to center. Make the choke 0 and the size 5.
Finally, go to pattern overlay and choose the dot pattern I provided for you. Change it to Screen and lower the opacity to 15%. Note: this is what works for this color scheme. Future color schemes may have to be tweaked (the opacity). This is what it will look like when you’re finished.
Now we will start filling in the vector. Please pay attention to what label the color holds, and take NOTE children: do not try to fit more kinds of brushes into your vector than your color scheme allows. In easier terms to understand: if your color scheme has 4 colors and you do a gray background, that means you have room for 4 brushes, gradients, etc. Whatever combination of things you’d like to use. If you use a color scheme with 4 and you do a color from the scheme in the background, that leaves you with 3 different “pattern” types that you can put inside your vector. Similarly, each “pattern” we do should be in the same area each time. For example, I will add a pixel brush to my vector. The pixel brush needs to be between lines colored “A” and “B” each time I place it.
This method of doing vectors is practiced by the more talented sites that you guys look up to, and there’s a reason that we do it. It’s clean, simple, and everything meshes. I’m going to call it “Pattern Vectoring” for lack of a better terminology, not to be confused with the douchebags who put pattern overlays in their free vector spots. Not the same thing.
Now what I do when I fill in my vector is I take a round brush (from the photoshop presets) at 19px and I color the line in on a new layer underneath the vector. I’m going to color between “A” and “D.” The color that you choose here doesn’t really matter as we’ll be deleting the coloring after we select it.
Now select that colored-in vector line in the layers palette (holding CTRL on the layer preview) and hitting backspace on the keyboard. Then what you’re going to do is fill it with a gradient and brushes. I went to my “Sign Backgrounds” page and saved one that matched the color scheme, and defined it as a pattern. Then, going to Layer > New Fill Layer > Pattern I selected the background and viola. Quick, simple, gradiented pattern. But there are many ways you can do this, using gradients and cheetah print is one of the other more popular ways. :)
Make sure all the brushes I have provided for you are defined. Now make another new layer underneath the vector and fill in between the “A” + “B” lines. When you’re finished, select the coloring using the method in step five (also hitting backspace while you’re at it) and then go ahead and grab the pixel brush. Using the color white, fill in your selected lines. Add a drop shadow to this white brush, making the opacity very low. I set mine to 10%, and change the distance to 0.
Make another new layer under the vector layer and this time color in between “C” and “D” lines. Select it, backspace it, and then choose the white dots provided. Fill in the spaces with the white dots. When I use these dots, I go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen and do that two times. Then, add a drop shadow at 20px, distance 0. Sometimes I add noise to these, sometimes I don’t. Be conservative and use your judgement if you do.
Finally, make a fourth new layer underneath your vector and color between the “B” and “C” lines. Select, backspace, and choose one brush from the given brushes I’ve named “colored brushes. I call them colored brushes because you use different colors in your scheme, starting with “A” and fill in the lines until they are full! I chose the diamond. Feel free to pick any.
Add a drop shadow when you’re done at 10% opacity, distance zero. Again, you may choose to add noise to these, but be conservative. A good amount is between 5 and 10. Over that is trashy.
Merge all your layers. If you have a spot where your vector didn’t quite line up (Say you have two color “As” next to eachother) try as best you can to cover it with either the sitemodel or something else in the sign. I always make my signs so that the “mistake” is on the bottom in the center, the most likely spot for the sitemodel to be.
Anyways, now continue on with your sign and at the end you might get something as nice as this!
These are the important things that you should understand from reading this tutorial!
1). Never, ever everrrrrrrrr color in your top vector lines. You should ALWAYS erase them to preserve their quality.
2). Drop shadow is better than no drop shadow. Notice, the only thing we didn’t put drop shadow on was the part in between lines “A” and “D” with the gradient. However, drop shadow is good when used moderately. Subtlety is good. A little goes a long way, more cliché sayings.
3). Vector patterning is a useful tool in creating nice preppy signs. The pattern is better outlined like this. Between the lines named after that color, you should do…
“A” and “D” – Gradient with pattern. Could be a pattern overlay, or like the cheetah. If you don’t want to do a gradient, scribbles are always welcome to replace the gradient. However, you cannot do scribbles where the “colored” brushes would go.
“A” and “B” – Some sort of white brush. White brushes are defined (in my eyes) as any of the hollister type brushes, dots, pixel brushes, or any brushes reminiscent of those brushes.
“B” and “C” – Between these lines you’ll be putting the “COLORED” brushes. Colored brushes are defined as any brush that you repeat with the different colors of your scheme including stars, hearts, skulls, diamonds, etc. There is no limit to what these can be. Scribbles can be used here in place of actual brushes, but you cannot do it in both “A” and “D” lines and “B” and “C” lines.
“C” and “D” – Between these lines is another “white brush” place. Do not use the same “white brush” as before. So if you use the hollister one, use dots or pixels. Keep variety.
4). Nothing is impossible, and don’t freak out if you have a five color-color scheme. Follow this tutorial in the same fashion, but add an “E” and deal with it. If you’re smart enough to follow this tutorial you should be able to pick this style of vectoring up in a breeze.