March 15, 2018

Marlon Brando vector portrait

This is my second vector portrait created in Affinity Designer. It's still a work in progress. I started drawing vector shapes only. After this I drew skin and hair texture details with custom made vector brushes - so far I've created 16 of those. It will be a more subtle texture than in the Abe Lincoln portrait, because in this image Brando is younger than Lincoln, featuring less wrinkles and pronounced pores. This portrait's appearance will be indistinguishable (I hope) from one created by a bitmap-editor once it is completed. Accuracy and subtleness will be just as good or better. The difference with bitmap images is that the vector image will be re-scalable to any desired size without loss of quality. What is very helpful in Affinity Designer is that it is parametric, which means that you can later still apply changes to what you have drawn before. Endlessly. This function of the program is absolutely brilliant.

Below you see its current state and a compilation of its previous states. Also the outline views are added, which reflect what shapes and lines were actually drawn. Of course gradient fills and transparency were used a lot, as well as blurring of shapes. Designer's most recent version does not yet have mesh-fill, but I didn't miss that function much. Click on the images to see larger versions of them. I work in many layers, which sort of resembles the glacis technique used in painting and in airbrush. It gives the portrait depth and allows to make many changes, like darkening areas or making them lighter than they were drawn originally. The fills can also be given completely a controllable level of noise which gives an instant texture.

After not having touched the portrait for a long
time, I did some reworking of several details

Neck & jacket basics done.

More changes applied to skin and hair texture.

Outline view showing the vector shapes and lines
that were used to draw the image above this one.

Some more texturing & colouring test.

The head after further texturing - adding
some vector shapes and vector brush strokes.

Skin texturing with custom vector brushes in an early stage.

Outline view showing the vector shapes and lines
of the portrait as it is visible in the image above.

Only vector shapes are drawn. Skin and hair texture will be added later.

Previous stages + vector outline view.

This portrait is being created with Affinity Designer (beta). It allows me to do what I wasn't able to create in CorelDRAW 2017, without using its mesh-fill tool that I don't like (as I dislike the one in Illustrator). Using vector brushes is far more intuitive for those artists that do not wish to strictly copy a reference photo, but aim to add their own signature to a portrait, i.e. putting an emphasis on certain facial features while giving other less of a pronounced appearance. Affinity has been around for just a few years, while Corel and Adobe have been since the beginning of the nineties of the previous century. Adobe has 10,000+ developers and Serif (the company that created Affinity designer) 80. Creating such a wonderful and efficient program with so few people in such a short period of time, borders on a miracle in my mind, but they have managed to build a program that already now rivals the competition in a most excellent way and even surpasses them in certain aspects.

In addition, purchasing Affinity Designer will not force you to apply for an extra mortgage like the programs from the Adobe suit do - it cost just 54 Euro which includes the right to three updates.... Designer is also more stable than CorelDRAW, even if it does not have all the functions Corel does yet. Though as I wrote earlier, it does have certain functions Corel does not and for people interested in creating vector portraits, that is wonderful news. And what's more, it is available on Mac OS, iPad and Windows. Pixel pushers may find it nice to know Affinity also has a program for them: Affinity Photo, that is an equally promising development by Serif. Probably this summer (of 2018) Affinity Publisher will be launched, which is a DTP (Desktop Publishing) program, that will make it a suit of programs allowing artists to create art and publish it in documents, folders leaflets etc. with Serif products only.

I used to do a lot of airbrushing (as can be seen on an other page in this blog), but I have switched to digital art creation because of the undo functionality (up to 8000+ undo's in this file...), the parametric functions and the excellent history function that allows to go back in time and make changes afterwards. As I become more familiar with Designer's possibilities I expect to be able to draw portraits that are of the same quality as my airbrush work or better (in less time). I focus on the vector drawing program Affinity Designer mainly because it allows to rescale images without loss of quality. Affinity Photo allows me to make additional changes (once I have decided on the image size) before the image gets printed or published digitally to make final touches to portraits.