This is a tutorial on taking a sketch and creating a flash vector illustration with it. The subject in this case will be the American president, Barack Obama.



Create your illustration. As you can see I did a quick illustration basing the image on the following data should you be interested:

1.    Thin body
2.    Chunky eyebrows
3.    Eyes close set
4.    Long chin
5.    Pronounced ears

barack obama scan


Scan in the image. I photographed it, as my scanner is broken, but that works just as well.

Using Photoshop, or Gimp increase the contrast of the image so that you have well defined lines.



Open up flash and import or paste the image to the stage. Resize it so that it fits nicely on the stage. Not too small though.



Now right click on frame two of the scene and select Insert Blank Keyframe.

The stage should go blank as you are now on the second frame.



Click on the Onion Skin button. This is on the bar just under the list of layers. You will see that the whole page becomes semi-transparent, and you can see the illustration from layer one.

You can see why the image needed a lot of contrast.

Using the onion skin system we can now trace the illustration using the Line Tool and Pencil Tool.



Using the line tool, create a straight line from one point of a round object to another, then pull the shape of the straight line so that it fits the rounded shape.

Keep doing this throughout the illustration until you have a complete version of the illustration as a vector line drawing. You can also use the Pencil Tool to doo some freehand tracing too.






Once you have done all the line work you should end up with a simple vector illustration of Barack Obama, or at least one that looks more like him that mine does!



Turn off the Onion Skin. Now we have the outline for the colouring. Fill in the various sections with a basic flat colour such as a light brown for the skin, blue for the jacket etc. Just leave the eyes for now. We will get to them later.



To add depth to the image we need to do some highlighting and shading.

To do so, select the skin one and in the color panel make the tone just slightly darker. Then using the Lasso Tool imagine a light from the top left casting a shadow on the right side of his face.

Trace this area with the Lasso Tool. Deselect any areas that are not skin and not in shadow, then colour the selected area with the new darker skin tone.





Now do the same for all the areas of colour, picking out shadows and colouring them with a darker shade.



Now do the opposite and highlight the areas with the Lasso Tool that are facing the light and fill them with a lighter tone of what ever colour they are.



The following is how to make the eyes. Just make one then copy and paste another.

Select the entire character then press CTRL+G to group it. Do the same to each eye and place them behind the Obama character, resizing the eyes to fit.





Nearly done. The only choice now is how to finish it off. There are many ways but here are two:

1.    Remove all the lines, leaving a coloured vector graphic of Obama defined by shadows and highlights.
2.    Give him a thick black outline and perhaps a drop shadow.

That’s it!



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