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Principally illustrator certainly has its similarities to photoshop, belonging to the adobe family some tools do cross over well. Some however do NOT, why there is no simple eraser tool is frustrating, while I’m sure there is a valid reason for this, for now its a lot easier to sulk about it than go looking for an explanation.

Moving past that Illustrator had the correct suite of tools for what I was trying to achieve, mainly because of the live trace function and working with the laser cutter requires precision in dimensions and scale. Illustrator files also play well with Rhino.

Using illustrator for this project was certainly a learning experience, so it was important to

Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatourset my expectations and navigate as many problems with as little tools as possible, as to not over complicate things for myself.

The Vitruvian man

I had decided to go with The Vitruvian Man for the base of my image design.

The Vitruvian man was Leonardo Da Vinci’s study of mans form as a mathematical exercise. this study helped  identify how the human design has a close relation to nature, not only did the Vitruvian Man heighten this possibility but also highlights how art connects to science and architecture. Perfect proportions that govern our world all interrelate and there by help establish order and congruence. The Vitruvian Man is a study on how the physical being has structure and consistence, where form and shape organise themselves into our very beings. What this represents for me in the context of my work is our deep relationship with the world around us and the things we experience in our lives. How we have shaped the world through dedication, learning and our fierce ever growing ability to grow and strengthen our bonds with each other. And also how the world shapes us through challenge and opportunity. This is the process of the heroes journey working in harmony with all that is governed in the world, this is the perfect representation of how I want the figure in my medal to be portrayed. This also means I don’t have to take pictures of myself half naked in my bedroom looking like an ass.

Using illustrator to create my image

Ok so I have my image, now time to create my CAD file for the laser to recognise and to eventually import into Rhino.

The main tool I worked with was the pen tool, and employing a technique I’ve used for photoshop painting in the past I imported the image image lowered the opacity and locked it in place. Then created an new layer on top to draw around the image neatly. Doing this allows me to create a clean version of the image as well as picking and choosing which aspects of it I want to incorporate into my design.

Tracing around the Vitruvian man was simple enough, though I did make a few adjustments as the drawing didn’t work properly taking only one aspect of the figures pose. Not to mention the head was just simply shaped to much by the hair surrounding it so I couldn’t take the head.

Now I did consider not playing around with the image as I didn’t want to violate the original spirit and intent of the image, however for arguments sake I figured what the hell.

So I looked at altering the hands first, my design was to illustrate the sense of tension and relative connection to the world, its not about being crushed by the world around you its about finding harmony, and conveying that in a physical manor. Its a situation we all find ourselves in from time to time, allow the situation to over come us, or to push back, and take control, discover the answer and seize the opportunity to grow.

So the hands, they needed to look as though they were making contact with the inner ring of the medal, so I took photos of my hand trying to convey that myself by pushing my hand into my bedroom wall. Once I took an image that worked it was but a case of resizing, rotating and positioning the hand to be traced around.

Pic 1

Drawing with the pen tool caused my drawing to be made up of individual lines that I could group together or remove as I see fit (this would later become a problem in rhino).

Pic 2

I had to adjust the wrists a little to connect up my hand to the other image, I also duplicated the hand and flipped it to put it on both ends of the figure.

The result was pretty damn great, if I do say so myself.

Next was the head, The Vitruvian mans head just wasn’t going to work, to with the eventual goal being to bronze cast the medal, it would have become to awkward to

differentiate the hair and the face. so step one, make him bold, step two, find a better head. I did try and take a picture of my own head looking up, but it was just to difficult to draw over my head trying to workout how I would make myself bold, it just didn’t work right proportionally either.

Pic 3

So as simply as I could put it, I googled around and found a suitable fit, I traced over what I assumed made the main areas of the face and went from there. This would later require further adjustment.

With the figure complete, I had a workable CAD file that I could use the laser cutter to create some basic prototypes with. These prototypes were able to give me an indication of general aesthetic, size, comfort in hand etc.

Pic 4

So with this first prototype, I was able to identify a number of problems, the detailing inside the figure, wasn’t working, the hands taper into the thinner fingers and was just burning away in the laser, so I needed to fix that. As for the head, or lack thereof, due to the laser simply having a hard time trying to distinguish all these fine lines in an area thats simply to small and compact. The result was that basically the laser would burn the head off.

Pic 5

After really (over) thinking on it, I did feel that it was lacking that tension in the arms, no real struggle was apparent and didn’t fit the context of the piece.

So I looked into changing it.

What I ended up doing was taking a picture of myself holding a dumbbell in the air out to the side. and then applied my basic tracing method again, I did the same with the hands as I previously did, except I looked at making them flatter so that where they made contact with the inner ring of the medal, they had more material to engage with.

All in all, what this was above anything was a learning experience, I feel like practising on these programmes doesn’t work for me as I really am not meeting an end goal, however when I want to learn or do a specific thing, I go looking for the best way to do it, be it photoshop, illustrator or rhino.



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